There are times when I figure I know a lot about how people behave and then there are times when I am quite clueless. For example, I can tell a lot about how much money someone has, whether or not they want to buy something and how much they trust me with reasonable accuracy because of my job training in sales. However, I have never been on a normal date (you know, like one person asking another person to meet them at a restaurant or bar to have fun and determine if there is any chemistry going on) and my relationships have never included cheating on either end so there is a lot about relationship norms that I really don't get. How do you tell if your partner is cheating on you? Do most couples talk about the subject openly? How do people in a relationship normally deal with that topic?
I read a blog a little while ago by Penelope Trunk that talked about how she invited a much younger and extremely attractive young friend to live with her and her husband. Then she followed up by constantly talking to both of them about how they might end up cheating on her and finally wrote a big blog post about the whole thing. This is not normal, I figured that part out. Wendy and I talk about this sort of thing now and again pretty openly since both of us are pretty convinced the other will never stray. She gets me to give her the rundown of exactly how I rate her friends and coworkers in terms of attractiveness and personality appeal and I give her honest answers with just enough 'nobody is as attractive or awesome as you!' to keep myself out of trouble. Thankfully she is close enough to the ideal that I don't have to stretch the truth significantly. I figure she is just curious about what I think and how I view people; we sometimes agree on how attractive a person is but regularly we look at each other and say "wut? You think they are hot? Really?" We even sit around and discuss who we would hook up with were the other one of us to die. Are we normal? I have no idea!
I find it really interesting to see how other people approach the topic. A comment deep into the blog post I linked above talks about how sexual fidelity is merely right of first refusal, not exclusivity. I think that this is bang on in the sense that expecting someone to not have sex outside a marriage when they are being denied it inside a marriage is lunacy but I wouldn't necessarily phrase it quite that way early in a relationship! For a lot of people just the act of sex with another person is sufficient to end a relationship and when I was younger I fell into that camp too. These days I belong more to the philosophy that a single incident of passion simply isn't enough to warrant ending an otherwise good long term relationship. It is the act of deception over the longer term that is unforgivable to my mind; people make mistakes in the moment but a planned betrayal is not acceptable. These sorts of musings make me wish that when I was younger I had actually tried dating. I find people and the things they do to one another fascinating and this is one area that really interests me but which I cannot usefully test out myself.