Friday, October 26, 2012

Comment Moderation

It is with a great deal of regret that I am re-enabling "comment moderation" on the blog. The amount of spam that is being inserted into the comment section of posts to the blog is just getting completely out of hand.

The spam protector set up by Blogspot catches a lot of it but too much gets through.

Please do not let the "comment moderation" stop you from leaving a comment.  You do not have to recognize and type so distorted word or words. Just write your comment and click to post it. As soon as I determine it to be a valid comment and not spam, it will be posted.

Sorry for the inconvenience. I really enjoy your comments and look forward to reading them, so please keep them coming.

Jack Scott

Why Men Need To Cheat

Early this year, Vicki Larson, a journalist, mother and thinker posted a blog piece on the Huffington Post  entitled Why Men Need To Cheat.

The article is compelling to a person like myself who considers himself to be a realist and a pragmatist. That said, as is generally the case, while Ms. Larson presents a convincing case, she does not suggest that all men are compelled to cheat, just most of them. She also correctly reports that in the present era many women cheat too.

As a young child, I was shocked and confused when I first learned that adults cheated and lied about what they were doing. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I was raised in a fundamentalist church which looked upon the Bible as the literal word of God. Even as a young child, I had my problems with that. It was obvious to me that parts of the Bible seemed to contradict other parts, but since this didn't seem to bother the adults I didn't say anything about it at first. I just became suspicious and began to pay close attention and to make a mental list of things the church taught that didn't add up.

Little did I know when I first began to be suspicious that it wouldn't take long to confirm that adults, even Christian adults, didn't always live up to what they portended to believe.

In this particular church members who were caught doing something significantly out of line with church teachings and wanted to remain within the church body were often compelled to go before the church and confess their sin publicly. The first time I witnessed a public confession turned out to be a two part presentation that was very revealing to me.

Mr. Brown (his real name but a very common one) was a prominent member of the church. He was married to a beautiful woman and all seemed to be as it should be. However, Mrs. Brown found that her husband was cheating on her with another woman. She brought the matter to the pastor. The pastor called Mr. Brown in and he confessed to the allegation. Mr. Brown was brought before church and confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness from God and the church in a ceremony presided over by the pastor. I remember it as a very emotional, probably embarrassing, tearful few minutes for Mr. Brown.

Ordinarily, this would have been the end of the matter, but life often takes unexpected twists and turns. This was to be such a time.

My family and I lived next door to the church parsonage. My Dad was a deacon in the church. A little while after the Brown confession, I began to pick up on whispered conversations between my Mom and Dad. Soon the conversations spread to include my Dad and other adults. At church it was obvious something was up. It didn't take long to burst wide open.

The church secretary was the young adult daughter of a prominent church couple. Without notice, she resigned her position and left town. This was quickly followed by the pastor of the church, in a tearful and emotional confession of his own, telling the church he had sinned against God, against his wife and against the young secretary by having an affair with her. He asked for forgiveness. He did not say, and probably didn't need to say because everyone already knew the affair had resulted in a pregnancy for the young secretary. The pastor announced he was leaving his ministry and resigning from his pastorship.

I wondered what must have been going through the pastor's mind a few weeks before when he had presided over the confession of Mr. Brown. I wondered what Mr. Brown was thinking as he listened to the pastor confess his own sins. I think it was a turning point in my life because even at my young age it was blatant proof that there were religious ideals and their was reality. I think these incidents were two of several incidents in my early life that planted the seeds for what would become my realist and pragmatic leanings in life. I'm thankful for that. Now, with at the stage of my life where there are many more years behind me than ahead of me, I've come to realize that realists and pragmatists handle life so much better than idealists. It's not that idealists don't play an important role in society, they do. But idealists must often be profoundly disappointed in the realities of life. Realists are seldom shocked. Idealists often provide lofty goals for society, but it is always the realists who bring the goals to fruition it seems.

My personal sexual experience does not support some of Ms. Larson's assertions. My wife and I married when I was 18. We have been married almost 50 years now and contrary to Ms. Larson's suggestion that marital sex always becomes stale, my wife and I never found that to be the case. I'm not saying we never got in a rut, we certainly did from time to time. But we were always able to recognize the rut and renew the fun and the excitement of genuine desire in our sexual play.

