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I am more honest with my lover than I am with my wife.

That’s a strange thing to realize, but it’s not altogether surprising. I have long said that I am not honest with the people who are closest to me. There are lots of reasons for it, but mostly, I suspect it’s a product of growing up in a family with a… let’s say, temperamental patriarch. In my family, it was generally understood but rarely spoken that you did everything you could to avoid making him mad. To my mother, that usually meant keeping things back, hidden, and only sharing unpleasant things if it were necessary. She passed that along to me. But somewhere along the line, I figured out that lying about something, and getting away with it, would keep him from flying off the deep end, and if you were caught, well, it was no worse than it would have been otherwise. So really, there was no downside to lying. It kept peace in the house.

Over the years I got very good at lying. Not just about things I don’t want you to know, but about anything. Pretending to think and feel things that I don’t so as to minimize conflict, or maximize social interactions. (There’s some awkward wording for you.) I felt bad about it, from time to time.

Then I learned that, in intellectual circles, pretending to agree with something you don’t isn’t considered lying.  It’s considered debate.

It helps that I am by nature an academic, and am genuinely interested in learning as much as I can about most things. It lends an aire of authenticity to things when I launch into a discussion in support of a topic or position that I may not truly agree with. I think of it as being similar to the Socratic method, always questioning, always pushing, because I learn who I am and what I think by engaging in informed discussion with other informed people. But it’s probably better represented as a ‘devil’s advocate’ kind of thing. I do it with everyone–my students, colleagues, friends. Ashley, and Tina. I use it as a defense mechanism. A suit of armor, piece mail comprised of plates of intellectuality held together with bands of bold-faced but well-practiced lies. It helps me seem sharper, harder. Stops others from realizing just how weak I really am, while simultaneously preventing unpleasant interactions and hurt feelings.

Thanks for sticking with me through that, dear reader. On to the point.

I recently spent an extended period of time with my lover, Tina, in a foreign city. (She was the subject of my previous two posts. At some point I may finish that story. But for now, this is on my mind.) Ours is a relationship born certainly out of mutual physical attraction, but also intellectual and academic respect. We spend much of our time engaging in discussion of recent developments in the world stage, particularly in light of progressive politics, feminism, the notion of privilege, and dietary morality. For the record, I consider myself an ally to most progressive causes, particularly anything dealing with sexual and body rights. But that doesn’t mean I won’t criticize or scrutinize those same movements, because I find that such scrutiny can only improve one’s position, and refusing to see the opposition’s side clouds your judgement and limits your ability to debate them.

It seems I may have pushed it a bit too hard, though. Tina often seemed withdrawn during our visit, save for when we were fucking ourselves into a sweaty stupor. When we parted ways, she shared with me that she felt like she didn’t know who I am. That I present two very different images of myself in almost any issue. I tried to explain what I wrote above, but she said it was more than that. She had caught me in a lie at one point–a minor thing, something I once confessed to her and had forgotten, and didn’t want to admit to in the moment in question. She had called me out on it, I explained, I moved on, but she didn’t.

We are having an affair, she reminded me. Trust is the only thing we have. And you violated that. It was such a little thing. How can I believe you on the major things?

I considered that, and came to the almost immediate conclusion that she was right. I promised to make a conscious effort to avoid such behavior in the future, and it’s a promise I genuinely think I will keep. Ours truly is a relationship built on trust and honesty. She was my friend long before we became lovers, and she knows more about my true feelings and opinions than most people. If I can cloud that for her, then I need to change my behavior.

Yet I don’t feel that way about Ashley. Many things have improved between us, particularly in terms of sexuality and intimacy, but my relationship with my wife is still inherently based on deception and lies. She is my best friend and partner, and once again my lover. I should be honest with her, and loyal. Yet I will sit beside Ashley on the couch at night, talking about our days and our plans for the future while I simultaneously chat digitally with Tina about how badly I want to fuck her. And not the slightest hint of guilt do I feel.

Someone once told me I might be slightly sociopathic. I sometimes wonder if they were right.

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“So what did you think of the conference today?”

I walk down the hall, my hands in my pockets, messenger bag over my shoulder, side by side with Pretty Grad Student.  We spent the day, as did most of our colleagues, at a small conference on management and ecology.  Unlike the massive conferences for which we typically plan for weeks, this was more directed, with an emphasis on the intersection between policy and ecology.

“It was disappointing,” I answer, continuing the inner monologue I’d been running for the past several minutes.  “It was like everyone wanted to be the keynote speaker, so hardly anyone presented any real science.”

“That one guy did.”

“Yeah, one guy,” I agree.  “I was expecting presentations on new findings and advancements in the field, not hours of proselytizing.”  I shake my head and sigh.  “Two days, wasted.  I could have made such headway on my analysis.”

“Quit overachieving,” she scolds me.  “You’re making the rest of us look lazy.”

“Quit being lazy and you too can be the department bitch,” I say with forced enthusiasm.

She snorts.  “Now you’re just whining.”

“Yeah, sorry,” I say.  “Just frustrated.”  I unlock my office door and step inside, tossing my bag into one of the empty chairs across from my desk.  I fall into my large work chair, an excessive expenditure I have never once regretted, and slump comfortably.

Pretty Grad Student shuts my office door and sits on the corner of my desk, silent.  After a moment, she asks, delicately, “Are things going better with your wife yet?”

I glance at her.  We normally don’t talk much about my and Ashley’s relationship.  It’s not like we purposely avoid the subject, but we always seem to be occupied by other things (usually our nether regions).  The only reason she knows we’re in a rough patch is because she stayed with me at my hotel, helping me make the most of my self-imposed isolation.  Her interest surprises me, and I say as much.

“I worry about you,” she says calmly.  “I don’t think anyone realizes how much effort you put into being happy.  I mean, I didn’t realize it either until these past few days.”

“I’m spending time with you because I genuinely enjoy your company,” I say calmly.  “I’m not using you.”

“No, and I’ve never thought you were,” she says.  Then a sly smirk crosses her lips.  “But, for the record, you can use me any way you need, baby.”

I smile at her.  “Thanks.”

