Friday, June 19, 2009

The Jack and Jane Did-He-Cheat or Did-He-Not-Cheat Hypothetical

From Chuck Klosterman's IV:

"Let's say you have two friends named Jack and Jane. They have been romantically involved for three years and until recently lived together. Suddenly, Jack calls you on the phone and sadly mutters, "Jane just broke up with me." You ask why this just happened. Jack says, "She thinks I cheated on her." You ask, "Well, did you?" Jack says "I'm not sure. Something strange happened."
This is what Jack proceeds to tell you:
"There is this woman in our apartment building who I barely know. I've seen her in the hallway a few times, and we just sort of nodded our hellos. She is very normal looking, neither attractive nor unattractive. Last week, I came home from the bar very drunk, and-while I was getting the mail- I ran into her at the mailboxes. She was also intoxicated. Just to be neighborly, we decided to go to her place for one more beer. But because we were drunk, the conversation was very loose and flirtatious. And this woman suddenly tells me that she has a bizarre sexual quirk: she can only have an orgasm if a man watches her masturbate. This struck me as fascinating, so I started asking questions about why this was. And then –somehow- it just sort of happened. I never touched her and I never kissed her, but I ended up watching this woman masturbate. And then I went home and went to bed. I told Jane about it the next day, mostly because it was all so weird. But Jane went fucking insane when I told her this, and she angrily said our relationship is over. She's moving out right now."

Whose side do you take, Jack's or Jane's?"

I'm taking Jane's here. Here's why: Jack violated the intimacy terms of his relationship with Jane. While he didn't have sex, he was sexually intimate with another person. In doing so, he violated his commitment to Jane.
Now, it could be argued that he because his astonishment was not due to the eroticism of the moment but rather the peculiarity of the situation he did not cheat. His relationship with Jane took precedence over his astonishment.
This is not the same as paying for a lap dance at a strip club either, unless the dancer achieved orgasm, in which case I need directions to said club. This is also not the same as phone sex in which both people are participating.
Jane may be overreacting though. Jack was upfront and honest about the situation and spelled out exactly what took place. He did not attempt to conceal any information and genuinely believed the situation to be peculiar. He found no eroticism in the moment. For that, I think Jane needs to rethink her leaving. Jack also needs to be smacked upside the head by his friends for not giving them the wily neighbor's address.

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