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Women who cheat
Women who cheat
We live in a world of deceit, so the only solution is to suspect everything she says.
One of our most famous national media concerns recently ran a sort of public information feature, advising women about the “telltale signs” that their boyfriend, or husband, was cheating on them. It was one of the most fatuous exercises I have stumbled across in a long time and consisted of stuff like: “If he starts calling you a fat bitch and says you’re not as pretty as petite little Stine, with whom he works, then start to worry.” These weren’t merely clues to a partner who was cheating so much as bona fida affidavit nailed to the woman’s head. As I’ve always said, affairs indeed beg to be disclosed, but most men behave with a degree more perspicacity than the hypothetical cheating partners in the newspaper feature. But then, the newspaper in question is aimed at former public schoolboys and their ineffably dense cohabitees, so maybe they were right to assume readers possessed an IQ compromised by the rouge chromosome.
The piece concerned men cheating on women, not the other way around. These sorts of features always do. If you are a woman and read, say, TV2 Nettavisen, you will presumably reside in a state of perpetual misery ‒ convinced by the feature pages that your man is shagging someone else, that you cellulite marks you out as a leper, breast cancer is fizzing just around the corner and what is more, your house has lost half of its value in the year because of the refugees who have moved in down the road.
But I digress. The assumption is that men cheat on women but that, by and large, women don’t cheat on men ‒ or if they do, they were the hapless victims of a rampaging rouge male libido and never meant any harm by it. They simply cheated by accident. This is an assumption in which men are complicit: we do not expect our partners to be unfaithful to us, but we sort of expect it of ourselves. And in this, we are gloriously deluded. The truth, of course, is that there are an equal number of men and women in “monogamous” heterosexual relationships and therefore probably an equal number of men and women doing the cheating. Unless just one woman ‒ maybe HM, who knows ‒ is doing all of it.
But constructing a list of “telltale signs” for men worried about their women is rather more difficult. I suspect that the sense of shame is graver for women than men and they are therefore more conscientious in covering their tracks. For men, there is usually a rather repulsive sense of bravado associated with the illicit affair: when it comes down to it, we are proud of our behaviour and thus stuff leaks out, so to speak.
And unlike women, who expect infidelity of us and are therefore subconsciously prepared for the evidence, we are bolstered by egos which cannot comprehend that our partners could possibly find succour in the genitals of another male. If your wife or girlfriend arrives home from work with a glutinous glob of semen adhering to her skirt, or blouse, or chin, you should really start to question what’s going on. And you may indeed be moved to ask, casually, just as you’re settling down to watch The Simpsons: “Hey, honey, why have you got spunk on your face?” And he trouble with men is that almost any answer, no matter how ludicrous (“I was visiting a high-security prison and as I was walking down the cell block corridor, one of the deranged inmates…” will suffice.
I’ve been lied to countless times and have, in the past, swallowed it all without demurral. These days, though, I’ve wised up and employ a sophisticated technique for sorting out the truth from the dissembling. When recent potential girlfriends have attempted to explain their unexpected absence all night or their total disappearance for a bone-rattling nine minutes at the office party, I close my eyes and imagine that I am being addressed by Dick Cheney. It is a sort of inversion of Claud Cockburn’s famous dictum, to be applied whenever one talks to a politician, to constantly ask oneself: “Why is this bastard lying to me?” Except with the image of Dick in mind, you don’t have to keep asking yourself. Try it. Believe me; her clothes will be in the hallway before you can say, “weapons of mass destruction”.
And it’s about the only thing that works. Any list of so-called telltale signs would be oblique and paradoxical. She is having an affair if she wants sex with you more often. She is having an Affair if she doesn’t want to have sex with you at all. If she tries new stuff out in bed, she is all hepped up and having affair and if she refuses to do anything other than a weary, eyes closed, metronomic hand-shady, then she’s probably repulsed by you and thus having an affair too. If she’s over friendly around you, she’s shagging someone else. If she is morose and taciturn, likewise. And if she doesn’t change her behaviour one jot then she’s just very, very adept at covering her tracks. Just face it: you’re being deceived. The telltale sign, really, is that you’re in a relationship.
This seems a rather bleak view, I know, and it would not meet with the approval of Gunnar Stålset, the former Bishop of Oslo. During the Muhammad-conflict he addressed himself to the issue of “trust”. “Do we want to live in a world where trust seems natural,” the extravagantly near sighted god-bothered enquired, “or one in which rivalry and mutual isolation are the obvious forms of behaviour?” Well, Gunnar, since you asked, I’d like to live in the first sort of world. I would also like to live in a world where there are no wars, no taxes or people who ask me if I’ve “godney change” when I follow Skippergata on my way to visit art galleries. But in the meantime, I’ll try to make do with this world where infidelity, like the poor, is always with us.