loyalty, fidelity, adultery

it’s been a while since i’ve written about anything that was really important to me personally, so this seems like as good a time as any to indulge my old introspective instincts.

recently, a very old and dear acquaintance had the opportunity to remark to me “I think you are wonderful person and a dear friend…but I would never expect you to be a faithful partner.”  these words struck me like a boeing 777 hurtling towards metopolis baseball park.  it’s not so much that i was concerned about how she saw me, but that she was able to cite reasons to support her expectation.

i’ve always been a loyal and faithful partner… from a certain point of view.  it occurs to be that there is a very arbitrary relativism about what constitutes true loyalty.  loyalty is a blind commitment to a person or thing that denies or overcomes judgments about that person or thing that would detract from that commitment.  it’s what drives religious zealots to go to war with complete strangers who have never done them harm because they are “other”.  it’s what makes loyalists and patriots go to war with complete strangers because heads of state deem that it is the right thing to do.  it’s what makes abused woman stay with abusive husbands because they feel trapped, or love, or some toxic combination of the two.  it’s what keeps me from having my head turned by any of the other lovely alternatives to a present relationship that might happen past – when i’m in a relationship.

so what happens when my head is turned by some lovely alternative while i am in a relationship?  this has happened, as i am sure it happens to many people.  even homer simpson had his moment of distraction when he went off to that convention and came close to cheating on marge.  distraction and temptation are part of the trials of any relationship, and it seems to me the true test of the relationship is whether one succumbs to temptation and desire and kisses/rubs/copulates/shares most intimate thoughts and expressions with that object of desire.   on that, admittedly arbitrary, standard, my conscience is quite clear.

i have friends who think that even that conventionally low standard is anachronistic.  loyalty is for “breeders” who need to provide a stable home environment and model for their offspring.  everyone else is pretty much free to do what they will, and if any relationship that they are in cannot cope with the reality of temptation and distraction, then the relationship lacks a fidelity between the partners, and the relationship is flawed = doomed.

these kinds of thoughts have been bandied about from the beginning of time, and i have no pearls of wisdom to loft above the clouds of differing opinion to revel in the opalescent light of absolute truth.  but surely in this day of youporn.com, online dating, internet chat rooms/social networking sites, and hedonism at a fevered pitch not seen since the time of ancient rome, it’s hard to draw a line in the sand and say this is where the standard is.  so very hard.

i’ve been struggling intensely with this notion of relationship relativism, standards and perspectives in how one conducts oneself and how one evaluates their own code of conduct for a couple of days now, and it pains me to leave it behind with so many questions left open like this.  fortunately for me, i’m not in a relationship right now, and i’m free to indulge in these ruminations.  but i should probably figure these things out before i put myself out on the market again.  it would be best for everyone, i think.

have a great weekend, internet.  i’m gonna be at the police reunion tour on sunday!!

– g

song of the day for philosophizing about loyalty: one thing (leads to another) – the fixx