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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sexcapades: A sticky situation

Published: April 1, 2011
Section: Opinions

When it comes to the complexities of relationships, I try to maintain a sort of “don’t judge” mentality, because you never know exactly what the circumstances in any relationship are if you’re not a part of it. Things get complicated, however, when one of the people is in a previously-defined relationship and these complications can happen a lot in college.

What exactly is the morality of hooking up with someone who is in a relationship? How about engaged? Or married? Maybe going through a divorce? If your answer isn’t consistent for all of these situations, you’re probably just like most of us; the lines are sort of blurry.

I have always accepted this ambiguity, but recently I have been compelled to wonder: How blurry can the lines really be? As someone who has both cheated and been cheated on, I can tell you that it’s not pretty from either side. It’s been a long time since I cheated on anyone—since before college actually—but that doesn’t mean that I remember the side effects any less. From the other side, I’ve been cheated on so many times that it’s actually a huge fear, and—unfortunately—a certainty of mine, that it’ll happen again.

Where the line blurs for me is when you hook up with someone, and only later find out he or she is in a relationship. To me, it’s sort of like, yes, you helped them cheat, but at the same time, you’re removed from the blame because if you didn’t know, there’s really nothing you could have done.

I apply similar reasoning to soon-to-be-divorced people. I’ve only been in the situation once, but it seems to me that a guy who is going through a divorce is technically single. Except for the legal processes required to end a marriage, the couple is broken up, thereby making it “not cheating.” But I know that not everyone agrees with that sort of reasoning, and I have friends who found my brief fling almost appalling.

As college students, what obligation do we have to respect the relationships around us? I’ve hooked up with one or two guys at Brandeis who lied to me about their relationship status in order to get me into their rooms. I’ve also been the girl, however, who told a guy she couldn’t be exclusive because I just couldn’t promise not to hook up with someone else. The truth is that most of the relationships people have here won’t exist past graduation and so, if we take that information, ultimately, perhaps, it shouldn’t matter if we’re faithful and monogamous. The problem, however, is knowing which relationships will make it past graduation, possibly forever. Because some will make it that far, but we can’t know that right now, it is a risky proposition to mess with any relationships at all.

Really it all comes down to how you want others to perceive you, I think. Because in all honesty, people don’t think very highly of those who lie and cheat, especially if they’re personally connected to those who have been lied to or cheated on in some way.

Also, most people have some story of being hurt or of a close friend being hurt, and they don’t like to think they know the types of people who would cheat or hook up with a married guy.

Maybe the best rule is the one we all learned as children: Do unto others as you would have others do to you. If you think you wouldn’t respond well to having your husband hook up with a college kid when you’re 30, maybe you shouldn’t be hooking up with that hot married guy right now.