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Cheating and Freak Dancing
October 19, 2013 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Is it considered cheating if you “freak dance” or “Bump and Grind” at the club with someone who is not your significant other? (long but necessary story inside, possibly nsfw))

So my wife went out to a bachelorette party to a couple of weekends ago, and I found out that she did a lot of “freak dancing” with other guys at the club. The club was several hours away in a large party city so she had a large degree of anonymity. She was with several of her girlfriends all who live in other cities who met at this particular city for this occasion.

First, you should know that I have always thought our marriage to be strong. We are big fans of each other and have a pretty happy 10 year marriage. Maybe one downside to this, we have become domestic types, raising our two little munchkins, maintaining lawn, both trying our best at careers that we generally like, etc….

My wife called me the morning after the party from her hotel and told me she was tired and was glad to be coming home. She told me that she was out with the girls until 5 a.m. and that she had a good time. I asked if she had fun dancing and she said that some of the guys were gross, grabbing girls in the club and hitting on them. And even though guys paid attention to her looks (oh yeah, she’s really hot) she told me that she killed the mood by telling them that she was a married mother who was in her mid 30s. We kind of laughed it off, but I must admit that my something felt odd about her description.

The next day I asked her about it again in a nonchalant manner but was more specific with my questions. “Did you dance with any guys?” – Sure “So were they grabby with you while you were dancing.” –well I will admit there was some grabbing. “Did they grab your butt or just random dancing stuff“ –Oh it was not a big deal. “Are you kidding. A guy who is grabby is going to try to grab your butt too, so of course he tried to grab your butt.” –O.k. there was lots of butt grabbing.

The conversation continued like this where I had to ask specific questions or I would get nondescript answers. I found out that she danced with a lot of guys, but one guy for a long time hour-ish? She said 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, she grinded her rear on his junk for awhile. They also faced each other, and rubbed each other body to body and then began rubbing genitals together until she felt turned on in sexual way. She admitted she felt his "member" rubbing her crotch to crotch while he grabbed and felt her butt (all on top of clothes). She was clear that there was no kissing. Her friend pulled her away from the guy (she's hazy about how long, but didn't disagree when I threw out 30-45 minutes)because they were going to another part of the club.

After our talk, she casually asked if I thought it was a big deal, because to her it was not. She couldn’t even remember the guy’s face. She also stated that she did not really feel any guilt the next day for her actions.

I guess I kind of felt cheated on. I felt like I didn’t want some other guy rubbing his junk against my wife’s junk because it made them feel horny for each other, and only left because someone pulled them apart. And even though they were drinking and the music was pumping I think she crossed a line.

So I guess I have a few questions: (even answering one of these questions will help me. I’m kind of trapped in the land of crappy emotions right now and I need honesty now more than ever, even if it hurts. Thanks, MeFites)

1. How do I get rid of this newfound jealousy? I am thinking about this a lot and it kind of hurts. My wife and I have since talked about this and she apologized that this hurt me. She told me it would never happen again.
2. Was this cheating? I know I am asking for your opinions, but it is cheating if you are rubbing crotches together for a long time because it felt good in a sexual way. She did not think it was cheating, but she respects that I consider it a cheating line.
3. And out of curiosity, is this normal behavior at a wild, techno packed to the gills club? Do many people do this or is my wife one of the few? (not saying it is bad if you are single, btw)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (79 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would not be pleased. I would be perhaps be a little reluctant to see her take off for the next bachelorette party in Vegas (or wherever).

but:

1. Time, and not dwelling on it
2. No -- but it's still disrespectful and a cause for concern re her thought process or lack thereof
3. Depends on the club and the clubgoer(s)
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:12 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


1) Time. It'll hurt for awhile.

2) It's close enough to "cheating" if either of you feels like a breach of trust occurred, but I wouldn't get hung up on semantics.

3) Grinding on the dancefloor is not uncommon.
posted by blue t-shirt at 8:13 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Cheating" is a term that means different things to different people, and nobody has to agree with you about the definition except the other person in your relationship. Your wife didn't have sex with or even kiss someone else - but if you're asking if this kind of thing would be okay with me, if my partner did something similar - the answer is no. Absolutely not. Your discomfort is very much justified in my eyes. You don't have to accept anyone else's definition or explanations of how this sort of thing is normal or okay with them. It's okay for you to feel like it was a wrong thing for your wife to do.

As to how to get past it - the answer is the same as it always is, open, honest communication and time. If you trust your wife in all other ways, and you accept her apology and her explanation that it truly was a one-time thing, I think you will get over it with time.
posted by something something at 8:14 AM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


You told her this hurt you, and she apologized and promised not to do it again.

That doesn't mean you have to instantly feel 100% better or anything? But that's about as good as it gets.

You guys love each other and have a decade-long marriage, it's stronger than this.
posted by kavasa at 8:20 AM on October 19, 2013 [33 favorites]


1. The only way out is through. You have to process what you're feeling; you can't skip past it.

2. You and your wife are defining cheating differently here, and it's good that this is a way you can start that conversation.

3. Normal.
posted by RainyJay at 8:21 AM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Has it happened before? Is it likely to happen again? Are there other problems in your marriage, especially romantically? All of those things affect how serious this is.A little drunken grinding might not mean a thing, or it might mean a lot, depending on the context.

Tell her you are worried and uncomfortable. Ask her to please not do this again, should the opportunity come up. Ask her if there are issues you two need to work on. see what she says.
posted by emjaybee at 8:22 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This behavior is completely common at packed clubs. Hell, I've been to clubs mostly frequented by gay men and been grinded against and had my ass (and boobs) grabbed. I think there are a few problematic things in your conversation, including the fact that you gave her the third degree about guys getting grabby. You know that someone else assaulting or accosting her is not her fault, right? Because it sounds like you came into the conversation looking to place blame on your wife, which speaks to a lack of trust.

I would not consider what she did "cheating." However, I think it's okay to say that you're not comfortable with it and ask that it doesn't happen again.

She's said that it won't. She's apologized. You need to work on letting it go.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:24 AM on October 19, 2013 [86 favorites]


There's no hard and fast definition for cheating, each relationship has its own rules. Personally, I wouldn't be bothered at all if my wife were to do what you describe. Some people would consider any type of partnered dancing outside of the marriage to be cheating. There's no universal answer to "is this cheating?", only "am I ok with this?"

Obviously, in this case, you're not ok with it. There was a mismatch of expectations between you and your wife, you communicated about it, she apologized, and now you're on the same page. That's how it's supposed to work.

I know that doesn't necessarily help with your feelings of jealousy. I don't know that there's any solution for this other than time. It hurts now, but you'll get over it with time and love.

Yes, this is totally normal behaviour at a club.
posted by Turbo-B at 8:25 AM on October 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cheating can have very different meanings to different people, and the definition that matters is the one the two of you agree upon.

Sexy dancing is one of those things that a lot of people would disagree on whether it crossed the line. And even within things that could be covered under that general concept, some people might feel like general grinding in a club is fine, but practically dry humping one guy for an hour is not fine.

So, given that you've now talked about this, and she understands that you don't think that what she did was okay, and it isn't something she'd do again, you've come to a new and greater understanding of what cheating means in your relationship. She wasn't deliberately cheating on you before but now that she knows it feels like cheating to you, for her to do that again would be a violation of your trust.

