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24 August, 2009

Things That Go Wrong

Thanks to one of my friends on Twitter, I just noticed that #itsnotcheating is a trending topic. Most of the tweets are things like

#itsnotcheating if HE kissed ME!. lol

#itsnotcheating if your drunk.

#itsnotcheating if u swallow da evidence...

#itsnotcheating hahahhahahahaha no, there is NEVER an exception.

And, my favorite:

#itsnotcheating if its with obama.

I'd give that last person a free pass, too.

It raises an interesting question, though.
What happens when you and a partner of yours aren't using the same terminology?

Maybe you and your partner are starting to try out bondage, and because it's a special, intimate thing, she asks you not to do anything "kinky" with someone else. If you've just opened your relationship, your original partner might ask you not to sleep with anyone yet. It's worth knowing whether he means "have sex" or "spend the night in bed". The former is a pretty typical worry about sexual exclusiveness, maybe indicating that there are some comparison issues you two will need to discuss. The latter might signal that your partner is more afraid of lowering emotional boundaries and having non-euphemistic intimacy with other people - and that fear is pretty common, too. And then there's the most basic, and complicated, of the whole bunch: what does it mean when someone says "I love you"?

Making implicit definitions explicit can be a big step toward building harmony between partners. It's not cheating if you know what each of your partners means by the words that make up whatever agreements you've made and follow not just what you meant but what they meant, too. Similarly, people tend to have expectations about what a relationship means. Maybe those expectations are hidden within labels like "girlfriend" or "dating"; sometimes they come packaged with having sex, kissing, or just holding hands. That expectation could be anything from an implied commitment to an implied lack of the same unless otherwise agreed upon. Ask the people you date (or kiss, or have sex with) what it means to them, if anything. Talk about what "love" means and what you expect from a lover. It'll help to make your relationship a more easily navigable place, and it'll even give you something to talk about on Friday nights. ...or am I the only one who thinks that making unconscious expectations explicit is a fun way to spend a Friday night?


  1. I totally agree with you that talking about intimacy is a great way to be intimate. I must put this on my calendar.

    #itsnotcheating if everyone knows and is okay with it!