Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Keep Thinking About Cheating”

I have been seeing my boyfriend for the past eight months. I would describe our relationship so far as “perfect.” We rarely argue and when we do it is settled within minutes. He is so caring and actually talks to me about his feelings and wants to know the way I feel about a lot things that really do matter. Our relationship has no drama whatsoever and we are perfectly happy. The thing is, I have been known to cheat on my ex-boyfriends in the past. He does not know this nor ever will, and I have no urge to cheat on my current boyfriend whatsoever.

However, my job recently made me relocate to a different location for six months. We both agreed to stay together during this time and so far it has been great but I’m finding myself thinking about being with other men. When I see men I think to myself, “If I wanted him, I could probably have him.” I am realizing these are the exact thoughts I was thinking when I would cheat on my exes. I don’t understand why I feel this way. I know I love my boyfriend and would never ever cheat on him but how do I keep myself from having these thoughts? Is this something all people in a relationship think about but just never say anything? — Once a Cheater


You’ve gone out of your way in your letter to stress how perfect your relationship is and how you would never, ever in a million years cheat on your boyfriend, whom you are perfectly happy with, even though you’ve cheated on numerous ex-boyfriends before him and now find yourself in the same thought-pattern that led to all your past indiscretions. Frankly, it sounds more like you’re trying to convince yourself you aren’t going to cheat than anything else. And if that’s not the case — if you really, truly are 100% certain you’d never step out, I can’t imagine why simply thinking you “could probably have” other men would scare you so much.

Those thoughts wouldn’t scare you unless you feared deep down that you might act on them. (For the record, everyone thinks about people other than their partners, but not everyone acts on those thoughts. That’s what your problem is — not the thoughts themselves, but the acting on them). And acting on those thoughts has a lot less to do with how perfect your relationship is than how imperfect you are. Because this is really about a compulsion you have — an inability you’ve exhibited in the past to separate thoughts from action. My feeling is the compulsion to act on your impulses has been so great for you before that you don’t trust yourself to not make the same mistakes in your present, thereby screwing up your perfect relationship.

But, here’s the thing: if you cannot control your impulses, you have to control your thoughts. Or, rather, create thoughts that don’t lead you to regretful indiscretions. My advice is to counter any thought you may have of other men with thoughts of your boyfriend. Train yourself to picture him, to hear his voice, to think about your most pleasant memories together whenever thoughts or fantasies of these other men you “could have if you wanted” creep into your mind. Go one step further and call your boyfriend when you’re haunted by images of other men. This may mean calling him at inopportune times or staying on the phone with him for hours on end until your need for attention and validation is fulfilled, but he’d probably prefer that to you hooking up with some random dude while you’re away.

Finally, practice saying the word “no” to yourself over and over and over. Say it in the shower. Say it in the car on the way to work. Whisper it to yourself in the elevator or in the bathroom or any moment you have to yourself. No, no, no, no. The word will come in handy when you ask yourself whether you ought to maybe flirt with that cute guy in the produce aisle at the grocery store or let the guy at the bar buy you a drink or go home with a colleague after a work function one evening. And it’s the word you need to scream to yourself when a little voice in your head asks: “Is my self-worth dependent on the attention I get from men?” Or: “Am I less of a woman if I go a couple of months without sleeping with someone?” Or: “Do I want to continue a pattern of bad behavior, and living with regret as my only company for the rest of my life because I’ve never had the discipline and self-love not to screw up good relationships when I’ve been lucky enough to have them?” No.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

115 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Desiree June 1, 2011, 7:42 am

    Bravo, Wendy, especially the last paragraph. That last paragraph is the reason I know I can resist cheating: I have trained my mind to accept the word “No.” No I won’t have that third jelly donut that I don’t need, no I won’t facebook stalk my ex, no I won’t say that nasty comment to the friend who just hurt my feelings, and no I definitely won’t cheat on my awesome boyfriend. No, no, no. It is not an overnight process, but I have been deeply injured in my life by people who couldn’t say “no” to themselves, so I decided early on that I would cultivate this trait. It has saved me from so many dumb mistakes, both big and little.

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  • avatar

    Mainer June 1, 2011, 7:57 am

    What’s the female equivalent of “keep it in your pants?”

    You’re not going to stop the thoughts from running through your head. We all do it. We’re surrounded by attractive people that raise an eyebrow as we think “hmm.” But then we go on with our day. There’s no shame in finding another person attractive. There’s also no shame in a brief flirtatious encounter; everyone likes feeling desirable every now and then. You can have all the thoughts and fantasies you want in your head, but store them in the spank bank rather than cashing the check. Just practice a little self-control. Try it with other, smaller things – foods, drinks, movies you want to see, whatever. Practice going against your desires with other things so that when it comes time to say “no” to the co-worker or not give your number to the guy at the coffee shop you can do it and it won’t feel so foreign. At the end of the day you need to treat your self-sacrifice like a game or a challenge. Pretend it’s lent or something.

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    • avatar

      TheGirl June 1, 2011, 9:37 am

      My MomMom always told me to “keep your legs crossed.” That was the only advice she ever gave me about sex.

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      • avatar

        MsMisery June 1, 2011, 11:34 am

        I’ve read persistent leg-crossing can cause vaircose veins later in life! If you do so, do it at the ankles 😉

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      • avatar

        slamy June 1, 2011, 12:56 pm

        IS THIS TRUE????????????

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    • avatar

      AKchic June 1, 2011, 12:49 pm

      “Keep it outta your pants”

      “Keep your legs closed”

      “Keep your legs crossed” (even though it can be done that way too!)

      “Keep your clothes on”

      “Keep your panties on”

      I could keep going…

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom June 1, 2011, 8:06 am

    Recent research has been finding that those who cheat are high in narcissism and low in empathy. Empathy is when you feel the pain others feel. Those who didn’t cheat were high in empathy. The thought of the pain that they would cause their partner and children was enough to stop them from cheating. Besides saying no to yourself, which is an excellent idea, think about the pain your partner would experience if you cheated. Everytime you feel the temptation balance that temptation by feeling the pain your partner would feel if you cheated on him. Practice empathy.

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    • avatar

      melikeycheesecake June 1, 2011, 11:45 am

      Bravo Skyblossom!

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    • avatar

      _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 11:54 am

      I strongly suspect that the research is either addressing a subset of cheating or aims for the general case. People who are highly empathetic and selfless can cheat, and people who are very narcissistic and unfeeling can avoid it.

      I would agree that those who cheat just because they feel like another conquest likely fall into the domain of that study, but that is not the only type who cheat.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 June 1, 2011, 8:48 am

    So don’t cheat.

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  • avatar

    MsMisery June 1, 2011, 9:10 am

    I’ve never been one to cheat, so I really don’t understand the impulse. I suppose it’s like anything else and can have a myriad of causes. But I’m just reading this letter thinking “you’ve got a wonderful boyfriend and you’ve cheated on everyone…so wth is wrong with YOU?”

    Get a locket with his picture in it. Loot at it frequently. Put a rubberband around your wrist. Snap it when you have naughty thoughts. Get a calendar to count down the days until your 6 mo of purgatory is over. And maybe find a shrink in your new town to work out this feeling while you’re away, since then you won’t have to explain WHY you’re seeing a shrink to your boyfriend.

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    • becboo84

      BecBoo84 June 1, 2011, 10:17 am

      I so agree that the LW needs to find some time of counselor to work with, and I’m surprised Wendy didn’t bring it up. There might be some mental health things going on if she really can’t resist the impulse to cheat.