There's a limit, of course, to how much what you want works as the dividing line for appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. 'Because I said so' can't be taken on faith to always be the division because it opens the door to a whole whack of horrible control issues. If you're generally trusting, caring, non-controlling people, though, 'Because it makes me feel bad' combined with 'Because the other person loves me and doesn't want me to feel bad' can be okay.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:29 AM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, that's not cheating. Everyone knows that freaky dancing/bumping and grinding/twerking/whatever is not serious and just something you do on the dance floor sometimes.

No, I don't think she had any sort of marital duty to inform you exactly how sexily she danced with strangers she had no interest in, did nothing sexual with, and never saw again.

1. I have no idea what to tell you, here. You're just going to have to forget about it/get over it/not worry about it. Especially considering that it doesn't sound like your wife is Up In Da Club every weekend or anything. This sounds like basically a once in a lifetime experience that is never going to happen again. It's also encouraging that, despite your somewhat irrational feelings about it, your wife was able to say that she wouldn't do it again rather than "ummmmmmm no and stop being a jealous dickbag" or some other less charitable response. I mean, if that's not enough for you, then I don't know what to say beyond maybe recommending therapy.

2. Nope. Not cheating.

3. Yes. I'm not really into it, but practically every other human being I've ever been to a club with has engaged in it. And from what I can tell it has absolutely NOTHING to do with anyone's sexual feelings for anyone else. It doesn't seem to correlate to people doing anything else sexual, going home together, etc. It's just dancing. You're doing the equivalent of someone in 1913 asking if your wife waltzing with another man is cheating.
posted by Sara C. at 8:35 AM on October 19, 2013 [34 favorites]


i've found that monogamous heterosexual couples have a tendency to just autopilot the fidelity conversation, assuming that everyone has the same definitions and lines. this leads to lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings - because while some things are pretty obvious, like sex, some things are less obvious, like dancing and porn. you can't ask strangers if something is cheating, you can only tell your partner what you consider cheating - which is what you've done and she's agreed to not do it again. but - i disagree with you that she crossed a line. she's not a mind reader and to a lot of people dancing in the way you describe is not cheating. if she does it again, it will be cheating because that's what you guys have agreed upon.

i do think the way you're fixated on it and demanding to know exact details to torture yourself (and hang her) with is not something that will help your marriage.
posted by nadawi at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2013 [30 favorites]


On the "is it cheating" question. It may not be cheating in most people's eyes (I mean, even Newt Gingrich took the position that "eatin' ain't cheatin'") because no penile-vaginal penetration occurred. But in a monogamous relationship, isn't it fair to assume that one partner grinding against some stranger's tumescent penis is a massive breach of trust that really renders the question of whether it is cheating an academic question? It was such a fleeting encounter that I can imagine your sense of violation is probably significantly lower than it would have been had full intercourse occurred ... but still, it was really poor judgment on her part, it was essentially a form of "micro-cheating" and warrants a good look at her values versus your own.
posted by jayder at 8:43 AM on October 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I found out that she danced with a lot of guys, but one guy for a long time hour-ish? She said 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, she grinded her rear on his junk for awhile. They also faced each other, and rubbed each other body to body and then began rubbing genitals together until she felt turned on in sexual way. She admitted she felt his "member" rubbing her crotch to crotch while he grabbed and felt her butt (all on top of clothes). She was clear that there was no kissing. Her friend pulled her away from the guy (she's hazy about how long, but didn't disagree when I threw out 30-45 minutes)because they were going to another part of the club.

Your wife didn't walk away from a situation that was sexually charged, and stayed to participate. This wasn't an impossible situation to get out of. I don't know what you want to call it at the end of the day, but that would be pretty problematic for me.

The thing to talk about is whether there is broken trust, and if it can be restored. If there was an apology, I would still be hurt, but I would forgive and attempt reconciliation. There would be a burden on the other to regain trust, and there shouldn't be defensiveness if you are worried about the next party.

I don't think you were wrong to press the issue. The secrecy would be a big problem for me.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


I question whether the people who are thinking this is cheating have spent a lot of time at clubs recently? Because I haven't even spent that much, but it really is just a thing that's done and is not at all meaningful. I 100% second all of Sara C.'s comment: this is a thing that happens, I would not consider it cheating, and this is definitely the modern-day equivalent of waltz anxiety. That doesn't mean you don't get to feel sad, but it means that now your wife has apologized you guys should try to move on.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


i don't think that's fair to assume it's a breach of trust, though - that's what some of us are saying - that we would have never considered this cheating. i've dated people who would, but they had to make that request explicit because it was different than how my social circle saw it. if my husband reacted in extreme jealousy over some dancing and focusing on our crotches and tumescentness then i'd think he was replaced by a pod person. it's not an academic question - really, i put it right up there with porn - porn is seen by some to be cheating sure, but if someone had been married for a long time with no mention of porn being a problem, then they bought a playboy and their partner got really upset and jealous and talking about it obviously being cheating, the reaction would be much the same i think - yeah, you're allowed to draw that line but you have to tell your partner that's where the line is.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 AM on October 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Let's back way up and try to figure out what outcome you want right now. If what you say is true, your wife is a devoted mother and partner living your standard domestic, fairly humdrum life. She went to Vegas, let loose and things likely got a little out of hand. I think grilling her about whether she could feel his junk through his clothes and whether it made her horny is odd. It says to me that maybe you both feel that your lives are a little boring and maybe you should think more on that. Not to knock the boring life of domestic harmony! I'd rather you not blow up your family and relationship for something that sounds like a one-off drunken venting of pent-up boredom.

Also, yes, this kind of dancing is "normal" but it's also poor form for the hundreds of men who go to dance clubs and force their grab-ass on women who are drunk. Fending them off is annoying and I can totally imagine your wife going, "aw hell, grab away, you assholes, this mom of two is only in Vegas tonight."

I was much younger and cuter the last time I was in a club like this and I ended up punching a guy in the stomach who wouldn't take any hint to get off my ass. So, please keep in mind, she may have had some fun but it wasn't necessarily at her behest.

I think you guys need to get a sitter and go do something you've never done together before. Sailing lesson? Cooking class? Learn to dance Salsa? Go to a shooting range?

Seriously: forget about this.
posted by amanda at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


I wouldn't consider it cheating, but I wouldn't be okay with it, either. I guess I'd consider it 'line-crossing flirting'.

I think you reacted perfectly reasonably, and now all that either of you can do is let it go and move forward. As someone upthread said, your marriage is bigger than this.
posted by Salamander at 8:51 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cheating, as mentioned above, is highly subjective. The standard that I always hold myself to is whether it would be conversation or action is "Would my behavior be acceptable if my wife was present?". This actually makes things extremely clear. It is a matter of behavioral congruence (integrity) . In your situation, it definitely does not sound like there was behavioral congruence.

