Thank You For Resigning, Noel Biderman, So Adulterers And Attempted Adulterers Can Recover From Their Feelings of Betrayal After Private Information Was Leaked By Hackers.

no matter what happens in life, we are in charge of our own choices

Yes, this post is about the Ashley Madison scandal. It’s also about the argument against monogamy.

Thinking about those who lost something in the last couple of weeks. Something of value. A husband. A lover. A family. Trust in the one person you thought you could trust. Face. Posture. Dignity. Peace. That feeling of security and comfort that comes with believing that everything is okay.

There seems to be a growing counter-culture that is dedicated to propagating monogamy as impossible. The basic message (as far as I can tell) is this:

Listen, we both know that cheating happens. I’m not going to lift one finger to curb my primordial urge to fuck every ass that stimulates my visual cortex. It’s science, baby. Instead of going through a pointless exercise of getting married, fucking around, and then losing everything that I – I mean we – value in marriage, why not just face reality.

We cheat. We all do it. It’s biology. Society’s standard of monogamy is impossible, and therefore society is the enemy here (not me) because the standards are setting me up to fail.

So, listen, how about this? We get married because we cannot deny the benefits of marriage. You like marriage, I like marriage. But my archaic biological drives (which happen to feel really fucking good when engaged and then released) are too strong to ignore and I don’t want to get into this whole marriage thing knowing that I will lose everything that I – I mean we – worked so hard to achieve. That’s not fair.

So, let’s just accept that we cheat. Let’s accept that even if I did have the ability to control my archaic biological drives (science is split here, and I’m not sure about the validity of the studies in favor of our ability to control it), I don’t want to control it.

I’m going to go ahead and fuck a few other people while we’re married. Because I love and respect you, I will use a condom. It’s completely natural to cheat.

I really do not want to give up a single thing that benefits me, or may benefit me in some way in the future. I truly do not want to have to make a decision that will result in the need to prioritize benefits and needs, which inevitably means I lose something that I value on some level. That’s not fair.

And I will try my best to be discrete, but here’s the thing: when there are unknown factors involved (ie a hot young college student who may or may not understand the importance of my need to keep the status of my marriage because of her limited experience with marriage and stuff) I cannot and will not make any guarantees. You might find out. There is no 100% containment of these things. I’ve seen it before.

Therefore, in the event that I am called out on my betrayal, I don’t want you to see it as a betrayal, so I’m going to do everything I can from the beginning to make sure this marriage will stand. Which means convincing you that monogamy is impossible.

And if I’ve made a convincing enough argument, you can’t say that I betrayed you when I’m caught, because you knew that I was not capable of monogamy. You were informed.

Your feelings of betrayal will be rendered null and void, and we will go on like none of this happened. Because it’s the feeling of betrayal that incites anger and sadness, which is ultimately what leads to divorce in cases of infidelity. Acceptance, on the other hand, is love. And I really do love you and the kids.

That’s the basic circular argument as far as I can tell. And it sounds absurd coming from someone we aren’t caught up in loving or stuck feeling dependent on. It sounds like a hollow, laughable argument unless it’s being spoken passionately by the one you really want to love and accept you.

I think a growing number have been there. And whether this argument is spoken out loud or it is implied at the beginning of a committed relationship, or it comes when lies fall out of pockets or cracked online accounts, those who have been betrayed have to make a choice.

Oh, the feeling of betrayal is real whether there is an arrangement or not. There is no logical way out of feelings.

Some will get caught up on the unfairness of being forced to make a huge decision because of something that someone else did.

But acceptance actually is love, and if we can accept the fact that we are all connected and that the actions of those in our lives will have a great impact on us, and that we made the choice long ago (or not so long ago) to allow this person’s actions to impact our lives, then we can take a sidestep away from feeling like a victim, and then step into the role of creator.

Which means, simply, that no matter what happens in life, we are in charge of our own choices. We feel our feelings. We reach out for support. We step into the creator by making choices that are best for us and our children (if we have children).

When we say yes to anything at any point in our lives, we can also say no to that same thing at any point in our lives. The need to reevaluate our decisions often comes up when new information is revealed. Saying no to something we have previously said yes to is not a failure. It is not a betrayal of a promise. It is not a betrayal of self.

Life is fluid. Everything changes. We grow. We become more of ourselves every day – at least, that’s the goal, I think.

And change becomes much easier when we accept the reality that we can handle whatever comes at us. We can handle the good and the bad. And if we do this consciously, we will come out on the other side of any challenge stronger and more trusting in our ability to handle the ups and downs of life.

We are all connected. But we are not bound by contracts when things become unbearable, unhealthy or humiliating.

Maybe monogamy doesn’t work for many people. So why stay married?

In all seriousness, though, every person has to make choices that are best for him or herself. Make those choices from a place of inner strength and peace, and I believe life will be better.