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    • katie

      Katie June 1, 2011, 8:56 pm

      the calander idea is such a good one- I spend 5 months away from anything I knew in San Antonio one summer and I made one and it helped so much. Getting to throw out months as they passed, putting little milestones like “25 days left” “10 days left” all decorated on certain days, asigning certain days for packing to go home… just little things to remind you that it will be over eventually. it really helped me.

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  • Budj

    Budjer June 1, 2011, 9:14 am

    I briefly dated a girl notorious for cheating on her ex bf’s. The only reason I knew this is because my brother’s gf used to be best friends with her. Things didn’t work out with us for multiple reasons (trust…) and she is in a new relationship now and about every 2 months I get a facebook message from her wanting to hang out… My point is the problem is you and unless you can say no or look out for something besides you or your ego you are going to wreck this poor guy.

    Sorry if this is a little tough, but I lost a lot of empathy reading the line “If I wanted him I could *probably* have him”. The thoughts in my head when I’m committed to someone and in a relationship only go as far as “wow, she’s hott” when I see an attractive stranger.

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    • caitie_didnt

      caitie_didn't June 1, 2011, 9:59 am

      Seriously. My first thought was “OH COME ON”. Like seriously, LW, get the eff over yourself.

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      • avatar

        MissDre June 1, 2011, 11:11 am

        It’s probably because she needs the validation from men to make her feel good about herself, not because she has a big ego.

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      • Budj

        Budjer June 1, 2011, 11:36 am

        Egos need validation too.

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      • avatar

        summerkitten26 June 2, 2011, 7:54 pm

        egos need validation too, this is very true. BUT, but but but but but, there is a DIFFERENCE between “yeah he’s flirting back because I’m hot!” and “yeah, I’m going to cheat with him because I can.” yes, everyone likes being reminded that they’re good market material, and I know I’m biased because I’ve been cheated on, but anyone who cheats strikes me as someone who will never get that validation because they don’t have it within themselves already. they don’t care who they hurt because they don’t think anyone can suffer more than they can. bullshiznit; LW, if you think you’ll cheat on him, let him go

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  • parton_doll

    parton_doll June 1, 2011, 9:25 am

    The LW may actually have a problem with impulse control and may not be able to control herself by simply talking herself down from the ledge and changing her thought patterns on her own. She may need to see a therapist and/or doctor to discuss specific coping strategies and the potential for meds to help control her impulses. Also, talking to her boyfriend and just being honest about her past may alleviate some of the anxiety that she’s feeling and take away some of the power that her thoughts seem to hold over her.

    For the record, I am completely not a person who advocates cheating. It just seems like that there might be a little more going on here. And yes, if she were a man, I would say the same thing.

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    • avatar

      Mainer June 1, 2011, 9:30 am

      First therapy recommendation. Who had 7? Anyone? Pot goes to number 7.

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      • parton_doll

        parton_doll June 1, 2011, 9:43 am

        I hope I didn’t sound trite. It’s not my intention at all. I had a friend who was a compulsive cheater and it turns out she had an impulse control issue that meds and therapy helped. The LW’s story struck me as similar.

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      • avatar

        Mainer June 1, 2011, 9:48 am

        No, I know. I was just joking around 😉

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      • avatar

        spaceboy761 June 1, 2011, 9:50 am

        Crap! I had Hitler reference for 7 and therapy recommendation for 4.

        Oh well, there goes another $50.

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  • avatar

    Maracuya June 1, 2011, 9:40 am

    I think she should probably decide if she’s ready for a relationship. It sounds like self-sabotage, lack of impulse control. Are you afraid of having a decent relationship? Do you get bored easily?

    Wendy’s advice is right. If your boyfriend is really wonderful, and your relationship is really great then …don’t do it?

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  • avatar

    Dave Jay June 1, 2011, 9:45 am

    I love the fact that 25 years after First Lady Nancy Reagan was publicly ridiculed for her “Just Say No” campaign (regarding child drug use), we realize that… “yeah… it’s really just that simple”. “No” is a word that has almost dropped out of our public lexicon because everyone is so worried about offending someone who thinks differently, or so anxious to appear “in the middle” on all topics. If “Just say No” is a little to vague, try starting with these:
    – No. I’m not a primate. I can control my animal urges.
    – No. My boyfriend is more important to me than any stranger I might meet today.
    – No. God made my arms reach beyond my waist so I can take of business “down there” by myself whenever and however often I need to.

    As Budjer said, we all look at other people that we find attractive. Guess what… sometimes those people end up being long-term coworkers and even friends. Practice building up your defenses now because the long road to internal happiness is filled with temptation.

    Finally, Do not EVER excuse your past actions, i.e. “I have been known to cheat..” That is not an aliby… it is an admission of a serious character flaw that you need to correct. Otherwise you may end up in bed with someone who “has been known to abduct easy women”. Find your inner strength. Find things bigger than yourself to believe in and recognize your role in sustaining them. A support group or religious education might be a good place to start. Just say, “NO. I’m better than this.”

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    • avatar

      Kerrycontrary June 1, 2011, 10:19 am

      Wow great observation on the word “no”! I think this applies to a lot of situations in life where people say “yes” just to avoid confrontation, even if the situation makes them uncomfortable.

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    • avatar

      cmarie June 1, 2011, 12:04 pm

      I was with you until your brought in religion. It is one thing to say you need a strong moral base, it’s quite another to say you need to find God. Should have just left it at the support group. Bringing in religion runs the risk of alienating a lot of people.

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      • avatar

        _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 12:06 pm

        Agreed, especially given that religion seems to be no barrier to cheating. Just ask the escorts at conventions.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya June 1, 2011, 12:39 pm

        I don’t think he was heavy handed about it at all. He just said that human being were created with other ways to get their jollies, and a community of support would be nice to have.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya June 1, 2011, 1:36 pm

        Dammit, double post. 🙁

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      • avatar

        Maracuya June 1, 2011, 12:39 pm

        I don’t think he was heavy handed about it at all. He just said that human beings were created with other ways to get their jollies, and a community of support would be nice to have.

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      • avatar

        katiebird June 1, 2011, 12:43 pm

        Some people find solace in religion, others don’t. I think Dave Jay was just covering all the bases by suggesting religion as well as a support group, I don’t think he meant to say that the LW definitely needs a religious education, just that a church or temple might be a safe place where she can go for help.

        p.s. I’m a new commenter, hi everyone 🙂

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      • avatar

        LennyBee June 1, 2011, 12:56 pm

        Agreed. I took the mention of religion to be just another option if you’re not into support groups. Religion certainly isn’t for everybody, and being religious doesn’t automatically make you a saint, but for some people, it can provide a good support system.

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      • avatar

        cmarie June 1, 2011, 12:59 pm

        It’s common knowledge that religion is a no-no topic of conversation. Why should advice be any different? Unless you know that the LW is a person who finds solace in religion, you need to leave it out. If I were reading his advice, I’d throw it away as soon as God was brought up. Also, you can find a community of support outside of religion. There was no need to bring up such a hot button issue. Not everyone ascribes to the same beliefs when it comes to religion and morality. Frankly, it’s insulting and condescending, to me, that he would even suggest finding a religious group. It’s operating under the assumption that 1, she is religious and 2, she needs religion to find morality and support. It is possible to find support without religion just as it’s possible to do the right thing without religion.

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      • avatar

        _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 1:03 pm

        Personally, I like hot-button issues because they fuel comments and enable me to keep reading new emails when I’m bored.

