The Power Play

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

As a man it is hard for me to imagine anything much more humiliating than having my wife or girlfriend cheat on me. Anyone that has had this experience will know what I am talking about. It hurts.

As guys we wax and wane tales of infidelity as we grab a beer with a friend, get in some batting practice, swat the tennis ball back and forth or grill some steaks with a buddy.  Always we are left baffled, bewildered, aghast and rattled.  We shake our heads, stare off into the distance as if there lies the answer. Sadly, it doesn’t.

Not too long ago, I had a young man call me whose girlfriend just broke up with him after sleeping with another guy.  I know he is not the first guy for this to happen to, but when you are the one going through this pain, it feels like you are. Sadly, this happens all…the…time.

And of course, the question that always is asked and which we never receive a honest explanation is, why?  Why? Why? Why?

It’s not an easy question to answer and I would implore you to find someone else that has answered it accurately, without any new age mumbo jumbo or finger pointing, but instead sharing the straight, painful, but honest truth.
Are you ready for this?

I know many of us consider ourselves well rounded, twenty first century men who believe in women’s rights, who support their decisions, their views, their careers and never, ever consider ourselves better than them.  However, despite our newly found view points, our khaki pants and our sophisticated glasses, the fabric of our culture has yet to have been as fashionably updated. In fact it has become quite unfashionable and politically incorrect to speak about how male dominated our culture truly is.  In this case the truth and what we chose to believe just seem to clash.

The truth is, despite the efforts of the feminist movement to wash away the shadow of male domination upon women, that sticky stain is still there.  Many successful, sophisticated well educated women still feel dominated by men, especially in their love relationships.

On a more personal level some women grow up with a particularly dominating father or a mother who wasn’t able to express herself very freely. The most personal example she had of how a relationship works is dysfunctional and almost everything we do in our relationships now is based on what we saw our parents do. So whether we rebelled or whether we adopted their belief system, it is still theirs. It isn’t ours and we are operating with a relationship users manual that is just out of date.

When these women enter a relationship and when that relationship is still Downy fresh, they feel they have plenty of control over the situation.  The sex is new. The dinners are still fascinating. There are surprises and fearless kisses, but when the honeymoon period wears off and the couple actually begins to weave a life together, when they actually face making that deep commitment, some women fear they will lose their identity in the wash.

Panic sets in. She may start back peddling and before you know it she has fallen right into another man’s bed.  This romp in the sheets is sure to end the committed relationship and abate the feeling that she is entering a danger zone, a no talking, no expressing zone in which her thoughts, beliefs and ideas are unimportant and uninteresting.

Her tryst gives her the excuse to leave that she was looking for. She can simply fall on the sword of her own lust.  But this won’t solve her problem. She will continue to experience this uneasiness of feeling dominated. It’s similar to getting high. It’s a temporary relief for a much larger problem.

Cheating is a pretty serious power play for a woman. She risks losing everything. She could lose her family, she could lose her friends, she could lose her colleagues and she will almost certainly lose her husband or boyfriend. For a woman to cheat is much less socially accepted than it is for a man.

If a man has a problem in his relationship he can trade his parnter in and there are plenty of men that would slap him on the back and congratulate him for “movin’ on up.” I don’t personally agree with this, but it is an accepted part of our culture.  Men struggle more often with straying eyes and pornography and infidelity because they have permission to do it.  Consider for a moment the woman who is into these things? Does your wife have any friends like this? She may not. It isn’t a very socially acceptable way for women to behave and if they do have these tendencies, they are certainly not on display as male lust almost always is.

We believe women, on the other hand, need to buck up and make the best of the situation. That is the common understanding. Again, I don’t personally agree, but it is what we all have culturally accepted, whether we like it or not.

If we mix together a woman who grew up feeling dominated by men with a big buttery cup of male dominated western culture  we have a pretty volatile situation. It is a situation in which some women are going to feel they have no option to get out of a relationship other than through the door marked infidelity. The woman never finds a healthy way of expressing herself, never loses that uncomfortable feeling of being dominated and men are left feeling bewildered and upset and humiliated by their partners.

This certainly isn’t a pleasant or satisfying way to live. So how can this be reconciled? Women who feel this domination strongly need to begin to practice expressing themselves freely in a safe relationship. Over time they can find a voice, a safety and confidence in their own self-expression, but not without practice and support.  Then someday if she finds herself in a relationship that just isn’t working out, there need be no drama.  She can confidently look a man in the eye and say, “You know, this just isn’t working for me.” She doesn’t have to create an excuse to substitute her self -expression. She can simply say what is on her mind and leave sex for what it is meant for, enjoyment, not manipulation.

The door marked infidelity can be locked, the key tossed down the sewage drain of bad ideas and she can move on with her life a little freer, a little happier and without looking at the next guy that walks into the room as Mr. Exit.

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