Cheating is Still a Gender Biased Issue

A few years ago I wrote a post aimed at women who cheat and how they give non-monogamy a bad name.  It’s something that over the years has come up time and time again, and the reason I wrote it pointing the finger at women specifically is that I feel there is a huge discrepancy between how we treat men who cheat, versus women.  And thus, I want to address this point again, but from a different angle now that I have grown a little older, wiser, and if I’m honest a little bolder with my recent life experiences.

Firstly, whenever I hear the sad news that a friend of mine has experienced cheating, the first thing I do is calmly remove myself from the situation and slowly gather information before forming any opinion.  I have learned that being Switzerland is a far more valuable place to sit than just picking sides and quickly reaching out to both parties in a quest to plant my flag on the winning side.  I am always available to listen, and provide any insights when asked, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, I do not go out of my way to seek out drama anymore.  I would rather be approached than provide my unsolicited opinions into someone else’s very complex relationship.

The next step I take, and the most important one to this post and my current gender blogging trend, is to pretend that the opposite gender is telling me the story and gauge how my reaction changes to the information (yes this is valuable in same sex couples too).   And why do I feel this is so important?  Because throughout my childhood and formative years, I bore witness to at least a dozen acts of indiscretions either through my mother, or hearing her talk with her friends about them.  And one clear thing always resulted, a witch hunt, and it was almost exclusively towards the male.  Whether the man did the cheating or not, he always seemed to deserve it somehow.  He either treated the woman badly and thus drove her away, or he was lying man-whore who should have never gotten married in the first place, or the ever common drunken mistake with the whole forgive and forget or divorce the so-and-so etc.

Growing up with this constant narrative, I began to ask myself why cheating was always exclusively blamed on the man.  And further to this, why the women always escaped unscathed even when they were the ones who very often cheated.  And this line of questioning started to expand further after having experiences of my own in the this very dicey place.  Every single time that I have come close to cheating it has been my own doing, and I would say 80 percent of the time, the man has been the one to put the brakes on.  Yes, this is full disclosure.  I was very unhappy in the latter part of my last long term relationship and I came increasingly close to cheating on numerous occasions.  And again, I repeat, I was the one who was in the drivers seat.  And what’s more, I was the one who consciously drank excessively in order to have something to blame if I got caught or needed an out.

Perhaps I am just more self aware than many people out there.  Or perhaps I just have reached a point in my life whereby I would rather be honest with myself and others than sugar coat a damn thing.  Whatever the case may be, I have not actually participated in this male witch hunt.  And that is definitely against the grain.  Yes, it takes two people to cheat.  And yes, relationships are incredibly complicated, and that only supports my theory that always blaming one side, especially the men is just wasted time, energy and makes everyone involved look even more like the assholes.  So I guess where I am at right now is that cheating is an issue for the couples themselves.  If you are going to form an opinion on someone else’ relationship, I don’t think it is too much to ask that you try and look at it from both sides first.  Cheating is a gender stereotyped issue and thus we need to ensure that we flip the narrative and judgement every once in a while, if for nothing else, than to give hope to the future generations that cheating will be discussed more fairly and judged on individual merit and not just gender sway.

I would love to hear your opinions on this, or lessons that you have learned when it comes to helping friends through indiscretions, so please leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter.

The Swing Club High

Saturday night my partner and I decided that we needed a night out, swing club style.  And yes, it has been a while since we’ve attended a club. So, in direct contrast to this time last year when we were attending once a month, this actually felt like more of a treat or a special event if you will.  One of the things that we are both very good at doing is going in with low expectations (which I do not mean negatively).  And by that I mean, if we attend and get to talk to a few couples throughout the evening and finish the night with just the two of us having sex surrounded by people we call that a great night.  And I know, for anyone who has never attended one that may come as a shock.  So, I will re-iterate for clarity.  If we are able to socialize and then just have sex the two of us, we go home meeting our expectations.

Now with that in mind, this last weekend, was a rush!  And why?  Because we not only chatted with one new couple, but we actually connected with a bunch of really rad people.  There was laughter, mingling and just a general excitement that felt electric.  I mean, we actually met a few couples that we want to see outside of the club.  And that, is truly amazing for us.  Imagine how hard it was for you to find someone when you were single.  Now imagine that the dating pool is only 1% of that, being non-monogamous specifically.  And now we are looking for not one, but two people we get along with!  It’s a teeny tiny mathematical number that if we looked at the odds with a critical mindset, it would probably be better to just not even try.

