One of my friends, who shall remain nameless because I would never break the unspoken homegirl code of honor, has a theory: even though she has a boyfriend, she’s technically single until she gets a ring on her finger. If another guy asks to take her out, she's willing even though she’s somewhat spoken for. For her, it’s insured protection against wasting her time just in case the relationship never matures into that drop-down-to-one-knee stage.
For the record, I think she’s nuts.
First of all, the boyfriend, who’s a little corny but a decent guy, deserves to know that he’s one half in an open relationship. If tables were turned, I can guar-on-tee the poo poo would hit the fan if she ever found out he was lining up chicks on the side in case their love affair went south. But secondly, how can she really give the relationship the investment it deserves if she’s got one foot on base and the other running all over the field?
We all know men have been doing the very same thing for-freakin’-ever with much more frivolous, much more eternal-bachelor minded reasons as their excuse. They want their cake but they want their pie, too. They know they have a good girl and don’t want her to get away, but they’re not quite ready to settle down. They don’t know how to control their little man monster (or they don’t want to) and they coddle themselves into believing that cheating — oops! — just happens. Some guys fall and break ankles and arms. Others trip and find their third leg accidentally penetrating another woman.
Let me move on before I talk myself onto the other side and end up saying that what she’s doing is perfectly justifiable.
Honestly, on some level, I do understand a woman’s need to have all of her bases covered. And yes, in case you’re keeping score, that is in fact a double standard. The aforementioned behavior of menfolk make it almost silly not to keep a little somethin’ somethin’ brewing on the side just in case he turns out to be a dog or a dud or just a flat out doofus, all of which are very possible.
But — here’s my voice of reason — if we all hold on to that guarded attitude, won’t not none of us end up being in healthy, progressive relationships. We’ll be treating courtin’ like ongoing games of Battleship, watching and waiting to see what the other’s next move will be and limiting our openness for the sake of not getting hurt.
I don’t know how in the heavens she finds the space of mind to maintain more than one dude. I just don’t have the energy to keep up with two. One man is exhausting. Two is just lunacy. And keeping them separated and unknowing of one another? Puh-lease. Even if they live in different cities, that’s a lot of fancy footwork. Now, if you’re juggling a millionaire and a model, I can maybe see why you wouldn’t want to give up one for the other. You know, the balancing act can have its benefits. But the stresses of maintaining two fellas at the same time are generally shouldered for very underwhelming reasons.
With or without a ring, unfaithfulness sucks, both for the cheater and the cheated. I get that we try to protect ourselves against the wages of men’s seemingly endless disappointments. But softening an anticipated blow from one dude by keeping company with another just leaves you open to be by yourself that much longer, especially if the guy you’re stepping out on is someone you would consider marrying, as is my crazy friend’s even crazier situation.
In my humble and engagement-ringless opinion, the real commitment doesn’t come in a velvet box. That’s just an ends to a means. The moment you decide you’re going to be an exclusively monogamous twosome (and please, please, please say that you’re not bangin’ both guys at the same time — condoms are protection, not a foolproof catch-all), you forsake all others just like you would if you were taking those vows. Use it like a dry run for the real thing. But unless you’re vying to be the newest addition to Big Love, there only needs to be two main characters, ring or no ring.
So is it still cheating if you’re not engaged?
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