Her smirk remains, but she furrows her brow as though concerned.  “Seriously though, it can’t be healthy for you to keep all this frustration bottled up like you do.  It’s great that you put on a stiff upper lip and all that, but eventually you have to let yourself be unhappy.”

“I don’t want to be unhappy,” I answer, annoyed, swiveling to and fro in my chair.  “I don’t have any reason to be unhappy.  I’m tired of being unhappy.”

She stands up and moves toward me, sitting on her knees in front of me.  She takes my hands in hers and locks gazes with me.  “If you want to quit being unhappy, then stop pretending that you aren’t.  Lying to the world about how you feel is one thing, but refusing to let yourself experience your own emotions is another.”  She smiles warmly, if a bit sadly.  “You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever known.  But even the most amazing of men can have bad days, and it sounds to me like you’ve been having an awful lot of them.  You deserve to let it out.”

I look at her and smile weakly.  “Thanks.  But I don’t agree with you.  The best thing I can do is try to keep positive and not let myself get overburdened by my own baggage.”  I squeeze her hands lightly, and she nods quietly.  She kisses my knuckle once before standing, leaning forward, and kissing me gently on the lips.

“Suit yourself, baby,” she says, more lightheartedly than before, but the concern is still there.  “But don’t think I’m going to let this go.  We’re going to talk about it tonight.”

I grin.  “Assuming you can get my mouth off of you long enough to get me to say anything.”

“If you’re not talking, you’d better have your mouth on me.”

“Now you’re just repeating me,” I say as I wave her off.  “Get to work, minion.  I’ll be ready to leave in an hour.”

She glares playfully and snaps her teeth at me.  (It’s much sexier than it sounds, especially coming from her), then turns abruptly, letting herself out.  I hear her voice from around the corner: “Yes sir, professor.”

I look at the empty doorframe, listening to her footfalls as she goes down the hall.  I smile, despite my frustration, and sigh.  Strangely enough, I feel a bit better.

You can’t always have a dramatic climax.  This was one of those times.

——————————————————————————

I pass Marian a fresh cup of coffee.  “Here, I’ll let you doctor this one to your liking.”

“So considerate,” she says, with a touch more sarcasm than one might like.  I watch her pour half a gallon of creamer and a pound of sugar into the cup.  Stir and taste, frown, add another half a pound of sugar.

“I’ll be amazed if you don’t fall into a diabetic coma right here,” I say offhand.  Marian shoots me a half-hearted glare over her cup.

We resume our slow meander along the sidewalk.  Marian has grown quiet, taking more frequent sips of her coffee, leaving me to carry most of the conversation.  I tell her about my work, why I do what I do, stories of student entitlement and mishaps in the field, of being chased on a bum ankle by an angry bull elk, of coming face to tentacle with a jelly fish, of being treed by a mama pig.  She chimes in occasionally, prompting me for more detail or asking questions about various aspects of the story, but for the most part, she just listens.  I talk enough that I drink my coffee more to soothe my throat than for the flavor, even after it grows as cold as the night air around us.  But finally I run out of stories to tell (no small feat, I assure you), and we adjourn to my car.

Marian offers concise turn-by-turn directions to her home.  It’s a small house just off one of the less heavily trafficked city roads, with a gravel driveway leading through a wooden fence to a circular parking area that simplifies exiting the drive.  Flower beds and potted plants adorn the porch and front facade with cheery splashes of red, pink, and yellow.  There are even white window shutters.  It has a distinct Little Stepford House on the Prairie feel to it.  I park and quickly exit the vehicle, moving to the passenger side and opening the door for her.

“Precisely the sort of place I’d imagined,” I remark.  “Cute, comfortable, and inviting.”

“Thanks,” she answers as she takes my hand, exiting the car.  “I put a lot of effort into my flowers.”

I walk alongside her toward her porch, escorting her to her door.  As we approach, she suddenly says, “You know you’re not coming in, right?”

I blink at the back of her head as she mounts the step.  “I thought I’d already established that I held no presumptions about how the evening would end.  I’m merely escorting you to your door.”  She turns and looks at me, and I smile.  “It’s the gentlemanly thing to do, especially after having so thoroughly disappointed you tonight.”

Marian stares at me, her face expressionless.  I merely continue to smile, my hands in my jacket pockets.  After a moment, she says, “Nothing really gets to you, does it?”

I furrow my brow.  “Depends on what you mean.”

“I mean, you’ve been calm, cool, and collected the entire night,” she elaborates.  “Even when you told me…”  She nods her head a little, and opens her hands as though to say, You know what I’m talking about.  “…even then, you were just so cool and confident.  You never lost your charm.”

“I would take that as a compliment if I didn’t suspect there were an underlying ‘but’ somewhere in there.”

She nods.  “It’s a little scary, actually.  Anyone who can keep piling on the charm under those circumstances, to me, must be a sociopath.”

“That’s a hell of a ‘but’.”

She squints slightly, as though assessing me.  “But you’re so honest, and polite, and so fucking charming.”  She punctuates that word with a small stomp of her foot.  She’s frowning intently now, and she looks down at her feet.  “It’s not fair.”

Marian folds her arms across her chest and continues to divert her eyes downward.  I purse my lips and sigh through my nose.  I step forward slightly and lightly touch her forearm while maintaining a bit of distance between us.  She glances up at me, and I offer a half smile as I retract my hand.

“I’m sorry for misleading you,” I tell her.  “Old habits die hard, I suppose.  But you should know it wasn’t my intention to hurt you, or to lie to you.  I asked you out because I was genuinely interested in getting to know you.  I still am.  If you’re not, though, I get it.”  I shove my hands back in my pockets.  “If you want to talk to me again, you’re welcome to text me.  But I’ll put the ball in your court.”

She sighs and nods.  “Don’t expect too much.  You’re a little too dangerous for my liking.”

I smile and return the nod.  “Fair enough.”  I offer my hand, and she grasps it lightly.  I hold hers in both of mine briefly.  “If we never speak again, it was truly a pleasure meeting you, Madam Librarian.”

I release her hands, turn on my heel, and walk to my car.  In a few short seconds, I’m slowly circling around her drive, heading back toward her street.  I glance into my mirror and see Marian still on her porch, watching me go.  I feel a slight pang of guilt, but I shake it off as I pull onto the street and drive away.