        Along those lines, I just want to say that liberals are ruining the planet, baby seals are damned delicious, and women really should avoid higher education.

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      • avatar

        cmarie June 1, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Mmm…baby seal…

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      • avatar

        Dave Jay June 1, 2011, 6:04 pm

        I love it jsw. This SHOULD be most offensive comment of this thread… sadly, no. Since that seems to be your goal, let me show you how it’s done (as a strictly educational exercise, of course ).

        “Along those lines, I just want to say that liberals are ruining religion, baby seals are sacred, and women should avoid going to church”.

        You see what I did there? It’s all about key words.
        Tomorrow… we dismiss Global Warming and drown polar bears 🙂

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      • avatar

        SpyGlassez June 1, 2011, 1:21 pm

        I took the mention of religion to be, in a sense, an alternative to therapy. Some people have a huge mistrust of therapy (my dad is one of them), but might get a lot out of finding someone in their own – or another – place of worship in whom they can confide. He didn’t say “Pray about it” which to me would be bringing God into things; he seemed more to be giving examples of support groups. And anyway, why does religion have to be a no-no? He didn’t say “go to your priest” or “go to your minister,” which would imply a certain doctrinal emphasis. Meditation and mindfulness are great ways to look inside one’s self and change one’s focus. A bonus is that they can be done with or without religious overtones.

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      • avatar

        cmarie June 1, 2011, 1:49 pm

        It’s a no-no because a lot of people feel very passionately about it. I’m agnostic. My partner is atheist. We can barely have a conversation about religion without someone getting insulted. I’d say that even bringing religious groups up runs the risk of insulting someone. All the atheists I know came to that decision after a long time thinking and debating it internally. For someone who has made a decision on something that is such a personal issue any mention that they maybe should have chose something else can cause offense. Yes, religious groups are a valid source of support, if you’re religious. However, you can’t make any assumptions about what people believe. When I was depressed and someone told me I could find a religious support group to go to, it was offensive. At the time I was questioning my own faith and to have someone suggest something so personal without really knowing where I stand on the issue automatically put me on edge about whatever they had to say. I agree that finding support somewhere would be helpful for the LW, I just don’t agree that a religious education should be an option complete strangers offer. Mindfulness can be a wonderful way to look inside yourself, but it’s also a key tenant in Buddhism. It’s one of the seven factor of enlightenment. The Western idea of mindfulness comes from the Buddhist way of thought. Even mindfulness is based in religion. I know some people who would get offended if you told them to be mindful because they’re Christians and they don’t believe in that stuff.

        Religion is such a personal thing. A lot of people hold it close to their heart, whether they believe in a God or they don’t. I just think that suggesting someone find a religious education without knowing their personal beliefs is a dangerous thing to do if you want people to actually listen to your advice.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 1, 2011, 3:09 pm

        Maybe that’s because you are both somehow being insulting… I dunno, I am so NOT religious and talk about that fact with a great many people and, honestly, I can’t really seem to remember offending anybody — it’s all how you say things. (Hard to believe, I know. But I am far more diplomatic in the real world…)

        Frankly, I am shocked by how many of you freaked out over the casual mention of religion in Dave Jay’s post. The way some of you carried on one would think that the poor guy suggested that the LWs only path to salvation was be attending the services of his own religion and that his way was the ONLY way… He didn’t do anything even close to that. Not even remotely. Frankly, it seems only natural that when one is discussing a letter from apparently, The Whore of Babylon, the topic of religion just might come up. I kid, I kid.

        To me it sounds like the LW protests far too much. Something is seriously up. Her relationship could be rocky at best as she seems hellbent on destroying it. She needs to figure out why that is. LW could also have deeper issues that make her so self destructive… I would totally do some deep introspection and try to figure why that is…

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      • avatar

        cmarie June 1, 2011, 3:51 pm

        I’m not saying he suggested she should chug some holy water to exorcise the slut-demon in her, I just suggested that maybe he should refrain from making religious suggestions to someone he doesn’t know. Play to your audience and if you don’t know your audience proceed with caution.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 1, 2011, 4:06 pm

        It wasn’t so much you as some of the others in the trail of comments. It’s interesting how it’s offensive to tell people to look into their spirituality, but not offensive to tell them that they seriously need professional psychological help. This is not a comment on you, cmarie, but rather a comment on society…

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      • avatar

        LTC039 June 1, 2011, 4:13 pm

        Maybe you shouldn’t be so insulted at a comment that’s not a direct insult towards a particular group of people or an individual. Regardless of your beliefs, religion is a part of society. So if you’re so insulted at the mere SUGGESTION, then be thankful the advice is not for you & keep scrolling down.
        Like bitter gay mark said, he was NOT stating that HIS way was the ONLY way, through his religion.
        Get a grip, seriously.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph June 1, 2011, 4:55 pm

        I find it insulting that you find religion so insulting. In a public discourse, no topic is a no-no topic as long as you approach it respectfully.
        I think that, when done tastefully and without pressure, it is actually valuable to have someone suggest religion if they think it might help. You could be right that the LW might be a bitter atheist who will stop listening the moment God is posted but you could be very wrong… the LW could be a spiritual or religious person who simply never considered that framing things relative to God or a religious practice could help them. Dave Jay may have offended the LW, or he may have helped her. To restrain him from doing so might have short changed the LW valuable info. I hate militant atheists as much as I hate militant evangelists of any religion. You don’t have the right to tell me what I can and can’t say about God. Here or anywhere else.

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        cmarie June 2, 2011, 12:06 am

        The first time someone told me a religious education might help me was when I came out as gay. Religion in society has been used to justify treating me like a second-class human being. I don’t find religion itself insulting, I have my own personal faith in God, I find suggesting that someone may need it insulting. Yes, you can have a respectful discourse on religion but you have to know who you are talking to. Why is it so offensive for me to suggest that you should not advise a stranger on religion when you don’t know where they stand? How is suggesting that you might offend someone taking away your civil liberties? You have every right to say what you want about God just as I have every right to be offended. I’m not a militant anything, except maybe LGBT activist, and my intention obviously isn’t to attempt to silence anybody. In my first comment all I said was that mentioning religion could offend somebody and suddenly I’m trying to keep you from talking about it. Maybe you should get a grip.

        Let me reiterate: I’m not offended at the mention of religion. I suggested that perhaps it could have offended the LW if she’s not particularly religious. I’m not trying to take away anyone’s civil liberties. I made a suggestion to his suggestion and suddenly I’m a militant atheist. Isn’t that a bit of a step?

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        addison June 2, 2011, 5:23 am

        Sorry, but I am tired of everyone saying they’re “offended” by every damn thing. What word or topic will I not be able to broach tomorrow if I want to remain “PC”? My hell, I can’t imagine how people survive everyday life if they’re truly as sensitive as they are on the internet.

