the issue of infidelity


image from wiki commons

When I was putting my thoughts together for my tasting of Shades of Gray, I realised that the personal bias I have against infidelity was somewhat lessened by the author using the theme within the context of one of the character’s growing acceptance of his homosexuality.

Don’t get me wrong because, and no matter what the circumstances, I still hate the act with a passion.

However, in the case of sexuality, I can understand why someone would want to explore a long-denied part of them, especially after they have, for the first time, met the person with whom they have an intense physical and emotional connection.

What do you think?

Are you more willing to be convinced by a character having an m/m or f/f affair outside of a committed m/f relationship than you would be if the ‘liaison’ (translation = me trying not to show my blatant bias) was heterosexual or bisexual in nature?

I’m curious.
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About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
This entry was posted in brooke mckinley, me, serious randomness, themes. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to the issue of infidelity

  1. Tam says:

    I don't have quite the same intense feelings on the issue you do but I don't think anyone likes a cheater in general. However I can live with it in the case you described or if the relationship is basically over, the sex poor or non-existent and they stick with the new person after straying. Or maybe it's if there is a connection with the new person vs random bar hook-ups and one night stands.

    It didn't bother me in Shades of Gray because he didn't love her and it was a sham relationship although he had sex with her (but not after he hooked up with the new guy).

  2. Chris says:

    I think reading Rick R. Reed's Through the Closet Door gave me a better idea of how long it can take to acknowledge, much less accept, that one might have feelings for one's own gender, so that's a case in which infidelity doesn't upset me as much as usual in a book.

  3. Mandi says:

    Hmmm..very interesting question. I think my answer is it doesn't matter if you are cheating with someone same or different sex, you are still a cheater. (that is of course if you and your partner have agreed to have a monotonous relationship).

    I say “I think” because obviously this is not a black or white question (at least to me) and there are circumstances that can lead me to think maybe it is less wrong.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Last year in October while on vacation I came back early to our hotel room from a girls night out and found my husband with someone. Considering I thought we were happy and doing great, to say I was shocked is an understatement. So I have strong feeling about infidelity at the moment. I have not read the book and I will probably avoid it and others like it for awhile because right now it sucks… Maybe this time next year my feelings will be different.
    Suzi.

  5. Tam says:

    Oh Suzi. I'm so sorry. That definitely colours your reactions to certain themes. Hugs to you.

  6. JenB says:

    I can't read about cheating between a man and a woman outside a m/f relationship.

    I can, however, handle reading about a man cheating on his wife with another man. I still don't condone it (the cheating), but in that context it doesn't make me nearly as angry.

    But if a [committed] man cheats on his [committed] male partner with another man, then I'm just as pissed as if he'd cheated on his wife with another woman.

    “Playing” doesn't bother me if it's consensual. If two players wanna bring in a third (or fourth! hehe), who am I to get in their way? πŸ˜€

    BTW, I love Mandi's reference to a “monotonous” relationship. Freudian slip, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

  7. Chris says:

    Oh, Suzi. 😦

  8. Val says:

    Good question, Kris. I, too, find cheating a hard thing to forgive in a character (whether in m/f or m/m fiction).

    I could see it happening in a moment of passion, but the character would have to take responsibility for his actions and either recommit to his original partner and never stray again, or have the infidelity become a huge change in his life where he commits to the new partner (and then never strays again).

    I'm with Tam in that I wasn't bothered by it in Shades of Gray. I didn't see Miller and his fiancee really loving each other at all since they were unenthusiastically engaged for like five years. I saw them both as needing the status of an engagement for whatever reasons. Miller's subsequent commitment to Danny was clearly where his heart lay.

  9. ah Suzi, I am so, so sorry. Infidelity sucks. People gets their rocks off for a few moments of fun and don't think of the long lasting effects.

    Cheating destroys families, lives and hearts. if you are in a monogamous relationship and make that promise to your partner, no matter the gender or sex, you don;t go sticking your dick or hoo haa in mysterious waters.

    I hate heroes or heroines who chest, especially after they know they love another person. Rubs me the wrong way.

