This post is the second half of last week’s Musings of a Mistress, which addressed infidelity, clients who have partners, and my own relationship perspective as a pro-domme. Read Musings of a Mistress: Treacherous Tricksters (Part I).
Before being betrayed, I had done the cheating, and with the aforementioned lover that ended up cheating on me, no less! My partner and I had been together for over two years, and while he was (and still is) a lovely person, we were not exactly compatible. I loved him dearly, but we bickered often, struggling to communicate over both the gargantuan and miniscule issues alike.
Our sex life had become non-existent as a result of our communication struggles, and I often felt disconnected and lonely in his company. It seemed as if all of our conversation led nowhere, and our anger caused us both to say things that did irreparable damage. As our relationship started to fail, his insecurity caused him to be more and more controlling, which caused me to, naturally, rebel against the limitations he tried to set for me.
Then I met a musician. Oh yes.
If his green eyes, scruffy curls, and a guitarist’s hands weren’t enough to woo me, his love of literature and zany sense of humor was.
We started off as friends, although I immediately knew I had an overwhelming infatuation for him. Throw in a few hangouts, some underage drinking, and BAM. One minute we were talking about Albert Camus (The Plague is nothing if not romance, right?), the next minute we were ferociously making out. The first time this happened, I stopped him mid-tonsil hockey session by yelling, “I CAN’T DO THIS,” and promptly ran out of the house. Our love affair continued on and off for a year (as my actual relationship continued on and off as well) before I finally was officially single.
Being on both sides of the adulterous coin provides a special kind of perspective on infidelity and deception within relationships, but it took some time and healing to recognize it. When I was in the center of the storm, suffocated by my own pain, it was impossible to place myself on the other side of things. When I met the musician (who ended up betraying me), I was destroyed by my own dishonesty. I had never stopped caring for the partner I had at that time, who had been through so much with me, but the love itself was lost. We had been trying to salvage a relationship that had been floundering for well over a year.
My infidelity had more to do with my ambivalence, and my unwillingness to sacrifice the relationship I (we) had put so much work into. After putting so much effort into trying to make it work, it felt like it would be a failing to give up. It had nothing to do with my feelings for the person I was partnered with, but everything to do with my own dissatisfaction.
Instead, my heart (and my pelvis) ran away with me. It seemed easier to let things “just happen” then take accountability for my confused feelings and desire to end something that didn’t seem bad enough to end, but was also no longer satisfying. Communication had reached a standstill. My love and I were at an impasse. As much as we may have wanted, there was no returning to what was.
I have found that my own immature behavior in that relationship is remarkably similar to some of the clients who come to see me. The “happily married” regular I mentioned before, amongst many of my other clients, has managed to work his way into a situation that causes his actions to be incongruent with his genuine feelings. The guilt he carries for being unfaithful to her is practically palpable, manifested in jitters and downcast eyes. The idea of hurting her is both distant and terrifying, not only because he would lose much of what he values in his life, but also because he believes that she would be ruined by the truth.
Although I lost sight of this perspective when I was in the midst of my own pain, as I have begun to delve into the minds of the clients I see who come in without their spouse’s knowledge, I see my own experience paralleled over and over again. The answer to “Why?” is much more than lack of affection or some failing on behalf of the partner that is being cheated on. Although the reasons behind covertly visiting a sex worker may be vastly disparate in the details, the most important thing that I can identify is that sexual expression is driven by individual need, not by emotional impetus (or lack thereof), nor by overwhelming desirability of the sex worker.
A perfect example lies in Bailey, my chastity device client. He is clearly not driven by a lack of love, care, or affection for his partner. For the regular I mentioned above, his infidelity is a symptom of his mid-life crisis; he is lonely, feels numb to his life, and has “lost himself”. Some clients have mentioned that they could not tell their partners about their sexual proclivities because they would never approve of them, much less engage.
Others have mentioned that they cannot even bear to tell their partners about what they would like because of their own fear and shame about their kinks. One client told me at the end of a session that he had tried to stay away from pro-dommes for awhile, but that it was hard for him. He went on to say that he knew that he would probably die alone, especially since he was such a “freak” for enjoying submission. I assured him that there are women who would love to see their boyfriend’s freak flag fly (OH SO HIGH!), but he didn’t believe me. The shame he carried with him broke my heart.
Point is: There is a long, varied list of reasons that clients, including those who come in secrecy, come to us. There is no one core reason that answers for all of their visits. There is one common thread, though, which gives a clearer answer to why these folks lie and cheat: It is all about them. Perhaps it is, on occasion, pure selfishness, but more often than not it seems to be the product of self-absorption that occurs in the wake of unmet needs. It is impossible not to recognize that their behavior is destructive and immature at best, but seeing this side of their situations makes it difficult to vilify them with the fervor that the “cheaters” get slapped with.
I struggle with the conclusion on this Part II, folks. There is no neat and tidy ending. This issue is complex, and there are so many reasons that folks stray. Maybe that is part of why they should not all be painted with the same brush; practicing radical compassion would require acknowledging both their wrongdoings and their humanity in the same breath. Maybe the next step may be to ask: How can we practice that radical compassion? How can this be fixed? Can it be fixed? Is there a way to encourage honesty, compassion, and communication amongst relationships?
Tizzy Wall is the Playpen Report’s petite spitfire sex-worker, here to talk about queerdom, sex work, and other kinktastic wonders. Take a peek into her big, lovely brain on both Tumblr and Twitter. Have specific questions, topic requests, or the sincerest of flattery to offer? Email her !