As regards your three questions:

1) It will hurt a while likely. Pragmatically, you have a lot invested, some damage has been done, but it really seems like some learning occurred and the breech was not so substantial that it is not reparable
2) Rubbing genitals with another person for 30-45 minutes would generally be constructed as cheating, but not by everyone. Reversing the situation, you might ask your wife how she would feel if you did the same in her absence. If she feels it would be highly inappropriate, than you apparently agree. If she doesn't, well, you have some fun ahead of you! (kidding about that last part, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, etc)
3) I have no idea if it is normal behavior in a club. For me, being in a committed relationship where I try to operate with complete congruence and integrity, I elect as much as possible not to put my relationship in harms way. This means making good choices in my activities. I realize I am older, and old fashioned, so apologize in advance for my ancient more's.
posted by jcworth at 8:54 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I seriously doubt you were "nonchalant" when you asked her a long series of increasingly specific questions about which of her body parts touched which of someone else's and when and how many people and was it 30-45 minutes and did you kiss and did you feel turned on and how did it end and on and on. She knows you disapprove. She knew it the moment you initiated the second conversation. And I agree with everyone above that asking a long series of obviously leading questions to demand every tiny detail of her activities isn't good for either of you. It's not going to make you feel better, and it's going to make her feel as though you blame her and don't trust her. I don't think your wife was being evasive so much as I think it's pretty natural to get defensive when someone you love asks you a series of probing questions in a way that conveys disapproval. I would have felt attacked if someone interrogated me in that way, and I would have gotten defensive and upset. I'm pretty impressed that she kept her cool as you grilled her. And even though she says she doesn't feel guilty about what she did, I bet she feels pretty terrible about the conversation the two of you just had, because that had to be unpleasant for her.

I wouldn't consider what she did to be cheating or bad behavior or a breach of trust or whatever. I wouldn't care if my partner did this. I don't really like dance clubs, so I don't really care if my partner goes out and dances with other people. And I would actually consider it less cheat-like since she didn't actually talk to the other person. Because most of the sorts of things that make me jealous involve forging an emotional or intellectual connection with someone outside the relationship. Dancing, even full-contact dancing, is basically what people do at clubs. I really wouldn't care, and I'd probably think it was sort of funny that some skeezy dude thought he was going to get somewhere when he obviously wasn't.

That said, what's considered cheating in any given relationship is whatever the people in the relationship agree counts as cheating. Some people think it's cheating if you have a platonic lunch at a restaurant alone with a coworker of your preferred gender, and some people don't think it's cheating if you have a one night stand with an anonymous stranger. Because those are their agreements. The problem here isn't whether or how your wife danced with other people; it's the fact that the two of you don't have the same agreement about what's okay in your relationship.

Bottom line: you feel the way you feel right now, and it may take a little while for you to regain your emotional equilibrium within the relationship. But try not to blame your wife for the feelings you're having right now. She didn't do anything on purpose to hurt you; she did it not really knowing that it would hurt you the way it did. And now that she knows, the important thing is for the two of you to have a conversation about what you're both going to do in the future. Is she willing to not dance with other people in this way? Are you willing to adopt a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy about the (apparently very infrequent) occasions when your wife goes clubbing, understanding that she would never kiss or have sex with someone else? Is there a compromise you can come to where she can still go out dancing with her friends, but refrains from specific ways of touching that lead to you feeling bad? You need to have a conversation in which neither of you blames the other, and in which you can make a new agreement about what is and isn't okay in your relationship. Neither of you is right or wrong here; you just need to get on the same page.
posted by decathecting at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


You're doing the equivalent of someone in 1913 asking if your wife waltzing with another man is cheating.

I think that's really uncharitable. Perhaps "you're doing the equivalent of someone in 1913 asking if your wife waltzing with another man for an hour while rubbing his erection through his pants is cheating" is more accurate.

Maybe there's some cultural aspect to this I'm not getting. OP would your wife not consider it cheating if you got aroused by grinding up against another woman for the same amount of time and had to be pulled off them?

1) Time. But apparently this is really bugging you, so that might not work. You either need to talk further to her about this, or seek some counselling for you both. Either way it's clear that there's a big communications issue at play in your marriage that you need to resolve.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:01 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Everyone knows that freaky dancing/bumping and grinding/twerking/whatever is not serious and just something you do on the dance floor sometimes.

Everyone does not know this.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2013 [48 favorites]


You're doing the equivalent of someone in 1913 asking if your wife waltzing with another man is cheating.

I think only if those from 1913 had a hard time coming home and being honest with their spouse about what happened.

Your wife was reticent to tell you all the facts about her participation. I think that's enough to ask why there's some secrecy, and what her intuition was that kept it quiet, and go from there.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:15 AM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


OP - how do you guys deal with other arousal issues in your relationship - do you watch porn? read stories? does she? do you tell each other fantasies about the woman who checks your groceries? again, make whatever rules about cheating you want to make - but couples often have moments of arousal that don't include their partner and it might help you deal with your jealousy if you think about those - for instance, how you can watch porn, become aroused, have an orgasm, and then still go kiss your wife like you did nothing wrong (because, unless there's a guideline about that in your relationship, there's nothing wrong with that).

you have a pretty good wife to just unilaterally agree to never do it again because she knows it hurt you. you should focus on that.
posted by nadawi at 9:18 AM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


i dunno - i thought she was pretty honest and then got defensive when he seemed totally upset about what she viewed as a benign thing. if she were being secretive, she wouldn't have mentioned the dancing at all.
posted by nadawi at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


"You're doing the equivalent of someone in 1913 asking if your wife waltzing with another man is cheating."

I must be really conservative too as if my significant other was grinding on someone in a club, that really might be the basis for ending the relationship. Even if I maintained the relationship, I would think a lot less of her.
posted by 517 at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


There are different ways of framing this that might make it easier or harder for you. One way of framing it is to focus on images of some strange guy touching your wife in ways, or on parts of her, that only you get to touch her, which might cause you to feel disgust, as though she still has gross guy cooties on her, and now you have gross guy cooties. Another way of framing it is to be angry that your wife allowed these men to touch her, and even allowed them to seduce her into touching them back by grinding on them, instead of defending her chastity more vigorously. A third way of framing it is that you just learned something very interesting about your wife, which is that she is still a sexual being who actively chose to dance like this because she enjoys feeling sexual and attractive and aroused, and maybe that's even something for you to be happy and excited about, because that beautiful, sexually aware, sexually interested woman chooses to come home to YOU.

Every couple needs to make their own agreement about what behaviors they're okay with their partners engaging in. But part of me wants to say that it was a bachelorette party, which often includes the expectation of temporarily relaxing the rules. I've attended a couple of bachelor parties that included strip club visits, and many of the men I was there with had gotten their partner's explicit blessing to do basically what your wife did. Not only did the groom-to-be's fiancee know he would be getting lap dances (which can include genital grinding), but many of the other married or otherwise-coupled men had discussed it beforehand with their wives or girlfriends as well. (I'm not saying that a paid professional dancer is the same as a stranger on a dance floor.)

I just know that for me, I want to be in a relationship where it's never wrong for either partner to still experience sexual attraction to other people at times. Not to say that I wouldn't ever feel insecurity, or that I wouldn't want some boundaries on acceptable behavior, but that I wouldn't ever think my partner was wrong just for having sexual feelings in the presence of other people. To me, that's the other side of the coin of being with someone who's sexually attracted to ME.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:23 AM on October 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


Dancing with someone, even if it's sexual, is just dancing. There was certainly no emotional infidelity going on and drunk people dancing touch -- it doesn't mean anything at all. It's not as if they chatted, exchanged numbers and kissed -- right? I think you should try to keep it in perspective. If your friends did this, would you feel the burden of knowing they had "cheated?" I doubt it. The sexual nature of the dancing may be a little excessive, but I think dancing with strangers with you are shitfaced and getting close is normal and rarely means anything.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:25 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


i dunno - i thought she was pretty honest and then got defensive when he seemed totally upset about what she viewed as a benign thing. if she were being secretive, she wouldn't have mentioned the dancing at all.

Yeah, that would be the crux, I would think. My read is that defensiveness was there because of an intuition that it would already be considered a breach of trust.