But for the most part, I agree with Ms. Larson. Just because men have sex with someone else does not necessarily mean his marriage is unimportant to him, that the marriage is failing or that he doesn't love his wife. As a married man in an exceptional marriage, I have to admit that I have had affairs with both other men and other women.

Among other things, the heterosexual affair was the product of getting married at age 18 with very little experience with other women besides my wife. I wondered what I might be missing. What I found was that I was missing nothing at all. Sex with my wife was much better and much more satisfying.

The more numerous affairs with men were fulfillment of needs my wife, as good as she was in sex, simply could not fulfill as a woman. Being able to fulfill them with other men actually made my sexual life with her better because all of my needs were being met.

I have to confess that I never felt my play with other men was cheating. I never thought of it that way and never gave in to others who wished to saddle me with that description. I wasn't cheating. I was simply meeting the needs that came with the way I was born. I love my wife and she fills an irreplaceable role in my life. While I accept the description of cheating to describe my play with another woman, I do not regret that it happened. It showed me that the best sex was at home. After a brief exploration, I was never tempted to be with another woman. Everything I needed from a woman was at home.

That is the problem with those who are always on the lookout for sin in others. Sin, by definition, is that which separates us from a relation with God. I am a firm believer based on my own life experience that God sometimes sends us down roads that might ordinarily be sinful to give us a chance to learn a life lesson.

For her Huffington Post Article, Ms. Larson interviewed Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England's University of Winchester and author of the provocative new book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating (Oxford University Press, $49.99). It was refreshing for me to read this quote from Mr Anderson, "Honesty is good sometimes, and horrible other times. There are good reasons to lie; it is an essential skill for keeping community and relationship peace. The reason men lie about cheating is mostly because they know that if they ask for permission to have recreational sex: 1) they will be denied 2) after they are denied, they will be subject to scrutiny and increased relationship policing; 3) they will be stigmatized as immoral, and most likely broken up with. Thus, honesty doesn't meet their desires of having both a long-term partner and recreational sex with others.

The way cheating men see it, it's either cheat or don't cheat, but telling their partners they want sex outside the relationship, or telling their partners that they actually cheated, is viewed as a surefire way of achieving relationship termination. When men cheat for recreational sex -- not affairs -- they DO love their partners. If they didn't, they would break up with them."

Mr. Anderson is absolutely right. Honest can be a terrible weapon when it is used for the wrong reasons. Sometimes, for instance, gay or bisexual married men confess their sexuality to their wives because of guilt. In such cases they are NOT trying to do the right thing. They are simply trying to relieve the guilt that is bothering them. How can such men who more than likely struggled with their sexuality for decades expect their wives to deal with it successfully when it is sprung on them without warning? In reality, they can't and usually women don't deal with it well.

The idealist of the world insists that honesty is always the best policy. The realists will more properly insist that we don't live in an ideal world and sometimes the truth can cause more harm than quietly and sympathetically embracing reality.

The views I have expressed here are not a license for men to go wild, party wildly and throw their marital responsibilities to the wind. I suspect Ms. Larson would say the same. As a married bisexual man, I came to see that I essentially had two and only two choices. I could deny my desires and live in as a desperate agitated and unfulfilled state or I could embrace my bisexuality and live it quietly and carefully within the boundaries of a few rules designed to keep me and my wife as safe as possible. I choose to take the latter course and from the very beginning I was a different man. For the first time in my adult life I felt calm and satisfied. I no longer felt needy and anxious. 

Living that life worked out so well, that I was happy and my wife was happy too. Our life together, which had always been great, became even better because I was no longed dogged by my bisexual needs. When I did decide to tell her several years later, it was at a time that she could understand it and accept it. I don't mean that it was the best news she ever got, but it was not news that threatened our marriage and the life we had built together.

The reality is that most men cheat at one time or the other. Married bisexual men are in a situation where they almost have to have a relationship outside the marriage. In most cases this does not mean they do not love and value the straight side of their life and love their wives. Women would do themselves a favor in considering carefully what their course of action should be when they find their husband is "cheating."

It does no good at all to throw away a number of good years, end a marriage, upset kids caught in the middle and get into a second marriage with another man who is just as prone to cheat.

Emotionalism seldom serves anyone well. Thinking realistically and unemotionally often serves one very well.

