Is Cheating Ever Justified?

What do you do if you’re an expressly loyal person and your spouse cuts you off sexually? What if they deprive you of physical contact for a month, two months, three months or a year and this becomes a way of life?

And what if you can’t leave the marriage for financial reasons, at least not in the short term without total ruin? Is there a point at where you are justified to go outside your marriage for sex?

And does it matter what the reason for the cessation of sex is? For example, lack of interest? Spite / power play / control? What about illness?

And if you feel that going outside the marriage is justified, how long does a person have to be cut off before cheating seems morally justified to you?.

72 thoughts on “Is Cheating Ever Justified?”

  1. Wow, what an interesting topic.. Rob, it is easy for those of us not in your boots to judge how tight the fit is, isn’t it? I really feel for you, and urge you (if you haven’t already) to find some outside support…for example an MS Society, or Brain Injury support group etc. I am not sure what illness your wife has but perhaps there is somewhere you can go. And if you have a keen interest in astrology, why not check your chart out with Elsa? The chart often reveals some creative solutions to tackling seemingly hopless challenges. I am sorry because you sound lonely. But I am glad you have your daughter with you! Best wishes to you.

    Now, I am a real believer in honesty especially having a Sagittarius rising and Capricorn Moon (it’s all about the integrity!) but I am also very influenced by Neptune. I am prone not only to deceiving myself, but illusions. I hear things and see things, for godsake. It’s embarrassing!

    My partner had a horrible accident a few years back, and low and behold, was asking me to jerk him off in the hosptial! WTF? I felt unable to do it, first off because being intimate in that setting was waaayyy too much for me. Second of all because he was still all bloody and had a cast on, and I am not into getting busy with someone who was obviously still very maimed, though I relaize some are. Laugh if you will–I do now.
    I was at a loss, because providing for each other sexually is a discussed deal-breaker in our relationship–now this weird shit. Then he was barking at me to bring porn! Makes me laugh now, because on another thread I said something like “My hubby ain’t into porn!” but he asked for–no, demanded it–at this point, so as Marly said already NEVER SAY NEVER! But, we don’t even know if he’s been paralysized for sure and I am supposed to trot off to the store for T&A? I guess it’s Scorpio Moon/Venus, I dunno! Last chance, all aboard?

    The second thing I thought of when Rob posted was that my partner’s mother has MS, has for over 30 years, and is now almost completely disabled. I don’t know if the sex is happening (who asks their inlaws if they are getting laid, anyway)? I doubt it.

    Saying all that. I believe in honesty. I maintain my integrity and dignity at all costs. I can’t lie for shit. If I were sick, or disabled, I would want my partner to get laid. I know he is capable of physical relationships without attatchment–I certainly am. I wish there would be some way he could do it without me knowing. I trust he would never, ever leave me. I live by that trust, that’s why the relationship has worked.

    I am willing to take the bullet of people who think I am delusional on this one (which would be hard to deny with such an overactive 12th house natal Neptune)…but I believe it. I don’t think I am condoning my partner “cheating” on me. Some of us have very different views on sex. I guess it’s that whole “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.” I would very much live by that rule in this scenario, I think.

    And I don’t think I am the only person who believes this.

  2. For people who cannot fathom honesty and delusion/deception as qualities that can exist within the same being…I present to you Neptune.

  3. Whoa, Rob. I think that more than talking to a psychiatrist since you can’t talk to your wife about it, talking to someone you respect as a moral authority like a priest or spiritual figure would help, maybe. Because it’s a complicated issue and I suppose you have to talk to somebody? Plus as far as morality (which is part of what I think is concerned although I have little clue), you’ll want someone who has a philosophy in common with you. Sorry.

  4. Because some might read “caretakers also need to be taken care of. By keeping/making yourself happy, you are able to give more of that happiness to your wife” as a weak argument excusing moral lapse or whatever. But I don’t know well what’s at stake. Because I would probably find relatively immoral ways to escape this sort of being tied down. With kids, though, I don’t know.

