I love being in the flow of ideas; or just in the flow (but that's another post); life is so much simpler here.
For a long time I've felt that the average philandering male has gotten the short end of stick. Just think of how we have vilified so many otherwise good men; I don't need to name them here (even to get more Google pings).
(BTW: the word philander has two definitions, both of which are followed by the phrase: 'Used of a man'. I haven't been able to find a similar word 'used for a woman'. Well, there ARE some, but they are of the four-letter variety.)
It really came to a huge head for me over the big golfer-hero media frenzy. The amount of muck-racking that went on, and still goes on, was startling and embarrassing. Yes, I knew it was to be expected. We've become a culture that feeds on scandal. It was interesting to me that maintaining a boundary about NOT hearing all the BS was so difficult. And why is scandal such a big deal? --also another post.
Recently, I've had several conversations about this. And now here is an article, by neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Louann Brizendine, M.D., that more or less proves my point. Dr. Brizendine wrote The Female Brain, and has recently released her book, The Male Brain. Here is a transcript of an interview in Elle magazine with the doctor. The interview is very interesting, though I almost didn't read past the author's seeming skepticism.
So what do I think?
If fidelity is important to you, you better cover it in the contract. Yes, I mean the marriage contract, or your wedding/commitment vows.
Fidelity is NOT automatically included anymore because so many write their own, and many don't 'get it' that what they write is, indeed, a contract. And I assert that the couple standing in front of the officiant MAY not be totally engrossed in what is actually being said in the more traditional services. In fact, the more traditional, the less likely the actual words will be heard.
Let's wake up. As a culture, we've developed a huge double-standard that makes (used to make) men just sowers of wild oats, while making women sluts or whores or worse. Let's learn to understand ourselves better. And we'll still let men get away with it unless we (the media) feel some kind of need to 'take them down' or improve our ratings.
So - talk about it. Discuss the if-then. What will be the consequences of philandering behavior? For either partner? Say out loud, "I expect total and complete fidelity 100% of the time, and if I don't get it, this will be the result."
I don't subscribe for a second to the theory that men can't help it. Of course, they can and millions of faithful men have proven that.
I do not mean, in any way, to excuse extramarital (or extra-relational) philandering. I DO think we need to grow up - as a culture, and to learn more about how we're wired and why we do the things we do. And what aspects of living together are really important.
And frankly, I believe that some of the casual sex engaged in by married/committed women MAY be different (and possibly more harmful) because they might have underlying motives such as a need to get even, or to punish, or to raise their own self-esteem. That is not even about sex, but about something else, entirely.
And lastly, if we were to grow up culturally, the harmless sexual behaviors of consenting adults might go back to being a private matter rather than fodder for a ratings-hungry media. Imagine the time that would be freed up for important matters. Consider this article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Saul Friedman.
AND, I think that much of this can apply to same-sex couples as well, with obvious, and not so obvious differences. A lot of it is just truly understanding what we promise when we decide to 'commit' ourselves to another person. And then knowing where one's own integrity lies when it comes to the promises we've made. Yes, promises can be broken; it happens everyday. It's important to me to be sure that I never do so accidentally, or because 'I just couldn't help it'.