Jack Scott

P.S. I write this blog not to hear people agree with me, but rather give people a starting point for realistic thoughtfulness and self examination. I also write it to inspire feedback to me in the form of comments from my readers. I am convinced that a life lived well is a life in which learning never ceases.

What I have learned so far in my life has served me well. My life has not been and is not now without its challenges, but my life has been blessed beyond measure. I believe that the blessings of life come when one is ready to handle them. In spite of the blessed life I have lived, I believe that there is always more to learn. I hear from a lot of people but I never hear from enough people. 

Frankly it is rare for me to hear something new, but I often hear something in a new way that causes me to have that "ah ha" moment when everything comes together and I have a new understanding of and new insight into an issue I have known of for years.

That kind of new insight for me, more often than not comes from comments from and conversations with my readers. For that reason I am always glad to hear  your comments whether you agree or disagree with me.

Please take a few minutes to make a comment. You'll find the comment box below the Huffington Post piece of Ms. Larson. Commenting is easy. There are no screwed up words to decipher. All you have to do is comment and send.

Thanks. I look forward to your comments on this post and all on posts that interest you.


Vicki Larson



Why Men Need to Cheat

Posted: 01/04/2012 1:00 am

Monogamy is failing men.
Not only is it failing them, but it's a "socially compelled sexual incarceration" that can lead to a life of anger and contempt, or so says Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England's University of Winchester and author of the provocative new book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating (Oxford University Press, $49.99).
Cheating, however, serves men pretty well. An undiscovered affair allows them to keep their relationship and emotional intimacy, and even if they're busted it's a lot easier than admitting that they wanted to screw someone else in the first place, he writes.
In his study of 120 undergraduate men, 78 percent of those who had a partner cheated, "even though they said that they loved and intended to stay with their partner." Contrary to what we may think, most men aren't cheating because they don't love their partner, he says; they cheat because they just want to have sex with others. And society shouldn't pooh-pooh that.
Monogamy's stronghold on our beliefs -- what he calls monogamism -- brings ostracism and judgment to anyone who questions or strays from its boundaries. That doesn't make sense to Anderson, who wonders why we stigmatize someone who has a fling more than couples who divorce -- throwing away a marriage rich in history and love, upsetting their kids' lives -- over something like sex.
Monogamy isn't the only "proper" way to be in a relationship, and he says it's time that society finds "multiple forms of acceptable sexual relationship types -- including sexually open relationships -- that coexist without hierarchy or hegemony." It's especially important for today's young men, for whom monogamous sex seems more boring than in generations past because of easy premarital sex and pornography.
Dr. Anderson was kind enough to answer my questions by email:
Your study includes just 120 undergraduate men, straight and gay; isn't that too small a sample to really know what's going on for men?
If I were attempting to determine what percent of men cheat, then, yes. Large-scale surveys show us that cheating remains the norm... I wanted to examine the very notion of monogamy, not morally, but rationally. I wanted to know why men want monogamy but nonetheless cheat.

