Even a Pandemic Won’t Stop Affairs
With much of the country sheltering-in-place with nonessential travel curtailed, it would seem that one human behavior would come to a full stop — affairs.
Maybe lovers are no longer meeting in person, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole bunch of hanky-panky going on digitally — something Dr. Phil didn’t seem to factor in when he chewed out people for still carrying on affairs instead of “making sacrifices for the greater good.”
No one’s going to pass on COVID-19 by sexting. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to get hurt.
According to Ashley Madison — the “Life’s short. Have an affair” website that had a huge security breach back in the physical affair days — things haven’t slowed down. In fact, according to chief strategy officer Paul Keable, the website is averaging more than 17,000 new members a day.
If you step away from the initial shock of what’s come upon us, we see that places like us are likely to have value. The reason to join us is there are fractures, often, at home, and those are going to be amplified, dramatically. So, if you’re under quarantine or in working from home situations with your spouse and not having [the] respite [of] going into the office and being away, people are going to look at this as an outlet, even if it won’t be a physical interaction, at least in the short term. But having someone to talk to who’s having similar feelings is going to be a relief, and it’s potentially going to be of value to a lot of people who are experiencing that.”
An affair without a physical interaction? What kind of fun is that?
Well, that’s not always why people seek connection with someone outside of their romantic relationship, especially — and this may be surprising — men.
In her upcoming book, Chasing Masculinity: Men, Validation, and Infidelity, sociologist Alicia M. Walker looks at why men have affairs. It isn’t always about sex, but often about emotional connection despite when we’re told about men and their needs and spreading their seed, etc., etc.
As she writes of her research, the majority of the men in her study were dissatisfied with the emotional connection in their romantic relationships.
The men described emotionally unsatisfying primary partnerships, which lacked intimacy, acceptance, and attention. Most of the men reported having children, and more than half of the sample reported their marriages as either sexless. All but two men in the sample expressed a clear desire to remain in their primary partnership for the remainder of their lives.”
In her last book, The Secret Life of the Cheating Wife, Walker discovered that many women sought affairs because they weren’t getting their sexual needs met in their romantic relationships, and thus were seeking flings of “sexual utility.“
And even if many romantically attached people aren’t looking for love, lust and intimacy online, or sexting with lovers or would-be lovers just for the thrill of it, there’s always porn. Even though porn is changing in the midst of this pandemic — from how much porn is being produced, to the type of porn (solo porn and coronavirus-themed porn) being produced, to what people are searching for, to how much porn is being watched in general night now, according to Kinsey Institute researcher Justin J. Lehmiller — some people (OK, women) are unhappy with their partner’s porn watching, which they see as a type of cheating.
All of which brings me back to the underlying and much bigger issue that rarely gets addressed when we’re talking about sex, desire and romantic relationships— monogamy.
If you haven’t asked yourself how you feel about monogamy — Are you good at it? Have you ever been bad at it (and how often)? Do you like it? Has it been hard (when, why)? Do you willingly choose it?, etc. — and then had a discussion with your romantic partner about it, well, even a pandemic isn’t going to change things.
When I predicted how the coronavirus pandemic might impact romantic relationships, I probably should have included monogamy.
Monogamy is likely going to be under the microscope, perhaps for the first time for many. It will interesting to see where it takes us.
Stay safe, stay human.
Want to learn how to talk about monogamy and consensual non-monogamy? (Of course you do!) Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore (please do) or order it on Amazon. And we’re now on Audible.