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      • avatar

        LTC039 June 2, 2011, 8:52 am

        Ok, so you had a bad experience with “religion” which, to be honest, it wasn’t “religion” that did anything to you, it was an individual. One individual does not represent an enitre religious community or faith.
        I, as a heterosexual, born-and-raised Catholic, also believe that the Catholic church is a very corrupt organization, & my faith is in God, but I am not offended when someone suggests religion. I’m sorry that someone told you “religion” would help you not “be gay” or w/e but that doesn’t have any representation of ALL religious organizations. The point is, you don’t need to start this whole war-path because someone suggested it, **to someone else**. If you don’t believe it, that’s fine, but to start this whole rant on how it’s offense is ludacris. Had Dave Jay dedicated his entire comment to how the LW needs to “find her faith, become part of a religious community, because THAT is her ONLY way to “salvation”, then maybe I’d get why you would want to put in your two cents.
        The point is, everyone will always be offended by something. I’m “offended” (more annoyed) by hard-core, extreme left-wing, liberals, but I choose which conversations to enter into about that. & I bet this last paragraph offended SOMEONE…

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        cmarie June 2, 2011, 12:11 pm

        A suggestion is not a “warpath”. It’s the same exact thing we do everyday with LW. You make a suggestion that you think might be helpful. Let me make it clear, I wasn’t offended by his advice to the LW. My anecdote was just a way to explain how someone could be offended. It’s the same as someone suggesting to another poster that perhaps you shouldn’t jump right to therapy in your advice, which I’ve seen on this site. It’s not an attack on therapy itself anymore than my suggestion was an attack on religion or freedom of speech. I actually thought the majority of it was really good and agreed with it. I even gave him a blue thumb because it was good advice. I only had a suggestion for one part of it. You seem to have taken my entire statement out of context and went on your own warpath against an agenda that wasn’t even there. Despite everything, I don’t have a problem with religion. I’m actually quite an ardent defender and I know very well that one person does not represent an entire religion. My own faith has evovled through the years and it’s something that is very personal to me. That why I, as in I’m only talking about myself, can get offended if someone suggests a find religion. I have my own. That’s why I mentioned that religion can sometimes alienate people if they don’t want to hear it. Every piece of advice we give is based on our own personal beliefs and experiences. My experience says religion is a sensitive topic to some, hence that’s the advice I give. It wasn’t meant to be militant or to attack religion or Dave Jay, it’s just my own perspective.

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        SpyGlassez June 1, 2011, 7:06 pm

        I understand what you are saying; my boyfriend was leaning towards agnostic when I met him and on his own has become more of a theist over the last 2 years. My own faith has been all over the place, also long fought-for and long considered. Also, I know mindfulness came from Buddhism, but it can be useful even if one doesn’t want to delve through all the other parts of that tradition.

        The statement about “why does it have to be a no-no” was more of a rhetorical question. A knee-jerk reaction that says “I won’t listen because I’m offended by what you say” gets me nowhere; considering and conversing is the only way I can understand another person’s opinions and the reasons they have for it. I would never think proselytizing on this forum appropriate. However, if someone had a suggestion that might require them to reference the idea of religion as a social construct, I would also not want to ignore the good of what they had to say for what I did not agree with.

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        anna728 June 2, 2011, 2:01 am

        I’m with you, cmarie.

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      AnitaBath June 2, 2011, 2:16 am

      I find it kind of amusing this got so many comments, especially since he’s not saying anyone needs a religious education, just that it would be a support group or something “bigger” than yourself to draw strength from.

      He said *or* religious education, meaning it’s just an option. Not mandatory. It wasn’t an *and*. When the menu says, “Comes with soup or salad,” does everyone get all pissed off when their food comes out and they didn’t get both? Because *or* implies that you have a choice.

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    • avatar

      BeccaAnne June 3, 2011, 10:56 pm

      With all the comments on this post I would have thought someone would jump on the “you are not a primate” thing.

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      • avatar

        Dave Jay June 3, 2011, 11:39 pm

        Yeah… the “pro-primate” point of view is really under represented. Clearly the contributors to this forum are all animal haters!

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  • avatar

    LolaBeans June 1, 2011, 9:46 am

    Just think about what you’ll lose if you do cheat.

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      ArtsyGirl June 1, 2011, 9:49 am

      haha just writing the same thing!

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      LolaBeans June 1, 2011, 10:32 am

      oh, and i should add.. you WILL lose him. a man like yours will not stick around with a cheater.

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      _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 11:49 am

      The problem with that is that habitual cheaters will tend to think they won’t get caught, and, with many, they cannot easily control the impulse not to cheat, so they don’t even consider the consequences.

      I don’t know the LW, so I don’t know her story, but… there are those who cheat because they just feel like it and don’t give a crap about anyone else and could stop but don’t… and there are those on the other end of the cheating spectrum who cheat because they’re essentially unable to stop before it happens.

      It’s like drinking. Some people never drink. Most people drink but responsibly. Some people cannot stop drinking because they are prone to an addiction to alcohol.

      With most people when it comes to cheating, it’s just a matter of “doing the right thing.” But with some, it’s a lot more difficult than that. Again, I don’t know where the LW falls on the spectrum. However, I suspect that it would be more effective for her to avoid situations where temptation could occur (to the extend she can do so) and also make it easy to get caught. Fear can override an impulse control issue, often, but “thinking it through” won’t for those who have true issues.

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        thyme June 1, 2011, 7:12 pm

        Yes!

        I feel that tell her to “Just say no.” is about as useful as telling a binge-drinking alcoholic to just stop at two drinks, dammit! What’s so hard about that? That’s easy for those of us who have no problem stopping at two drinks to say.

        I think the LW needs to quit telling herself, “I’ll never cheat on him,” because that denial isn’t going to help her actively avoid temptation. She needs to be constantly on her guard for tempting situations and act to avoid them, knowing damn well that she is capable of cheating if she doesn’t.

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    ArtsyGirl June 1, 2011, 9:49 am

    Here is my advice – you are having problems because you look at attractive men and image yourself with them – why not push that fantasy further. Imagine the consequences of having sex with that person. Imagine having to call your loving and supportive BF and tell him you cheated. Imagine having him break up with you. Imagine all the future holidays and events without him – mentally extract him from your future.

    Now if that isn’t a libido killer then maybe you aren’t being fulfilled in your current relationship. Honestly if you are going to cheat, break up with your BF now so you can pursue other relationships – you owe him that amount of respect at least.

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      thyme June 1, 2011, 7:13 pm

      Yes! I was going to say exactly this, but you said it better!!

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    spaceboy761 June 1, 2011, 9:57 am

    I hate to be the wet blanket in the punch bowl, but this chick isn’t ready for a monogamous relationship regardless of how great her current boyfriend is. Break up with this guy on good terms (or open the terms of the relationship) and bang yourself silly elsewhere until you don’t feel the need to any more. Maybe someday, she’ll be mentally ready for a committed relationship, but living in a constant state of denying yourself is a pretty miserable way to go. If not, not everybody on the planet in the year 2011 has to force themselves into a traditional relationship. That’s OK too.

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    • Budj

      Budjer June 1, 2011, 10:08 am

      You raise a valid point and it makes me consider how much the lw actually wants monogamy…does the thought of her bf with someone else gut punch her? If not…maybe she should consider other relationship options than strictly monogamy.

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      kdog June 1, 2011, 11:46 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking! Monogamy isn’t for everybody and it certainly isn’t for everyone at every stage of their life. It’s possible she just has different needs that don’t fit with the general mold. And, although some commenters seem to think she’s being a little flippant, I actually get the idea that she is judging herself pretty harshly. I don’t think that’s ever a good place to try to change from. I’m not going to make the call that she needs one more than the other (relationship or a little freedom), but it wouldn’t be bad for her to look in to.

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    SGMcG June 1, 2011, 9:57 am

    Wendy, I think your advice to LW is OK, but when I was reading it, I was thinking, “This is nice and all, but it couldn’t work for me.” Personally, I don’t like thinking of the word, “No” when it comes to potential opportunity – and like me, perhaps the LW doesn’t wish to exercise limitations because she LIVES to push them. I think how to combat the temptation for cheating is different for every women – so I like to offer this alternative method since it worked for me.