You say men want to be emotionally monogamous, but their "body craves sex with other people somatically." People crave food, drugs, booze, sometimes to disastrous results. If there can be self-control with other cravings, why can't men control their body urges?
Humans are largely lousy at controlling our bodies' desires. We say we don't want to eat that Snickers bar, but we also really do want to eat it. We eat it, we feel guilty about it, and afterwards we promise ourselves not to eat one again; but we nonetheless do. It is this same phenomenon, only with cheating, that I explore.
The men in your study experienced a sharp decrease in the frequency and enjoyment of sex after two monogamous years. Since no one can sustain the kind of thrilling sex couples have in the beginning of a relationship, isn't it a healthy thing that it decreases?
I wish young men got two years of good sex before it dropped off; it's a lot less than that! It may, however, be good that the sexual desire for one's partner weans; it means that we end up staying with our long-term partners for the socioemotional connection and not for the sex. If a couple is going to raise a family, it is the emotional connection that counts, not the sexual.
Our physical desires don't die; they just change from our partner to people other than him/her. We falsely believe that when the sex dies, the relationship has also died. The reality is the opposite; when the sex dies the relationship has just begun.
What about the idea that long-term relationships make sex become deeper, more intimate and more meaningful?
The diminution of sex is simultaneous to one's emotional bonds growing stronger. Long-term partners may have more intimate sex (most just have very little) but when men see a guy or girl who turns them on, it's not intimate and meaningful sex they are craving.
Honesty is a huge part of a relationship. How good a relationship can one have when there's deception, especially since you say after men cheat spontaneously, they are more likely to plan cheating?
Honesty is good sometimes, and horrible other times. There are good reasons to lie; it is an essential skill for keeping community and relationship peace. The reason men lie about cheating is mostly because they know that if they ask for permission to have recreational sex: 1) they will be denied 2) after they are denied, they will be subject to scrutiny and increased relationship policing; 3) they will be stigmatized as immoral, and most likely broken up with. Thus, honesty doesn't meet their desires of having both a long-term partner and recreational sex with others.
The way cheating men see it, it's either cheat or don't cheat, but telling their partners they want sex outside the relationship, or telling their partners that they actually cheated, is viewed as a surefire way of achieving relationship termination. When men cheat for recreational sex -- not affairs -- they DO love their partners. If they didn't, they would break up with them.
Wouldn't it be less harmful to relationships if we became serial monogamists -- marrying two, three or four times as our sexual needs change?
Rather than marrying 20 times or more in one's life via serial monogamy, we can keep one emotional lover and just have casual, meaningless -- and hot -- sex with strangers. This gives us the long-term emotional stability we desire psychologically, alongside the hot, carnal sex we desire somatically. It makes much more sense than lying and cheating , or the difficulty of breaking up with a loved one simply because you want someone else's body for an hour.
Infidelity breaks up many marriages, but often it isn't the act of sex that's so upsetting -- it's the deception and lying, clearly problematic for the emotional intimacy you say men want. So cheating for sex may be "just about the sex" for him, but not for his partner.
Infidelity does not break marriages up; it is the unreasonable expectation that a marriage must restrict sex that breaks a marriage up. One of the reasons I wrote the book is that I've seen so many long-term relationships broken up simply because one had sex outside the relationship. But feeling victimized isn't a natural outcome of casual sex outside a relationship; it is a socialized victimhood. I'm not advocating cheating; I'm advocating open and equitable sexual relationships. When both in the couple desire this, when both realize that extradyadic sex makes their partner happy, and they therefore want their partner to have that sex, a couple will have moved a long ways toward facilitating emotional honesty, while simultaneously withering at jealousy scripts, which can be very damaging to a relationship. But if one can't achieve this with a partner that's hostile to the idea, cheating is the reasonable action.
Most of the men in your study were OK with sex on the side for them, but not their girlfriends. That seems unfair and incredibly selfish.
Monogamy is culturally compelled, so the decision has been made for us. How much of a chance would a man stand to have a second date if on the first date he said that he was interested in an open relationship? At the point men enter into relationships they, too, think they want monogamy. It's only after being in a relationship for months or years that they badly want sex with others. But by this point, they don't want to break up with their partners because they have long-standing love. Instead of chancing that love by asking for extradyadic sex, they cheat. If they don't get caught (and most don't) it's a rational choice.
But it is indeed selfish for men to want sex with others but not to want their partners to do the same. This however is not just a "man" thing. Women also cheat; they also lie about it; and they also want to be able to cheat without their partners doing the same. Monogamy is a problem for all sexes; it builds in an ownership script regardless of gender.
You say love is a "long-standing sense of security and comfort." So, wouldn't open relationships potentially pose a threat to that security since, even if couples play by their own sexual rules, there's always a chance one could end up preferring a new lover over one's partner?
People in open relationships structure their engagements as to reduce emotional intimacy. But, yes, of course it can happen. What I find from those in open relationships, however, is that once they have had sex with that person they fancied, they tend to get over them.
If we really want to prevent our lovers from developing the lust of others, or worse, emotional intimacy with others; if we really want to prevent men and women from cheating, we would be best to sex-segregate our jobs, our classrooms and social arenas, too. Emotional intimacy is the real threat to a relationship, not a one-off hour with a stranger from Craigslist. Ultimately, there are no guarantees that one's partner won't find love elsewhere. But controlling one's partner to prevent it only makes matters worse -- it makes them want to leave you. A better strategy is to be open, emotionally and perhaps sexually, too.
Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott