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General :
Relationship needs: not everyone needs fidelity


Justsomeguy ( member #65583) posted at 7:48 PM on Sunday, September 24th, 2023

Right after Dday#2, my IC got me to make a list like this. I can remember everything on it, but she was surprised that I chose not to include loyalty, but instead included empathy, kindness, loving, etc. My response was, with all of the others, it would be impossible to cheat.

Me:55 STBXWW:55 DD#1: false confession of EA Dec. 2016. False R for a year.DD#2: confessed to year long PA Dec. 2 2017 (was about to be outed)Called it off and filed. Denied having an affair in court papers.

Divorced 2022!!!!

posts: 1632   ·   registered: Jul. 25th, 2018   ·   location: Canada
id 8809211

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:50 PM on Sunday, September 24th, 2023

Sisoon is, naturally, an outlier. I don't think I'd have listed fidelity as a requirement, becaue I assumed it. It's like air - essential but (almost) always there.

We were overseas from 1970-72. We came home with an infant to Open Marriage (the book). We agreed OM was not for us, and we also agreed that infidelity was not necessarily a deal breaker, if the unfaithful partner was willing to resolve the M problems that caused the A (in the event, I realized the only M problem - ha! - was the cheater....). My W said she thought I'd stay until the very end, when she realized I might leave. She came clean anyway. I wished I hadn't said cheating wasn't necessarily a deal breaker, though it probably wouldn't have made a difference.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 8:51 PM, Sunday, September 24th]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29265   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8809217

 MintChocChip (original poster member #83762) posted at 5:51 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

I hadn't said cheating wasn't necessarily a deal breaker

I doubt it. I was very clear it was an absolute red line for me and it made no difference.

D Day: September 2020Currently separated

posts: 266   ·   registered: Aug. 20th, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8809324

crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 6:26 PM on Monday, September 25th, 2023

Fidelity is an absolute must for me and knowing myself now, cheating will always be a dealbreaker for me as I cannot get past it and cannot view the cheater with any form of respect. I tend to be a grudge holder and my feelings just shutdown for that person and sex becomes tainted and repulsive, for me anyways.

fBS/fWS(me):50 Mad-hattered after DD (2008)
XWS:53 Serial Cheater, Diagnosed NPD
DD(20) DS(17)
XWS cheated the entire M spanning 19 years
Discovered D-Days 2006,2008,2012, False R 2014

posts: 8634   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8809331

Reece ( member #52975) posted at 6:04 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2023

I find this to be a really interesting post.

Im curious if other posters believe if fidelity is always an absolute ‘dealbreaker’? I think for many people, especially on this site it is.

There are so many things I want/need in a marriage I have often wondered where I rank fidelity on that list (I am a betrayed and reconciled spouse). I don’t think the numbers would be high, and I don’t think too many posters on this site would openly proclaim it, but I wonder how often infidelity is really a ‘dealbreaker’? Most of the times I think it is, but always, in every situation? I wish I could do an anonymous survey.

I know some people must feel this way simply based on the high number of marriages that I know thast have survived a wandering spouse (mine included). Id love feedback but I don’t think this would be a popular perspective.

[This message edited by Reece at 7:54 PM, Thursday, October 26th]

posts: 167   ·   registered: Apr. 28th, 2016
id 8812941

suddenlyisee ( member #32689) posted at 7:38 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2023

Interesting thread..

I've always seen 'fidelity' as two components that 'clicked' together. Emotional fidelity has always been an absolute MUST have on my list. Physical fidelity is my preference - and although it hasn't always been a hard requirement in the past - it sure is now..

No judging: I actually spent a few years in an open marriage with a former wife in the late 90's. We thought we were incredibly progressive. We engaged in some voyeurism/non-intercourse situations with two other couples over the course of two years and SHE had a few girlfriends over a longer span that I was completely aware of. We'd agreed on those limits, followed them and were totally in sync with one another. I was not the least bit jealous. It was interesting for a couple of 20-somethings and seemed to work fine. After a while, I realized that it just wasn't super exciting for me and I dialed back to good old-fashioned monogamy on my side. I thought I was a great guy for giving her the freedom to 'be who she was', so she continued to see a girlfriend. All good. NBD.

We had a D-Day when I discovered that she was actually having an ongoing (years-long) affair with a male co-worker of ours - that she had been masking as time with a 'girlfriend'. Wild. Having been given the opportunity to do virtually ANYTHING she might have wanted to as long as I was in the loop - she chose to go underground, lie about it, and to do it with a person that I had a social relationship with. In that marriage, the physical non-exclusivity wasn't 'infidelity', but the total lack of respect, manipulation, lying and the typical trickle-truth followed by re-offending was absolutely infidelity.

It's an odd perspective - but I can say that infidelity then didn't feel any different than infidelity in my traditional marriage to someone else decades later. Not even a little bit. It was the deception and being stripped of my agency that was the problem for me then, as it was this time around. If that makes any sense....

[This message edited by suddenlyisee at 7:44 PM, Thursday, October 26th]

Semi-pro BS in R

posts: 491   ·   registered: Jul. 6th, 2011   ·   location: Michigan
id 8812953

TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 9:00 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2023

It's often said that it's not necessarily the cheating that ruins the marriage, it's the deception, manipulation, lying, etc.

So your post makes perfect sense to me Suddenly.

Most people think cheating is a dealbreaker until it happens to them. I said most based on reading here and other forums. Some do go right to divorce but it seems more pause and try to figure out what to do.

Marriage is so much more than sex. When considering leaving, one has to accept a dismantling of their entire world. The longer the marriage, the bigger the world. The kids, the extended family, the friend groups, the financials, retirement plans, housing, the pets, the neighbors... everything changes with D.

Not advocating one way or the other but I see why it's a struggle. I didn't even include actually still loving your spouse.

I guess I'm saying I see why it isn't always a dealbreaker on Day 1.

posts: 526   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2019
id 8812964

Grieving ( member #79540) posted at 9:55 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2023

I don’t know that I would have put fidelity on my list because like another poster said, it was so assumed. Like air. And yeah, I think your husband’s list is telling.

But I think almost everyone needs and values fidelity in the broadest sense of the word—meaning that your partner is faithful to a mutual understanding of the relationship. There are open relationships and marriages of convenience that work well, and even those are based on fidelity and honesty to a shared understanding of the relationship. Infidelity is breaking that contract, whatever it is. It’s trying to keep the relationship, but unilaterally changing the terms to your own selfish advantage. and lying so that you can do that.

I didn’t think my husband would ever cheat on me, but it didn’t feel completely outside the realm of possibility. I thought there might be perfect storm circumstances where a one night stand could happen. I thought it was less likely that he would develop feelings for someone else, but even that I didn’t see as totally impossible, though I spent very little time considering it. But I never, ever thought he would lie to me the way he did on DDay 1. I thought we had a shared understanding about honesty. But instead it was so much crazy making gaslighting lying. I never thought he would look me in the eyes and lie and lie and lie after elaborate lie. (God, I wish I had had this place then). To me, THAT was the main infidelity. He broke the contract and wouldn’t even admit it. That’s what shattered our marriage so badly that no matter how hard we work to put the pieces back together, I suspect that any time the sun hits right I’ll see the web of hairline cracks running all through it.

But yeah, I think even most cheaters want fidelity. I mean, all relationships have norms/agreements, whether explicit or implicit. Is anyone actually ok with those being broken and then being lied to about it?

Cheating is such self absorbed hypocrisy.

Husband had six month affair with co-worker. Found out 7/2020. Married 20 years at that point; two teenaged kids. Reconciling.

posts: 562   ·   registered: Oct. 30th, 2021
id 8812971

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 10:09 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2023

I got hooked on my W 58 years, but we didn't commit to each other until 1.5 years later. I assumed fidelity starting from the point of commitment, not before.

Infidelity was never a deal breaker for either of us. Neither of us thought either of us was perfect. We agreed that we could stay together after an A if that's what we wanted.

We read and discussed the O'Neills's Open Marriage when it came out and agreed it wasn't for us. Closed M, to which we had just added an infant, was difficult enough.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29265   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8812974

waitedwaytoolong ( member #51519) posted at 1:54 AM on Friday, October 27th, 2023

My EX prior to her affair was disgusted by infidelity which while not common within our social circle, did happen. She commented on how wrong it was. Especially in marriages where there was mutual respect and no incidences of alcohol abuse or extenuating circumstances which might contribute to a breakdown of the marriage and subsequently leading to cheating. We saw a few marriages either breakdown or affected by infidelity where we were shocked. She would exclaim "they looked so happy, how could this happen?"

When she was caught she spent an inordinate amount of time trying to explain to me that she was not the person she was during the affair. In a way she was right in the fact that it wasn’t the person she was with me for 25 years, but she wrong in thinking was some zombie taking over her body. It was her that did all that. I remember he crying trying to explain to me that’s not who I am. I never bought it. It was her. It might have been a period of deluded thinking, but it was her doing the thinking.

So even if a person lives their life thinking infidelity is abhorrent, it might not stop them if all the winds are pushing in that direction.

For me, I never really thought much about infidelity prior to her affair. It was something other people did, but never us.

I am the cliched husband whose wife had an affair with the electrician


posts: 2102   ·   registered: Jan. 26th, 2016
id 8813017

BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 1:01 PM on Friday, October 27th, 2023

What is this with being possessive or jealous over the AP? what's the motivator for that?

Because they’re selfish and self-centered, and they don’t view their partners—either spouses or APs— as human beings with their own agency. They believe that other people exist solely to serve their needs.

