What’s your game plan when you meet someone you like who is, shall we say… taken?
It boils down to “the code” – respecting the boundaries of your friends’ relationships, or for that matter, any established relationship. But is following a code of relationship behavior a thing of the past?
Is it ever okay to break up a relationship – or a marriage?
Have we reached a point where anything (or anyone) we want is fair game – without shame? Where the role of Other Woman or Other Man is no big deal?
The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants
I’m trying to stay nonjudgmental, as I muse on this issue that came up in conversation recently. But then, I might have to distinguish between “judgment and opinion,” and I would nonetheless express exasperation in an area with many grays.
And I won’t say I’ve never lusted after someone I knew I couldn’t have. (We all do.) I won’t say I haven’t been smitten by someone whose commitment belonged to another. (Can you spell Mad Crush, or Unrequited Love?) I won’t say I haven’t allowed my heart to get the better of my common sense, and like most, I regretted it.
But knowingly target another woman’s man? I can’t imagine it, though I know it goes on.
Sex and the City – of course – offers its own brand of wisdom on this topic. Who can forget the episode in which Carrie discusses her affair with newly married Big, as she’s recently embarked on a relationship with Aiden?
Samantha counsels that if Aiden hasn’t said he loves Carrie yet, then she remains a free agent. But Carrie’s guilt reflects a different morality, and our culture isn’t comfortable with the concept that one can be in love with two people at the same time, much less that it’s acceptable to sleep with them both.
We all know how that affair turned out – badly – despite the fact that eventually Carrie and Big – as fictional characters – come back together.
Is Marriage the Bottom Line?
I’ve known women who consider marital status the bottom line. A married man? Off limits. But involved or even engaged?
Without the ring, he’s fair game.
The man’s perspective? Honestly, I couldn’t say. But I will venture this. When I was in my late 20s and 30s and traveled a good deal, I was hit on by men who were also traveling. Some were clearly married, and others said they were separated or divorced. I was approached by men who pretended to be separated or divorced, only to find out later they had lied.
I’m not the only woman around who has encountered this phenomenon, and more than once. Shall we invoke another episode of Sex and the City, this one to do with Miranda in a Comedy Club with a date whose wife calls him on his cell?
Maybe it has to do with our definitions of fidelity – or infidelity. For example, you might believe that “hooking up” with no emotion doesn’t count, that “jobs” of any sort don’t count.
And out of state or out of the country? Again, in your rule book, maybe that doesn’t count an infidelity either.
Seduction Rules, and Seduction Rules?
If you’re attracted to someone and you know he or she is “taken,”do your actions depend on whether or not you think he or she is happy? Is it about adoring or scoring? As you grow older, does your own aging impact what you allow yourself, or justify as “just life” in others?
When it comes to your seduction rules, do you know what’s off limits?
- Does it depend on whether or not there are kids involved?
- Does it depend on whether or not you know the other partner?
- Does the person’s romantic history matter?
- Is it a matter of your chance of getting caught?
Personally, I’m not the jealous type. I’m not sure why; it’s not part of my nature or character, anymore than it is to break “the code” or pursue someone I consider out of bounds. But I realize that people can be thrown together under unusual circumstances, not all relationships are happy ones, and anyone can be vulnerable to the advances of others – or intimate exchanges that may begin an emotional affair.
Is this how we come to understand the depths of our unhappiness in a current situation? If we’re dating someone seriously, is the intervention of another person one of the motivations to end a relationship that isn’t a good fit?
None of us is immune to the power of seduction. But that doesn’t mean we don’t exercise choices – and live with consequences.
In a world that is increasingly dispensing with codes of many sorts, where do you draw the line, when it comes to relationship status?
You May Also Enjoy