Flirting with danger?

I'm frustrated with my husband's low sex drive, but should I cheat on him with a man who has a wife and a girlfriend?

Published December 23, 2003 8:43PM (EST)

Dear Tracy,

I've been married for more than 15 years. My husband's sex drive has diminished to zip. He's been to the doctor and except for possibly having low testosterone, there's nothing physically wrong with him. He says that he is attracted to me but nothing happens. I've tried living with this and masturbating but it's not the same. I thought if I lost a lot of weight that this might make a difference but again, to no avail. I care a lot about him and love him, but I know that I'm not in love with him. He is a good man (who splits the housework, etc.). No kids on my end.

Recently I began flirting with someone from work. We went out for drinks and he revealed that he has a girlfriend and a wife. He's attracted to me (we made out pretty extensively), but he says that he will probably not sleep with me. (The reasons range from he has no time to he'll be too attracted to me to he is a bad man to I'll be too attracted to him.) The other odd thing was that although we have been flirting like crazy, we really don't know each other, and in the middle of all of these confessions on his part, he said the L-word. (I was skeptical about this.)

It was really frustrating because I went with this for physical relief and came home hot and bothered (I had no birth control, which is why we stopped short for the most part, I'm convinced). Now I'm on birth control pills (and plan on using condoms) and I'd like to pursue this. Am I insane to cheat on my husband with this guy who says he is a bad man and cheats on his wife and girlfriend? Should I use this guy for physical release or should I pursue this as a relationship or something else entirely?

Sexual Camel

Dear Sexual Camel,

If you cheat on a guy who is passively unfaithful with another who is actively so, you will certainly be dispensing poetic justice.

You may be surprised that I refer to your husband as unfaithful. What else can we call a person who withdraws completely from the sexual aspect of marriage? This too is a form of betrayal.

If you have no kids, why stay married? So he can do his share of the housework? It's no surprise that you are drawn to a scenario almost worthy of a Jerry Springer show, when the best thing you can say about your husband is that he's a virtuous person who picks up after himself.

The quiet desperation in your marriage is driving you toward outrageous situations you would flee from if you were single. A situation that might seem frightening or foolish to a single woman can be amusing, intriguing -- even convenient -- for a married gal.

But beware -- marital misery can turn people into clichés. Meeting your illicit lover in a dark sleazy bar or a tacky motel (theorizing that you won't run into anyone you know) seems so original! Invoking the L-word to justify a fling also feels unique -- at the time. But your cheating colleague's use of the L-word is not a real sin. He is adding emotional spice to the stew. If you were both single his unserious use of the word might pose a moral problem, but here it's different: The word carries less weight and comes with no obligations -- other than the obligation to be affectionate or attentive -- and can be enjoyed without fear. It may add some pleasure, too, because plain sex is not, for most of us, as exciting as sex spiked with love. Even married cheaters need some love with their sex.

But -- if you have sex with this man, you should only do it once. Twice at the most. And what if you really enjoy it? Do you want to be embroiled in the circus of infidelity?

You do?

Well, there are pros and cons to cheating with this type of man. On the plus side, being a third woman in a man's life is better than being his neglected wife. Meanwhile, the second woman wishes he would leave the first -- something he does not do as often as he says he will. The third woman can enjoy him for what he is without bitterness, without illusions. (We don't have to theorize about girlfriend No. 4, because most men can't handle more than three -- if that.)

Here's the downside: The chance of your affair being detected is doubled. It's always smart to avoid a man who is viewed as the claim of another woman. It's not worth having the evil eye glaring at your cute little ass for the rest of your socially active days, never knowing when some deeply furious wife, mistress or girlfriend will strike. Or how. In this case, you may have the enmity of two such ladies to contend with.

We've all heard about those ominous phone calls: "I think you should know that my husband is sleeping with your wife." If your husband gets a phone call like that, the nice man who shares the housework might turn out to be a vindictive ex who doesn't want to share anything. (Yes, he pulled out of the sexual relationship first, but he can still feel betrayed when you step out.) A safer bet is a fling with a single guy who is not entangled with a potentially jealous partner.

Can you have affairs without being discovered? Only if you have what it takes: a passionate appetite that complements a logical, empathic mind. Always try to imagine what you would be thinking, feeling or noticing -- if you were your spouse. Many women (and men) are too sloppy and selfish to manage an affair. The smart adulteress makes her husband feel desirable. She keeps having sex with him -- or trying to, even if he's not really up to the job.

If you want your affair to be discovered because it will end your marriage, I advise you to rethink your exit. It's a dangerous game because a hurt spouse can be vengeful. By all means let him be the one who asks for a divorce, but not in connection with your extramarital sex life. Give him another reason to leave. It is much saner to keep your affairs close to your heart and under your belt, while you choreograph a civilized departure.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Have a sex question? Send to:

Want more advice from Tracy? Read the Ask Tracy directory.

By Tracy Quan

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Love And Sex Sex