Bonus Rule: It’s Not Cheating If The Plumbing Is Different?

via Iwoelbern

Hi! I’m westwood, over at gapingwhole, and this is a guest post. Last time I was here, we chatted about why it is important to hone your gaydar. This time, I pose the question: When chicks with boyfriends sleep with/make out with chicks, is it cheating?

Well, first lets turn to Glee for the answer (because that’s obviously the most logical thing to do).

If you watch the show, you may have heard this little exchange:

Brittany – “I really like when we make out and stuff.”
Santana – “Which isn’t cheating because…?
Brittany – “…the plumbing’s different.

Well, boys/bois/ladyboys and girls/grrls/whatever you want to be, I have heard some variation on this excuse dozens of times from all kinds of people. And as an openly and outspokenly bisexual woman, I have personally been propositioned by a number of women (mostly bicurious) who were currently in relationships with men.

Guess how many of them I have kissed or had some kind of sexual encounter with?


(…well, by those qualifications anyway…)

Yet, in almost every case, the men in these relationships had actually given their ladies permission to get it on with another woman (ie: me). Not only did they allow it, but some actually encouraged it. I suppose they found the idea attractive, because men just looooove the idea of girl-on-girl (if those girls are feminine, straight-presenting, and doing it for the benefit of the guy, that is).

So why don’t I make out/hook up/sleep with these girls? These are intelligent, beautiful, fascinating women. Well, first off, being bisexual has no correlation to being slutty or sleeping around (contrary to popular belief). Secondly, those dudes and Britanna need to understand that cheating is cheating. No matter what the plumbing situation is downstairs.

Let’s test your intuitions. Assume a set-up of exclusive monogamous relationship. In that case, is a straight girl sleeping with another man cheating on her boyfriend? Yes. Is a straight man sleeping with another man cheating on his girlfriend? Yes. If a lesbian sleeps with another girl, is she cheating on her girlfriend? Yes. It doesn’t matter what is in their pants. If your dude or lady is sleeping with someone who isn’t you, cheating is happening. If you define kissing or emotional attachment as cheating, then the same thing applies.

(another consideration: if I were to hook up with those girls, they might leave their dudes for me and really make things messy. Just kidding. Sort of)

Yet, women often make out with other women in front of their boyfriends at bars. This tired titillating trope remains common. We all see it on TV all the time. Somehow, the guys don’t understand that they are letting their girlfriends get away with infidelity right in front of them. Plus, it is harmful on a much bigger scale for a lot of reasons, including these:

1. Not defining it as cheating promotes bisexual erasure. It reinforces the (scientifically wrong) notion that making out with someone of the same sex ‘doesn’t count’ because sexual fluidity doesn’t exist… which it does.

2. It objectifies women and trivializes their sexuality by saying that women’s sexual pleasure only counts when it’s for the benefit of a man and/or controlled and dictated by a man. It is a man deciding his girlfriend’s sexuality for her, and what she can or cannot do with it.

Rules For Same-Sex Flirtation:

1. Dudes, don’t give your girlfriends a pass to cheat because you have a mistaken idea that it’s hot.

2. Recognize that love is love and sex is sex, and it all counts no matter what junk is in whose underpants.

3. Ladies, before you call that cute girl you’ve always wondered what it would be like to make out/hook up with (you know you have)… dump your boyfriend.

These are bad things! So we should all not buy into this ‘it’s not cheating because the plumbing is different’ shtick. Because it is definitely cheating. Okay? Okay.

Also, if you have any  relationship or sexuality-related questions or curiosities that you would like to see covered in a future bonus rule, leave them below or catch me at gapingwhole[at]hotmail[dot]com.


  1. Okay, I’m serious about my sexuality, but I don’t know if it’s cheating, when the relationship is open to it, and so is the person being propositioned. Although, I agree that the current phase of men getting turned on by gorgeous straight girls making out is tiresome.

    Just my take on it. :) I really liked this post. Great guest!