Thankfully though, I am a near annoying optimist with an unwavering perseverance to keep trying.  And for my partner, well, the rewards far outweigh any risk, by pretty much the positive power of whatever negative we are sitting in right now.  And that is why I am jubilant right now, in knowing that we interacted with a few couples!  I mean, it’s a damn near impossibility and yet, here I sit, trying to calm my mind from racing too far ahead with the fantasy of dating multiple couples at the same time.  So, I am trying to snap myself into a logical, reality based frame.  But, I cannot quite shake this smile.  And to hear my partner daily say how much fun Saturday was, just brings a smile to my face.  It was fun, and we have real opportunity in the future to continue the fun.  And, well, I am just on a little bit of a swing club high right now.

The actual events of Saturday were fabulous, with playtime and touching of new people and the amazing visual stimulus that we keep coming back for.  But, the reality is, I am far more excited for the future us, rather than where the two of us were in that moment just shortly around 1 AM.  It’s easy to get laid in a swing club, especially when you bring your own partner.  What’s tricky, is finding something fun outside of it.  A couple with whom, you are trying to set up a date in the real world.  And if everything lines up the way I am so hopeful for, maybe a few of them?

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So Naïve! The Couples Quest

I’m sure I have touched on this topic before, but in light of a recent conversation on the Hunter Gash and Alley Cat show (Which you should check out at GTFO if you’re 18 or older) I feel it deserves another look.  When E and I decided to look for couples to date together, I went into it with rose coloured glasses.  In short, I was optimistic and naive.  I honestly thought that amazing people would attract each other and that finding couples would be easier than finding new singles as a result.  I thought that all you would need to do was vet one person, and then naturally they would bring to the table their equally amazing partner, just as I was doing.  We would all get together for drinks, and laugh, share stories, and sexy times would inevitably be the result.

Yes, I went into this whole thing believing that finding couples would be simple.  I never considered opposites attract.  Nor did I ponder just how one sided many relationships are when it comes to entering into non monogamy.  I foolishly assumed that if two people were ready to head out on a date, that they would have put the same level of work into their relationship that my partner and I had.  That they would be confident (after the nerves of the first meeting wore off), and sure of what they wanted.  Oh, and I thought that as couples this would eliminate all the ghosting, bread-crumbing and they would be serious, AKA not time wasters.  It after all takes work to schedule 4 people, and that investment alone should mean that we are all willing and able.  Hence, when we finally meet, everyone would have the same goal, which is to have fun, and see if we all get along to determine if we would become friends or something more.  Oh my poor little naive and optimistic heart…

I also, very foolishly thought that because I already have a partner, and was not looking for perfection, that the couples we interacted with would be on that same wavelength too.  You know, looking for fun, willing to overlook a thing or two, and just enjoy the experience of meeting new people.  But oh no!  That has not been the case at all.  In fact, just recently I was chatting to a couple that I thought would be a lot of fun, and was just about to start scheduling a meeting between the four of us, when they dropped the bombshell.  They wanted to find a couple to help them raise their family.  I replied that we weren’t quite at that point yet in our lives with family, but why don’t we meet to see if we even click and go from there.  Not only did they not respond but I got deleted and blocked!  I mean I get that we weren’t quite on the same page, however, what’s the harm in meeting or at least getting to know a couple before you start a family with them?

And did I mention that we are looking for a stable couple?  And by stable, I do mean a couple who love each other, and have a good solid foundation.  A couple that leaves the majority of their drama at the door.  Yes, we all have issues in our primary relationships, but we have come across two couples in particular who used opening up to try and save their troubled relationships.  And guess what, it didn’t work!  And it really sucked for us, as the couple coming into it.  For you see, I begin to care about the people I’m dating, and then when the relationship deteriorates I get upset too, and there are tears and then pretty much everyone breaks up!  It’s a crappy feeling!

So now I go into these first meetings a little guarded and I make a point of asking how long the couple has been together to potentially avoid that particular pain.  And while I can weed out the FWB or new partners very quickly it’s still time consuming business.  I tend to gravitate towards couples who have been together 5 plus years.  I find couples who are in love and stable to be much more attractive than just a couple of hot FWB who only have amazing sex together and no real intimacy.  Why?  Because I am not looking for one time hookups.  Scheduling is tough.  My life is very busy.  Finding partners who are in the same boat makes life much more relaxed and easy going, as you can accept everyone’s priorities and really value the moments the four get together.  For me, it is more intimate and special.