I guess that would be something for the OP to figure out.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:25 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


way too much cross-examination of your wife here. either you trust her or you don't. you know she didn't shtup any of them, because you undoubtedly asked her.
posted by bruce at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


I wouldn't consider this cheating, but I would find it inappropriate and be pretty uncomfortable with it. Not dealbreaker uncomfortable, though.

I mean, yeah, grinding is normal club behavior, but it's normal single-person club behavior. That's my perspective, though, and not everyone shares it.

If it was a one-time thing and she apologized, understands why you're upset, and won't do it again, then that's a really good result. If you had a partner who did it repeatedly and dismissed your discomfort with it, that'd be a much bigger problem.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think an academic discussion of the current mores surrounding dirty dancing or how your wife reacted isn't going to be very helpful. You should forgive her and trust that now she knows this crossed a line for you she won't do it again.

Then I think you and your wife should get a baby sitter and go out and dance really dirty together at a club or something else that would be fun and sexy. I totally get why you're upset but remember the bigger picture you have a wife who you love and you have a good long lasting relationship with and this isn't the kind of thing that should poison that.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:31 AM on October 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Holy shit, some of these answers. Just because something is normal at a club doesn't mean it's normal in an exclusive/monogamous relationship.

I personally would not be okay with my SO or spouse rubbing their junk against another persons junk in any context. I don't think it's straight up cheating, but I'd be pretty upset as I believe the rubbing together of junk is something reserved for/exclusive to the relationship. Call me old fucking fashioned.

But that's just me. Would your wife be okay with you rubbing your hands (with consent) all over another woman's ass at a club? Consenting to another woman grabbing your crotch? Did you ask her opinion on this? Is she just so laid back and totally cool with it? Then it looks like you guys have some really different values here and need to discuss how important it is in your relationship to have the right to junk-rub strangers if the opportunity should arise.
posted by windbox at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I wouldn't consider it cheating or a big problem at all, but my marriage isn't yours. This sort of dancing happens at clubs, it wasn't just your wife dancing like this while everyone else was doing a variation of the Junior High stiff-arm.

If my spouse interrogated me at length about something like this, I'd get increasingly pissed about it and I'd probably get defensive also. And, if you asked my friends for corroborating info, I'd be furious. She's apologized and said she won't do it again, don't make it into a thing and don't make her feel like you're one step away from pinning a scarlet letter on her.

For now, I think your best road forward is to stop discussing it and angling for new details. Try your best to ignore the thoughts and don't ruminate on it. When you feel like you're no longer so bothered by the whole thing, have a discussion about where you both agree "the line" is. And, if you're jealous that she's still sexy without you around, make time and energy for some dates so that you two are not just about the kids and domestic life.
posted by quince at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


The waltz analogy is exactly right on (though in 1913 I think we would have been talking about the foxtrot as the waltz is much older). Many people then considered close partnered dancing of that kind to be just as risky to fidelity and chastity as grinding is imagined by some to be today:
...the biggest sources of bashing came from moralists - clergy, poets, and others who want decency. Many Catholic communities, even dioceses, barred couples from dancing so close in triple time when it became popular during the late 18th century and became widespread. Many people with strong morals objected to the waltz because of its closed positions. (Although that man is waltzing, he's actually holding the lady's hands.) In Britain, the inception of the waltz from those Austrians and Germans shocked many moralists. Even poet Lord Byron was not pleased with the dance. He wrote in his poem about the closed positions involved in the dance:

But ye --- who never felt a single thought
For what our morals are to be, or ought;
Who wisely wish the charms you view to reap
Say --- would you make those beauties quite so cheap?

Hot from the hands promiscuously applied,
Round the slight waist, or down the glowing side,
Where were the rapture then to clasp the form
From this lewd grasp and lawless contact warm?

Simply put, it was the "freak dance" of the Regency Era because of the overly sexual moves and positions. Anglican bishops outlawed their parishioners from dancing the dance.

The controversy even came to America, notably in California. (Boston had that problem with close embraces of the dance too.) There, the Salesian Fathers considered it indecent, and banned it when the dance came to the state. In 1834, they lifted the ban and people started adopting it and creating their own form: the Spanish waltz.
/waltz derail

My take is that yes, this is currently the club-dancing convention. Your wife participated in that and that's not in itself unusual. The fact that she stayed with one partner so long, in an explicitly sexualized interaction, is what would concern me in your shoes. So I don't blame you for that. The fact that her friends "pulled her away" might indicate that her friends thought maybe she was going too far, and if she didn't really know what the contemporary mores are about this kind of dancing, she might have inadvertently been getting in over her head. But who knows, maybe they were just ready to leave.

I don't think you're crazy to be concerned. It sounds like she was intentionally having a wild, bachelorette-type night, but at the end of it, she had no intention of sleeping with anyone else, no intention of leaving you, etc. She clearly values your relationship by having this conversation with you so patiently. I think if you can keep talking about it without getting defensive or overly sad, you can solve this one. Since it's not going to be a common occurrence, you probably don't have to worry much about it.
posted by Miko at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2013 [42 favorites]


I have to agree with Dixon Ticonderoga that the context here is important - there is a certain expectation that bachelorette parties will get raunchy/raucous.

but it is cheating if you are rubbing crotches together for a long time because it felt good in a sexual way
You're inventing this whole scenario in your head to make it as bad as possible. She remembered dancing with 1 guy for a long time but she has no idea how long - so you have decided that it was 30-45 minutes. She has admitted rubbing crotches with him until she got turned on - and you've turned that into them rubbing crotches together for a long time - which is not what she said.

If this was a regular thing, I'd say maybe its a problem but a one-off for a bachelor party? Its nothing. If I were your wife I'd be seriously pissed off about the interrogation though.
posted by missmagenta at 9:36 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Dude, your question makes me want to take your wife out for a long, long walk and then an extra indulgent mani pedi followed by a four-hour drunken lunch.

Back off. Let it go.

Seriously, she was parting with girlfriends. Even moms are allowed to do this.

And, trust me, she and her friends had some laughs about which of the guys were the dumbest dirt bags.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:36 AM on October 19, 2013 [43 favorites]


I've attended a couple of bachelor parties that included strip club visits, and many of the men I was there with had gotten their partner's explicit blessing to do basically what your wife did.

This is a really good point.

Have you ever been to a strip club? Did you immediately run home to your wife after and voluntarily dissect everything you did there?

Or, hey, what about bachelor parties you may have attended in the past? Did you engage in any "loosening of the rules" social antics that might be interpreted as being sexual but which are broadly not assumed to be cheating by the wider culture? Did you immediately go home to your wife and tell her exactly what went down? What was her reaction?

I don't want to assume anything about your relationship, but to be perfectly honest I think if you've ever set foot in a strip joint before, and your wife was OK with that, you need to let the Twerking Incident go.
posted by Sara C. at 9:38 AM on October 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


it's just not so much "was this cheating/was this not cheating," it's that it looks like you guys have learned that you both have assumptions about what behavior is acceptable so you probably (later, once you're of cooler mind) need to both sit down and explicitly define monogamy. you might find you guys don't match up 100% (chatting with women online? having a preferred porn performer? platonic lunches with coworkers, etc) and you'll have to decide where discomfort trumps autonomy. this will probably benefit your relationship in the long run. it's the sort of thing i think couples should do within the first year of dating, but most monogamous heterosexual couples just seem to assume everyone agrees. so, you're a little late and your feathers got ruffled. use it to strengthen, not weaken, your relationship.

you just can't apply all of that to a situation that happened before she knew you would be upset. i think if anything this thread proves that there is a lot of room for interpretation and differing opinions.
posted by nadawi at 9:48 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah but see, some people aren't okay with their SO's or husbands going to a strip club. And there's nothing wrong with that. And if their husband goes and gets a lap dance anyway because "it was a crazy bachelor party and everyone else was doing it" it doesn't make it less of a shitty thing to do or less inconsiderate to her feelings.

