I don’t like being cheated on. You probably don’t either. In fact I’d go so far as to say that no one likes being cheated on. Unless you’re into cuckolding but that’s a whole other story. Last time I got cheated on it made me feel betrayed and angry not only at my partner, but also at the other person that had participated in the backstabbing that is cheating. At the same time I have both unknowingly and knowingly slept with someone who was in a monogamous relationship, so my being angry is hypocritical at best, and completely illogical at worst. So… is being the ‘other woman’ ok?

Let’s try a mental experiment. You’re in Metric with your buds. The alcohol is flowing, and you’re vibing with someone’s highschool friend. You haven’t met before, you know very little about them but what you do know is that they’re hitting on you, and you’re getting ready to take them home. That is until some busybody butts in and coughs out a “taken” leading you into an existential crisis centered around a single question: Do you still fuck them?

A lot of what you do comes down to social obligation, and whether it’s a worthwhile trade-off for the hassle and aggro that it’s gonna incur. Or, some might say, a question of morals. But does this bit of information – info that you didn’t ask for and that the person you want to bang didn’t volunteer – actually change anything? And more importantly, should it?

Regardless of the complexities of their relationship and the trustworthiness of the party-pooping source, suppose you found out that they weren’t single the morning after instead. Should you have known? Should you have asked them and if so when? Is it necessary to ask everyone you’re flirting with if they are taken? Or do you slip in the question just as you request the Uber? Is it too late to ask when the clothes are coming off? What about just before you climax? Is it up to them to police their own behaviour and make their own decisions?

These are all valid questions. On the one hand, to give informed consent, you need to be aware of the situation enough to justifiably call yourself informed. But is their relationship status a relevant detail? Just as you don’t need to know their brother’s name or the town they grew up in, or quite frankly their name, do you really need to know that they’re taking a night off from going steady with that chick they met in the library? Policing the sexual exclusivity of everyone who crosses your path can’t be your responsibility.

It’s different if you’re friends with them or their partner. Then you almost contractually have social obligations to them which probably include not screwing with them and their partner. But if you’re not friends with them, is it any of your business? Why should you go out of your way to enforce something for this person who is insignificant in your life at the expense of your own pleasure; is someone else’s monogamy yours to enforce? If you think you should be preventing cheating, where do you draw the line? You’ve established they’re a scumbag: if they’re not fucking you, they’ll be fucking someone else. Just hitting on someone is just as much of a betrayal as actually going through with the act. Regardless of whether shagging them makes their relationship less/more fucked up and dishonest.

So why the fuck do we demonise the other woman? The thing is, when we’re angry at the people who sleep with our partners, we’re just displacing our anger at the person who’s betrayed us. In our family-value society cheating equals failure. Our anger is a result of us trying to cope with society questioning our value as a partner. Were we not enough for them? Did we do something wrong? It’s the feelings of betrayal and inadequacy that are the kicker, rather than legitimate anger that two people meaninglessly rubbed their genitals together. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be angry – a deal is a deal. If I had been promised a two for one lobster dinner and had to pay full price at the end of my meal, I’d be pretty fucking pissed.

BUT the priority should be anger at the person who has betrayed us, rather than projecting betrayal onto someone who really had no vested interest in us. If I can justify feeling guiltless when I sleep with someone who is supposedly in an exclusive relationship, I should be self-aware enough to recognise that I’m not actually angry at someone who does the same thing.

It’s the responsibility of the people in a relationship, and no one else, to be respectful of their partners, whether that means being honest or being faithful or paying rent or keeping the toilet seat down. If they’re a cheater, they’re a cheater, and nothing you do makes a blind bit of difference to their relationship. So now put yourself back in Metric with this hottie. What do you do?