[Here's another Savage Love classic column from deep in the archives. This fan favorite was originally published in April, 2018.—eds.]
At a recent large work conference, I met a hot, interesting, married guy, who lives in another country. We hooked up twice at the event—once drunk, once sober. The sex was great, and afterwards, I asked him how often he had cheated on his wife. He said three or four times before me.
A week later, he adds me on LinkedIn (seriously). We started chatting, progressed onto WhatsApp and arranged to meet for a weekend in another city two months later. During the two months, we spoke nearly daily, ranging from flirty sexts to serious conversations. I was clear that to me we were planning a NSA hookup, not a romantic affair, and gave him multiple opportunities to cancel or to say he'd prefer to meet platonically. He insisted he wanted to meet, and to fuck. The first night, we meet, fuck, and all is good. The second night, during dinner, he says he he "doesn't want anything physical" that evening, because although he wanted to hook up again, it "just feels wrong." Never mind that apparently it hadn't felt wrong when he was tying me up and fucking me 16 hours earlier. I said that was fine, we enjoyed dinner and then went our separate ways.
He hit on me at the conference, he added me, he instigated our text conversations, he planned the weekend away, and he had cheated on his wife before me. I gave him multiple chances to back out of our weekend plans. By being the one who ended things, in his head he gets to be the "good guy," leaving me the "temptress." The trouble is, I don't feel bad about what I've done. Should I feel worse for sleeping with a married guy? Am I missing some kind of moral compass everyone else is adhering to?
Harmless Affair & Resulting Lack Of Terrible Shame
Should you feel terrible about sleeping with a married guy?
Sure. Yeah. Of course you should. Everyone* who sleeps with married guys should feel like crap. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.
But you didn't sleep with a married guy, HARLOTS, you slept with this married guy. So the actual question is this: Should you feel terrible about sleeping with the particular married guy you slept with? Well, that depends. Is it an open marriage? Presumably not, HARLOTS, otherwise he could've said "never" when you asked him how many times he'd cheated on his wife.
So is he trapped in a sexually dysfunctional marriage? Trapped due to kids, economic interdependence, chronic illness, some other circumstance? Is it a sexless but otherwise loving, low-conflict marriage and he's just out there doing what he needs to do to stay married and stay sane? Is he discreetly seeking sex outside his marriage because it's his only option for intimacy—sorry, commenters, but divorce isn't an option for everyone—and carefully selecting affair partners who don't pose a threat to his marriage or his wife's sense of security? (Like, say, women he meets at out-of-town conferences?) If the answer to those questions is "yes, yes, yes, and yes," then you don't have to feel too terrible, horrible, no good, etc., about fucking this guy, HARLOTS.
Now a person can do their due diligence—a person can ask a married/partnered person who wants to fuck them if their marriage/relationship is open and/or broken but inescapable, etc.—and the married person can lie. It's not always possible for the affair partner to determine with absolute certainty that the married person they're fucking isn't cheating (open) or cheating for a good reason (broken). But if the affair partner asks the right questions and concludes they're being told the truth—factoring into those calculations, of course, a cheater's adroitness at lying and, if the wannabe cheater is hot enough, a desire for those lies to be true—it's possible to fuck a married person without having to feel too terrible, horrible, etc.
And while most everyone with an advice column is quick to condemn affairs and the people who have them, HARLOTS, there are cases where an affair saves a marriage. We don't hear about those sorts of affairs often because people don't talk about affairs they either got away with or, if they did get caught, affairs a marriage survived. Here's an example of the latter (pulled at random from the Internet) and an example of the former (featured in a column a few years back):
For the first five years of my marriage, everything was great: lots of sex, both GGG, lots of love. Then my wife's libido failed. Whatever the problem was, she couldn't articulate it. After a year where we'd had sex twice, I reached out to someone else. I used Craigslist and I was honest: I explained that I had no intention of leaving my wife and that I was looking for someone in a situation similar to mine. It took months to find the right person. We struck up a years-long affair. At the same time, I had a wonderful-yet-sexless marriage. Then, after nearly four years, a strange thing happened: My wife's libido came back strong. To this day, she cannot explain why it left or why it came back. With the reason for my affair gone, I ended things with my fuck buddy. And you know what? Years of honest talk made this easy. She understood; we went our separate ways.
As for exactly what was going through this guy's head when he ended things half way through the weekend-long hookup he planned, HARLOTS, I couldn't tell ya. It could be exactly what you thought it was—he felt like the good guy for resisting a temptress so tempting he'd given into her temptations three times already—or it could've been something else. A lot could fly under "just feels wrong" banner. Maybe something that happened during your third fuckfest that left him feeling uncomfortable about a fourth go. Maybe he has herpes and woke up the second morning of your planned weekend fuckfest feeling like he was going to have an outbreak and that's what felt wrong. Who knows?
He knows, HARLOTS. So if you hear from him again—and I think you're gonna hear from him again—you should ask him what exactly he meant by that. And then maybe ask him all those other questions I listed above.
* Their wives shouldn't feel terrible about sleeping with them, of course. Unless the sex is lousy.
** He does.