    LW, nobody has said it yet, so I will – your cheating past makes you a current slut. If you don’t like the label – that’s too bad. Anyone who has a history of cheating on those they’re committed to are women with sexual turpitude. Having sexual turpitude can go either way – and you need to curb yours towards good things. You have to tackle your inner slut much like an alcoholic attacks their addiction – recognize it, embrace it, and develop a plan of attack of how to fight it. The thoughts you have of male conquest are that of a dirty women who views men as “commodoties” rather than equals. Go beyond your thoughts and the influence they have over your actions and stop evaluating your life with the number of “commodoties” you can acquire.

    As a reformed slut myself, I like to look at men, admire them for what they are and speculate on potentials – to the point that at some points in my life I used to actively make moves on other guys who were (supposedly) emotionally unavailable. It took me a long time to refrain my own libido and recognize that my self-worth does not equate to my ability to attract the opposite sex. Some days, when I feel all alone, I still have to remind myself that my self-worth does not equate to my ability to attract the opposite sex. Rather than saying “Yes” towards a proclivity to cheat and have these guys (and the women who may be committed to these men already) evaluate my self-worth, I say “Yes” to being the person I want to be, rather than the slut I used to behave like.

    Unlike the LW, I don’t keep the speculative thoughts to myself – I share them with my husband and it potentially inspires future sexy fun times. I don’t relish specific details of my thoughts (unless asked) but I recognize my temptations and teasingly share them. By expressing and sharing the general feeling, I refuse to let it have the power over me and the appeal to act on it dies. By sublimating my indulgent detailed thoughts back into actions toward my relationship, I’m saying “Yes” the commitments I made with the man I love and all that would entail. My husband knows that I have a history of sexual indulgences and rather than judge based on that past, he constantly recognizes all that I am now. Having such a cheerleader in my corner kills any temptation I have to cheat because the respect he shows me deserves to be returned with my own fidelity.

    I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but at some point, as you are constantly turning towards the person you are committed to, the slut in you gets tired of turning towards other people for validation. Rather than having the trail of the admired behind you, the idea of being that private dancer for the one who stands next to you develops it’s own appeal. I know being away from the presence from the one you love is hard, but if a reformed slut like myself can be faithful for two years in a long distance relationship before the idea of marriage was even discussed – you can manage six months too. Take it from someone who was once a cheater, but now a faithful wife – it can happen.

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      Mainer June 1, 2011, 10:25 am

      Your theory on the Inner Slut is flawed in the sense that it makes some fairly large presumptions.

      – Presumption #1: sexual promiscuity and exploration is a bad thing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the fundamental beliefs behind feminism is the sexual power women hold and how not to be ashamed of that. Women should be just as free as men to have sexual conquests without fear of reprisal. To refer to her as “dirty” is rather hypocritical if we are embracing this concept of equality among the sexes and freedom to live life how we want to live it, rather than how others feel we should. Seeing men as “commodities” does not necessarily mean she doesn’t see them as equals; it takes two to tango, and as long as she is being upfront about her intentions then she can’t be blamed if they are still on board with hooking up.

      – Presumption #2: The life goal of every person should be that of a monogamous relationship. It is even a bold statement to go as far as say every person’s life goal is to just BE in a relationship. Somewhere along the line we started viewing a person’s desire to live a life of solitude as a failure. We have engrained this concept of having a life-long mate into our minds to the point where we see it as a necessity. Likewise, any lack thereof labels us as outcasts. If she wants to live a life of brief sexual encounters, and anything to the contrary would be denying her sense of being, then I don’t think we should try to force someone to be something they are not.

      To that point, I am inclined to more agree with SpaceBoy’s advice rather than my own. If she wants to do these things then that is fine, but she should not be so selfish as to also want a boyfriend. You can have one or the other, but not both (unless both parties on are board). Otherwise you are purposely setting up someone to be hurt. So at the end of the day she just needs to decide which lifestyle she wants to live, and I think right now she just isn’t sure.

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        kerrycontrary June 1, 2011, 11:01 am

        Mainer, I agree. I hate the word slut because it implies that a promiscuous woman is a bad thing. If a woman is having consensual sex with multiple people, then it’s her business! While I don’t condone cheating, I agree that not everyone is built for a monogamous relationship.

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        Dave Jay June 1, 2011, 11:28 am

        How about we stop treating men and women like they come with different rule books and recognize that a functional society must hold EVERYONE to the same standard, and accept that it is our responsibility as citizens to maintain that standard for the general welfare. Men can be sluts; women can be sluts. Neither is desirable; neither contributes positively to society (and I have yet to meet the one who is genuinely happy and self-fulfilled). While this position might be convenient to justify ones lifestyle, will you still think so when you have “The Talk” with your teenage son/daughter? Are you really going to say, “It’s okay honey… you just go out there and have sex with as many people as you want… just make sure it’s consensual!” If so, please tell me where I can buy stock in STD futures!

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        Mainer June 1, 2011, 11:48 am

        Your assuming that if we accept this lifestyle, every single person is going to embrace it. Wasn’t that the same approach they used against gay marriage? Shall we count up all the activities people partake in, the lifestyles they choose to live, and their personal beliefs and compare them to how they “contribute positively to society?” Then consequently get rid of them for not doing so? Sounds like a pretty boring place to live if you ask me.

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        SGMcG June 1, 2011, 11:15 am

        Your right in that my theory does have it’s presumptions. Yet I also said that this alternative theory worked FOR ME. I don’t know what the LW wants herself, nor do I know her sexual history. She can choose to follow Wendy’s advice as well, which I admitted was good, but it couldn’t work for me. I offered my theory since it worked FOR ME. As to address the presumptions you offered:

        Presumption #1: sexual promiscuity and exploration is a bad thing.
        Where did I say that this is a bad thing? I think my exact phrase was, “Having sexual turpitude can go either way – and you need to curb yours towards good things.” Hell, I’m down with kink and all the good things it entails. Yet sexual pormiscuity and exploration can LEAD TO bad things – and sometimes a slut refuses to take responsibility for her actions and their consequences. I know I did. For me, initially putting that idea of “sexual promiscuity as bad” helped me identify sexual actions and their consequences, and maybe she needs that right now in order to develop the desire not to cheat in the first place, let alone take responsibilities to protect herself. She can choose to apply that label if she wants, or she can refuse to disregard it. Whatever gets her moral compass to recognize that “my actions have consequences that I am responsible for” as long as she gets there is fine with me.

        Presumption #2: The life goal of every person should be that of a monogamous relationship.
        The only reason I even made that presumption is because the first paragraph of the letter gushed about said boyfriend and suggested that monogamy is what she wants. By all means, the LW owes it to herself to explore monogamy, polygamy – whatever interpersonal relationship she wants. Heck, she even owes it to herself to explore the idea of not having a relationship – period. I think every one should accept the idea that being alone is not a bad thing. I personally came to my own conclusions about monogamy only because my personal sexual orientation was that towards males only and the few attempts towards developing a MMF affair (let alone a relationship) were too drama intensive for me, even with attempts to communicate it out. So I resigned myself to the fact that not having a relationship at all is not a bad thing – and that’s when I met my husband. Because he knew my past, my husband even entertained the idea of indulging a potential cuckold fetish for me, yet recognized that he was “selfish” (his words, not mine) in our relationship in wanting to be the only person who satisfies me. Because he was respectful to me in other ways that mattered more, I remain faithful – and thus we have monogamy.

