There Is No "Golden Rule" For Cheating

Being a mistress isn't a rhapsodic gallivant that begs for an etiquette manual.

by Kate Hakala

I recently stumbled over "The Golden Rule," a piece written by Whiskey Tortoise for Huffington Post last month. It purports to offer advice for mistresses, aspiring and otherwise, and it concludes thusly: "Dear mistresses, here is the golden rule: keep it casual." But for reasons I'm about to lay out, that's dangerous advice. But let me start at the beginning.

"... One of the most appealing aspects of an affair is its casual nature. The subtext is not to fall in love or become too attached," she writes by way of an introduction. This gave me pause, because I think the real subtext of an affair (as with any subtext) isn't that simple. It's a mess of different complications, and if I had to boil it down, I'd do so in a way considerably less glamorous than Whiskey Tortoise did: being a mistress is just shitty. 

Most affairs, when defined as, "an ongoing relationship in which you are cheating on a partner with one consistent person," are not ventures generally devoid of feelings. Sure, a one-night stand could be a brief transgression during which neither party is invested or harmed. But an "affair," especially one where the mistress knows about the person they're cuckolding, generally loses that sense of casualness quickly.

What really bothers me about the whole "golden rule" concept is that Whiskey Tortoise seems to have no remorse or guilt about her affair, which she calls a "thrilling memory." She claims everyone's still really good friends, because the girlfriend never found out. But just because the person being cheated on is none the wiser, doesn't mean the trust in the relationship hasn't become a farce at her hand. I'm sure the "hurt" that the lover's girlfriend "didn't" feel is latently cropping up throughout the relationship, whether it's in his distant touches, wandering looks, or her surreptitious phone monitoring. Maybe the girlfriend has been cheated on again since it worked so well the first time. But "keeping it casual" doesn't allow for nuanced reminiscing, or even empathy, apparently.

It's a lie to someone you don't know, and it's a lie to yourself.

Whiskey Tortoise also draws a false parallel between the communication involved in an open relationship with that of an affair. Open relationships, polyamory, and nonmonogamous relationships can (and do) work, but only through honesty and openness. That's what's so grating about picking "keep it casual" as the Golden Rule for Mistresses. It's not honest about what being a mistress actually is: it's a lie to someone you don't know, and it's a lie to yourself. If you are a knowing, informed mistress, you know you're trying to achieve something you most likely will never get.

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