Sweet Rosalie writes,
I don’t understand how the married guy is “happily married” if he drinks so much and sounds so desperate. If I had been his wife I would have divorced him not for cheating, but for being such a desperate clingy beta (for a 36-year-old who treats him like s#it nonetheless). I wouldn’t mind too much my husband having an affair if he acts like a grown-up, but the sight of my husband losing his head like a (drunk) teenager would be unbearable.
It’s helpful to remind oneself that the male mind is as, if not more, unfathomable to women as the female mind is to men, and this is particularly so when we speak of the primeval parts of the brain responsible for regulating romantic feeling. Rosalie is Exhibit A. She can’t understand how a man can be both happily married and desperate to bang an office hottie. But men are perfetly capable of compartmentalizing sex and love, something women can’t do or can only do with strenuous mental exertions that defy their natural psychological predisposition.
FACT: Most men can simultaneously love their wives and lust for their mistresses.
FACT: More men than women are capable of LOVING two or more romantic partners concurrently.
FACT: A man can sustain and reconcile a happy marriage and a romantic fling for decades without feeling an urge to give up on either one.
Women have trouble doing any of the above three axioms with the same ease of execution and peace of mind that men naturally possess. There are exceptions, but this is the way to bet.
Rosalie, therefore, is befuddled. And Rosalie should not be chastised (gently mocked, yes) for her befuddlement, because it is the nature of her sex to project her own desires and compulsions onto the motivations of men. It is a rare woman indeed with the self-awareness to understand men’s romantic desires and to predict men’s actions based on that understanding. It is the rarer woman still who will forgive men for following their desires in the same reckless manner that women unabashedly follow theirs.
Rosalie’s confessional blurt reveals something else of the character of women. It isn’t the cheating per se that offends her; it’s the man’s clinginess and betatude with which the hope of cheating is pursued that gets under her skin. This is in line with the CH contention that, deep beneath the reservoir of polite social expectation that wraps cortically around the id monster, women aren’t so scandalized by a cheating lover as they are emotionally traumatized by a cheating lover who cheats with sub-par fare and does so with the mien of a mewling betaboy in a rush of love. (That post, btw, garnered a response from a more optimistic man than I.)
Rosalie is woman. The sex act of the cheater is not the crisis of heart for her. The betrayal of *love* is what sets her off. Like most women, what she truly fears is infidelity of the heart, not infidelity of the groin. This is why it’s so jarring to her to hear about, or visualize, an older husband falling gaga in love with a younger woman, and reverting to a primordial beta prototype in the process.
Sweet Rosalie, if only there were more women like you who spoke truth to id, and understood that alpha husbands sometimes need sexual and romantic outlets, and that this male desire needn’t mean the end of their marriages. Are you French, by any chance?