  2. I love this post and I believe you just changed my perspective on this all. My ex husband was all for the girl/girl action and my boyfriend is not but now that you put it that way, I truly appreciate the idea, the situation, the goings on of it all. This was a remarkable guest post hope to see some more in the future!!

  3. Attention All Elements of Physical and Metaphysical Existence,

    What stands before you is the most powerful, engaging and inspiring blogs the universe will ever experience.

    Thank you for your awesomeness!
    The Gulkin Gazette

  4. This is a fantastic post! I am often annoyed by the bisexual stereotyping in society:

    bisexual women = hot ‘n sexy = every guy’s fantasy but bisexual guy = gay (which, is apparently not so hot?).

    bisexual = promiscious.

    Yes, there are those out there that aren’t particularly phased by the junk and simply want to shag. But that is person-specific and has little to do with orientation.

  5. Great post, I really enjoyed it. Cheating is cheating, no matter who it’s with. Plus, it is somewhat offensive to use sexuality to sleep around. I always say if the urge to cheat arises, then it’s time to end the relationship.

    1. I fully agree with that (although I think it depends on the perspective from which you approach relationships… it sounds like we share a similar one).

  6. Funny that I should run into this post. I asked my bf the same question the other day, just because. He doesn’t mind, not that I was going to try anything like this.

    But it’s difficult for bi-curious people. Why would they want to break up with their significant other if they aren’t sure if the new orientation is going to work out? It may be better for them to ask for forgiveness after cheating ….

    1. That is a very good point, and it is difficult. In that case sanctioned experimentation may be appropriate, as long as both parties know that it could (or could not) be a game-changer and are prepared for those consequences.

    2. “It may be better for them to ask for forgiveness after cheating ….”

      Well … I’m a straight girl who wouldn’t give that forgiveness to a bi man I was dating if we’d agreed to be monogamous and he was cheating on me.

      Because that’s a broken promise to a committed partner. Period.

      That’s just me though.

  7. On this, I think if the relationship works there should just be two people in it. I know that some people have open relationships, but I think those involve nasty power games. I would want all parties to be mature, sorted individuals who were quite certain they had their feelings about this entirely clear in their minds, and had no misgivings whatsoever.

  8. Indeed! I consider making out/ kissing as part of cheating….it gets started from the time it crossed your mind.

    Hey thanks for coming up a dating blog, like your posts!

  9. A gal I dated several years ago just called to ask me this question because her boyfirend was upset at her for havinbg a drunken escapade with a gal at a party while he was downstairs. I didn’t see anything to get upset about but I suppose from a guys perspective it is a question of whether its just sex or something more than that. For these two it caused a breakup so it was a problem, but I got the impression he was more likely mad because he couldn’t join in.
    I will boldly join the guys in saying it is something interesting to think about.

  10. You know i have to agree. It is cheating, even if the guy is encouraging it. Personally i wouldn’t encourage my girlfriend to go out and test the waters.

  11. it’s not cheating if it is AGREED upon. the “fidelity” comes from the contract set forth between a couple, and not all relationships are, or even should be, monogamous.

    “2. It objectifies women and trivializes their sexuality by saying that women’s sexual pleasure only counts when it’s for the benefit of a man and/or controlled and dictated by a man. It is a man deciding his girlfriend’s sexuality for her, and what she can or cannot do with it.”


    who is to say the man is even involved? who says he sees or even hears about it later? and so what if he does? it doesn’t imply that he is in control of any of it outside of consenting to it being ok within the bounds of the partnership. maybe he is ok with NOT being in control. personally i find it more demeaning for a man to tell me what i can and cannot do with my body, and if my partner happens to enjoy what i choose to do that is more than ok because his enjoyment is as important to me as my own.

    what i find to be the most ridiculous about this is the way this article tries to legitimize bisexuality not by acknowledging it’s existence in a truly supportive context, but by trying to shoehorn into conventional morality. the fact that the word “slutty” was used without any kind of negating of the stereotype (not of bisexuals, but that “slutty”ness exists AT ALL) shows just where the true line of thought here lies. this isn’t about being bisexual, it’s about the authors view of what does and does not constitute “cheating”, a definition by the way that she can only set for herself and not anyone else, just like every other aspect of a a person’s personal sexuality.

    i am less than impressed with the platitudes and lack of intellectual follow through here, and i find nothing that really supports women, bisexuals, or honest relationships at all.