But it sounds like you guys didn't really have this conversation yet, so I don't think it's fair to be angry or talk about infidelity or throw around words like "cheating". Just hear her out on where she thinks these lines should be drawn and find out how much you have in common here.
posted by windbox at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


yep - exactly - some people aren't ok with strip clubs, totally fine - but, if a husband's like "i'm going to strip club for bob's bachelor party" and his wife says, "have fun!" and then afterwards she's like, "you got a lap dance?! i'm so hurt! tell me every detail about the turgidity of your cock!" then maybe she should have made her objection known before he went to the club...
posted by nadawi at 9:52 AM on October 19, 2013 [22 favorites]


My read is that defensiveness was there because of an intuition that it would already be considered a breach of trust.

My read is that the defensiveness came up after a long and detailed interrogation of her behavior, and that until she was questioned in excruciating detail about every moment of the night, she was pretty casual about it. Yes, sometimes defensiveness comes from guilt. But sometimes, people get defensive when they feel that they're being criticized even though they didn't do anything wrong. I don't think we can draw any conclusions from the fact that a person wasn't eager to answer questions that may have felt to her a lot like accusations.
posted by decathecting at 10:06 AM on October 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's been a long-ass time since I've been dancing in the sort of place where dudes felt entitled to grab me without my consent, but I do remember those times. And the feeling of, he doesn't seem so bad, maybe I'll go along with it. And then there is the whole once you have your token male, the other dudes back off with their grabby hands thing.

Have you considered that maybe she got tired of needing to have her defenses up against these dudes and wanted to just dance and have fun so she let it go and danced with that one dude for a while? I think there is a context to this that most hetersexual men cannot easily understand.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:13 AM on October 19, 2013 [22 favorites]


My read is that the defensiveness came up after a long and detailed interrogation of her behavior, and that until she was questioned in excruciating detail about every moment of the night, she was pretty casual about it. Yes, sometimes defensiveness comes from guilt. But sometimes, people get defensive when they feel that they're being criticized even though they didn't do anything wrong. I don't think we can draw any conclusions from the fact that a person wasn't eager to answer questions that may have felt to her a lot like accusations.

In this case, though, I think the OP was right to press a bit, as there was something that was being specifically obscured. I don't think that his wife thought that he would be okay with her grinding genitals to sexual excitement with one specific individual for 30-45 minutes, and I think that it's easy to gloss over this fact to give the wife the benefit of the doubt (which I think is okay, as well, if we don't have all of the information).

So your point is well taken. There shouldn't be interrogations going on, and there shouldn't be any hiding, either.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed. Reminder, please do not debate other commenters. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2013


1.How do I get rid of this newfound jealousy? I am thinking about this a lot and it kind of hurts. My wife and I have since talked about this and she apologized that this hurt me. She told me it would never happen again.
2.Was this cheating? I know I am asking for your opinions, but it is cheating if you are rubbing crotches together for a long time because it felt good in a sexual way. She did not think it was cheating, but she respects that I consider it a cheating line.
3.And out of curiosity, is this normal behavior at a wild, techno packed to the gills club? Do many people do this or is my wife one of the few? (not saying it is bad if you are single, btw)


(1) You don't. You acknowledge it to yourself every time you feel it until it fades. Jealousy is a feature, not a bug, and it arose because evolution selected for animals wanting exclusive mating access to an animal they wanted to mate with to ensure that the selected mate had offspring with them and only them.

So you acknowledge it when it comes up--don't fight this natural process.

(2) What and what is not cheating is something you decide with your partner. It seems like you feel like this is cheating. Its perfectly OK to feel this way, and you and your wife might want to talk about where you want the boundaries to be.

(3) Who knows? Don't focus on whether or not its "normal." Focus on your feelings about it. Don't try and calm yourself with anything like this. Acknowledge the feeling of hurt and anger each time it comes up and watch it pass.

Don't: avoid the feeling so that it chases you around. That extends the pain.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


can i just say that constant grinding for 45 minutes while drunk is pretty difficult? by your description, she's hazy about how long, but didn't disagree when I threw out 30-45 minutes - you came up with the timeline, not her. that's 10-15 songs. if a married for 10 years woman with 2 kids could freak dance continuously for that long, while also dancing a few other times, and going to a different club all while drunk, and still manage to walk the next day, then she should put out a work out dvd.

which is to say - 10-15 minutes seems far more likely and you might think about how much of your image of what happened is based upon your worst fears instead of the reality of the situation.
posted by nadawi at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2013 [32 favorites]


This wouldn't bother me as much as my husband choosing to do a romantic slow dance with someone else. Freaking might involve bumping and grinding but there's no soulful eye contact and nuzzling. Maybe you and your wife should go clubbing.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


can i just say that constant grinding for 45 minutes while drunk is pretty difficult?

I was just about to comment that I think it's odd that there is no mention (in the question, or in the relayed conversations) of how much, if any, alcohol was consumed. I think this would factor in to both your response, OP, and to your wife's feelings about her actions that evening.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2013


Dancing isn't cheating. Get over yourself and apologize to her.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


And out of curiosity, is this normal behavior at a wild, techno packed to the gills club?

Yeah. Take a bunch of horny single young people, a bunch of middle-aged people wanting to cut loose and feel young and wild again, introduce copious amounts of at least one drug that removes inhibitions, have lots of disorienting lights and overwhelming dance music, and stir.

Assuming that you have an otherwise closed marriage, I'd say it's definitely questionable judgement on your wife's part, but not something to end a marriage over. I tend to be in open relationships where I can go way further but that level of contact with people is still something that I'd include in negotiation of boundaries rather than something that just happens. She might have felt that kind of dancing/contact was implicit in going to a bachelorette event in a party city and that your consent to the trip in general included that. Communication, whether in a monogamous or poly relationship, is key.

One thing I suggest is that you be sure not to get into a tit for tat over it (that is to say don't use it as an excuse to step outside of boundaries in revenge). And it seems like a pretty big deal to you in ways she doesn't understand, so forgive her and move on - don't leave it dangling in a way that she has to worry about it being thrown in her face.
posted by Candleman at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2013


I can really see both sides. You're not crazy to get jealous or concerned as the story unfolded; on the other hand I'm a REALLY conservative married dude who wound up in a club with some business associates on a trip and had one of those said associates (female) kind of drag me out on the floor (which was fine and I think my wife would be cool with that) and then commenced to turning her back to me and rubbing her butt in the general direction of my crotch.

I did NOT think my wife would be cool with this, so I'm sure the ensuing scene seemed to her like one of reluctance and regret. In fact, I probably came off as somewhat of a square because I didn't stay out there long. I'm okay with that, but a lot of people have trouble with it. But my point is - I don't think this is considered bizarre behavior at a club these days. I think the decisions about what you're going to mutually allow have to be made before you get in there, because inhibitions tend to dissolve in both alcohol and sexual arousal. I agree with those who say you can't say ahead of time that it's fine; take off, then interrogate after the fact. Odds are your behavior wouldn't have been much different.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:03 AM on October 19, 2013


To answer your question, no, I don't consider this cheating at all. Not even close. And I'm a mid-30s mom who never sets foot in a nightclub of any kind these days. (Though when I was younger, and did go to clubs, this was very typical behaviour for me to witness.)