I walk through the door to my shared college house and deposit my muddy shoes in the entryway.  It had been raining all day long, an unusual occurrence for late summer, but one that fit my mood perfectly.  I had spent the day dreading my return home, afraid of what was going to happen, how she was going to take it.  I couldn’t see it being anything but terribly unpleasant at best, and relationship-ruining at worst.  But I had to tell her.  It wouldn’t be right for me not to.

Ashley is lounging on the couch in her tiny workout shorts and baggy t-shirt, indicating that none of our housemates are home.  She sprawls in that manner that only tall, athletic people can.  Her legs, impossibly long and muscled, are spread wide, one resting on the back of the couch, the other on the coffee table.  One arm is above her head and bent to prop her head up, and the other hangs limply on the floor.  It would look decidedly uncomfortable, even painful, on a person of slighter stature; she, however, displays all the comfort of a house cat lounging atop its favorite precarious bookshelf.

Her face lights up when she sees me.  “Hey sweetheart, how was school?”

“Schooly,” I reply glumly.  I set my backpack on the floor beside the couch and look down at her.  I take a steadying breath, steeling my resolve, and say as gently as I can, “Ashley, I need to talk to you.”

Her face immediately darkens, and she sits up.  “Okay…  Sit down, let’s talk.”  She switches off the television and pats the cushion beside her.

I sit beside her and interlace my fingers in my lap to keep my hands from shaking.  My heart races, and my chest tightens in anticipation.  I feel like a coward on the front lines of a battle he never expected to face.  Or maybe a brave man walking to the guillotine.  Either analogy holds, I think.

Ashley looks at me, and I think she can tell how nervous I am.  I look away and stare at the darkened television.  She puts a reassuring hand on my knee.  “Honey… what’s wrong?”

I swallow, even though my mouth is dry.  The act strains my throat and causes mild discomfort.  I focus on that pain rather than the anxiety.  I take a deep breath.

“I’ve cheated on you.”

I had intended the admission to be calm and assertive, but it comes out quiet, almost meek.  I keep staring straight ahead, refusing to look at her, struggling to maintain what little composure I can. I hear her breathing beside me, and I keep expecting to hear the heartbroken sobs.  But they never come.  Her hand remains comfortingly on my knee as she asks calmly, “When?”

“Several times,” I reply.  Her measured reaction has bolstered my confidence, and I speak more plainly.  “Since we first started dating, I’ve slept with several other women on multiple occasions.  Don’t bother asking me who because I won’t tell you, nor will I tell you how many.  I don’t think those facts are important.  But I wanted you to know.”

“I wouldn’t ask,” Ashley responds.  Her voice has softened a bit, but she has retained her composure.  “Why are you telling me now?”

I lick my parched lips and sigh.  “Because of last night.”

“When you asked me to marry you.”

I nod.  “It’s been eating me alive for days.  I’ve almost made myself sick worrying about what you would say, about whether you would leave me on the spot.  And you would be completely justified if you did.”  I look down at her hand on my knee, at the small diamond resting on her right hand.  I tentatively reach out and place my hand on hers, touching the gem.  “I asked you to marry me because, when you look at me, you see something I never have, and for the first time in my life, I want to live up to that image.  But I can’t do that if you don’t know what I’ve done, and who I am.”

I take another deep breath and lift my head to face her.  Her eyes are reddened by tears she refuses to let fall.  She’s staying strong, either because she wants to hear me out or because she doesn’t want to lose it yet.  Either way, her expression is like a fist in my gut.  But I push on.  “I’m weak, and shallow, and selfish, despite what you may think.  I’ve cheated on every woman I’ve ever been in a relationship with, including you.  And I can’t promise it won’t happen again.  But I can promise that you are the only woman who has ever made me want to be faithful.  That may not be worth much to some people, but that’s a hell of a thing for me.”

Ashley can’t stop herself now, and the tears roll freely down her cheeks.  I squeeze her hand gently as I finish.  “I’m sorry for hurting you like this.  I know this is probably the last thing you expected after last night.  But I had to tell you, because I love you like I never thought was possible.  And it didn’t feel right to go into this without telling you the truth.”

I stop and look away again, because I can’t bear the pain on Ashley’s face.  I can hear her labored breathing.  She sniffs gently, and a faint whimper escapes her.  It hurts worse than her expression did.  But I wait, sitting still and silent, giving her the time she needs to process this admission, to decide what she wants to do.

And I am surprised when she whispers, “I love you.”

I look to her again, and she’s smiling.  It’s a pained thing, but it’s a smile, regardless.

“I don’t care about your faults,” she continues.  “No one is perfect.  No one will ever live up to the dream we have of the person we’ll spend forever with, and if you spend your whole life looking for that one perfect person, you’ll always be alone.  But you’re as close as I think is possible.”  She clasps my hand fully in both of hers.  “You make me happier than I’ve ever been, you take care of me, and you protect me.  You’ve let me down here, but this is one mistake on a long list of everything you’ve done right.  I would be stupid to let you go because of that.”  Ashley leans forward and kisses my cheek.  “You told me the truth, so I believe you mean everything you’ve said.  And I forgive you.”

Her smile wavers, and her eyes well up again.  She sets her jaw in a serious frown.  “But if I ever catch you cheating on me after this, God Himself won’t be able to help you.”

I hear the anger she’s struggling to control, and I nod slightly.  The only word I can manage is, “Understood.”

She scoots closer to me, hip to hip, and wraps her arms around me.  I respond in kind, and she buries her face in the crook of my neck.  I hold her while she cries softly.  I pet her hair as I struggle to contain my own emotions.  It’s a strange sensation, voluntarily trading months of guilt for a single moment of fear and sadness, but there, with Ashley in my arms, I feel strangely relieved.  I feel free.

I wrote an entry on how to ruin an ongoing affair.  Then I wrote one on how a good cheater cons his/her partner.  Seems only fitting that I conclude this polyamorous trifecta with a piece on how to avoid being cuckolded.