  5. Interesting topic, interesting comments.

    To the “Love Does Not Hurt” crowd – that seems a naive and overly idealistic view to me. From my experience love hurts like a bitch, because love rarely exists in isolation, and the Love Thing to do is frequently opposed to the thing you want to do.

    It is Love to let your child go to live with its father, if that’s what the child wants to do. It is Love to not guilt trip your child about it, no matter how torn up it makes you feel, because you love them and want them around.

    People wound and people dissapoint. Every person, in some way. Sometimes Love means accepting someone for who they are rather than who you want them to be, and some of those acceptances are very painful indeed. And then Love hurts very much, because your heart gets torn in two. Ultimately, I belive it hurts less than not acceptin and living in anger and hatred your whole life- but it is still likely to be deeply painful.

    And of course, love hurts when it dies.

    Frequently I think love hurts very much indeed because it shakes you up and challenges you and takes you to places inside you where you may not want to go. And that doesn’t mean that Love isn’t real. It just means you’re experiencing a Pluto transit. πŸ˜‰

    To everyone going “relationships are more than sex” please don’t undervalue sex. I am a very sexual being. Sex at its best is powerfully bonding, and releasing and transformative. I am deeply attached to it, and its gratification purposes not just for love and intimacy but also for their powerful stress-release mechanisms.

    I second Marly, sexuality goes way beyond the sex organs, and that the willingness to pleasure one another through whatever means available is very important. If my husband couldn’t pleasure me, it would be a very different expeirence if I was bringing myself off alone in the bathroom or if I was doing it next to him while he kissed me and offered loving assistance. Yes of course everyone goes through dry spells – I’ve had my own share of them, but the unwillingness to engage in intimacy (beyond the classical shagging kind) is problematic.

    I agree with Saggal, for me the deceptiona and the lying is worse than anything – I’d want to know the truth, so that I could then go on and deal with that fairly. Make honest choices and live with them. BUT I also think this is highly individual (I know plenty of women who wouldn’t want to know), and that Rob knows his wife better than anyone.

    Supporting someone who is ill, is very very hard and no one can judge another person about it until you have to do it yourself. It’s all fine saying “unconditional spiritual love” will get you through the muck, but it ignores the fact that often the sick person changes. They can become angry, or needy or highly unpleasant. And while all those changes are understandable in the context of their disease that doesn’t make them any easier to live with. My husband drives me bonkers when he’s ill because he just shuts down and moans and makes demands.

    Illness, long-term disablity are all powerfully painful and transformative processes for everyone involved. There is so much loss for both partners, of the people they were, the people they knew, the hopes and dreams they had. There is a lot to deal with.

    If I was sick, if I felt helpless, I think I’d need my husband’s support more than ever. It would be painful for me to think that he was having an affair because it would add to my helplessness etc. but at the same time I’d like to think I’d understand why and that although I’d be entitled to my anger, I wouldn’t judge him for it, but that I’d appreciate him for what he was giving me. My husband is more than my lover, he is fundamentally my friend, and in times of illness it’s my friend I need. But at the same time I’d hope I could recognise that he was a red-blooded human being with needs and desires of his own and that he was entitled to receive his own share of care and nurture and release that I could no longer provide.

    And if he was sick and needed me, I would not dream of abandoning him then. It would be like kicking a puppy. But at the same time if his illness looked to be progressive and long-term then I think I’d probably need to bid goodbye to my husband-as-my-consort/lover and accept him as my friend, my companion. And if the sexual side of me, the side of me that needed release and appreciation and feeling good was still alive and asking for expression, then I’d be trying to find some way of honouring that before I bailed on my husband or we all went crazy.

    There is no one way of being in love, in partnership. We are fundamentally different people, and we all have different gifts and flaws. I don’t have a rigid morality. I think everything depends on the circumstances and that we are not judged on the black-and white facts but on how well we did relative to our resources/capacities, on everything else that’s been going on in the context of our lives.

  6. Nia, that was very eloquent. *applauds*

    Dani, although some may take it as such, it’s not a weak excuse in my mind.