I hope in the next few years, I can lower my guard a little and go with the flow again.  But right now I feel stuck in this weird zone of too many red flags from everyone I talk to.  And I suppose part of the reason is in that open relationships, swinging, etc are becoming a little less taboo.  So the pool is getting a little fuller around the edges.  Many couples are dipping a toe in here and there.  Or testing the water, so to speak.  While exciting, it’s a little tricky when your ready to start swimming laps, and leave the water wings behind.  But hey, at least a few of those toe dippers will stick around to experience the full pool soon right?

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How Do I Get My Partner to Explore Non-Monogamy?

This question, right here, is the question that has been asked over and over again, when a person discovers non-monogamy for the first time.  They ask it in earnest, as if, there is some magical answer that will allow them to keep their spouse and start sleeping with other people immediately.  And it is the most frequent query I personally get when advertising my relationship coaching business.  But for a long time, it was the most difficult one for me to maintain composure and give a thoughtful, well crafted response.  So, I decided to put into writing the best answer I can give, which I hope will encourage any of you asking this question to make healthy decisions and not ruin your current relationship because you discovered something shiny.

First things first, you have to know your partners communication style.  And if you don’t, don’t worry, most couples don’t, but they figure out very quickly what not to do over the course of a relationship.  Finding out both your own and your partners way of thinking, processing and talking is something that is necessary if you want a healthy non-monogamous relationship, because you are going to be talking, and communicating a lot!  If you think a relationship with 2 people takes work, just imagine what happens when you bring new dynamics into the mix.  You need a solid foundation whereby you can talk about safe sex, mistakes, wants, needs, and time management, and do it in a respectful and loving way.  A relationship is a partnership, and your success in non-monogamy will depend on your foundation.

Second, you have to have an idea about what you want in non-monogamy.  Be it simply physical connections (Swinging), dating other people (Open Relationships), or even exploring new relationships (Polyamory).  And here’s the big one, once you figure out what you want, you have to be willing to discuss, and even negotiate (in a healthy way) a relati

onship norm that will actually suit both of you and fit into your current lifestyle.  For example, if you have 3 kids, work 80 hours a week and barely see each other as it is, jumping into a polyamorous relationship may not be feasible.

Third, research, network and more research.  When I first discovered non-monogamy on date one with my current partner, I felt like I was plopped in a foreign world and I made every mistake one could possibly make.  It wasn’t until I started reading books on the subject, in my case open relationships and non-monogamy, and finding online resources that I began to understand it.  Shortly after I started blogging as a way of sorting out my thoughts and emotions and sharing the research that I learned along the way.  And I think it was at about year 4, that I started building a little bit of a community of more open minds.  Friends that I could talk to about what was going on.  And that was when the real turning point was for me.  Once I stopped feeling alone, had done enough research and figured out what I wanted out of non-monogamy our relationship was able to blossom.  So don’t overlook the background and research step, as it may save you many headaches.

Fourth, time.  Let’s say, you have read the book, Sex at Dawn, and you are pretty convinced that humans are non-monogamous by nature, and this is now something that you need in your life.  Perfect, the seed has been planted.  You’ve researched, soul searched and you are ready.  But what about your partner?  An all too common thing I see, is someone rushing home excitedly to tell their partner about this amazing new lifestyle they want to explore and expecting the other person to jump right on board with the new adventure.  And, it almost always ends in disaster.  Why?  Because, we are raised in a society of monogamy.  Flipping a person’s life upside down can take a lot of time to process.  Without getting too much into the coaching side of things, it is an emotional roller coaster for the other person, and often they feel blindsided or worse when presented with the notion the first time.  While non-monogamy may have made perfect sense to you, it often does not immediately resonate with the partner.  And this is where you have to put your own relationship above the needs of your libido.  Giving time, space and allowing the person the opportunity to research, and build their own network of support if this is a direction that they are open to.

And if you get a resounding, Hell No! from the get go, put it on the back burner.  If your relationship started in monogamy, and those were the initial terms that you agreed to, then you may have to accept that that is how it will remain if you stay with your partner.  And remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side.  Non-monogamy is work, yes of course it’s play too, but especially at the beginning it is a lot of hard work and takes an emotional toll at some point or another.

Fifth, do not go into non-monogamy to fix something.  And by this I mean, fix the problem first, talk about it, address it, etc.  Do not, I repeat, do not, expose other people to your relationship issues or use them as Band-Aids.  The goal is to be ethical to yourself, your partner, and all the outsiders that you interact with.  Non-monogamy is not the same as cheating.  It is not a way to get your needs met on the sly, and it is certainly not an easy way to avoid having the tough conversations.  It things aren’t repairable in your relationship, end things before you start swinging or dating together.  Do unto other’s and all that jazz.  No one wants to be used, or find out they were a quick fix, or simply along for the ride in your relationship drama.