  10. Jenre says:

    This is a tough one. It might sound hypocritical but I can't condone infidelity where a man cheats on his wife with another woman, unless it's a one night drunken thing when he was missing his wife for whatever reason and then he fesses up and deals with the consequences of his stupidity.

    However, in an m/m book I'm more likely to forgive a character who cheats on his wife/girlfriend, especially if their relationship is either a completely sham (as in she's a beard to keep him in the closet or he only married her to help her out of a tricky situation) or if their relationship is going down the toilet as he's conflicted by his sexuality or if she openly gives permission for him to have sex with another man (in which case, is that technically cheating?).

    My FIL cheated on my MIL, and 3 years later hub and I are still dealing with the aftermath of that, so I know how painful and destructive it can be. It takes a good author to make a hero out of a cheater.

  11. I am with Tam and Val here – I am not fussed about reading infidelity – it's what happens after that is important..

    I will say however that cheating is cheating irrespective of the context or the situation that it falls under…

    Because there is always the choice to man up or woman up – if the relationship isn't going well and say look, this isn't happening – something have to give…

    I am aware it's not as simplistic as I am saying – but neither is a quick drunken shag in a public toilet…

    One only makes you the bigger person about it…

    E.H>

  12. Ingrid says:

    I see a clear separation in what happens in our books and what happens in real life.
    For the books I am with JenB. Most times the “cheating” is something that furthers the plot, helps people to get out of the closet etc.
    But once committed it is a big no-no for me.

    Real life is no-no anway. (((hugs)) Suzi. It is so destructive

  13. Infidelity is infidelity. And it bothers me when someone is hurt by it. But when a relationship is over and both partners know it, it's still not nice but more acceptable when one of them cheats. The one thing I absolutely can't stand is when the cheating partner goes back and forth between his old and new partner. Ugghh!

  14. Anesthezea says:

    I'm about to ramble. Sorry!

    I've read some pretty powerful stories before that involved cheating (mostly in fanfiction) and while the stories were very good, they were painful to read.

    The ones that immediately come to mind were ones that I finished despite my angst over what was going on in the story because the writing was so good and the authors did things in such a way that I understood the emotional turmoil everyone in the story was going through and felt the cheating in the story was relevant to the story, the characters, and how everything evolved throughout. The whole thing was an ugly, emotional journey and I had to see how things turned out. If not a happy ending, then a hopeful one, you know?

    I suppose my point is that the right author can keep me reading even though I really detest cheating in a story, especially if it's one of the main characters cheating on the other main character.

    As for real life, it's not only the people directly involved that get hurt by cheating. My best friend of 13 years started making blatant overtures to my other best friend's husband. She lied to me about it, tried to pass if off as him coming on to her (What should I do? How do I let him know I'm not interested? etc) and when I found out what was really going on and confronted her about it (How could you do this to my other friend? To me?) she still expected me to cover for her. When I wouldn't, she blamed me and in her words, she “washed her hands of me”. It hurt horribly and still does, almost two years later.

    I guess I feel that in fiction and real life, no one really wins where infidelity is involved. Someone will always be hurt by it.

    /end rambling

  15. K. Z. Snow says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. K. Z. Snow says:

    Depends entirely on the circumstances. There are no hard and fast rules, as far as I'm concerned.

    (Yikes, Suzi, I feel bad for you. Personal experience is bound to color our perception of fiction. That's why I'm squeamish about a lot of BDSM in a Dom/sub lifestyle context. I sincerely hope things look up for you soon!)

  17. Kris says:

    Tam: I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me in 'Shades of Gray' because, although it might have been a sham on his part, I don't think it was on hers. As I said me feelings were somewhat lessened because of the context of him dealing with his sexuality, but still…

    Chris: I think that's it in a nutshell for me, Chris. The stories I've heard about being closeted or learning to accept sexuality has made me more empathic; however, my personal bias still has a mostly black/white approach when it comes to infidelity of any kind.

    Mandi: “I say “I think” because obviously this is not a black or white question (at least to me) and there are circumstances that can lead me to think maybe it is less wrong.”

    I guess the acceptance of sexuality for me is an instance of when it can be 'less' wrong, but still in no way 'more' right. If that makes sense.