        Spaceboy’s suggestion is good too – and I noticed that he posted it at the exact same time mine came out. I think the LW owes it to herself to communicate what she wants with her boyfriend, and to hide her cheating past tells me that she’s not communicating with her boyfriend truthfully, if at all. If she were to communicate with her boyfriend openly and truthfully, perhaps her fears regarding the desire to cheat wouldn’t be there at all.

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        SGMcG June 1, 2011, 11:52 am

        Incidentally, I’m sorry if the word “slut” or the idea of a woman as “dirty” offends. I personally don’t acknowledge the perjorative when my husband calls me a “slut” or “dirty” in the bedroom and I like to use those words on him as well. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

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        SpyGlassez June 1, 2011, 1:25 pm

        I got upset one time when my boyfriend used the word “slut,” but his take on the word was a woman who really enjoys sex and her sexuality.

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        Addie Pray June 1, 2011, 11:56 am

        Man, now I want to be slutty.

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      oldie June 1, 2011, 3:45 pm

      You are confusing a number of things. Having a high libido has nothing to do with ‘my self worth has nothing to do with my ability to attract the opposite sex’. A person with very high libido and poor impulse control may well cheat on a long business trip out of extreme horniness. Needing to attract a man at that given time to increase your sense of self worth seems more like evidence of low self esteem than high libido.

      Neither seem to be the LW’s situation. She doesn’t say how horny she is, how absolutely sexy these other guys look to her, nor does she talk about low self-esteem that needs soothing. She presents this as a challenge. She sees a guy and she is certain that she can bed him. As an earlier responder wrote, this seems more indicative of narcissism. Cheaters can be driven by libido, low self-esteem, narcissism, or a quest for variety. She seems a narcissist.

      LW clearly not ready for a serious monogamous relationship, let alone a LDR. If Wendy has a week lag time between receiving a letter and publishing it, I think high odds that LW has already cheated.

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        SpaceySteph June 1, 2011, 5:01 pm

        I don’t know if this part of what you said is true:
        “nor does she talk about low self-esteem that needs soothing”
        I think maybe she did say that, indirectly. The way she thinks “I could have him if I wanted” is like she’s evaluating herself based on the men she could have. And though she doesn’t offer any explanation for how this led to cheating in the past, it could be that she occasionally needs to test that theory in order to confirm her own opinions of herself, to validate her desirability…. by sleeping with these men she thinks she could have.

        I am not a psychologist, sure, but I think this is rather indicative of a self esteem problem, where her self worth is tied to knowing that men find her desirable.

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        anna728 June 2, 2011, 2:11 am

        I agree, oldie. She comes across almost…. predatory? Especially that quote about how she could probably get some guy if she wanted.

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        anna728 June 2, 2011, 2:12 am

        Maybe that’s too harsh. But low self-esteem or extreme horniness definitely seem less related than the thrill (at least from the letter).

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    Kerrycontrary June 1, 2011, 10:16 am

    The advice I give everyone on how not to cheat is to never put yourself in a situation where you are tempted to cheat. I’m in a LDR and I make sure that I’m never alone with other men (unless it’s in a public setting, such as a restaurant), I never have more then 2 drinks if I’m not around my BF, and if anything gets sketchy just go home. I also think a major issue here may be that the LW has a personality which expects instant gratification, which is a mark of our generation. That being said, you obviously care about your boyfriend so I would just avoid situations where you can cheat. I might also talk to a counselor to figure out the root cause of this behavior pattern.

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      LTC039 June 1, 2011, 11:06 am

      No offense, honestly, but I feel if you have to go through all that trouble to not cheat, then just be single. I’ve gone out without my bf multiple times, gone to bars, gotten drunk, had men hit on me while drunk, been alone with male friends (in a car, etc…) & never felt the desire to cheat. I was even supposed to go to a concert with one of his friends, but it got cancelled.
      I just feel if you’re truly happy, it shouldn’t be so difficult to avoid temptation & if you’re really counting your drinks & be aware of who’s around you, it’s not worth it.

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        Amber June 1, 2011, 11:46 am

        What Kerry describes are normal precautions that most people would take to avoid such situations. Anyone has the potential to cheat if given the right circumstances.

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        LTC039 June 1, 2011, 1:08 pm

        So you’re telling me if you’re in a long term with someone you are truly, genuinely happy with, given a few drinks & hot guy you would cheat? or be uncontrollably tempted to?

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        _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 1:13 pm

        I doubt those would qualify as “the right circumstances” for Amber (or most people).

        I would guess that, for those who aren’t complete narcissists and who also aren’t dealing with self-control (and other mental) issues, “the right circumstances” typically would include being miserable in the current relationship (as a necessary but not sufficient condition). Most people who are truly, genuinely happy with someone will not cheat on them.

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        LTC039 June 1, 2011, 1:17 pm

        Well that’s why I said if you are “truly genuinely happy” in your relationship. A bad relationship wouldn’t fall into that category.

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        _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 1:19 pm

        Agreed. If you are that happy and cheat anyway, you’re quite often either a really bad person or someone with significant issues that you need help addressing.

        But not always.

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        Amber June 1, 2011, 1:29 pm

        it happens. a lot of people cheat. and not all of them are unhappy in their relationship or bad people.

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        LTC039 June 1, 2011, 2:04 pm

        I disagree with that. I don’t think that majority of people that cheat are happy & good people.
        Maybe you think you’re happy, but are truly not & for the others, yeah, I would say they’re self-absorbed, & not very good people.
        Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but I don’t think that’s generally the case.

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        Desiree June 1, 2011, 11:49 am

        I think it’s just a really personal thing. A person might really love his/her SO, but also become a huge flirt after X number of drinks. In this situation, my advice would be to stop drinking before X number of drinks, not to dump the wonderful SO. Everyone has limits that he/she must recognize.

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        LTC039 June 1, 2011, 1:11 pm

        I was just saying, IMHO, all that counting & work is a little bit of a waste of time. Yes, maybe you can be flirtatious, but there’s a difference b/w being flirtatious & going all the way & cheating.
        I’m sure there’s a point where you draw the line. Everyone flirts, it’s healthy.
        I didn’t exactly mean to dump your “wonderful SO” I just meant that is you have to go through all that stress & trouble it isn’t really worth it.

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        oldie June 1, 2011, 3:50 pm

        A person in a happy committed relationship who flirts after a few drinks also wants to flirt with no drinks, but lacks the courage to do so. I’ve known a lot of cheaters. Most were happy in relationships. Their relationship, marriages in most cases, were the safe, secure, home base from which they went out to make their conquests and have their affairs. Some guys did this in their home town, others rationalized that it was ok when they were away from home for more than a week. This actually seemed the self-reinforcing lifestyle of the project and start-up engineers.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark June 1, 2011, 5:31 pm

        Seriously. If you have to be this careful not to cheat then something is wrong in either the relationship or perhaps just in you. I hate it when people use alcohol as an excuse. You know what? I was a wild boy back in my day and I stumbled around many a bar, I didn’t just randomly go home with any guy that looked my way. And hey, I was single, dammit. If you can’t trust yourself to have a few cocktails and remain faithful, um, then I say the trouble lies with you and NOT the alcohol…

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie June 1, 2011, 9:40 am

    Being unable to get touchee feelie with you ever loving is difficult to say the least. Skype and the use of your hands and implements could at least take some of the pressure off. If you can afford it, flying in for some weekends together should tide you over and it’s money well spent. Your employer should help you cover that as a business expense.