As I said in my last post, there is a prevailing belief that it is easy to spot a cheater, male or female.  The behavior of a cheater changes after the deed is done.  They become reclusive, or secretive.  They don’t want you to look at their phone.  They come home smelling different.  They say things that don’t quite make sense.  They don’t want to be physically intimate.  They are quick to anger, or become excessively defensive at the slightest suggestion of impropriety.  Most people believe it on some level, and to those who do, I write this post for you.

My mother has always told me that I was born with “the Devil’s own charm”.  My dad told me I could “sell ice to an Eskimo”.  Ashley says I could “talk my way out of prison”.  Kelly calls me a “charismatic stallion”.  Hank and my other college friends refer to me as Jedi, because “it’s like you work the Jedi mind trick on every girl you fuck”.  (I wear that moniker with a bit of pride, actually, due to the associated backstory.  Maybe I’ll share someday.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I’m a smooth talker, an entertainer, a stealer of spotlights.  I’m good at reading people face-to-face, and I know how to work a crowd, or a single person.  And before I met Ashley, I put those skills to use for a single purpose: fucking as many girls as possible.  I first noticed and became concerned about my sexual inclinations while dating Kelly, but it was Ashley that made me want to somehow improve myself.  (Not that I’ve succeeded, mind you.)  Once I started college and realized how large the population of potential sexual partners on campus was, I became that guy that most girls I’ve talked to are afraid to meet.  I used every trick in the book, and a few that aren’t, to get a girl in bed, with little to no regard for the greater impacts of my behavior.  As I said, 300 is a very conservative estimate, associated with a frequency distribution that tapered back a bit after my marriage.  It’s a number I was once proud of, but that I now regard with extreme distaste.

I know I repeat this fairly often, but I’m not bragging.  Hurting people is not something to brag about, and I pity you if you do.  I say this merely to provide context.

When I was single, Hank and I would go “skeet shooting”.  (Those of you familiar with both sport shooting and hiphop will get the double entendre.)  He and I would pick a location, usually a bar or club, and we would each take a girl home with us.  Note I didn’t use the word “try”.  We never failed because we knew exactly what to look for: a mixed-sex group with mostly women.  A ratio of 1 man to 2 women is ideal, because usually the men will be in relationships with someone in the group, and the other two, typically, will be unattached.  They’re out for a “good time”, but really, they’re looking for a relationship.  (Don’t ask me why.  I don’t know.  That’s just how it always works out.)  You target that girl and, through the measured application of ethanol and conversation, make yourself the most suave, likeable son of a bitch they and their friends have ever met.  I never went home alone.

However, when I was in a relationship (and yes, this includes today), I had to be careful about the girls I bedded.  The hunt became less about picking a single girl and going to town, and more about reading the girl, measuring her personality and determining whether she would be an easy mark.  There’s no one characteristic that I looked for, but rather a suite of qualities that make a woman an ideal candidate for cheating.

Basically, imagine a quality that would prevent you from being successfully lied to.  That’s exactly what I look for.  For example, exceptionally smart people tend to have a routine that’s easy to plan around, and if you know what they believe makes a cheater, presenting yourself in an opposing manner is simple.  It’s usually things I mentioned in the second paragraph, and I can’t stress how easy those things are to fake.

Jealous women are another easy target, those that like to check in on you at work, follow you, read your e-mail, etc.  You set them up to fail before ever cheating.  Not once, or twice, but several times.  Do something you know will make them doubt and arrange for them to “catch” you doing nothing wrong.  Do it over and over again, and every time, embarrass them.

For instance, long ago, before I began to even consider changing my ways, I had to “break a girl in”.  I set up a fake e-mail account, sent myself an e-mail about meeting up in private, and let her find it.  I behaved curiously for a couple of weeks, until I knew she was extremely suspicious, and I set myself up with another found e-mail about another meeting.  She followed me to what she thought would be a secret rendezvous with a lover, when in actuality, I was buying a piece of jewelry from a female wholesaler.  When the girl confronted us in the middle of a crowded area (bringing her best friend along as a witness, no less), I explained to her that I was buying her a present for an upcoming event.  I publicly humiliated her, berated her for distrusting me, gave the wholesaler back the jewelry, and “broke up” with her.  Even the friend she brought called her a bitch.  She was so distraught and embarrassed that she never doubted me again, giving me all the freedom I needed to do pretty much whatever I wanted.

Yeah, I was a real motherfucker back then.  Not that I’m necessarily any better now, mind you, but at least I don’t actively go about ruining other people’s lives.  At least, not intentionally.

Look, this post has slightly deviated from its original course.  What began as an attempt to tell you what to look for, has evolved into a treatise on what makes someone an easy mark for an observant and cautious polyamorous assailant.  Those qualities that you think make you a human lie detector can be turned against you more easily than you realize.  It’s because you think you can catch someone every time that people like me, Hank, and half a dozen other guys I’ve known single you out.  I wish I had some grand observation on how to avoid it, but I don’t.  A good cheater will try to use everything they know about you to make sure they don’t get caught, and the Moriarties among us will manipulate you into feeling how we want you to feel.  Similarly, if you want to avoid being the victim of a cheater, you have to do the same thing.  You have to read the cheater.  You have to know who they were before you came along, and who they are now.  As in all human interaction, it’s a constant battle to see beyond what a person puts forth, to what they keep hidden beneath the surface.

Recognize, though, that when you’re dealing with someone like me… that’s precisely how I view it.  It’s a game of mental Chess wherein I am constantly reading your behavior and plotting to out-maneuver and out-think you.  If you don’t approach it the same way, then you really don’t have much hope unless your opponent makes a mistake.  And the best Chess players don’t make mistakes.

Christ, that sounds arrogant, doesn’t it?  Oh well, I don’t think there’s any other way this post can sound, though I promise you that wasn’t my intent.  Certainly I am arrogant, but not, I would like to believe, about this.

Maybe that’s my problem.

You know, I swore when I started this blog that I wouldn’t write a post on how to cheat.  I don’t want people to think I condone extramarital affairs in any way, shape, or form, nor do I want to come across as a misogynistic braggart, boasting about my proficiencies in subterfuge and how many women I’ve bedded.  And it is certainly not my intention to give anyone advice on how to get away with things.

