Oh, man. Have I got a bone to pick with this little monogamonormative gem.
To be fair, I haven’t heard it in years, but someone made a reference to this “get out of cheating free” card and it just chapped my hide something fierce. It bugs me for several reasons.
If you are seeing other people, BE UP FRONT ABOUT IT or you risk hurting someone. You are completely responsible for handling this information and if you drop the ball, you are removing somebody’s ability to consent to it. Consent is not the absence of a ‘no.’ If you don’t ask, you can’t get a ‘no’ but you also cannot get a ‘yes.’ The default in every other case is a ‘no.’ Can I have this car that’s just sitting here with the keys in it? NO. Can I take the last Pepsi Max that’s just sitting here in the fridge that I didn’t buy? NO. Why should it be otherwise when sex is involved? Oh, right. Entitlement. Uuuuuggghhh.
If someone is hurt by your actions, (i.e. sleeping with someone else, being interested in someone else, having a wife) they have every right to have those feelings. Feelings don’t get to be flushed away by “Well, we never discussed this possibility so you don’t get to feel bad about it. I’d be fine if you did the same to me.” Well, that does not cut it. Your partner is not to blame for your lack of self-respect.
It is cowardly. It’s a coward’s way out to avoid having uncomfortable discussions because you are afraid of missing out. Well, if you are in a relationship where your relationship styles don’t match, what are you expecting to get out of it?
On the other hand, if you are the one expecting an exclusive relationship, you might want to make sure you make that expectation clear. If you are making an assumption that your partner is going to be monogamous, let them know. How? “I know it’s a bit early to make assumptions and this might go without saying, but I am monogamous and I prefer my partners to be too.” That is not to say it’s your fault if the other person is shady about their other sexual partners if you do make that assumption, but if you have heard the line “We never said we were exclusive” more than once, chances are, you need to make your expectations more explicit to avoid that scenario again.
Once again, it’s all about communication and the courage to accept the consequences of your actions. That’s what it’s all about, folks.