Swinging Cheaters

This is fascinating to both J and I:

We have met (online and in-person) about four couples in the past couple of years, who are all cheating on their married spouses and then going out and swinging with the person they are having an affair with. Does that make sense? I don’t know how to write it more simply.

This is fascinating to me because I think in a way it speaks to how common cheating is, and how expected it has become in our society. With the rates of cheating so high, I would be really surprised to meet someone in a long-term monogamous relationship who honestly hadn’t thought about cheating themselves or suspected their partner of cheating.

If cheating is so common, then the taboo and societal stigma for cheating is probably much less severe than it once was. And if you are less afraid of being stigmatized once found out, you are probably more likely to take risks with your affair.

And I think going online, emailing open couples, and sending photos of yourself and your secret lover is pretty risky. What if you happen to email people that you know through work or church or neighbors or friends of friends?

Also, cheating itself (statistically at the population level) is more risky in terms of contracting STIs (people who lie about their nonmonogamous activities are less likely to practice safer sex with their other partners, than are people in open relationships who delineate clear safer sex practices). And then to add potentially more risk to your married relationship and spouse by adding in more partners? (Unless of course the cheating pair operate together as “open” and adhere to many open relationship principles and ideas, which includes safer sex practices.)

Which is also an interesting thought: a cheating pair operating as “open” together. I really have a hard time imagining the integration (and lack thereof) for someone who is having an affair with someone (and thus lying to their married partner about their sexual, romantic, and physical activities with other people) and then participating in the open community, which espouses honesty, integrity, transparency, and communication. How must you resolve those internal conflicts?

And this brings to my last point. What are my ethics in this situation? My gut reaction, right now, is to assume that I am not going to become sexually or romantically involved with a “swinging cheater couple.” This is not because of an attitude that I’m don’t want to “encourage” their behavior, but more because I want to be involved with truly open couples. As much as I find couples we have met who do this (swing with their secret lover) fascinating, I think the couples I have met who have gone the challenging and rewarding route of being honest, transparent, and truly open are far more interesting. I think exceptions are always present in life, and I am sure there could be a situation where I think to myself “This makes sense because x, y, and z.” As a general rule of thumb, though, I think if I want to surround myself with intentional, honest, and transparent people, I would do best to not get involved with those who don’t live that way. I think it’s complicated, and it’s obviously related to my previous post on holding other people’s boundaries. My thinking on this topic is, obviously, not quite done.

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