  18. Tam says:

    Somebody needed to buy that chick the book “He's not that into you” They'd been living in LA for 5 years, she'd followed him there so they'd obviously been dating for a while, he insisted they keep their own apartments, didn't talk to her for weeks because of “work”. Gee honey, you think that's normal? She didn't WANT to believe. She saw him kissing the other guy and still thought it wasn't what she thought? What the hell could it be? The guy was choking and needed mouth to mouth? They weren't married or living together although they were technically engaged. So I guess that made it easier to accept than if they had been married and he'd professed his undying love or they had kids.

  19. Kris says:

    Suzi, oh hun. There is so much that I want to say, but I can't here because it's not solely my story to share. Know that you're in my thoughts. (((HUGS)))

    JenB: I think my feelings as very similar to yours, including the one about Mandi's 'monotonous relationship'. πŸ™‚

    Val: I don't disagree that Miller's commitment to Danny was anything less than true. I just wish he'd sorted that stuff out with his finance first. Hey, let me dream about a perfect world. πŸ™‚

    Katiebabs chook: “Cheating destroys families, lives and hearts. if you are in a monogamous relationship and make that promise to your partner, no matter the gender or sex, you don;t go sticking your dick or hoo haa in mysterious waters.”

    Word. Pisses me off no end, too.

    Jenre: “It takes a good author to make a hero out of a cheater.”

    That's a really interesting comment, Jen. I think I'm gonna have to mull on it a little. Not deliberately being mysterious, but just need to think about some of the other characters I've come across in these circumstances and what's may or may not have worked for me. Hmmm…

  20. Kris says:

    EH: “One only makes you the bigger person about it…”

    True that. I think it's because I have an understanding of what happens after is why I hate the act so much. Just hits too close to home.

    Ingrid: “I see a clear separation in what happens in our books and what happens in real life.”

    This is a topic that I've been thinking about a lot lately, Ingrid, and I actually have something waiting to be posted about it. I'll do it asap because it's kind of associated with this post too and it will be interesting to hear what you and others think about my rambling on the issue.

    Janna: “The one thing I absolutely can't stand is when the cheating partner goes back and forth between his old and new partner.”

    Hell yes. This is also why I hated a certain not-to-be-named character that everyone loved. πŸ™‚

    Anesthezea: “I guess I feel that in fiction and real life, no one really wins where infidelity is involved. Someone will always be hurt by it.”

    That is very true.

    “I suppose my point is that the right author can keep me reading even though I really detest cheating in a story, especially if it's one of the main characters cheating on the other main character.”

    You're right – and this picks up on Jen's comment too. I can only think of one story that made me feel like that and this was Chris Owen's Bareback. My heart broke when I was reading that, but still I read on because I was emotionally invested int he story and determined to find out what happened to the protags. It was very powerful.

  21. Kris says:

    KZ: I'm pretty black and white on this one. That damned personal bias. πŸ™‚

    Tam: I don't disagree with you. The chick was living in fairy land if she thought everything was hunky dory with the relationship. For me, it also made the whole situation 'less' wrong – I'm so stealing this phrase -, but I still have a 'but'.

  22. Chris says:

    Kris – During my recent rereading, I realized that I was also displeased with that “certain not-to-be-named character that everyone loved” when the pregnancy was announced. Everything after that was pretty damn codependent and I was pretty annoyed with the other codependent party in that relationship by the end.

    *waits to be smitten down for heresy*

  23. Kris says:

    *pretty sure there's only a Chris-shaped lightning mark in a condo in MN right now*

  24. Chris says:

    Only a flesh wound!

  25. Kris says:

    LOL. Yeah, but the Great Defender is asleep right now. You're so dead when she wakes up. *g*

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the love ya'll… I am trying to deal esp living in a foreign country without family and friends. I did get a HIV test when we went to the states for Xmas and so far so good. I don't see things going well esp since the older kids found out. But I am hoping and praying for a solution one way or another…
    It's weird experiencing it instead of reading and thinking what you would do if it happened to you. So many other things to consider…
    Suzi.

  27. Chris says:

    *hugs for Suzi*

  28. Kris says:

    *BIG, GINORMOUS HUGS for Suzi*

    “It's weird experiencing it instead of reading and thinking what you would do if it happened to you. So many other things to consider…”

    Yes. Unless you live it, it is difficult to even begin to comprehend what you go through.