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 1676   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8813054

Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 2:16 PM on Friday, October 27th, 2023

The lists you found are indeed insightful imo. It looks like you each chose your most important qualities from a larger list since several of your choices are worded exactly the same. He saw the loyalty and fidelity options just as you did but chose other things instead. If it was a list of the top 3 I could see someone saying 'well, loyalty is a given and I only hqve 3 choices so I focused elsewhere'. But in a list of 10? I don't think the same dynamic applies. With 10 choices there's plenty of room to choose one related to fidelity and still have many others but he did not. In a sense, he deliberately left those off the list.

I do think this plays into Emergent8's post on the first page of this thread where the two categories are described. It seems like the survey list shows us your WH was in the first category.

By the way, your friend is sadly doing the pick me dance. No spouse should have to compete for the love and affection of their partner.

posts: 846   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8813096

Gunnut ( member #63221) posted at 2:10 PM on Monday, October 30th, 2023

My WW thought that fidelity was something people feigned in order to be polite and not cause trouble in a relationship. She was surprised that I never cheated. In retrospect, I think she thought I was faithful because I lacked game and not because of a morality against cheating and good character to insure it wouldn’t happen. I guess since she didn’t want to have sex with me, she thought, why would anyone else. I wasn’t propositioned very much in my marriage, but when I was, I refused every advance. I feel I wasn’t propositioned very much, because my boundaries were clear, I spoke highly of my wife and marriage whenever I first met a member of the opposite sex and closed the door to even flirting much less propositioning. In contrast, she’d go out to happy hour with male workmates, drink and bitch about how terrible I was, effectively giving them the green light.

I to thought I’d be gone like the wind if anyone cheated on me. Having a house, finances and children together changed that for me. I’m glad that I stuck around and tried, that way I know there wasn’t anymore I could have done to save the relationship. I can look at our kids and honestly tell them that I gave 100% to try to keep their family intact.

[This message edited by Gunnut at 2:24 PM, Monday, October 30th]

posts: 458   ·   registered: Mar. 29th, 2018   ·   location: Minnesota
id 8813410

PSTI ( member #53103) posted at 7:14 PM on Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Strictly speaking, here is the definition of fidelity: "strict observance of promises, duties, etc."

Fidelity doesn't specifically mean monogamy. It means keeping your promises and relationship agreements. By that definition, I can't imagine anyone in a relationship where they have any emotional attachment whatsoever being OK with a partner not keeping their promises and relationship agreements. It does mean though if you have vowed monogamy, that you'll keep that vow! For example, I don't view my relationships as lacking fidelity; I just have that with two partners instead of one.

Ethical people who don't require monogamy in their relationships (or sexual/emotional fidelity if that was what was promised!) at least have that open conversation with their spouse to negotiate a relationship that works. I doubt that it's just that WS don't care about fidelity. They just find justifications why they don't need to be faithful to their promises.

I think making lists like that and having conversations about wants and needs early in a relationship are critical to building a good foundation and figuring if partners are on the same page, rather than just making assumptions. My partners and I go over wants and needs every year or so when we are having a relationship check in to see how we feel things are going and to make sure we're getting the support we need, and supporting each other in getting our needs and hopefully wants met as well.

Me: BW, my xH left me & DS after a 14 year marriage for the AP in 2014.

Happily remarried and in an open/polyamorous relationship. DH (married 5 years) & DBF (dating 4 years). Cohabitating happily all together!! <3

posts: 913   ·   registered: May. 6th, 2016
id 8813574

maise ( member #69516) posted at 2:33 PM on Sunday, November 5th, 2023

I was pondering over whether a factor in being capable of cheating is fidelity just not being that important to you.

Mmmm well…in my opinion, i would say fidelity was important to WS but not in the way that is fair or in any way done with any kind of integrity or consideration for someone else. It was not important for them in a partnership, but rather for their own validation and sense of worth and security.

WS care about fidelity (from my experience). They just care about YOU (their partner) being committed and honest and faithful to them. As far as them being that for their partner, well, their low self worth/areas of brokenness supersede them being that for you. Their ability to justify their behavior, to lack accountability, to lie, to compartmentalize, to still want to hold on to their partner for what their partner gives them while they reach out to get more validations from someone else at their partners expense…that’s all their own brokenness. We are treated like possessions, and used to fill their broken gaps rather than being treated like people that are there as partners with them not for them.

Edited to add:

It also makes me sad to read how nuch infidelity would have hurt me, considering what my most important needs were - such as fidelity, commitment and security.

This is so insightful. I’m so sorry. Sending you lots of strength. I hope that you are able to nurture yourself, be kind to yourself, and give love and attention to yourself as you heal through this.

[This message edited by maise at 3:22 PM, Sunday, November 5th]

BW (SSM) D-Day: 6/9/2018 Status: waiting to finalize the divorce

posts: 891   ·   registered: Jan. 22nd, 2019   ·   location: Houston
id 8814095
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