    When I worked in mental health, a lot of our patients who were caretakers would overlook their own needs, effectively subsuming who they were into their loved one’s illness. It’s certainly not a healthy way to go about things, and eventually they would burn out. Most, thank cheeze, came for help before that happened.

    In the long term is it better to break one vow (hopefully with consent) or abandon a seriously, possibly terminally, ill person because you can’t deal with the strain anymore? To me, at least, the abandonment is the greater ethical evil. That’s where I was coming from with that.

    I do agree that if Rob can’t speak to his wife then he should find a sounding board he’s comfortable with.

    I’m going to apologize now if I misconstrued what you were trying to say. It’s kinda hard for me to tell from your post whether you were agreeing or dissing.

  7. Is rape ever OK? IS murder ever OK? No, of course cheating is never ok. If your partner is cutting you off for no good reason you should talk to them, seek profesional help, and hope they overcome whatever problem they have. The most depressing part of the question is the end where you say, “And what if you can’t leave the marriage for financial reasons.” I would rather work at Taco Bell and live in a shelter than be unfaithful in marriage. Divorce is an option but only after lots of profesional help and a real effort to confront the issues.(but personally i could never divorce for this reason) Love is everlasting and eternal do not through it aside so lightly. What worth is there in this world without faith to love? A vow is a vow. If you don’t have your word, you don’t have anything.

    In a word, there are three things that last forever:
    Faith, hope, and love;
    But the greatest of them all is love.
    — 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

    I might be a romantic and you can dismiss me by labeling me Christian but im just saying what i know.

  8. No one is talking about STDs in relation to sex with the spouse and cheating. For me not cheating is important because of the risk of bringing home STDs or HIV. I’d go without for a while if my partner wanted a dry spell. And I’d get a divorce if that dry spell went on too long and he wasn’t looking ar overcoming the dry spell. As for illness I do think it selfish to want sex while your mate is ill but I also understand the need for escape and release and intimacy during such a stressful time.

  9. I didn’t vote. I wouldn’t cheat, and I hope I would never be cheated on. But I don’t know every situation out there. I can’t make a final decision to end all decisions because each situation is unique. I have told my husband if he is ever interested in someone else to just let me know. I’d rather know and either he’s simply in love with someone else, or there is a problem with our relationship. If it’s a problem we could work on it. If it’s love well then he has a right to make a choice and I’d rather know ahead of time and keep our trust and honesty. Than find out later and have to kill someone. πŸ˜‰

  10. In relationships, and above all in marriage, there should (must) be full disclosure. Swingers, open marriages, polygamy, friends-with-benefits, polyamoury, are all o.k. IMO because no one is walking around in the dark. It’s about communication and trust. It’s simple “If you cut me off, it’s very likely that I will be intimate with someone else given the opportunity. If you are not o.k. with that, we should part ways or address our issues.”

  11. I think if the marriage is over in all but legal matters and name only, and BOTH people in the marriage are aware of this, and BOTH people agree that it is okay, that is the only time it is justifiable.

    Otherwise. NO. Never.

  12. I do agree with Daeshii on the point that cheating can be done without physically stepping out to the relationship. If one person is intentionally withholding, playing games and what not, they are cheating the other person. This does break the vows because ultimately they have placed their needs above their partners needs. And this is every bit as serious and needing to be addressed as sexual infidelity. Cheating is onto a way to address this issue. Essentially cheating is a way for the cheated partner to screw themselves over even more. Now they are being mistreated and abused by three people, the partner, themselves, and the person they’ve cheated with. Way to spread the grief around…

  13. Sexuality is complicated…relationships and intimacy are complicated…and they’re not necessarily monogamous one-on-one-for-the-rest-of-your-life-the-end. In fact, more often than not, they’re not (don’t believe me? Look into serial monogamy, divorce rates, and extramarital affair rates, and understand that they’re likely flawed low because people don’t like to admit that they get involved extra-maritally). I think honesty is crucial when talking about intimacy and sex, and that the betrayal of lying to someone about sex with a different partner is far worse than the act of sex with a different partner.