    I sent you an email, btw, AND I included links to cookies that you should be able to access. If I can't be there with you, I can at least be there in spirit. πŸ™‚

  29. Lily says:

    In RL I absolutely don't condone infidelity at all but in books it's a bit easier for me to handle.

    I really don't think it makes a difference whether you're cheating with someone of the opposite sex or the same sex. Cheating is cheating. However if it furthers the plot and the relationship wasn't real (marriage of convenience or more friends with benefits than a couple) I can deal with it.

  30. orannia says:

    (((Suzi))) My thoughts are with you.

    From where I sit…well, part of me wants to say that there is no excuse (I had a flatmate whose fiance cheated on her – he broke her heart and all he neded to do was be honest. And when he visited he acted like everything should be exactly as it was. Fat chance!) and part of me wants to admit that things aren't black & white and that each situation is different.

    I haven't read it in a book and in all honesty I don't know if I could…

  31. Mumma J says:

    Oh Suzi, big hugs from the Mumma…

    Thanks Sissy for giving me the heads up about your topic.

    I absofuckinglutely hate infidelity!

    You know why, you were there and kept both the boy child and I from going right over the edge and straight into lalaland. It took me five years to get over it and come out okay (well reasonably okay) the other side. Now it's a long ago thing, thank God!

    Life is good now, well it is, if you don't count the fact that I am now off school suffering from stress leave!!! Day 2 of the new school year and not a teenager in sight!!!!! MMMmmm things are mighty peaceful at the moment.

  32. Kris says:

    Lily: “In RL I absolutely don't condone infidelity at all but in books it's a bit easier for me to handle.”

    It's one of the interesting things about fiction, isn't it. That certain issues are made more accessible if you will because it's not happening to you in RL. Something I both like about it and, if not dislike, but find challenging too.

    Orannia: It's a hard one that for certain and certainly a topic that people, like me, have strong views about.

    Mumma: You so rock for your honesty. I luff you lots. πŸ™‚

  33. Natasha says:

    Cheating is cheating! If you want to explore another aspect of your sexuality then make sure you are single. There is no excuse! Respect your partner enough to be honest with them. (you don't have to tell them you want to shag the nearest bloke but do tell them it's not working or something) You might end up with a friend instead of someone ready to string you up and/or destroy everything you are or have built. I have found those that are honest tend to end up with ex's that are friends and are ready to help them in new relationships.

    tish

  34. Kris says:

    “Cheating is cheating! If you want to explore another aspect of your sexuality then make sure you are single. There is no excuse! Respect your partner enough to be honest with them.”

    True that, Tish. True that.

  35. nichem says:

    *big hugs for Suzi*

    In RL, I agree that cheating is cheating, and I can only think of rare instances where it would be at all acceptable. As Tish said, if something is wrong, talk to your partner! Much better in the long run to be honest with them than sneaking behind their back.

    Oddly, though, in m/m books, I'm not as bothered by cheating as long as it's a guy in an m/f relationship cheating with another guy. I think that's for 2 reasons– 1) being that they're the main characters, I'm more emotionally invested in the m/m pairing than the m/f pairing which is usually just briefly described and 2) in m/m books, if an m/f relationship exists, it's often presented as sorta loveless/ sexless (or bad, infrequent sex) like in “Shades of Gray”.

    Now if it's one of the main characters in an m/m book cheating with another guy– that I don't like. Gives me a sick feeling in my gut when I'm reading it, and to make it through the book, I really need to see the cheater suffer a bit.

  36. Natasha says:

    Suzi
    I am so sorry for what you are going through right now. Just know you have friends around the world who are thinking of you.
    take care
    tish

  37. Kris says:

    Richelle: You raise such terrific points about the emotional investment you have in the main characters having a relationship as well as the common portrayal of any m/f relationship as loveless/sexless. I totally agree, especially with your first point. It's one of the reason why I keep reading a story regardless of how challenging the themes are.

    “I really need to see the cheater suffer a bit.”

    Oh, hell yes. Case in point = Jake. πŸ™‚

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