The other day over drinks with friends, a male friend asked me about fidelity and if I believe it is possible in a long term relationship.
I don't know this guy very well and so I started asking him questions about his question: has he only been faithful in his current relationship and is wondering how to keep the momentum? No. Is this the longest time during which he has been faithful? Yes. Is he in love and does not want to hurt this woman? Yes. Can he see himself with her in the long term? Yes. Has he come into recent temptation? No not recent, but he wonders how long he can keep saying no.
After a few questions I said what I always say, affairs are not built in a text. Nor for that matter are they built over a phone call, one dinner or a lunch. Like all relationships, whether long or short term, they are built over dates and at least two conversations. So what does it take to remain faithful?
Well, apart from the obvious, “do not spend time with people you are attracted to and do not buy sex”, there is the not so obvious, “create fidelity with your partner”. There are scandalous men and women out there who are not interested in fidelity and those are lost causes. If, however, you and your partner are interested and struggling like most human beings do, what can you do?
I think there are points in any marriage that are documented 'fault lines': birth of a baby, sudden career success, death of a parent, fruition of a life's dream (like finishing a house). The emotional upheaval and shift in self-perception make partners particularly vulnerable to sexual tourism. But what about when there isn't any sudden change, what can you do?
Fidelity is sometimes thought of as a personal journey, and indeed the promise is an individual one, “I will be faithful”. In my conversation with my new friend, I got that that is inaccurate. It is an individual promise but not a personal journey. Just as we promise to partner our spouses in life, so should we in fidelity. I could not be faithful to a man who was not having sex with me. I need attention, affection and a lot of quality time with my man, otherwise I will be susceptible to another more attentive man. To create fidelity as a couple, start by asking yourself, “what do I need to remain faithful”. Then ask your partner and do your best to honour their requests.