    Vows are professions of intention, and I don’t think people make them with the intention of breaking them. I think couples should discuss “what happens if” before making those vows though, and it seems like people rarely do (and this isn’t just in regards to sex, it pertains to child rearing, finances, friendships, housecleaning, take your pick…) But I think that if you’re going to discuss the morality of breaking a vow, it’s important to look at the circumstances in which is happens. If a couple are experiencing a long-term, lack of sex due to a debilitating illness or other circumstance and both people are aware of the strain that it causes on the relationship and are okay with the healthy partner having another partner (and yes, this happens, there are times when the ill partner will actually suggest it because they KNOW what it’s doing to their loved one), then why should anyone else judge that couple or the healthy one as immoral? What business is it of anyone not in that relationship? Is it a broken vow if the other person in the relationship consents, or essentially releases them from the monogamy promise?

    I haven’t cheated in my relationships, and I’m not currently in a relationship (just for the record). I have had people who stated during our relationship that they wanted to see other people (“see other people” being their euphemism for “get sexually involved”) while staying involved with me, and I’ve had people who cheated (did it and lied about it until they got caught). To me, there’s a world of difference.

    I think it’s just more complicated than “yes, cheating is okay” and “no, it’s never acceptable”. But Elsa, there’s no “I’m Libra and can’t decide!” option! (And I’m not Libra, so I can’t use that option anyway…but I do have Venus in Sag and my moon in Capricorn, with Pluto in my seventh (relationship?) house. So maybe I’m a little detached.)

  14. I think the key word in the question is “justified.” I’m realist and I know that circumstances can be extremely difficult. I don’t think I should judge people when their personal life is none of my business. BUT, I think dishonest nookie while married is never justified. Understandable maybe, but not justified.

  15. May I kindly suggest *ta da!* masturbation! A lovely way to amuse yourself and still keep committed. And in your fantasy life you can screw whoever you damn well please!

  16. Unless you happen to belong to one of the religions that believe thoughts of adultery are as bad as actual adultery, in which case you’re screwed anyway!

  17. ask them, and if they’re understanding and agree with it… and are actually comfortable with it, go ahead.

    otherwise, no. i’d find a way to leave, if it was bad enough.

  18. I think lots of people who leave a marriage easily and people who advise leaving a marriage very easily don’t have a very long view of what the reality is.

    Divorce is no Wonderland, neither is single parenthood, and neither is remarriage.

    I wouldn’t throw a marriage away because of cheating, personally. I have never experienced it but I don’t think that I would do that especially at this point in my life.

    I don’t have any real desire to cheat but I also think that that has to do with the fact that my son would be aware of it, and I really couldn’t look him in the eye if I did that. That’s why it’s amazing to me sometimes when you see men who cheat on their kids mother when the kids are teenagers or older who think that the kids are going to be okay with that and accept their new wife or girlfriend. Crazy.

    I think this is why old school Italian cheating actually functioned and still functions to an extent. When you take away any possibility but the man is going to leave his wife and family for his mistress, I think the destruction can be avoided. The husband and wife keep their family, the kids have their parents, and the delusional mistress has her fantasy of being the man’s true love. Amazingly, lots of women will take on that role, thinking they’re beating out the wife in the sexy department. Whatever.

    I’ll take property rights over the “BJ Queen” crown any day.

    I think that for the spouse who cheats and for the mistress or other man, I think it has a lot more to do with ego than anything else. In practical terms, you’re just not going to get as much out of an affair relationship as you are out of a marriage.

    To get back to the question, I think that if your spouse has a disease or is sick then yes it is wrong to cheat. I think if there are different issues and a spouse is not giving a full relationship, then they open themselves up to being cheated on.

  19. If sex is being deprived because of spite, power play, vengeance or general lack of interest then cheating is justified. In my mind the partner who does this is not contributing to the relationship. And instead of making their “loved one” happy, instead of wanting them to be happy, they’re purposely making them miserable. That’s no longer a real relationship. It’s a farce.

    We express our love and affection through sex. Everybody wants to feel loved and desired. Frankly, if people stay in a marriage because they have to I don’t think they should carry more misery.

    If there’s no sex because one of the partner is sick that’s a completely different thing. In sickness and in health.

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