However, if I were your wife, I would pretty pissed at the third degree you've been giving her.
posted by barnoley at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is such a tough question because as is evident from the wide range of opinions expressed here there is no definitive answer that is more right or wrong than any other. This question touched a nerve with me because I can think of a few times in my life where I have given whichever partner I was with at the time the same kind of aggressive cross-examination described in your question and though it rarely ended well (usually involving tears and a big-ass fight) I always felt like I held the morally correct position since I was just defending the sanctity of the relationship, while whoever I was with had obviously made some clear transgression (in my mind at least). Reading this question has proven to be incredibly, uncomfortably eye opening to me, in not exactly the most flattering way, as to how I probably came off in those scenarios, and let's just say it is not a part of my personality of which I am most proud.

I can't say I would be pleased to discover that my wife had spent an evening engaging in the type of behavior described in your question, but I've also learned for the sake of my own sanity that if I trust my wife not to cheat on me (which I do), I don't necessarily need a running play by play of every moment she spends away from me (especially "GNO's"). There is definitely some truth behind the "If you don't want the answer, don't ask the question" cliche.

While I don't necessarily buy the "This is just what happens in clubs these days" justification for your wife's behavior, at the same time I do kind of sympathize with her. As a married person, what exactly is she supposed to do in this situation? Just sit bored in a chair by herself while her friends dance so as to avoid any possible appearance of impropriety? Give a long lecture to any guy who approaches her on the dance floor as to her marital status and exactly what behavior will be considered appropriate while dancing in the viscninity of one another? I think it is most likely the case that she was simply wanting to participate in the night's activities along with her friends without being a drag and got a little carried away. From the perspective of an outside third party with no emotional attachment here, yes, I think you are taking this a little too seriously since your reaction seems more severe than the transgression deserves. But I know that is easy to say when one is distanced from the situation. I don't think dwelling on the details of one drunken night where no actual cheating, in the classic sense, occurred is going to be of any benefit though.
posted by The Gooch at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't think - at this point - this is a DTMFA or separation case. Nor is it 'classic' cheating, though this:

"...She said 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, she grinded her rear on his junk for awhile. They also faced each other, and rubbed each other body to body and then began rubbing genitals together until she felt turned on in sexual way. She admitted she felt his "member" rubbing her crotch to crotch while he grabbed and felt her butt (all on top of clothes). She was clear that there was no kissing. Her friend pulled her away from the guy..."

...sounds as close to mutually-consensual cheating as you can get without actually cheating.

It's pretty damned obvious that there is a massive gulf between (a) dancing with a stranger and (b) dancing while willingly rubbing yourself against the sexually aroused junk of a stranger, for a prolonged period of time.

You owe your wife no apology; you haven't been the one willingly messing with other people's junk. If anything, the apology should come to you, though pushing for that that may be counterproductive at this point.

You do owe it to your relationship, whether it will last the course, to have a frank chat about where the line is, what may or will happen again in the future. If you feel you still can't trust your wife in this kind of situation after this, then you may need a plan (relationship, money, legal) for if this happens again, or you suspect it has happened again.

But above all, you really do need to have the long talk, with as little retribution as possible on either side. You may need to bite your tongue here. Possibly counselled, or mediated, if that would help. It kinda seems that, otherwise, this issue won't go away now, will fester, on either side.
posted by Wordshore at 11:21 AM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


You're not wrong to consider it cheating.

Your wife's not wrong to have considered it acceptable.

You were wrong in assuming your wife should have magically known your feelings on the matter. You rectified that by telling her and asking her not to do it again.

That's really all you can ask for from this particular situation. As nadawi has said, however, it's worth having a conversation about how each of you defines monogamy and cheating, so that you can both avoid these situations more successfully in the future.
posted by jaguar at 11:25 AM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


1. Understand the feeling by going inward. It is probably unique to you. Once you understand it, you can defuse it. (Example: For me, what would underlie jealousy would be a "do you think I'm old and frumpy?" insecurity, and below that, a fear or shame about potentially having become some disgusting "middle-aged slob" stereotype. I could defuse that by thinking of "dignified" versions of middle age and reminding myself why those fit me better. See what I mean about how individual this might be?)

2. The dancing itself might or might not seriously worry me, and might even be something I officially wish hadn't happened, but I definitely wouldn't consider it to be all the way to "cheating," and doubly not since you never discussed this. Whether it worried me would depend what it meant to my partner. If it was "I did something stupid but fun at a party," it wouldn't bother me after I got over my initial surprise. If I thought he really wanted it to lead to more (as opposed to there being a "do not cross" line where he'd want to stop) then I'd worry about whether he was losing interest in our relationship or might "slip" in the future. But it sounds like it really meant nothing to your wife, so perhaps--

1a. Focus on the fact that this sexy woman chose you and keeps coming home to you. You don't have to compete with anonymous club men. She chose you to build a life with, and unless you think her commitment is in question, this means nothing in the big scheme of things. Treasure her and shrug off the small stuff.
posted by salvia at 11:26 AM on October 19, 2013


And when you do have a conversation with her about monogamy, keep it focused exclusively on the future. Speak in hypotheticals. "It would bother me if you did X," NOT "It bothers me when you do X" or "It bothered me when you did X."

Do NOT rehash what happened at the bachelorette party, or make her describe everything she did so that you can render a judgment.

Y'all haven't talked about all this before, so give each other a 100% free pass for any past behavior that fell into the category of "We hadn't discussed it explicitly beforehand." Otherwise you're both likely to get defensive and angry and it'll be a mess. Look at the conversation as a way of setting expectations for the future, not as a way of judging the past.
posted by jaguar at 11:37 AM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would consider this cheating. It would create a fracture in my marriage that I am not sure could be repaired without a lot of couples therapy. I don't consider myself conservative and I'm a mom of the same age and all that. I think there's a big difference between what single people do at clubs and what married people who have not agreed to this with their spouses do at clubs. It sounds like your wife went beyond the typical bump and grind even. What you do about it is up to you. But I don't think a bunch of strangers telling you it is or isn't cheating will help. What you need to do is acknowledge the effect this has had on your marriage and your trust and figure out a plan for moving forward. The label has nothing to do with it.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:42 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a huge difference between society's desire to police women's behavior and sexuality (problematic! weird! infuriating!) and a monogamous couple policing their own behavior and sexuality. Some of the anger here directed at your desire to know in detail what happened makes sense in the former case (society and its bizarre views of female sexuality) but is really just weird in the context of a relationship, where it is explicitly each others business how your sexuality is expressed.

This doesn't mean there can't be double standards, sexism, religious issues, class issues, and other weirdness that makes the discussion difficult or problematic, or one side or the other a total jerk. But it really is something that is on the table for discussion, even in-depth, detailed, and uncomfortable discussion. You're allowed to be stunned by your partner's behavior and prioritize your need for understanding over their desire to not have to deal with your pain. It's not a good long-term strategy for maintaining a healthy relationship, but everyone's human, and poor reactions to situations outside of our comfort zone is the typical experience, not an aberration.

