Best reasons to think before you cheat
What bad TV and burned motels can teach us about love
Face it. Cheating just isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the Mad Men days of three-hour martini lunches capped off by a romp with the secretary, while your dutiful wife waits in the suburbs without a cell-phone’s chance of reaching you.
With the possible exception of therapists and captains of industry, nobody’s office has a couch and a locking door anymore, and gentrification is destroying the seedier parts of town where anything goes. West Sacramento deliberately burned down its infamous Experience Motel (with vibrating beds and 24-hour porn) last April, signaling to the entire Sacramento region that West Capitol Avenue is no longer willing to contain our indiscretions.Times have changed—and not just because slapping asses in the steno pool could get you slapped with a lawsuit. The daily news is filled with lives ruined by unauthorized relationships. The spectacle of a hangdog politician like ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer delivering an apologetic resignation, accompanied by his “understanding” zombie wife, has become a tabloid cliché. Sen. John Edwards couldn’t dodge the paparazzi when visiting his mistress this summer. Madonna may have smiled down the rumors about A-Rod, but someone spray-painted “slut” on actress Sienna Miller’s house last month after topless pictures of her with the very married Balthazar Getty appeared on gossip Web sites worldwide.
Even if you’re not famous enough to warrant paparazzi stalking, you can’t deny that technology has made us constantly available and instantly accountable. We are, all of us, always near a phone. We always could have called.
What’s more, any suspicious lover can stop into a security shop like Fox’s Spy Outlet (8317 Folsom Boulevard) and pick up surveillance gadgets that surpass anything in a 1960s James Bond flick. Scott Olson, a sales representative at Fox’s, says local shoppers come in several times a week asking about the best ways to spy on their partners. Fox’s most popular sellers include the Super Trackstick, a candy-bar-sized GPS unit that attaches to the underside of a car and logs all of its movements; pinhole cameras with easily hidden video recorders; and digital audio recorders for car interiors.
With Spectorsoft software, a suspecting paramour can track your Web activity before you can say, “I had to work late.” If your Gmail account yields anything incriminating, hiring a private investigator to follow up is as easy as dialing a number from the California Association of Licensed Investigators Web site (www.cali-pi.org).
These days, if your steady wants to catch you, you’re going to get caught. So let’s look at what happens when you do. It’s estimated that only 31 percent of marriages survive after an infidelity is discovered, so you could lose your house, your kids, your reputation in the community, the whole American-dream banana.
That’s more than enough punishment for anyone, but the era of reality television has forged a fresh circle of hell for infidelity. You could end up on Cheaters. A distrustful sweetheart has only to fill out an online form at www.cheaters.com to enter the selection pool for this reality show, which broadcasts in the Sacramento area twice daily on the G4 network. If chosen, the show will hire detectives to trail the suspected cheater. Each episode culminates with the maligned partner, the cheater, the “other woman” (or man) and the host entangled in a shouting, finger-pointing, hair-tearing screamfest in the parking lot of an Applebee’s. This show is so seamy that the host, Joey Greco, was famously stabbed on camera in 2003 by a cheating man, and they didn’t think twice about running the episode. Trust us, this is not the place to spend your 15 minutes of fame.
A more likely consequence is to find your photo, name and vital stats registered on a site like Don’tDateHimGirl.com or WomanSavers. These sites are like MySpace in reverse, a social network of people you don’t want to meet, because they will break your heart and get it on with your best friend at your birthday party.
A recent visit to Don’tDateHimGirl.com revealed 290 men from the Sacramento area whose exes were angry enough to create profiles for them. The complaints can be endlessly petty, like this description of Sacramento’s “Bastard Josh” who had three mistresses while engaged to the author of the post: “He used to be Muslim (doesn’t eat pork) but he likes pepperoni (stupid) … He is moderately lazy.” Others are truly horrifying, like this item about Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson (not the would-be mayor) from one of the three mothers of his seven children: “He loves to watch To Catch a Predator on MSNBC so he knows what not to do when he’s tryin’ to sleep with lil’ girls the ages of 13-16.”
Of course, no one fact checks these sites. The women post anonymously and vengefully, so the veracity of their claims is suspect. Nonetheless, “Steven will sleep with anything, I do mean anything, with a hole attached to it” is not the first thing you want to come up when someone Googles you.
Clearly, the dual threats of domestic spying and unsavory media attention are working together to push us towards a new, more honest way of life. It’s time to take responsibility for creating the kind of relationships we really want, be they monogamous, polyamorous, swinging, noncommittal or staying home alone with a mascot suit and Teletubbies videos. Let’s embrace openness, communication and respect for all human beings—even the ones we love and have sex with. The alternative—watching your ex screaming about your small penis on national television—just isn’t pretty.
If you’ve been unfaithful in the past, but you really want a monogamous relationship, there’s hope and help available. Amy Ellis, a marriage and family therapist in Roseville who specializes in infidelity, says, “The No. 1 reason for infidelity would be people who avoid conflict, who don’t want to talk about dissatisfaction. The person who got hurt will have felt like their marriage was going great, and then the other person will go out and cheat.” A good therapist can help you decide whether the relationship you’re in is worth saving, and if so, teach you and your partner how to rebuild trust and communication.
For those who aren’t ready to commit to therapy, Ellis recommends reading After the Affair by Janice Abrahms Spring, or checking out the resources on her Web site, http://amyellis.marriage-family.com, for a solid background on the subject.
If monogamy is not your calling, it’s time to stop sneaking around and own that fact. For an open, honest approach to a nonmonogamous lifestyle, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt is a must-read. You can also join the Sacramento Polyamory Group online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sac-poly. Be advised: This is not a dating group, it’s a place to talk about the rewards and challenges of loving more than one person. Save the kinky three-way solicitations for Craigslist.
Actually, if you’re only looking to hook up with more than one person, you might be better off contacting local swingers’ groups. You’ll find plenty of options by clicking “Sacramento Sex Clubs” at www.sacramentozone.com.
See? You really can have whatever you want, as long as you’re honest and willing to do the work. The Experience may be gone, but many more experiences are yours for the taking. It’s all out there—except for the Teletubbies videos. You might have to send away for those.