However, today as I was cruising the internet superhighway, I stumbled across an article about male cheaters.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t judgemental, or at least it didn’t come across as such.  Rather, the author discussed the act itself, not its greater meaning or purpose, and how men fail at the procedure.  She suggested that men will always get caught because of women’s intuition, or because men are simply incapable of covering their tracks well enough to overcome the scrutiny of a jealous woman.  Men change after cheating, she wrote, and women will always pick up on it, so don’t ever expect to get away with it.

This was an interesting article, but I detected a hint of hubris in the writing.  Thus I felt compelled to offer my two cents.  Please do not misinterpret the following as bragging.  It’s merely observation.

Cheating is easy.  I’m not talking about finding a willing partner.  That can actually be pretty tricky.  No, I’m referring to the process.  Cheating without being caught is incredibly easy.  So easy that I am amazed so many people get caught.

Well, no, I take that back.  I’m not at all surprised that people get caught, because they don’t approach it correctly.

Ever see that show Cheaters?  That show is basically the Dummy’s Guide to Getting Caught.  You want to maintain a clandestine relationship, or just fool around a bit on the side?  Watch that show, and don’t do what they do.  Simple enough.

But let’s break things down a bit more.  Like all clandestine activities, successfully maintaining an affair requires careful planning and forethought.  And I’m not talking about anything so simple as, “I’m going to the gym tonight honey,” and hoping he/she doesn’t have reason to check in on you.  That’s the sort of thing that gets you caught.  If you intend to cheat and you want to get away with it, then you’ve got to be a con artist.  You have to have your partner’s complete trust, and you have to know them better than they know themselves.

For example, one of the most common things I hear from people is, “You know he/she is cheating when he/she suddenly changes his/her pattern.”  The first place a cheater messes up is by giving their partner any reason at all to suspect them of any wrongdoing.  You can’t suddenly start working late, or going to a gender-specific gym, or whatever else you plan to say to buy yourself a little time away from home.  It has to be believable.  Yeah, people work late sometimes, but that’s so cliché that it automatically sets off warning bells in anyone’s head.  No, you have to make your partner truly believe that there is no emotional reason for you to cheat, nor any physical means for you to do so, because they are such an intrinsic part of your life that it’s simply impossible for you to cheat.  It’s truly the long con.

Me?  I’m busy.  And I mean crazy-ass busy.  From the moment Ashley and I got married, I have worked 10 hours every day of the week, including weekends, because that’s just what academia and original scientific research demand.  I keep odd hours because of video conferences with international collaborators halfway across the world.  I spend entire nights in my office or lab working on manuscripts or observing an experiment.  I meet with students at 6:00 a.m. because that’s the only time they’re available.  Thus, it is entirely plausible that I will be doing these things, giving Ashley no reason to worry or suspect.

Now I can already hear some of you saying triumphantly, “But Bimodal, what if she decides to surprise you at your office when you’re actually someplace else?  Suspicious lovers are known to do that, after all!”

Yeah, I know.  It’s on Cheaters all the time.  But that’s what I mean when I say you have to plan ahead.  I prevent this with arguably the most important piece of the con.

I invite her along.

I know someone’s mind is blown.

The proposal usually goes like this, (face to face, never in a phone call, so I can gauge her physical reaction and respond accordingly):  “Ashley, I’m sorry, but I have to work very late tonight.  I have a manuscript/grant/experimental output/whatever coming up and have to stay until I get at least most of it done.”  (The best cons always have the element of truth.  There is ALWAYS a deadline hanging over my head Damocles-style.)  “I know you’d rather I stay home, but I really need to be up at the office.  Why don’t you come with me?  I’ll set you up on my office sofa with some hot tea and a book, we can take coffee breaks together, and I’ll drive you home whenever you’re ready to go.  And we can still spend the evening together.”

9 times out of 10, she declines, giving me the freedom to do pretty much whatever I want that night.

Note that this works because, most of the time, I really do go to my office, and I really do spend the entire night working.  Such is the nature of my work.  But sometimes, more often than I’m proud of, I get the urge to leave, to go out and mingle.  And then, well… yeah, things happen.  But Ashley never doubts it because I make her a part of it.  It was her decision to not be involved–I didn’t make myself unavailable to her in any way.  That’s why it works.

There is, however, one final thing I want to say in parting.  I call cheating The Long Con because I truly see it as defrauding your partner, a conscious act of deception conducted for the sole purpose of personal gain.  Getting what you want by wholly betraying the trust of someone who has fallen completely head over heels in love with you.  My method works because Ashley trusts me and loves me unconditionally.  She has the utmost faith in me and our relationship.

And that is what makes my behavior so abhorrent.  It’s why shows like Cheaters thrive–because everyone wants to see the bad guy get what’s coming.  And I don’t think there is any way that what I and other habitual cheaters do can be described as anything but loathsome.

EDIT:  One more thing.  You know that 1 time out of 10 Ashley actually agrees and comes to my office with me?  Some of the best times and memories I’ve ever had.  (In case I hadn’t already painted myself as a total asshole and villain, I figured that would do it.)

Because so many of the stories I’ve posted recently have been slightly romanticized, I decided to share a memory of which I am particularly ashamed.

Also, before anyone accuses me of horrible things, this is a story from several years ago, when I was still a young’un myself, before I had come to terms with my relationship and sexual issues.  Abigail and I were only a few years apart in age.  (Remember, I’m still in my 20s.)

——————————————————————————————————-

It’s just past 2:00 a.m. when I put my car into neutral and kill the engine.  I’m parked across the street from a small house in the suburbs.  I’ve never seen it before, but the address matches the number scrawled across my left palm.  The lights are off and no activity is obvious from my vantage point, suggesting the occupants have gone to bed.  Satisfied, I climb out of my car and gently close the door.  I shove my hands into my jacket and walk hastily toward the short gated fence surrounding the property.  Sure enough, the lock is open.

“You shouldn’t be doing this,” I mutter as I let myself in.

I walk around to the back of the house, keeping close to the wall and ducking beneath each window, just in case someone has decided to get up for any reason.  I narrowly avoid knocking over a child’s sit-in toy truck as I make my way toward the air conditioning unit positioned a few yards from the patio.  A dim light shines through the window beside it.

