Monogamy’s Fine—Cheating Is Endangered

Question Everything Monogamy Candace Bushnell
Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME

What will happen to the unfaithful people of the world?

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Social scientists have long known that the majority of men and women choose partners based on the idea that both they and their partner will be monogamous, so monogamy—and monogamists—will be fine. I worry for those people who say they’re monogamous but (through no fault of their own) “can’t help themselves” to helping themselves to sex outside of monogamy’s general parameters.

Cheating may be just as natural as monogamy (after all, both sexes been doing that forever as well), but thanks to our innate preference for monogamy, few of us consciously choose to be with a cheater.

Consider what usually happens when a monogamist is confronted with the fact that their partner is a cheater. Do they squeal with joy and ask to see the used condom? Not often. Instead, the monogamist becomes angry, insulted, and hurt. Their immediate instinct is to detach themselves from the fraudulent monogamist—usually via divorce—while warning the other monogamists that there’s a cheater in their midst—usually via the internet.

Which could mean that in the very near future, for every cheat-ing site there could be a cheat-er site, containing the profiles of all known cheaters. And that’s when I really will be worried for cheaters. After all, the word “cheater” is not on most people’s top ten lists of what they look for in a partner. If we actually had a choice, how many people will choose cheaters? Who will want to partner with them?

Perhaps the cheaters could self-identify before they entered into known monogamist territory. After all, when it comes to cheaters, many monogamists claim that it’s not so much the sex that bothers them, but the lying. That’s what makes the monogamists really angry. They didn’t get to choose.

And so, in the interest of cheaters everywhere, let’s test this theory.

Cheater to monogamist: “Darling, you’re beautiful, intelligent and accomplished. I love you and want to marry you. But one of the things you need to know about me is that I get off on complicated sex moves administered by a sex worker to whom I pay two hundred dollars an hour. I will need to see her once or twice a week. Just like you see your trainer?”

Hmm. Maybe this is not a good example. Why? Because the monogamist probably doesn’t have time to see a trainer.

And that’s another strike against cheaters. Monogamists believe that if you have time to cheat, you have too much time on your hands.

No, monogamy is not obsolete. But you can see why I’m worried about cheaters. In the very near future, they may be obsolete. And that would be a shame. Because cheaters are so darn hilarious.

Bushnell is the author of Sex and the City

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