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    Painted_lady June 1, 2011, 11:00 am

    Okay…so initially I was tempted to say that maybe you aren’t built for a monogamous relationship, and that may still be true. You may never be happy with just one man, but even if you’re in the most open, nonmonogamous relationship ever, and there are still going to be rules and you’re still going to have to be responsible for your actions. What if one of your rules is “no banging my brothers” (not unreasonable nor unusual) and one of his brothers gives you a look that makes you think you could land him if you wanted? Right now you seem to think, no offense meant, that means you must sleep with him. And it doesn’t. Just your phrasing “I’ve been known to cheat” indicates that you have little knowledge of how or why it happened nor any agency in the event. Figure out when it is and why it is you cheated. Because *you* did. It wasn’t something that just happened to you, like weather or a hit and run – you made the choice. And if you don’t own it and its reasons, it’s going to happen again. There’s a guy who keeps checking me out at my gym, and yes, if I wanted him, I could have him. And there’s part of me who does want him, and my boyfriend’s far away and he’d never know. But u would. And I love him enough that it matters. So I pretend like I don’t see him, or I get out of talking to him as soon as I can. Or, occasionally I fantasize about him as sublimation for acting on the urge to take a flying leap off the treadmill and landing right on top of him. But instead of just letting cheating happen to me, I actively engage in not cheating on him. Instead of wondering how you keep it from happenig to you like cancer or a hurricane, you stop yourself from doing it.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom June 1, 2011, 11:54 am

      I saw a marriage counselor once say that when someone cheats they are getting something out of the cheating and there is something they like about themselves when they cheat. The counselor advised spouses to ask the cheater what they liked about themself when they were having the affair. I think that question would work here. What did the LW like about herself when she cheated in the past? Then address the empty spot in your life that the cheating is filling.

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        Painted_lady June 2, 2011, 12:28 am

        I think that’s a really interesting theory. It’s obvious that since there have been multiple guys she’s cheated with that it’s not just about some irresistible attraction with someone she can’t resist or let go of, and if it’s multiple boyfriends including the current one who is so wonderful that she doesn’t want to cheat on him, then it’s something in her that’s being gratified. She’s the only constant in this equation. And there’s always going to be some hot guy checking her out who will be out of bounds, which is the draw for her – some aspect of breaking the rules that appeals. She needs to figure out what it is – getting away with something, affirmation, self-destruction, or just simply wanting what she in theory cannot have – and whether that happens in therapy or she can connect the dots herself, she needs to do that self-examination before she and this amazing guy go out in flaming glory.

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    _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 11:29 am

    I agree with all the advice about verbalizing “no” and picturing the consequences of cheating and all of that. It’s all valid.

    However, if you truly want this relationship to work but yet truly fear that you have validation and impulse-control issues, I strongly recommend that you make it really easy for your boyfriend to catch you if you do. I don’t think the thought of guilt over a fling will stop you, at least not at this point, but the thought of being caught might.

    There are ways to track phones, which vary based on your provider and phone. Ensure that he can always see where you are. That alone might help. Allow him access to your phone records – he likely won’t ever check, but you won’t ever be sure he won’t. Open your email accounts to him. As someone with real privacy concerns, I know that would really be difficult for me to do, but if you do that, it should help. Not that you can’t just create more, but… it’s a barrier. Don’t have the just-for-hookups account – not for email, not for Facebook, not for whatever.

    If you can get phones with video chat, do so. Him being able to see you whenever will help.

    I know it’s great to realize you shouldn’t cheat, but if you’re someone with a habit of it, it’s easy to do it again almost impulsively when the conditions are right – you’re away, you’ve had some drinks, some hot stranger is chatting you up, it’ll just be the one time, etc., etc., and you’ll fall back into old ways.

    Just make it too easy to get caught. That fear will stop you if guilt won’t.

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  • leilani

    leilani June 1, 2011, 11:34 am

    The fact that the thought that inspires you to cheat is “if I wanted him, I could have him” suggests that you put a lot of your self-worth into your sexual attractiveness. You feel powerful when you feel wanted, and that is intoxicating. It doesn’t seem to me that you can’t control your sexual urges as much as you can’t resist the validation you feel when you are getting sexual attention from new men. But even if your boyfriend isn’t around giving you that sexual attention physically, he still wants you and is thinking about you. The men that you see giving you the eye on the street still find you attractive even if you don’t bang them. If I were you I wouldn’t try to stamp out the high you get from feeling sexual tension with others. If you like the feeling of power you get when you flirt, you don’t necessarily have to stop flirting. But you do need to know where to draw the line. Flirting can be just as exciting as going home with someone, without the guilt, pain, ruined relationship, etc. Nothing can make you cross the line except you deciding to.

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      _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 11:41 am

      “Nothing can make you cross the line except you deciding to.”

      I completely agree with that, but if the LW has issues with cheating, then I suggest that she redefine what “the line” is. It’s not “right before I take off my clothes” or “before I walk into that room alone with him” or “before our lips meet.” It’s not those things because she likely does not have the willpower to stop at that point.

      The line, for her, is likely before she acquires or hands out any means for her and the guy to contact each other, and, really, it’s likely before she even engages in conversation. Flirting can be fun and innocent, but for the LW, I suspect that flirting is like an alcoholic going into a bar. It’s not the same as having a drink sitting there… but there’s no barrier to it.

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      • leilani

        leilani June 1, 2011, 11:58 am

        I agree with that sentiment in a lot of cases. With her, however, I’d really like to see her reevaluate why cheating is so tempting to her and recognize that she can get the same thing in other ways that aren’t completely selfish and self-destructive. I wouldn’t suggest that she go out and start talking to guys at bars and then just try to use her willpower to walk her away from them at the end of the night. That definitely wouldn’t be good for her. But, if she’s at a bar and she feels a guys eyes on her and that makes her feel good, that’s fine. She doesn’t need to stop having that thought. She just needs to internalize that while she feels good at that initial moment when she feels sexy and wanted, she’s not going to feel good the next morning when she feels stupid and horrible and guilty. Which is admittedly easier said than done.

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    Jshizzle June 1, 2011, 11:59 am

    I don’t think the LW is worried about cheating, she is just concerned about her own thoughts…wondering if everyone in a relationship has them, and if not, how can she stop thinking about other men.

    I agree with Wendy that most people in relationships have these thoughts (at some point or another…not 24/7). Distance is a tough thing because you don’t have your partner’s endorphins or hormones or whatever in your proximity. Eight months together is also not that long to be away from someone for an additional six. It’s going to be hard.

    Sure…you could have him or him or him if you wanted to. So could the girl across the room, and her mother if she tried hard enough. Don’t look at that as an accomplishment…take it as a given and be grateful for what you have with your boyfriend.

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      _jsw_ June 1, 2011, 12:05 pm

      Well said – you’re right, it seems more to be the thoughts than a true worry about acting on them.

      The thoughts are normal, but if they become obsessive, the LW might want to consider always wearing a Rush Limbaugh mask and a Yoda t-shirt. I can assure her that’d reduce the number of men thinking sexual thoughts about her to near zero.

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        Jshizzle June 1, 2011, 12:31 pm

        Desperate measures for desperate times…

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      Desiree June 1, 2011, 12:07 pm

      Yeah, I’ve never been that flattered by the idea “Oh, I could have that guy,” because a lot of guys I’ve met are pretty easy to be had (particularly after a few drinks). That being said, a lot of guys that I meet in my line of work are sexually frustrated scientist types, so that could have something to do with it..

