Originally Posted by BaggagePatrol
For those that are on the "deal-breaker side" - is there any configuration in which you think that cheating is less abhorrent? Are there grey areas, or is it black and white? For example - a husband has a mistress because his wife is paraplegic or has advanced stage cancer. He loves her, doesn't want to hurt her, but also doesn't want to burden her with his sexual needs.
It's not cheating that's abhorrent so much - and I do think lots of people who cheat are perfectly decent people. It's the betrayal, realizing your partner has lied to your face & made a fool of you (personal perspective, I know that's not the intent when somebody cheats). I think there can be perfectly valid personal reasons for choosing to seek an outside partner (and perfectly understandable fears that keep people from being honest) but I'm not going to be that outside partner. A paraplegic has to figure out at some point that their spouse wants sex, and if the people involved can't have an honest discussion and make a painful if honest decision about how to handle their sex life, that's really unfortunate for the marriage as a whole. Cancer? Again, if somebody after an extended period of time without sex decides to take another partner, I sure hope they tried counseling first to deal with their feelings, as mingling genitals because of unhappiness probably never solved any problems. Just unhappy in your marriage? I wouldn't get together with a mono OR poly person who was running away from the problems in their relationship(s) looking for a shiny distraction from their woes instead of doing the hard work that keeps a relationship healthy. In a monogamous relationship, I think its a hypocritical jerk that chooses to have sex with somebody else, but doesn't give their partner the same choice, when for all they know their partner would LOVE to go seek their own happiness but wouldn't ever betray their spouse.
The main thing for me, which is even more important in the "partner with a debilitating disease" scenario - a person who thinks they are in a monogamous marriage doesn't deserve to be exposed to STIs they don't have - either HPV2 or new strains of HPV are the last thing a cancer patient needs for their body to deal with (let alone all the bacterial STIs). And since HPV and other STI's can be spread orally, I firmly believe my partner has no right to make decisions that can affect my health, without my informed consent. I can live with the risk that somebody I date passes an STI along to me from another partner, but I couldn't deal with the guilt of passing it on to a person who didn't know they were at risk. My ex-husband's cheating incident - out of all the factors, it was his obviousness/denial of the STI exposure risk and not telling me for months about it that was was the problem. He didn't use condoms, and therefore chose FOR me.
So yep, everybody has the right to do as they choose in this life, and I think most everybody has different shades of grey around sex, money, and following the law. My shades of grey are fuzzier around other things, but I'm not going to contribute to another person feeling the pain I felt when they realize the person they thought they could trust with their life and heart didn't trust them with honesty. No matter how much joy and pleasure their partner is getting out of it, I'm not going to decide things for that third party.
Yep sorry for the long drawn out response, I think in/fidelity & honesty is the one most important topic to me when it comes to relationships.