Oct 30th 2009 By Dan Solomon
The moral dilemmas faced by a single guy are complex and take years to learn how to properly navigate. Do you say, "I had a really great time, too" after a crappy date? Do you stick around for breakfast just to avoid feeling like Ethan Hawke in "Reality Bites"? But the reward for successfully responding to such quandaries and finding a woman whom you'd like to spend your life with isn't a sudden freedom from sticky ethical questions -- it's just a whole new kind of moral dilemma. And one that you haven't had a lifetime of single-dom to try to unravel.
But don't worry -- Asylum is here to help. We've carefully considered some of the common moral quagmires that a married dude can find himself faced with, and offered our analysis of how to be a stand-up guy in the face of a runaway situation.
Getting Together With an Ex
The Situation: Despite what you may have indicated to your wife when swapping old breakup stories, probably not every previous relationship you've been in failed because the woman was certifiably nuts. In fact, you may look back on some of them affectionately, to the point where you want to get together for lunch, a drink or even dinner. The temptation is to lie -- "No, honey, it was zombie movie night at Donner's house!" -- or to downplay the significance of the get-together by acting like it's a burdensome obligation you'd rather avoid.
Our Take: Jealousy sucks, and being dishonest about the fact that you'd like to enjoy the occasional meal or drink with other women that you've dated only encourages that jealousy. It also betrays a lack of faith in her -- the person you're sharing your life with should be cool enough to know that she's the one you've chosen, and if you feel the need to lie about something innocent, you're essentially stating that you don't think that she's got it in her. Have a little faith, and let her remind you why you married her.
Keep reading to find out how to deal with flirting, strip clubs and more.
The Situation: Flirting is fun, and even for single folk it's often more for sport than the endgame of ending up naked together. And when you view it as a sport, the idea that you're supposed to give it up because you walked down the aisle is kind of a bummer. You didn't give up basketball, right?
Our Take: Check yourself. Flirting in and of itself is mostly harmless, but stop short of taking down numbers, even if you have no intention of using them -- at the very least, it's not really fair to the girl who will be expecting her phone to ring. And don't be a hypocrite -- if it's a harmless game when you're doing it, it's a harmless game when your wife does it, too. If you both enjoy the occasional rush of validation from the attention of a stranger, it's a good way to remind yourselves that your partner's lucky.
Checking Out Other Women
Any guy who ever felt like he had a brand-new superpower while wearing a pair of dark sunglasses around a city in the summer knows that there's a thrill in checking out pretty girls. And while there's no excuse for being creepy about it, a tendency to let a glance linger for a few seconds isn't something that goes away just because you've taken your vows.
Our Take: Some guys seem to take being married as a reason to be more active about this -- using a rationale like, "If I'm not going to touch, there's no harm in looking." A wandering eye is one thing, but leering's another. Besides just creeping out some girl at the other end of the bar, there's your wife to consider: Is it fair to her if her husband's checking out the waitress? Our answer's situational -- if she's there, and it's hurting her feelings, you should probably do your best to stifle it. If you're on your own, a quick double-take seems pretty victimless to us.
Telling Your Wife Your Friend Is Cheating
The Situation: When the average guy finds out that a friend of his is cheating, his tendency is probably to find a way to give his pal the benefit of the doubt. But telling your wife about it is a different story. We're all inclined to put ourselves in the shoes of the person we relate to, and that's usually going to divide along gender lines. Suddenly, the fear is that you're going to be guilty by association, and any defense of your friend that you offer is going to sound to her like you're justifying infidelity.
Our Take: It's better to talk about it with her, if only because if she hears that your buddy was cheating from someone else -- like another mutual friend -- you're going to look like a co-conspirator for not mentioning it. You don't have to play like you're the guy's attorney, and it's all right to be honest about the fact that deciding how you feel about this information is a dilemma for you. Cheating hurts because it's the ultimate act of dishonesty, and a woman should appreciate that talking about it with her is proof that you're not like that.
Going to Strip Clubs
The Situation: In any sizable group of guys, whether they're your league's fellow fantasy football owners or your poetry slam team, there's likely to be at least one dude who's answer to any lull in the conversation is "Let's go to the strip club!" And, depending on how late into the evening it is and how much everyone's been drinking, that may be the direction the group goes for the night. Which leaves you with a question: Do you call it a night, or do you keep hanging out?
Our Take: "Strip club patron," if it's not for your best friend's bachelor party, is probably not an occupation that a married guy needs on his résumé. It's not just the fact that there's another woman shaking her stuff in your face, but also that you're paying for the privilege, presumably out of shared finances. Flirting at a bar, or letting your eye linger at a barista -- those things are relatively innocent, but paying money to another woman for an erection is a bit harder to justify. On very special occasions -- we're talking your brother's bachelor party, not your co-worker's birthday -- it may be a part of the deal, but for the most part, it's a pretty trashy way to spend your night.
Do these seem fair to you? Are we being jerks or prudes? Let us know in the comments.