Dance is a sexual thing, or can be a sexual thing, and it's disingenuous or oblivious to act surprised at this. It seems silly to be upset at someone dancing the waltz with your SO, but it is not objectively silly. It's silly because as a society, we have moved the goalposts. A lot of that goalpost moving has, along the way, been validating to female sexuality and agency. This is a good thing in my opinion, but those things--sexuality and agency--are precisely part of what is restricted and negotiated in a monogamous relationship.

Jaguar has some really good advice about working towards an understanding going forward rather than dwelling on the past.
posted by jsturgill at 12:30 PM on October 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is the norm, but continuing beyond 1-2 songs is a little out of line. I say this as a social dancer and someone who really, really loves dancing. I've danced like this, but if the guy gets a hard on, it's not just dancing anymore and I distance myself. It's not hard to do if you're prepared. (In polite society, it would have been scandalous for a couple to waltz for more than one song in a row, actually).

That said, it sounds like your wife isn't a regular dancer, and I can totally see how one song would turn into a half hour with no intent on her part. Plus it's a bachelorette party, and there may be pressure to cut loose that contributes to this.

1. It's ok to be jealous. It sounds like she's really understanding, and I think you get over it by getting over it.

2. It's not cheating, in my mind. But it doesn't mean you can't feel bad about it.

2. Normal, but that's why clubs are usually full of single people looking to hook up. Whether it's normal or not doesn't really matter here.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:33 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is an interesting question and a lot of really interesting answers.

To give a short(ish) answer, I personally am not a fan of explicitly sexual dancing with random partners. It doesn't suit my personality, it doesn't suit my personal philosophy and it isn't something I would do whilst in a monogamous relationship with someone else. However, as you see by the responses above, a lot of people see it differently, and this is well within the broader cultural norms and something you guys should probably discuss more in-depth. My read is that your wife didn't really do anything wrong - she was "letting loose" after a long period of being responsible and motherly; she isn't familiar and skilled enough right now in clubby settings to probably have the usual sense of when and how to back away, what is normal and what isn't (whatever that may mean) and how to interact socially with drunk/grabby/gross guys - and upon revisiting the situation later, yeah, she probably did feel a little nervous at the way you would respond. This last point, however, frankly doesn't speak very highly of YOU. She shouldn't be nervous to talk to her own husband about something she does not personally feel guilty for. And then there's the fact that you call your inquisitions "nonchalant." Which is completely disingenuous, and the part of this whole story which really reads the worst for you. See, I would be disturbed and upset by this kind of behavior from my partner as well, but I would certainly not call my questioning nonchalant: I would call it "jealous, angry and insecure" and I would own it, which I don't see happening it that conversation.

Which brings me to: If your wife's behavior made you uncomfortable (and I happen to think that's pretty natural) then your response should be to tell her that it made you jealous and uncomfortable - not grill her or accuse her of ulterior motives. I mean, as someone who is quite conservative and restrained on the monogamy scale, I still see "night of dirty dancing at bachelorette party" as fairly low on the scale of trust-violations. It's there, absolutely, but it's low on the scale. It looks like you've done this since and she's agreed not to do it anymore, which is good. As far as how to get over it - get closer to your wife. Understand her better. Understand what she enjoys, how she feels about her life right now (someone above who went off on the side-note of "boring mom life" is someone you should really be listening to carefully, btw) and where she stands on this type of question and why... understand HER, instead of critiquing and projecting your own thoughts ("oh, so you WERE getting horny then. So you enjoyed it. So how long were you doing this...") I mean... just... no. That doesn't read "loving husband" that reads "controlling daddy-figure."

So yeah. Get closer to your wife. Emotionally, mentally, physically. If you guys truly do have a good relationship, getting closer will resolve the issue better than time will. And I think you'll be just fine.
posted by celtalitha at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


It seems clear to me that there's not going to be a consensus on this -- it's a matter of individual opinion. What is comes down to is this: you and your wife have different standards for what constitutes acceptably-monogamous behavior, and the two of you should sit down and have a talk where you figure out where each of you are coming from and come up with some common rules that you can both agree on and that don't make either of you feel either uncomfortable or excessively controlled. Neither of you is necessarily in the wrong here -- reasonable people could consider her behavior either totally unacceptable or totally normal. The two of you need to work this out as a couple.
posted by Scientist at 1:12 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would consider this mutual masterbation in public. That's not what I would want from a spouse and parent of my children. "Cheating" is defined by the couple, though, and so the question is only what have the two of you agreed to, and how do you feel.
posted by Houstonian at 1:34 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not married, and I recently came out of a relationship where this kind of questioning was really common and very painful.

I just want to say, if you trust her, you trust that she knows what to do with her body and with whom. If she did some freaking and dancing with other men, it was probably because she trusted herself and she felt like it was an ok thing to do with her body. She didn't think that her actions in any way would jeopardize her loving relationship and happy family, and she likely enjoyed the novel experience of feeling sexy on the dance floor - and that has nothing to do with you.

In my opinion, the only thing that should have been of interest to you was whether or not she had a fun time. "Did you have a good time?" "Yeah, it was a lot of fun, but I'm so happy to be back home" "Me too, c'mere!"

Do you trust your wife to make decisions about her body, and trust that those decisions will respect and protect your relationship? Or do you think she isn't capable of making the best decisions, and needs your imput?

You don't get to make decisions about what she does with her body. You just get to say what you prefer her to do or not, but you can't control what she does.

Also, I can't tell the context of your relationship by what you wrote, but if your relationship is pretty solid, she didn't tell you about the dancing details because they were unimportant. If this kind of questionning and jealously happens frequently, then she didn't tell you about the details because they were unimportant and because she knew you would react badly.

1. How do I get rid of this newfound jealousy? What does it make you feel insecure about? That's why you feel bad. Jealousy is a form of control - what are you trying to control? Also, you should take her out dancing and freak her. Or do some other exciting things.
2. Was this cheating? In my personal opinion, not in the least, although I probably wouldn't like my partner to do it (that's different!)
3. And out of curiosity, is this normal behavior at a wild, techno packed to the gills club? I suspect so.
posted by Locochona at 1:53 PM on October 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Going with everybody else in saying your boundaries are what you mutually agree on, and this ranges wildly with different couples. A major problem here is that you've been together 10 years and you (apparently) haven't agreed on boundaries. This would be the time to do this.

Maybe I'm reading too much into his, but I'm guessing your wife knew you'd be upset and just went ahead and did it anyway. Because it seems a lot like she tried to hide it. I'd say that's a pretty serious relationship problem. I'm also going to strongly disagree with the common sentiment that this is *your* problem because you have jealousy hang ups.

Your boundaries as a couple are yours, and it's not for anyone else to tell you they're wrong.

Edit: Seconding everything Wordshore said better above.
posted by cnc at 1:57 PM on October 19, 2013


A lot of people seem to be pushing you to be more angry and less understanding of your wife-- which unless you want to go on break or have a divorce, seems like a bad idea.

it was really poor judgment on her part, it was essentially a form of "micro-cheating" and warrants a good look at her values versus your own

This is just simply not true. There are many many people who fall into the "mainstream," vanilla category for whom this would not be cheating. This is not "poor judgment," it is a case of your wife having a different understanding of cheating from you. You should talk about this with her; you should probably not make it a question of "differing values," which I think in this situation would sound very condescending and judgmental. (There is no better way to make her feel like shit about this than to tell her she has such-and-such kind of "values," probably, because it will make it sound like you look down on her and her supposed values.)