“You really shouldn’t be doing this,” I repeat to myself.  I tap the window pane lightly with my knuckles and wait.  A few seconds pass, and I consider knocking again before a face appears at the window.  It slides open quietly.

“Thought you got lost,” Abigail whispers wryly.

“Almost did.”  I grip the sill and hoist myself up, through the open window and into the darkened room.  It takes my eyes a brief moment to adjust, and I find myself in what I can best describe as a kid’s bedroom.  The walls are painted light blue and decorated with various posters and art boards.  The floor is cluttered with clothes and other sundries, and the chest of drawers displays several photographs of happy young people, laughing and gallivanting as only young people can.  The only clear space is the twin bed pressed against the far corner of the room.  The decor has a very innocent feel to it, which only reinforces the wrongness of the situation to me.

“Not quite what I had expected,” I say as I take in my surroundings.

“Yeah, my parents never changed my room after I moved out,” Abigail responds.  I feel her hand on my bicep, and I turn to face her.

I’ve never seen Abigail outside of the uniform we both wear for our part-time job.  It’s an unflattering uniform that masks your body shape in loose folds and dark colors.  Now, standing in front of me in a light pink baby tee and white pajama pants, I can see she still has the unusual slenderness of youth, her frame lacking any curvature apart from the small mounds of her breasts.  Seeing her like this now, I can’t believe she’s 19.  She looks younger.  Much younger.  Closer to 16.  Her youthful appearance is reinforced by naturally blonde curls framing a face best described as cherubic–slightly chubby cheeks; light, flawless skin painted with freckles; and wide, doe-like brown eyes.

You shouldn’t be doing this, I think to myself.  You still have time to back out.  But my body doesn’t listen, and I place my hands lightly on her non-existent hips.

Abigail kisses me abruptly.  It’s a sloppy thing, not overly wet, but poorly executed, with too much pressure and none of the jaw movement one associates with a good kiss.  It’s amateurish, and I can’t get into it, but I try, for both our sakes.  Fortunately, I only have to pretend for twenty seconds or so, when she suddenly breaks the kiss and steps away from me.  She unceremoniously removes her pajamas, making no show of it whatsoever.

“You like?”  She puts her hands on her hips and stands proudly before me, totally nude and completely hairless.  Christ she looks young.  So young it makes my stomach turn into an uncomfortable knot.  I want to tell her to put her clothes back on, to just sit and talk with me for a while, or to go on a walk, or something, anything innocent.

Instead, I close the space between us, grab her about the waist, and toss her onto the bed.  She bounces and gasps, and her angelic features suddenly take on a more primal visage as she bites her lip, lying back and waiting for me.  I strip off my shirt as I approach the bed, and she wrestles with my belt unsuccessfully.  I help her along, and with my assistance she finally slips my jeans down.  I move toward the foot of the bed, prepared to go down on her first, but Abigail grabs my shoulders and pulls me on top of her.

“No, just do me,” she says.

I press myself against her and find her surprisingly wet.  Abigail is incredibly tight–definitely not virginal, but close, and despite her physical preparedness, several long moments pass before I am finally able to slip inside of her.  She gasps again, and her face tightens into a brief grimace.  We take our time, working her into it gently, and soon she is rocking her body smoothly and steadily in time with my own.  Because of her tightness, rather than pound into her, I keep my length as fully inside her as I can, a difficult proposition given that I can’t enter her completely without impacting her cervix, and even then I’m still an inch or more longer than she is deep.  But we make the most of it, rotating our hips in opposite circular motions as best we can.

I want it to feel good.  And physically speaking, it does.  Abigail’s body is supple and whip-like, with the resilience and flexibility of a sapling pine, and whatever lack of skill she displayed in the kiss is more than made up for in her sexual technique.  She touches my back lightly, tracing my spine and sending shivers throughout my body.  She kisses and licks my chest, massages the side of my neck, rubs her foot along the side of my ass and thigh.  She engages her whole body in fucking me, and I am enveloped in a complete sensory experience–the sound of her breath and whispers, the salty taste of her flesh, the smell of sweat and body, the feel of our skin and her tightness, and the sight of her beneath me, her back arched, chest out, eyes closed tightly in pleasure.

But as good as it feels, I know what I’m doing is wrong.  She is a nice girl, but she doesn’t mean anything more than that to me.  She knew that coming into this, but I can’t help feeling that I am using her, and her younger-than-she-looks appearance makes me feel even more depraved.  My stomach continues twisting into knots, but that doesn’t stop us from fucking each other for hours.

Abigail is exhausted and sprawls in her bed, physically spent, and I dress in silence while she sleeps.  I let myself out through the window, return to my car, and drive home.  It’s just after 6:00 a.m. when I arrive.  Ashley is sleeping soundly, and rather than wake her, I crack open a beer and sit on the porch.  The first hint of light has begun to creep over the horizon, and I stare at it, considering the evening’s events with equal amounts of distaste, guilt, and excitement.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” I mutter into my beer as I watch the sun rise.

Writing these entries has inspired me to think more critically about sexuality in general, and the stereotypes associated with it.  I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and articles lately on the subject, from professionals and laymen alike, but mostly personal accounts from people struggling with issues related to my own.  (In particular, I find the blogs of MsTitty, Fuck & Schmuck, and Lynn very insightful when it comes to sexuality, yet representing very different sides of a multifaceted issue.)  Everyone takes a different approach and has wildly differing opinions on the subject.  So, I thought I would weigh in on the matter.

EDIT:  I would be remiss to not also mention Sexual Life of a Wife and TerriblyTorn13.  I love their stories.

I find it troubling that so many people are bothered by being hypersexual.  Modern western society is all about empowering the individual to be the individual.  Everyone is different, everyone has his or her own needs and wants and desires.  You are a beautiful and unique snowflake, Tyler Durden, and you are entitled to pursue your dreams, whatever the cost, come Hell or high water.  You want to go climb Everest?  Don’t forget your supplemental oxygen.  You want to stand on the corner playing music?  Here’s your tip hat, hope you like fedoras.  You want to write?  Here’s a new blogging website just for you.  Ours is a culture of entitlement and personal success, and you are encouraged to pursue whatever wishes and dreams give you the strength to get up in the morning.

