I returned from a J. Cole concert a few weeks ago to a very pouty-looking fiancé whom I later found out was offended by my love and appreciation for J. Cole and Drake. My stanning is no secret and I think those are two of the sexiest men on the planet. However, not once did I ever think of my fantasizing as a problem. It got me thinking about the gray areas of infidelity and what different people consider cheating. We all like to think that once we’ve found the one our faithfulness will be unbreakable, but how do you define your fidelity and at what point do you begin to question its strength?
If I’m completely honest, I can’t tell you what I’d do if, in the words of Elle Varner, I got light-skinned Jermaine in a sound proof room, but I would hate to think that my fidelity is really balanced on the improbability of a fantasy. What about those couples who give their partners a fantasy pass or a hall pass, because after all, how often is the chance to have sex with a celebrity crush going to happen? And before the rebuttals start flying back as women confidently claim, “I love my babe. No other man, celebrity or not, could change that,” let’s just be clear that I am strictly talking about sex, not love. I mean, most people would consider either cheating, but being simply sexually attracted to someone else is way different than wanting to be in a relationship with them. And how many women claiming that they would never sink to be a groupie (even if only for a night) have pictured Morris Chestnut on top of them when in reality they’re in bed with their boyfriend? We all fantasize, but does daydreaming mean we’re incapable of being monogamous?
Sex-therapist, Dr. David Schnarch, suggests that nothing is wrong with “partner-replacement fantasy” until the fantasy starts replacing your actual sex life. So if you’re telling your man you don’t want to be touched because you’d rather watch How Stella Got Her Groove Back for the umpteenth time, you may have more of a problem with your partner than you think. Fantasy allows people, especially in long-term relationships, to temporarily ignore the predictability that can come with truly knowing their partner. So if for 10 minutes you can imagine Morris Chestunt as se*y, sophisticated, smart and romantic, there’s no harm in that, right?
“As I get older my experiences have taught me that life is a lot grayer than I thought. It’s easy to be less judgmental when you realize that,” I told a friend the other day. There are no right answers for every relationship. All two people can do is find what works well for the two of them. That means that cheating has to be defined by the people in that relationship from the beginning: One man’s kiss is another man’s intercourse.
I don’t think anyone is 100 percent monogamous. I like to believe that fidelity, much like sexuality, can be measured on a scale from Chris Rock’s character in I Think I Love My Wife to Diane Lane in Unfaithful. If my experience being in a long-term relationship has taught me anything it’s that we all flirt, we all fantasize, we all have urges to have sex with someone else from time to time, but it doesn’t mean we’re all a Cheaters episode waiting to happen. On the flip side, just because you’re not getting it popping on the regular with someone other than your partner doesn’t mean you’re completely innocent either.
When it comes to monogamy, I’m pretty open-minded; I don’t consider it cheating unless you’re doing something you know damn well you should only be doing with your partner. If you’re feeling guilty, that’s a pretty good sign. Fantasizing can even be a healthy way to re-ignite the attraction to your partner, as long as it stays inside your head and not in your bed.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.