  12. Great post! I agree that a double standard about girl-on-girl should not exist, but I also think we should be careful not to define “cheating” with such wide brushstrokes – never mind the plumbing, cheating is a form of betrayal, an emotional or physical affair that someone engages in despite their partner’s wishes or without their knowledge.

    Is there a reason we define this situation as cheating: you want to make out with someone and your S.O. is aware and approves, because it excites them and actually has the potential to reinforce your paired sexual bond? I don’t see who’s being lied to, or “cheated” here.

    As far as being “slutty” goes, I think equating consensual makeouts with “intelligent, beautiful, fascinating” people with as male-dominated a label as “slut” is playing into the hands of the slut-shamers out there. If you were attracted to these women, if they were as wonderful as you say, and if their boyfriends were aware (meaning there was no infidelity taking place), where’s the issue?

    Beware of limiting yourself sexually for fear of playing into sexual stereotypes. Bi or not, sometimes we are “sluts”, meaning we sometimes make out with people we don’t plan to take to the altar, and no one’s opinion but our own should matter when we’re making that choice, when we’re faced with that fascinating person.

  13. I love this post and agree with every damn word of it. I can’t stand that lesbianism is so often presented in the media as some sort of adjunct to male sexual enjoyment,

  14. I agree very much that making out with someone else, when one is in a committed relationship that does not include a clear agreement that making out with other people is acceptable, is cheating, and that it is no less cheating if the make-out partner is a different sex from the committed partner.

    However, the reason it is cheating is that it breaks the rules of the relationship. (Monogamy is so standard in our culture that I believe that if you are dating someone to a degree that seems “serious” at all, you must assume the relationship is monogamous unless you have explicitly agreed otherwise.) But:

    Yet, in almost every case, the men in these relationships had actually given their ladies permission to get it on with another woman (ie: me). Not only did they allow it, but some actually encouraged it.

    These couples had agreed to different rules. Making out with you did not break their rules. Therefore, it would not be cheating. It still is totally within your rights to decide not to make out with her for ANY reason, and if your reason is that you don’t want to play by rules that allow anyone to have multiple partners, that’s fine, for you. But it doesn’t mean they are cheating.

    Dudes, don’t give your girlfriends a pass to cheat because you have a mistaken idea that it’s hot.

    Who are you to say they are mistaken by what they think is hot?

    I have been in a relationship for 18 years. We are both straight. Our rules allow either of us to have another partner. We both think it is really hot to hear about each other’s experiences with other people, both recent and past. Some people like that. It may be hard for you to understand, but then it is hard for me to understand why a woman would be attracted to another woman, because I really am not interested–but I can see that a lot of women are, so obviously there is some variation in what people like, and although I don’t get it that doesn’t mean you’re mistaken about what is hot.

  15. I agree and disagree, but I love that you had the cojones to say what you were thinking. Dialogue is the only way to explore mores, especially sexual mores that have been traditionally not something that was talked about in public.

    I do think that whatever works for people in their relationship works for them. So I am not sure I consider it cheating when someone is open to the idea in their relationship. To me that is not a gender based thing, it is just that the couple agrees to the rules established in their union.

    Of course, it is easy for me to believe that way because my wife and I are both pretty conservative. I don’t think she would ever consider any girl-on-girl kissing, because that would just seem weird to her. Not weird in the way that she believes it is wrong, but just that it is not her cup of tea. She is fine with whoever else does what they do or feels the way they do, so she is not conservative in the “gay and lesbians are all going to burn for eternity” kind of thing. It is more like other people like mushrooms on their pizza, but she does not.So no hate mail there please. :)

    My point with all that was, I have a relationship that works for me, and we share the same ideals in our relationship. If she made out with or had sex with another woman, it would be cheating in our relationship. But that is the rules for our union. We also both believe other people can select the rules for their particular union, and they can decide what is or is not cheating for them.