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      • Budj

        Budjer June 1, 2011, 2:44 pm

        Haha…i fall in that scientist camp! But girls that come on that strong are a turn off for me….or I’m afraid of them. Not sure which!

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    HmC June 1, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I agree with most of Wendy’s advice, except the part about calling the boyfriend, even at inopportune times, to soak up attention in order to avoid cheating. Though it’s true he’d probably prefer that to cheating in the short run, in the long run that could take its toll on this relationship and it really isn’t fair to him. She doesn’t want to mention anything about her past cheating, and who knows what he would think if she started calling him constantly at work or something and never wanted to get off the phone? Clearly, this is a long-standing issue with the LW herself, thus she should be the one to work through it. If LW has cheated so often before, LW, why do you think you have been completely unable to avoid temptation? Did you have a bad experience with monogamy? Or maybe you’re just someone who is naturally less inclined towards monogamy itself.

    Whatever the reason for your issue, if you don’t do something different this time then the exact same thing is going to happen. What makes you so sure you really won’t cheat this time? Is this boyfriend so different than the others? Would you characterize any of your past relationships as “perfect”, or at least, did you think so at the time? I’d consider talking to a therapist. Because ultimately, it isn’t really fair to you or anyone else to keep making exclusive commitments to others when your track record for keeping those commitments is so poor.

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    • cmary

      CMF June 1, 2011, 1:59 pm

      Hi. I’m a new commenter, but really wanted to chime in on this one. Especially in response to HmC’s comment above regarding calling the boyfriend when the LW feels especially tempted. I agree it might not be the best solution. I think it would be better for everyone if the LW learned how to comfort herself. I mean, sure, it’s nice to have someone to reach out to and lean on for the big things, but it’s maybe better, in the long run, to know you can handle things on your own. For many people, just knowing that there’s someone out there trusting you to do the right thing is enough to keep them actually doing the right thing. Look, appreciate, even wonder a little, but pull yourself together. Your boyfriend stands to get honest-to-God hurt in this situation. Would he put you through that? Do you really still want to be the girl who’s “been known to cheat”?

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      WatersEdge June 1, 2011, 2:02 pm

      I disagree, and I think the LW should definitely call her boyfriend if she feels the urge to cheat. She shouldn’t have to do this 3x a week forever. It’ll probably only need to happen a few times before she starts remembering how great her relationship is and decides on her own how to stop the cheating.

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        HmC June 1, 2011, 4:16 pm

        I guess it really depends on how she does it, and what their relationship is currently like in terms of communication. The key for me is that she seems completely unwilling to tell him about her past cheating at this point (her prerogative) thus a dramatic change in behavior might be jarring.

        Also, I think that personally, it was an against-the-grain struggle for me to learn coping skills that did not involve leaning too much on loved ones. I am eternally grateful and have found so much peace due to finally developing skills that don’t drain others, because that actually made me feel worse in the long run. So, like everyone, my advise is biased by my personal experience.

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    AKchic June 1, 2011, 12:53 pm

    Why did you cheat on your other paramours? I think that is something that needs to be looked at. You didn’t really tell us your age, and that can also be telling.

    Sex is a rush of chemicals. Especially sex with new people. It’s a conquest. An ego-boost, until we think about the ramifications, then we get depressed and want that high feeling again and loop right back around.

    I think part of this is the lack of sex you’re getting from your “perfect” relationship because of the long-distance thing. Part of it is boredom and wanting a little thrill to entertain you. Part of it is habit (which MUST be broken). Part of it is also self-sabotage. The relationship you’re in isn’t like the other ones and you’re scared it will go south, so you are sabotaging it so you can control it’s demise (sort of).

    Around other males – keep your clothes on and in groups. Invest in a B.O.B. and practice saying “no” a lot. And I mean saying “no” to yourself, because YOU are the one that needs control, not these guys you are fantasizing about.

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      HmC June 1, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Good advice, but what is a B.O.B.?

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        PFG-SCR June 1, 2011, 3:56 pm

        Vibrator – “Battery Operated Boyfriend” (BOB)

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        PFG-SCR June 1, 2011, 3:59 pm

        I apologize if this is a double post – I already replied, but it didn’t show up.

        B.O.B. stands for battery-operated boyfriend…a vibrator

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    Meaghan Self June 1, 2011, 2:25 pm

    Text your boyfriend something sweet whenever you have these thoughts whether it’s ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ etc. Do this because in return you should receive his own sweet message that can remind you of your great relationship. Also, you should set the background of your phone as a picture of you and him smiling.

    Finally, I see this as a problem with your self esteem not necessarily you’re inability to ignore your thoughts. I say this because you mentioned that you think about if you wanted these men you could have them, and so ‘getting’ them regardless of your or his relationships or obstacles is an ego boost to you and your sexual appeal. Look into why you might have these problems before you make another mistake that you’re going to regret.

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    oldie June 1, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Rather than simply saying no, tell yourself ‘it ain’t no big accomplishment to pick up a traveling businessman in the bar of a business hotel’. If you get an ego boost from this, you really shouldn’t. You’ll get guys saying yes under these circumstances, when they wouldn’t consider you remotely likely dating material back home.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet June 1, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Heh, we all have those thoughts at some point or another. Today, for instance, a cute rocker guy in my Voice class (who I have an innocent crush on) was chatting me up as we were leaving. This harmless flirting gave me butterflies. And you know, I’m pretty certain that I could “have him” if I wanted to. It doesn’t take some special superpower to get a man to sleep with a woman. But I won’t act on it, because I’m in a relationship. So instead I’ll take this as a little boost to my self-esteem and potentially become friends with cute rocker guy.

    This takes self-control, yes, but I would say that the majority of the decisions we make each day require a bit of self-discipline. I didn’t want to go to work this morning, but I did because I need money. I would have preferred to eat greasy pizza for lunch, but I knew that it would make my stomach hurt, so instead I ate a sandwich. And deep down, I think it would be a lot of fun to make out with cute rocker guy. But I know that would end my relationship with my boyfriend and he is MUCH more important to me than a silly crush.

    Think of the consequences your actions could have before you act on your impulses. Maybe thinking about the long-term repercussions will help you to gain a little more self-control. Otherwise, I’d say you’re simply not mature enough to handle a relationship yet.

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    anna728 June 2, 2011, 2:31 am

    Hmmm. I can’t really relate to this kind of impulse. I can understand being drawn to some specific person and being tempted to cheat with them, but I don’t really get just being tempted to cheat in general, with no one in particular. So I guess it’s not as easy as cutting off contact with the one person you’re attracted to. Like some others suggested, avoiding situations that could lead to a hook-up seems like a good bet. But if you truly think you will not be able to stop yourself, you owe to your boyfriend to break it off with him. It will hurt him less.

    One other thing- I don’t know if this applies to you, but if you *do* end up cheating, don’t justify it yourself with thoughts like “well, it was inevitable”. The more you cheat because it seems inevitable, the more inevitable it actually is. At least own up and take responsibility.

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    twiglet June 30, 2011, 7:03 pm

    aw girl, just imagine his hurt face! How would you feel if it was him cheating? Don’t seek to validate yourself with random sex, it is no measure of worth. There are some guys (and presumably girls) who would shag wet sand if there was nothing else going. So you know you could have him if you wanted? That’s because you are looking “up for it” not because you are special or beautiful or sexy, although you may well be all of those things–your partner, however, loves you for yourself. How can you not see the difference?

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