It’s astonishes me how many people think that because I’m polyamorous that I’m perfectly cool with cheating. People are strangely open with me about their lack of faithfulness to their partners, despite not being willing to tell their partners about their sexual dalliances. In my experience, people who are openly polyamorous tend to be more critical of people who deceive their partners, recognizing the inherent violation of informed consent in knowingly withholding information from your partner that might negatively impact their desire to have sex with you.
That is, unless the polyamorous person wants to fuck the cheater, in which case it suddenly becomes not their business what goes on between the cheater and their partner. This is an alarmingly common stance in the polyamory community, though not surprising given how widespread the attitude in society that it’s okay to turn a blind eye to wrongness that is benefiting you. I have literally seen people in fits of wrath over someone cheating on them, while they themselves are cheating with someone who is cheating on someone else.
It’s kind of ridiculous the double standards people have about being honest in sexual relationships. It’s even more absurd when it’s someone who professes to be polyamorous or some other form of Ethical Non-Monogamy. We’re supposed to know better and be above that sort of deceitfulness.
What blows my mind most, however, is how common it is for people to believe that cheating is wrong but think that having sex with a cheater is okay. They assert that because they’re not the one doing the cheating, their conscience is clean. I’m writing this specifically to call bullshit on that.
Imagine, if you will, that your friend Jordan came and offered you five dollars for a ride to their lover’s house. No big deal, right? Who doesn’t like helping out their friends? However, on the way Jordan pulls out a revolver and starts loading it. You ask them what the gun is for and they tell you they’re going to kill their lover. The natural reaction, of course, is to mind one’s own business. After all, that’s between Jordan and their lover and if you didn’t give Jordan a ride, he’d just get ride from someone else so might as well get that fiver.
Obviously, that’s not how that works in the real world. In reality, most people understand pretty well what it means to be an accomplice. Laws against aiding and abetting are based on the moral principle that if someone else is going to do something wrong to another person and we knowingly do something to help them commit that crime then we share in the liability of the harm done.
If you know I handed Bailey the crowbar they used to break open the door to your home so they could rob you, you’d surely be pretty pissed with me even if I didn’t do anything other than give Bailey the tool they used to steal your stuff. Rightfully so if I knew that’s what Bailey was going to do with it when I gave it to them and few people would debate that. Nobody would say “Why are you mad at that weird Discerning Deviant guy? It’s not like he stole your stuff. He just gave Bailey a crowbar knowing they’d use it to break into your house. What’s wrong with that?”
So why do so many people think the basic principle of Good People Don’t Help People Do Bad Things doesn’t apply to sex. Sex in general seems to have this incredible power to test people’s moral convictions, possibly even more so than money. I understand how great the temptation can be. I’ve cheated in a moment of weakness, though I came clean with it right after I’d done so. I’ve been sorely tempted by offers of sex from people who would have been cheating, though I’d become strong enough by that point to not compromise my values to get temporary sexual gratification. Desire is a powerful thing and I can be forgiving of those who lose the battle between doing what is right and what one wants.
Just don’t expect me to justify the selfish thing as the right thing, nor absolve anyone of their guilt for taking part in someone betraying one of the deepest trusts that humans invest. If you have sex with Dale knowing that Dale is betraying Jesse’s trust by doing so, you’re not cheating on Jesse. You are definitely helping Dale cheat on Jesse, though, and you’ll never convince me that isn’t still a pretty crappy thing to do.
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