It takes work to find that inner strength and peace. It takes time. And that might scare people off. That’s okay. Wherever we are is okay. Acceptance of self is vital.

I wish the best for those who are facing feelings and decisions they would rather not be facing right now. Betrayal, devastation, anger, sadness, grief. I humbly suggest that you reach out if you are facing this or a similar situation right now. You don’t have to go through it alone.

I also wish the best for those who are facing outcomes no longer in their hands after choices that were made long ago (or not so long ago).

As much as I poke fun at the anti-monogamy philosophy, I don’t ridicule the individuals who have bought into it, or been sold on it. I understand through compassion that there were reasons for putting all of that time and energy into creating, selling and buying that philosophy. Into making it your own.

Feeling limited and boxed in can be dreadful. And not being aware of alternatives, we try to make things work as best as we can with the tools we have.

I believe that monogamy is possible. (And not just in heterosexual committed relationships.) But it isn’t easy. And all parties have to be committed to doing the necessary work.

Please also see my addendum in response to the tone I chose for this post:

Prescribed Fires Don’t Change Prejudice

It’s possible to disagree with certain behaviors without judgment.

I sometimes find it difficult to compassionately see those who chose prejudice. To me, it is a bad choice to discount a person because of sexual orientation or skin color or sex or anything that a person is born with or into. It’s also a choice that harms.

But I understand thin-slicing and why we do it. I also understand how difficult it is to clearly view ourselves, to go within and examine or re-examine choices that have become second nature.

It takes insight. It takes energy. It takes courage. It takes a willingness to be discounted by the group(s) that we belong to, and therefore it may lead to facing decisions that we are not ready to make.

For many, it seems like people who continue to believe stereo-types are simply not trying hard enough. Some take it to the extreme and believe that those who practice prejudice are assholes or stupid or lazy.

But these are people who were raised with certain values that are entrenched in fears that have been passed down through generations. Facing these tangles is impossible until we can see them. And it takes courage to see them.

As much as I hate the act of prejudice, I do not hate those who practice it. I try my best to avoid thin-slicing in every situation. And I believe that, though it might be easier to judge people who are stuck in old fears, judgment is never the answer. It does nothing to encourage people to change. Even when we’re dealing with people who will never change – even when we take away the hope that certain behavior will change in certain people – holding onto judgment as a comfort to ourselves does not truly comfort. At least, it doesn’t comfort me. It makes me feel icky. Because it makes me feel icky, I’m motivated to assess behavior and situations instead of making judgments about a person as a whole.

When we judge, we are discounting and dismissing people as a whole. The alternative to judgment is assessment. We can choose to view everyone through compassionate eyes, assessing actions and how those actions impact us or those around us. And then we can make choices based on those assessments. Assessing compassionately includes taking into account the motivation for these actions.

This is a judgment: Everyone who is prejudice is an asshole

Judgment often leads to statements like: fuck them

This is an assessment: That man is afraid to see openly-gay males as safe leaders

Assessment often leads to compassionate questions like: why?

It’s a completely different thought process.

A judgment is a judgment. I don’t think judgment makes a positive impact on any person. In fact, judgment, often incorrectly thought to motivate, sucks energy and motivation from a person. This includes judging ourselves, which we often take on after learning to judge through role-modeling.

I’m not saying that being compassionate means making friends with someone who holds values that don’t match up with my values. It’s possible to disagree with certain behaviors without judgment.

Tale Spin

I think Darwin might cry a little if he could see where competition has taken us.

We live in a world where power struggles are more common than social empowerment.

Some describe the corporate world (and by extension many aspects of society) as psychopathic, because of what a person is required to do to gain power, favor and advancement. Ruthless contest requires a person to be ruthless. And with a prize at stake that is so highly valued by so many people, why wouldn’t the competition be fierce?

I think Darwin might cry a little if he could see where competition has taken us. Ronald Fisher, on the other hand, would probably shrug and point out all the long, frivolous tails.

Psychopaths, though, fuck. That’s pretty shocking, right? Well, it might have been, but it isn’t anymore. We seem to have digested this theory, accepted its relevance, and moved on to doing the same thing we we doing before.

I imagine power is seductive. And I think it corrupts. Does it corrupt in the pursuit of it or in the achievement of it? I think the whole damned thing is corrupt.

Power over is not healthy. And no matter what any person leads you to believe, there was a point in every child/teen/young adult’s life where (s)he felt powerless because someone with more authority exercised power over him/her. That might be a big thing. That knowledge might be a very big thing.

There are as many people who have no idea that some in position of authority use their status to fulfill their personal agenda as there are people who choose to consciously use their authority to get what they want, what they feel they deserve.

Are there as many people who choose to forgo the scarcity route and seek power from within? I honestly don’t know. I can tell you this, though: the number of those who seek power from within are difficult to calculate because they are quiet, unless they choose to publicly stand up and help to empower members of society who feel powerless.