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My partner thought he hadn't cheated because they hadn't had sex

Even if you're not having sex, you're still cheating

When I stumbled upon evidence that the man I’d loved and trusted for 20 years had a secret girlfriend for 10 of those years, he tried to deny it.

“We never had sex!” he told me. And I believed him. For about two minutes.

“You never kissed?”

“We did kiss.”

“Did you hug and grope?”

“We did.”

“Did you take your clothes off?”


“Did you give each other orgasms?”

“Yes. But — we never f--ked!”

If he’s to be believed (and maybe he’s not, since he’s clearly an accomplished liar) they managed to have a secret love affair going for 10 years but they never once had good old-fashioned sexual intercourse. I’ll admit that once Mike* confessed that he and Martha* had done everything else, part of me thought, “If you’ve gone that far, why stop? For goodness sakes, you’re already committing adultery. Why not go ahead and bonk?”

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Deniability, it seems.

“This isn’t really sex!” they assured each other, as Mike later told me. “So what we’re doing isn’t wrong.”

Apparently, this is how a cheater thinks. They phoned and flirted and texted and kissed and said “I love you” and made passionate furtive whoopee in hotel rooms, but they convinced themselves that it wasn’t cheating because “we didn’t have sex.”

Translation: We did everything two lovers can do. Except schtup.

And this isn’t sex? On what planet?

When my friends learned about Mike and Martha, many more than I’d have thought confided that their boyfriends, husbands and/or dads had played by the same rules. They had affairs that they justified as not really being affairs because there was no penis-in-vagina action.

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Hell, even the former President of the United States was on board, if you remember Bill Clinton's claim: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” Yeah. Except for all the blow jobs.

There’s a reason they call it oral sex and not oral philosophy or oral sunshine, rainbows and moonbeams.

Clearly, we’ve got a linguistic problem here.

So in the interest of better communication, I’d like to get a few definitions on the table. If the two of you get a hotel room together? You‘re guilty. Even if you don’t enjoy penetration. Even if all of your clothes don’t come off. Even if you only roll around and smooch and tell each other what special little snowflakes you are. Even if the two of you are just sitting there together, fully clothed, reading the Bible. You’re still having sex and you know it.

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I’m calling that out. That’s sex. In fact, going forward, I’m calling it Mike-and-Martha.

If you and another person are doing things that you know your partner wouldn’t be okay with? That’s sex!

What kind of sex is it? It’s M&M.

All I know is that I’m never falling for a guy who’s into M&M again.

*Names have been changed.

Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: LIBRARY HUMOR.

Originally published on Women's Voices for Change.

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