Friday, May 24, 2013

Cheating woman post of the day

I'm doing a lot of reading about women who cheat and the reasons they do it in order to create a sort of virtual affair in my imagination that I will use for some fiction I am creating so there will be a a lot of posts on the subject here.

I found this quote interesting:
'I love Peter dearly,' Sheila says. 'He's a good husband, and father. I like cooking with him and gossiping about the neighbours. He's my pal and I'd never want to lose that. Sex with Michael is a purely separate thing; it's about erotic abandonment, being seen as just a woman rather than as Peter's wife, or "the doctor" or a mum. Any working mother will know what I mean. Every woman needs something that is hers alone. Some of my friends ride, some sing in choirs, I have Michael.' 
Why is that interesting? It's the larger context that makes it interesting. All by itself it's just one of millions of examples of the sort of banal lies women and men tell themselves and others to excuse their desire for illicit sex. But now read the quote that opens the piece and think about it again.
The line that jumps right out at me is: "things I'd stopped wearing for my husband, Peter, even before we were married." Imagine Sheila and Peter very much in love with one another in the days before their marriage. She has sexy lingerie but has stopped wearing it for him. He asks why. She says she doesn't feel comfortable wearing it anymore (we know she said that that because that is what women always say when they don't want to wear lingerie for a man). Now flash forward and there she is standing in the lingerie store buying a sheer bra with matching G-string for her lover Micheal. Does anyone imagine that she looked at the G-string and thought, "That looks comfortable."

(I also love the line about how her husband Peter would have gotten suspicious if she'd worn her lingerie more regularly. The real problem, of course, is that he would have wanted to have sex when he saw her in lingerie and he would have wanted the kind of wild erotic abandonment that such lingerie suggests and she doesn't want to give that to him anymore, in fact she stopped wanting to give him that even before they got married. "Any working mother will know what I mean. Every woman needs something that is hers alone." The real crime is the thing she thinks of as something that "just happened by itself", that she stopped loving and started denying her husband; it's just collateral damage that another man ends up enjoying the thing she denies the man who should be getting her love.)

And do note her age! Sheila is in her mid forties at the time of the affair. Age is often given as a reason not to dress erotically anymore. A woman will say she could wear clothing when she was in her twenties  but now she feels ridiculous in it and she'll keep saying that right up to the day in her mid forties when she suddenly wants to feel sexy for her new lover and then it's bring on the G-string.

Myla only sells one G-string (famous because it was once featured on Sex and the City), by the way, so you can see for yourself what she bought and wore for her lover Michael. That's a key element in any affair. The sex has to feel really illicit and daring and what better way than to buy yourself something like that. It's a positive joy for Sheila to do this thing for herself, and Michael of course. It's understandable. Sin and betrayal is always understandable because we all sin and betray. One of the reasons to have an affair is to step out a bit and do things you wouldn't normally do. So you buy the sexy lingerie or get a lot more meticulous about your grooming, or wear nicer clothes, start reading poetry, follow more sophisticated culture like opera, ballet or poetry, or follow much less sophisticated culture like going to the track or the fights. All in all, you create a more interesting version of yourself. And you create this new you for yourself!

Think about Sheila washing her underwear by hand and drying it with the hair dryer and finally hiding it in an old track suit. That's an adventure! It's like being a spy. It's fun.The effort involved only increases the fun because she likes getting into it.

Yes, it was important for lover Michael to be thrilled when he saw her in the G-string but that is still a selfish desire because Sheila did it to support her secret vision of herself as a great and exotic lover. Most women are fantastic lovers when they put the effort into it, by the way. That's the easy part. The thing that needs explaining is why they think it's fair to stop doing so after the man has committed his life to them and sometimes then turn around and start doing for some other guy. And the answer is that the whole thing was purely selfish from the get-go. Sheila sought attachment and love when it suited her, and all of society sanctioned this desire of hers, but now that she no longer craves that she is having an affair.

But suppose she had not had the affair but everything else remained the same. That too would have been a betrayal. And if Peter were to complain about this, he would have been told to man up and deal with the fact that women change as they get older. But the only thing that has really changed is her feeling for him.

Which is why comfort isn't really the issue. If comfort really mattered to women, they would all wear their manky old track suits every day instead of hiding their lingerie in them. Note above that Sheila now favours her husband with Marks and Sparks utility knickers that she wears so long they are greying! Does anyone think that she does that for comfort? The real issue is effort. Women (and men) either do or do not make an effort to be attractive for others. That effort is the real problem and not discomfort.

The affair really gets unfair if we consider poor Peter who stopped getting the special treatment even before they got married! But she says she loves him:
'He's a good husband, and father. I like cooking with him and gossiping about the neighbours. He's my pal and I'd never want to lose that.'
Well, it's much easier to say things like that than face up to the fact that you're a selfish jerk.

On the other hand, why did she get away with it? I don't mean the affair that her husband, presumably, doesn't know about. No, the problem is that she started cheating him years before when she stopped making the effort she was willing to make early in their relationship. It was all bait and switch. She wore sexy lingerie when she was alone and wanted to attract a man. Once she had one, she said she didn't feel comfortable and confident in sexy clothes anymore so she stopped wearing them. But the point is that she let herself stop feeling comfortable and confident. Anyone want to bet that she didn't start exercising and being a bit more meticulous about her intimate grooming when she bought that G-string? Why is it okay for a woman to give a man that sort of extra effort when she is interested in having her self esteem propped up but deny it to him after she has vowed to love all the days of her life? For it's that kind of betrayal, which receives the full sanction of our culture, that makes the other kind possible.

I can easily imagine (because I've heard many women argue this) that it is unfair to expect a woman to feel the same spark that motivated her to make such efforts in the early days of a relationship later in marriage. I'm not sure why it's unfair. Is it because it would require effort and dedication?
 I stopped fancying Peter years ago. The girls were small and sex with him had long been just another chore, like loading the dishwasher. 
Think of how different that statement would be treated coming from a man talking about his wife. Do you think he'd get a sympathetic write up in the paper?

Final thought: the article suggests another motive for why more women are cheating on their husbands.
Thousands of women like Sheila are enjoying what they believe to be no-strings flings. Having witnessed the devastation divorce wreaked on their parents' generation, they have no desire to end their marriages. Instead they are searching for variety in an otherwise humdrum routine.
 How lovely, she's cheating in order to save her marriage.

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