Why, then, do people feel guilty about wanting to pursue the pleasure of sex?

This isn’t a rhetorical question.  I really don’t get it.  Sure, sex is dirty.  It’s wet, slippery, sweaty, exhausting, smelly.  Pick your adjective.  But it’s also incredibly beautiful.  It’s personal.  Intimate.  It’s you giving everything you are to someone else.  And it is fucking glorious.  It’s the one thing that the majority of people can agree that they love to do.  So why do we so often feel ashamed of engaging in what is arguably America’s real favorite pastime?

If I had to pick a response–the usual gun to the head give me an answer scenario–I would say it’s because, as forward-thinking as we like to be, our culture’s approach to sex is still so fucking draconian.  One man and one woman, period.  Promiscuity is to be avoided at all costs, and open relationships are in direct defiance of the societal norms.  And God forbid you even think of trying anything homosexual, because if it’s not gonna produce babies, then it must be wrong.

Quick factoid.  All those religious arguments against homosexuality based on Biblical scripture are based on one of the first Jewish laws, that a good Hebrew was to procreate and populate the earth.  Homosexuality in and of itself, as an act of lovemaking to your same sex, wasn’t taboo.  It was wasting a baby-making opportunity that was frowned upon.  If you doubt this, I recommend researching Hebrew religious law, particular the history of Leviticus.  It will blow your mind.

Back on topic now.  I don’t think that our society’s view on sex is a product of religious morals.  Not anymore, anyway.  Originally, yes, certainly.  But with the rise of the scientific method and a general turning away from religion, there must be something else driving it.  Again, if I were to posit an answer, I would cite two reasons: 1) Entitlement, and 2) Infringement.

First, entitlement.  We, as unique snowflakes in pursuit of our dreams, believe we are entitled to happiness.  Hell, it’s even in the U.S. Declaration of Independence–“…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LifeLiberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  This is the basis of our culture.  And sex makes us happy.  Therefore, we are entitled to it.

Second, infringement.  You, as a snowflake competing for your happiness atop my snowy mound, are not entitled to your happiness when it infringes upon mine.  Therefore, denying sex to me when it would otherwise make me happy makes you an obstacle to be surmounted.  And if you leave me, or give my God-given right to sex to someone else, then you are a traitor to the American way of life.

Couple entitlement and infringement, and you end up with the monogamous relationships so common today.  One man and one woman, committed to each other at face value, but often pursuing the elusive Side-Tail.  Jealousy runs rampant.  Divorce skyrockets when couples realize that their capital-aych-Happiness is not theirs alone, but being shared with Someone Else.  It’s a recipe for disaster, a cauldron bubbling over with overpossessive assholes, codependent pricks, and dishonest jerks generated by a system at odds with our desire to just be fucking happy.  Hell, I’m one of ’em.  (Well, dishonest, anyway.  Never been much for jealousy, and I’m too independent to be needy.)

I don’t think this is ever going to change.  At least, not within my lifetime.  It will be a very long time, if ever, before people realize that the happiness of their genitals need not depend on being in or around the same other set of genitals forever.  But this doesn’t mean that we, and by we I mean sexually obsessed or otherwise hypersexual people, should be ashamed of our wants and needs.  Hell, I think we should embrace them.  It’s not always that easy, since finding other people who share your particular viewpoints and proclivities can be incredibly difficult, but isn’t that sort of the point of all this, being happy and comfortable with who and what you are?

Society wants us to be unique, except when it strays from what they define as “unique” and borders on “deviant”.  Then we’re something to be shunned, or mocked, or objectified, or even pitied.  I say fuck that.   If the world wants us to be ourselves, I say, do it.  Don’t give a shit what they think or say, live your life how you want to live it.  Never let yourself be shoehorned into a stereotype, into feeling as though you must, by default, feel and behave a certain way.  Own your life, and own your dreams.  Do what feels right to you.  If your behavior produces ghosts and demons, as mine does, then so be it.

At least they will be your ghosts and demons.

Hmm.  I’m not exactly sure where I’ve gone with this.  I seem to have ended up someplace totally different from where I had intended to arrive.  Ahh, the joys of writing from the heart.

Sorry I took a little time off there.  I needed to think about a few things.

I received an e-mail from someone who read The Mile High Club Has a Secret Knock.  I won’t copy and paste the whole thing, but rest assured, it was a nasty piece of work.  To summarize, she is a 24-year-old woman who just found out that her new husband of two years has been cheating on her.  Thus, speaking from experience, she told me that I am a horrible human being (as I have long suspected) for doing the things that I do, then “bragging” about them on a blog, because I will never know what it’s like to be betrayed so deeply by the person you love.  Yours truly, Angry Woman.

Well.  Allow me to retort.

Point the first.  To suggest that I don’t know betrayal is a ridiculous assumption.  I haven’t written about it yet (though I’m sure I will), but I’ve long believed that the source of my pseudo-addiction is having been betrayed by every girl I thought I loved (except Ashley, who redefines what it means to be a good person).  That sort of thing can really fuck a kid up.  I have been betrayed, Angry Woman, and I have betrayed, as I’m sure you have at some point.  Maybe not by cheating, but by lying, by gossiping, by ridiculing.  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t betrayed someone at some point, and I’ve known people who were one miracle away from sainthood.  So please, although I recognize that I may be a horrible example of a human being, don’t assume it’s because I know nothing about betrayal, and don’t assuage your anger at your husband by accusing me of being a stereotypical scumbag.  I may be a scumbag, but I am anything but stereotypical.  (Does that make sense?  I think it does.)

Point the second.  If you think this blog is about “bragging”, then you haven’t been reading.  You’ve been selectively scanning the entries looking for something to be angry about.  This blog has never, and will never, be a chronicle of my conquests, because they will never be conquests.  Well, maybe the events that happened within a relationship or that were otherwise not cheating.  But every one of my affairs–past, present, and future–is a mistake.  I won’t deny that they were (usually) exciting and intensely pleasurable, but I don’t look upon them with a sense of accomplishment.  I (usually) remember them, as I described in one comment, bittersweetly.  Something that should not have happened, but that now defines my history and makes me who I am today.  I like who I am, but not what I have done, and I would never brag about hurting people the way I have.  That’s the mark of a sociopath.

