I've watched with interest the swirl of controversy surrounding the revelations that Republican presidential candidate John McCain had an "inappropriate relationship" with a female lobbyist — one who has been described in the media as "fetching" and who is 30 years his junior.
Putting aside how Vicki Iseman's position may or may not have influenced McCain politically, the question of what is considered "inappropriate" is one that intrigues me.
Throughout 1999 and 2000, McCain and Iseman were seen together at fundraisers, parties and on private jets. In fact, their "closeness" concerned members of McCain's own staff.
So, at what point does a relationship between a married man and a woman become "inappropriate"?
McCain and his wife, Cindy, have both denied that there was an affair.
In fact, Cindy McCain had a press conference in which she, like so many other politicians' wives, stood by her man:
"Well, obviously, I'm disappointed. More importantly, my children and I not only trust my husband, but know that he would never do anything to not only disappoint our family, but disappoint the people of America. He's a man of great character."
(Interestingly enough, she says he'd never do anything to "disappoint our family" ... right after she admits she's "disappointed!")
But this just proves yet again that no sex has to go on for people to stand in judgment — although I am not saying that there was no sex involved; only McCain and Iseman know that for sure. That is why the relationship advisers and Dr. Phils of the world say that emotional infidelity — like when your spouse is logging in long hours on a chat room, flirting — is just as damaging as if he were screwing some "fetching" (or not) woman at the local Motel No-Tell.
As a divorced woman, I have experienced this. You're on a hike or at dinner with a male friend or business associate, run into people who know you but not that well, and they give you "the look" — Oh, so that's who you're seeing. Much better than the ex! (or in some cases, You gave Rob up for that????)
Not too long ago, the AP ran a series on inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. Certainly there are many instances in which things have crossed a line. But I know many people who work with kids, and if every rumor of "inappropriate behavior" were true, they'd have no time to actually teach, tutor, mentor or coach.
At the same time, any of us who has been cheated upon or cheated knows full well the turning point — it's when you stop telling your spouse the truth about the relationship, even if that means you've only had thoughts and no action. Because if John McCain had actually said to Cindy,
"Honey, I've met this wonderful gal, Vicki, whom I'd like you to meet. She's funny and smart and pretty, and I just know the two of you will like each other. We've run into each other at a number of functions, and I've asked her to join me at a few."
... then it would be a non-issue, and Cindy could have addressed the press by saying, confidently, "I have met Vicki many times, we've enjoyed each other's company, both alone and with John, and I absolutely trust her, my husband and their friendship."
How much do you wanna bet he didn't?
More from love