Saturday, March 24, 2012
In Which I Wade Tentatively Into Psychology
So I had a trifecta of run-ins with the topic of infidelity.
First, at dinner Wednesday with two groups of friends, we were discussing the AP reading. Gentleman Jim, The Most Lovely and Foxy Wife and I had all been to the AP reading in our respective subjects and were talking with a fourth friend who was headed to her first reading this June. Both Gentleman Jim and Most Lovely and Foxy Wife were ribbing her about the extramarital dalliances that occur at the reading. Foxy Wife routinely tells the story of when she likely barged in on her roommate in flagrante. Gentleman Jim notes that he has a posse of friends who keep him on the straight and narrow.
And I'm sitting there wondering if US Government and Environmental Science teachers are unusually salacious, or whether I'm completely clueless. I've been going to the US History reading for four years and can't remember anything that seemed risque. Some joking that might have risen to the level of chaste flirting, but the idea that the reading was somehow awash in sexual congress? I just wasn't seeing it.
Of course, I can remember being fairly clueless about stuff like that when I was single, so maybe it's just me.
The next day I read a blood curdling piece in Esquire on "Why we cheat". Click through only if you have a high tolerance for immoral behavior.
The piece was written by a young woman who apparently engages in all sorts of extramarital affairs, although she herself is not married. She also talks to those who are married and cheat.
It's difficult to tell if she isn't engaged in some clever Swiftian satire, because she comes across as a sociopathic narcissist. Her utter disregard for other people is frankly nauseating. But isn't that sort of the point of infidelity? That you wind up putting your own immediate needs above anything else?
And then, yesterday, I watched Young Adult. It's a scathing portrait of a woman who returns to her hometown to break up her high school boyfriend's marriage and steal him away. She's an author of young adult fiction, and it's pretty clear she never outgrew high school. Clearly intelligent and beautiful (I mean, Charlize Theron, c'mon), she also has no moral core, no empathy and no sense of responsibility to others. At times, it was just too painful to watch. I took several breaks to do chores because - while it was scabrously funny - the character was just hard to watch as she destroyed herself in her desire to destroy a marriage.
I can't claim to have always been a "good boyfriend". I was particularly poorly behaved (ie narcissistic and selfish) in high school. I proposed on my 31st birthday. By that time I had grown up (although, indeed, Most Lovely and Foxy Wife might disagree on that assertion). I was no longer centered as much on self as I was on us. At some point, the endless fascination that young people have with themselves gets tiresome.
This undoubtedly figures in to why people who get married at a young age tend to divorce.
Only two of "our friends" have gotten divorced as far as I can remember. And the cause was not infidelity, but it was probably selfishness. Which ultimately is the same thing.
Anyway, all this rumination on a depressing subject deserves an antidote. Tom Junod - also at Esquire - has written some great stuff on marriage.