No, this blog is about me telling the goddamn truth for once in my life.  It’s almost a confessional, except that it’s not intended to absolve me in any  way.  It’s just a place for me to put my stories.  Why do I write so many of them as prose?  So that I can read them later and see the experience from another vantage.  Why do I post them?  Well, that I don’t know.  I get a little thrill every time I see a new comment, whether it’s the usual contributors or new readers, compliments on my writing or someone calling me out on the liberties I took in the story, a casual remark or a deeper analysis.  I do love that people read this, and I find the compliments, and occasional insults, give me a new kind of high.  The honesty I put into this blog has attracted more followers than I had ever thought (again, thank you all), and it makes me want to write more, to tell every story I have, the good and the bad, to completely recount the sexual rollercoaster that is my life.

(Oh yeah, that reminds me of getting a handjob on the Superman coaster at Six Flags.  Wow, I totally forgot that one.  See what I mean about “usually” remembering?  Okay, moving on.)

Angry Woman, I am truly sorry for your experience.  I am sorry that you gave so much of yourself to your husband, only to have him betray you.  I know what that pain feels like, and I would never wish it on anyone.  I hope you and your husband can find a way to resolve this, to repair the damage and come through stronger than ever.  If not, I hope your anger doesn’t consume you.  But, when you focus your anger on me as a surrogate for “men everywhere”, you really leave me no choice but to tell you to take your shit elsewhere.  Constructive criticism, and even harsh rebukes, I can take.  Accusations, not so much.

I’m working on another My Life As Fiction entry (a really good one, I think) and hope to have it up by tomorrow.  Spoiler alert: It’s about sex.  Best wishes to you all, readers.

Before I met Ashley, before I ever dreamed of following the paths that have led me to where I am today, there was Maria.

Maria was my third love, my second real one, and, I once thought, my last.  She was a latina girl I met while studying abroad in Mexico.  I met her at a party that I never intended to attend but was forced into, because I was a bit devastated after my relationship with Kelly finally ended.  I didn’t speak enough Spanish to communicate and was very uncomfortable, so I went to the balcony to have a cigarette and admire the city.  She was there, shivering in her down jacket even though it was probably 60 degrees, trying to get her cigarette lit.  I wordlessly offered her mine, and to my surprise, she said, “Thank you.”

“Oh, you speak English?”

“What, you don’t?”

She was a cheeky little bitch.  I was instantly hooked.

Our relationship was… god, it was passionate.  Crazy passionate.  Dramatically passionate.  Full of the kinds of stories you usually only see in cheap soap operas and dimestore romance novels.  I even had to fight for her honor when someone called her a “malinchista” (think of it as “blood traitor”) for dating a white guy.  I mean, it was absolute insanity sometimes.  Our fights were epic affairs, yelling, pushing, swearing, cursing, crying… but Christ was I in love with her.  I would have given anything, done anything, gone anywhere and sacrificed everything I had, for one more day with her.

When I inevitably had to return to the States to finish school, I offered to quit, to move to her country and finish school there.  But she promised to come with me.  I filled out paperwork with the State Department to help her get her visa approved.  I sent her hundreds of dollars to buy her visa, and her plane ticket.  Then, a few months after my return, she changed her mind, and she left me.  Just like that.  No warning.  Nothing to suggest she was doing anything but planning her move.  Just… done.  A quick phone call while I was between classes.

I saw her one other time after that, after I met Ashley, but before we got married, before I was sure I wanted to commit myself to her.  It was my first trip for my new career, and it had me going through Maria’s city.  So I e-mailed her and told her I would be in town.  I told her I was in a relationship and wasn’t interested in anything more, but I wanted to see her, to catch up.  And I meant it at the time.  But the moment I stepped into the terminal and saw Maria standing there… fuck me to tears.  It was like we had never separated.  The moment we were alone, it was just like it was before.  The laughter.  The pain.  And god, the fucking.  Lovemaking so intense and fierce that Casanova himself would have been ashamed.  The sort of lovemaking that lasts for hours and leaves you breathless, exhausted, aching in every joint and muscle, but immediately starved for more.  You can’t write stories about that sort of thing.  You can’t take pictures of it.  There is no human descriptor that can adequately depict it.  It was pure, mindless, whole-hearted, passion.

After our intense affair ended and I went back to the States again, Maria told me she wished that I had never left the first time, and letting me go a second time was even harder.  She didn’t know what she wanted when she left me.  She claimed she didn’t want to ruin my life, though I don’t see how marrying me would have done that, so she left me.  Now she wanted me back in her life, but she wasn’t willing to be the reason I ended it with Ashley.  So Maria stopped talking to me.  I forced myself to move on, eventually fell in love with Ashley, and married her.

The day after my wedding, Maria called me and congratulated me on marrying Ashley.  I thanked her, and we hung up.  We chatted a few times after that, mostly about work and our families, but eventually, she confessed that she still loved me, and she severed all ties with me for several years.  Until today.

She messaged me on a social networking site and asked if we could Skype.  The moment I saw her… again, there are no words.  I didn’t think I could ever feel that again.  That same sick excitement, the urgency, the knotting in my gut that threatens to tear me apart from the inside.  We talked for hours, about everything and nothing, about the mistakes we’ve made, people we’ve seen, our relationships with others, and with each other.  About how much we miss each other.

I thought I was over her.  She’s thousands of miles away.  We haven’t spoken more than six times in over five years.  I moved on.  I got married for Chrissake.  Then one video call, and it’s like I’m back on that balcony, sharing a cigarette with this exotic woman whose mere presence is enough to make me dizzy with desire and rage and lust so intense that it consumes me.  There’s no way I can still be in love with her.  I love her memory, what she was and what we were.  But fuck, it feels so strong, so real.  I’ve honestly never felt this consumed by it, and so conflicted.

Fuck me to tears, man.