    I guess it all comes down to a fundamental philosophical belief in ethics. Some people believe there is an ultimate ethical truth, regardless of whether or not people know what it is. Others believe that ethics is situational, and what is ethical in one situation may not be the same thing for another, even similar situation. So if we had close friends where the agreement in their marriage was that the woman could have sexual contact with other women, we would not judge them and could still be friends with them, as long as they understood that the same is not true in our marriage, and any advances she made toward my would likely be the end of our friendship.

    Also, I have a different view on the sexuality of women being there for the male consumers. I totally see the point, and I do agree that is certainly a factor. At the same time, I also think that there is another facet to the issue. I think women are finally allowed to have a sexuality, and like many people with a new freedom, they are expressing it. Even ten or twenty years ago, it was still the ideal that a woman entered her marriage as a virgin, and the man had some “experience” under his belt, no pun intended. Okay, maybe a little intended. ;) So I think that it has become acceptable for women to express their sexuality, and in some ways I think it is very healthy that woman having experience with other women is okay and they can be fine with it. Even if they later get married and have a traditional heterosexual relationship and a family.

    Most men, myself included, would never be able to fathom having an experience with another man. One such experience would make that person gay. However, women are almost expected in this society to explore same sex relations when they are young and experiencing their first sexual relationships, and to me that is a testament to how far our society has come in being able to admit that women have sexual feelings too, and there is nothing wrong with that. Because if it isn’t just two women, there are no men involved, and yet it is still okay to be sexual. I do certainly think that the wife hitting on another woman at the bar is for the “show” of the man, and in some aspects is certainly gender-based exploitation in a way. On the other hand, I think that the idea that women are allowed to have a sexuality, and encouraged to express it is a good thing.

    Regardless of gender or orientation, I think that recognition and acceptance of basic sexual drives is a good thing. Further, I think women have actually been able to make better strides than men in having a balanced, healthy sexuality, and it is not all about being on parade for the men.

    Still though, I love your courage and openness for opening the dialogue, and for my relationship everything you say is spot on for how we are.

  16. Here is my take on a small part of this article that I find comes up in conversation quite a lot:

    If the rules of the relationship allow for things like kissing/making out/emotional attachment to others/sex etc… it is not cheating.

    Now, for a lot of people with a completely “normal” (or whatever you’d call it) relationship, any of that would be cheating, however for those of us who have different types of relationships, they would only be cheating if it wasn’t an agreed upon option for the relationship.

    For example: In my relationship, I can make out with whoever I want whenever I want and so can my wife. It is not cheating because we are both being honest and open about it and have set this as a rule for our relationship. But! If we were to have sex with another person? –That would be cheating. Not because it was sex, but because it hadn’t been previously agreed upon as an ok thing to do.

    I like this post because you’re right. The idea that someone is bisexual is very often equated with slutty. That is just not true though it is a common misunderstanding. I’ve seen my own friends fall into that thought process.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I don’t believe that the plumbing has anything to do with whether or not it is cheating. Cheating is the breaking of clearly defined boundaries of a relationship –End of story.

    1. I agree. It’s not the plumbing that dictates whether it’s cheating, it’s permission.
      I also differentiate between physical monogamy & emotional monogamy; while I personally subscribe to both, I judge no one for choosing to live their life a different way – with permission, of course.

  17. I’ve got a different take on this, which is that there is no “cheating” going on *regardless* of gender if the partners/spouses involved consent to the encounter.

    I don’t believe that there’s an overarching sexual morality that transcends what makes sense in people’s own minds, and while I do agree that many couples break up after “sharing,” that doesn’t make the act immoral. It just means that those couples took a risk and it didn’t pan out for them, which is not one bit different in outcome than if they’d taken your advice and broken up first.

    It’s for people in relationships to decide the rules of those relationships.