And finally, don’t think you have to do it alone.  Many couples on online forums seem to feel all the blood, sweat and tears is more of a badge of honor that each relationship should go through on their own in order to be non-monogamous.  They went through all these mistakes, and you should too.  No shortcuts allowed.   Well, I am here to tell you that if coaching, podcasts, blogs, etc. were an option when I was first introduced to non-monogamy I would have taken that up in a heartbeat.  Learning from other’s mistakes can be as valuable as making them on your own, if you are willing to listen and really learn.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to ask questions, during your exploration and encourage your partner to do the same.  Sometimes all it takes is a little mentorship, or even just an ear to bounce your uncertainties off of to gain the insight you need to move forward.

So have fun out there, practice safe sex and no always means no.

 

If you want to learn more about my non-monogamous coaching services, or would like some reading recommendations please check out my site, www.breakingawayfromrelationshipnorms.com.

Re-Branding Single Men Who Swing

 

In my last post, I discussed the idea of re-branding the outdated term of swinging, or as @HunterGash suggested, adding a new term that better defines his relationship norm and would probably better identify a large group within the lifestyle.  While I personally don’t agree that adding new labels is beneficial in the long term, there was one group that I may actually feel could benefit from a different term, and that is the single lifestyle men.  I know, this may come as quite a shock to many of my readers, especially if you have read a few of my angry rant posts regarding singles in the lifestyle.  But I have given this a lot of thought, and ultimately, I don’t think single men should use the term swingers.

Single men have a lot of hurdles to overcome being a part of the lifestyle.  More in fact than any other group, and the reason is, there is too large of a supply for the actual demand.  As a result, single men are very visible and any bad behaviour is seen, remembered and preventative measures are quickly put in place.  It only takes one bad apple to get a bad reputation for the group, and as there are so many of them, it’s easy for things to get out of hand and therefor simpler to just ban them altogether.  And I have to include myself, because it is much easier to just say single men shouldn’t swing rather than trying the tedious task of weeding out the bad apples or trying to educate them, especially in the heat of the moment.

But, after interacting with a bunch of really great single guys who are positive additions to the swinging community I realized that there has got to be a happy medium between letting them over saturate the community and banning them altogether.  How then do single males become a positive asset within the term swingers?  The best answer I could come up with, is they don’t.  Hear me out…

I think the easiest thing for men to do at this point, is drop the word swinger altogether, and just start saying they are non-monogamous males or something along those lines.  The word swinger is not working, it never really has, and men already have a bunch of terms to pick and choose from that work better anyways, without all the additional stigma of being a swinger added on.  Let’s take a look at a few of the terms available, non-monogamous, single men (a little joke), bulls, bachelors, FWB etc.

To me, single men are not swingers by definition.  Swinging is about partnership, relationships, team building, etc and these are things that single men are not.  Now this is not supposed to be inflammatory or be interpreted as me not wanting to include singles in the lifestyle.  When you’re flying solo, you’re not fully swinging and that’s OK!  Let’s look at single women in the lifestyle, they are given the term unicorn, and I don’t think many people would even think to call them swingers.  They are almost elevated above swingers, as an almost prized possession, whereas single men are below swingers (this is a stereotypical example for a reason and not my personal opinion).  The thing is, singles are not equal to swingers.  Swingers is plural and singles, well, you can do the math on that.

So in short, why as a single male would you set yourself up for double the stigma when you don’t have to?  Why would you even want to use the term swinger?  While many are trying to re-invent it, or rename it, you can just walk away from the label and just be non-monogamous, or bachelors, or even that you enjoy lifestyle parties.  In the words of my old boss, Keep it simple stupid (again, a joke).  Go for what works, and stop fighting what simply isn’t.

And if you want to test out my theory, try putting swinger on your dating profile and watch all your matches disappear.  Then, switch to non-monogamous and while this switch will not open doors, it will keep them from being slammed in your face.  And you are much more likely to get some real conversation going by people who are inquisitive or a little more open minded.  Why is this?  Stigma and taboo are real and very hard to overcome on paper.   So why would you set yourself up for a polarizing hard no right off the bat?  That’s just setting yourself up for failure or at the very least creating just one more difficult hurdle to overcome.  So break free of the double stigma of being single male swingers and avoid all the added negativity of the bad apples who went before you.  Play to your strengths, and don’t hold onto weaknesses.

 

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