  18. Wait, it’s NOT hot when two women make out? I beg to differ on that one, although I am similarly tired with the “doing it for the guy” thing. I think your thinking is a little narrow on cheating however. If a couple are polyamorous and everybody is on the same page…. no cheating is involved. The only one’s seeing it as such would be those that are living and judging others by their own moral code. What happens when you run into someone who is asexual?

    1. Interesting concept, I have often wondered this myself. Personally, I feel like it’s cheating no matter what, however, I can see how others would think it wouldn’t be cheating.

  19. Haven’t been on a date in eons but I agree with you. Cheating is any activity that you would think twice about telling your partner.

    This is why I only deal with dogs and have been date less for 6 years.

    with warm Aloha Pam

  20. In the navy we had a saying “When not with the one you love, love the one you’re with”. That was a long time ago now; today I’m happy with “To each his own” coupled with “Live, and let live” (so long as no-one gets hurt).
    You grow up, eventually, and learn to appreciate love for what it is—and I’m a selfish bastard where The Spouse is concerned, I’d no more share her than my own hypothalamus; and I extend the same goodwill to her; I’d no more share her Spouse (that’s me, if you’re getting confused).
    Some things like a woman’s enduring love trump others (like a moment’s lust) any day. Plumbing just doesn’t come into it, not unless you are trying to rationalise and thereby hope to get yourself off the hook. You may fool others but you cannot fool yourself …

  21. I agree. And if someone doesn’t have the self respect to address the problem within the relationship before they decide to cheat in the first place, they’re basically offering that same betrayal to the person they’re hitting on down the road. No one ever seems to think about that in the heat of the moment, though. It’s normally far to exciting to be flirted with and the end results are but a distant, clouded, unimportant item.

    Great topic.

    Thanks for posting!

  22. But aren’t grounds for “cheating” defined by the individuals involved? so if they allow it is isnt cheating. thats just how they want to play. guys “allowing” their girls to play away doesn’t qualify its it been openly discussed and agreed to. It isn’t monogamous or perhaps conform to your idea of a healthy relationship but it isn’t “cheating”

  23. I think it is you that are promoting “bisexual erasure” with your strict monogamy. You are saying that no bisexual person can live their life as a bisexual. That they must choose to be the orientation of relationship they are in for the entirety of that relationship. Doesn’t this erase their sexuality? How does this show anyone that they are bisexual and not the orientation of their current relationship?
    Your definition of “cheating” also completely negates any type of relationship that is not monogamous. You are describing open and poly relationships and then defining them as “cheating”. So you are not only erasing their sexuality, but also all relationship dynamics that are not monogamous. You are specifically saying that those dynamics are not real and should not exist. Why?
    My big question here is, why is your definition of cheating so completely different within relationships than it is anywhere else in life? To cheat doing anything else, means that you are being dishonest, but in a relationship it is boiled down to specific actions. I whole heartedly disagree with this assertion. You can cheat in a relationship in many ways other than physical/sexual and not all physical/sexual activities with others have to be cheating. It is lying and keeping secrets that makes doing something cheating, regardless of the gender, orientation or even inclusion of other people.
    Your article does contain a lot of good advice for monogamous bisexual people and their partners. I just wish you could give it without bashing those who are not monogamous. The claim that you are promoting or keeping bisexuality from being erased is just not true. If you want to promote bisexuality then maybe you should be promoting triads or maybe closed triads would be easier for you. I know a number of people who have healthy longterm bisexual relationships within triads. I am personally in a relationship with a man and a woman, but I don’t consider it a triad as they are not in any sort of relationship with each other. Tho they are friends and spend time together. This would be cheating by your definition, but everyone involved has full knowledge of everything. I live my life as a bisexual and most people who know me know it. It’s very obvious once anyone sees me with each of my partners or when I discuss my life with people. This was not the case when I was monogamous with my male partner. I feel that my sexuality was almost completely erased then. Almost everyone I knew assumed I was straight and very few people ever noticed or asked if I wasn’t. I didn’t lie to anyone about it and I didn’t behave any differently, but very very few people knew. The vast majority of people assumed I was what they thought I should be.
    I find the number of people agreeing with you just as sad as the number of people who assumed I was straight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s