The people above who are saying they'd think less of her after this are entitled to their opinion, but as a woman, I would think less of someone who thought less of me because I had different opinions about sexuality and cheating than them and didn't respect my thoughts or feelings (or trust me). To me that comes off as very pinched and is so undergirded by society's sexism toward women that if my partner didn't want to hear my side, I would feel totally steamrolled.

Personally, I would look at this kind of thing like porn (as nadawi suggested). If my boyfriend watches porn, I'm not happy about it-- if I dwell on it, I can get upset-- but ultimately I don't think it's cheating or crossing a line. I watch porn too, but there are still jealous feelings. I think grinding is similar because as a woman, I am actually interested in 0% of the men I've grinded with at parties or clubs. IMO it's a healthy way of acknowledging that strangers are sexually attractive without cheating (e.g. like porn).

If a guy I was dancing with at the club (or flirting with at the bus stop, &c.) asked me to go home with him, there's a clear, bold line I would not cross. I can feel it in my gut. I think your wife probably feels the same.

I'm not saying this to tell you you need to drive your wife to the club every Saturday night and be her DD Sunday morning. I'm just saying that her POV is valid, she's not lying to you, she's not deceiving you, she wants to understand how you feel and respect your feelings. You're very lucky! People on MeFi can speculate all day and share their personal understandings of cheating but it makes no difference, this is totally between you and your wife, if you think it's cheating tell her so, and she sounds like she'll listen. I doubt this situation will come up very often in the future anyway!

I mean, if you divorced over this issue (as some say above that they would), in the end you'd have no loving wife and the approval of a few internet strangers. Talking it through with her is much more important.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:01 PM on October 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


If she did some freaking and dancing with other men, it was probably because she trusted herself . . She didn't think that her actions in any way would jeopardize her loving relationship and happy family

People make a lot of questionable calls when intoxicated.
posted by Candleman at 2:06 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm reading too much into his, but I'm guessing your wife knew you'd be upset and just went ahead and did it anyway. Because it seems a lot like she tried to hide it. I'd say that's a pretty serious relationship problem. I'm also going to strongly disagree with the common sentiment that this is *your* problem because you have jealousy hang ups.

I just wanted to say that I've been in this situation before and it's not necessarily true that she went out to sneak-dry-hump with a bunch of guys and didn't want to tell you because she thought it was cheating (drunk or no). I mean, when you go in the other room to watch porn, do you come out and say, "ah, honey, just got done jacking it to three hot college girls having a threeway for the first time! Anyway, how are the kids?"

If you don't watch porn, still I think the analogy stands-- maybe she was doing something she didn't want to discuss with you in detail, but that doesn't mean she thought it was wrong.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:09 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


1. Forget about it and learn to laugh it off, quickly. Jealously loves attention (like this question and your interrogation of your wife... the details did not make it better) so starve it. Ignore it.

2. Cheating is breaking the rules. Did this break a rule? Had you ever said "you can't do this" don't replace discussions with assumptions. If you never made any rules about it, it's hard to claim she broke them. If you feel bad about it you have a right to feel bad. You don't have a right to try and get her to feel as bad as you do.

3. Totally normal. If someone said "I was out at a club dancing all night" this would be an expected possibility.
posted by French Fry at 2:47 PM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


> 1. How do I get rid of this newfound jealousy? I am thinking about this a lot and it kind of hurts.

Sure it does. I'd be quite upset in your shoes. But, there's not much you can do to make it go away. It will take time, is all.

> My wife and I have since talked about this and she apologized that this hurt me. She told me it would never happen again.

A sincere apology and a promise not to do it again is really all she can do. She can't undo it. From what you have said, I think you should put more weight on the 10 good years of marriage than this one deviant episode.

If you believe her, you need to let go of this, at least outwardly. Take a while to nurse your hurt feelings, maybe unload to a friend, but don't keep pestering her about it or bringing it up with her. Not saying you are, but I bet there is the desire to do so.

> 2. Was this cheating? I know I am asking for your opinions, but it is cheating if you are rubbing crotches together for a long time because it felt good in a sexual way. She did not think it was cheating, but she respects that I consider it a cheating line.

Well, it's kind of cheating, but much easier to forgive than some other kinds. I think you'd notice the difference if she'd been making out or having sex with some guy she works with.

> 3. And out of curiosity, is this normal behavior at a wild, techno packed to the gills club? Do many people do this or is my wife one of the few? (not saying it is bad if you are single, btw)

Sorry, too old and too nerdy to answer this question myself. But survey says it's pretty normal.
posted by mattu at 5:51 PM on October 19, 2013


Sorry to comment again, but if it helps you with your jealousy, I have more of an emotional attachment to my favorite porn videos than any guy I've ever danced with at a club. I think most women who are in relationships and still go to clubs with their friends choose a dance partner with a view toward 1) wanting someone who is good at dancing, who matches their groove and 2) seeing this person for the next 30-45 minutes max. As a woman, at least, when I go out I'm honestly just looking for a dance partner the way you'd look for a waltz or square dance partner-- someone who's good and who you can have fun with. There is an overtly sexual component of course, but I've felt more attracted to people I've contradanced with (handsome, intense eye contact, oh my) than many people I've "freak danced" with.

Besides porn, there is the example of strip clubs. Lots of people would feel hurt if their SO went to a strip club but wouldn't consider it cheating; lots of people would feel hurt and would consider it cheating; lots of people would only consider it cheating if there was touching, or only a lap dance, &c. That these are traditionally activities associated with men is not that surprising, but my point is that it's hard to draw a bright universal line around anything and call it definitively cheating without having a discussion first.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:39 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it is cheating, it's about a 1.5 or 2 on a scale of 1 (Jimmy Carter's adultery in my heart) to 10 (maintaining multiple secret families). Flag it and move on. Reassess if anything more serious occurs.
posted by whitewall at 9:15 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I've been married for ten years and have been to a strip club a bunch of times (not cheating) been turned on by the dancers (not cheating) declined a lap dance/private room (because that would be cheating).

However, I haven't told my wife about it and if I did and she thought that the first or second were cheating I'd never do it again. So I think that's the opportunity here. If she's telling you and you're uncomfortable, let her know that.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:32 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Add me to the list of people who consider dry-humping someone to be cheating. As far as I'm concerned, not cheating means no sex. And dry-humping is sex. It may not be consummated sex, but it is still sex.

Personally, I would be walking away from the relationship, because my partner knows that this would be straight up unacceptable behavior, but I'm not saying that's what you should do. I do think that you should think about what boundaries you guys have defined in the past, and figure out where this falls.

What does concern me is that I feel like after ten years of marriage, your partner should have been aware that this would be unacceptable to you, and that it would cause you pain. The fact that she apparently didn't let that stop her, and doesn't seem to think it's a big deal, makes me wonder how much she values and respects you. To me, this incident and her fairly cavalier attitude about what happened makes me think she doesn't respect you.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:15 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're getting an interesting range of opinions here, and that's good. I'm going to answer your questions out of order, because the answers to Question 3 informs the answer to question 2, which informs the answer to question 1.

3. Yes-this behavior is almost totally standard at packed techno-clubs.

2. I don't think it is cheating. Did you have a specific agreement in place not to do this? (It sounds like no.) I think that (though it is totally understandable that you feel uncomfortable with this!) you can't consider a behavior cheating if it is both a really common behavior AND your wife didn't know you would object to it.

1. I think you remind yourself: you have a great relationship; your wife didn't realize this would strike you as cheating; she has apologized for making you feel bad and agreed not to do it in the future.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 4:02 PM on October 20, 2013


Your cultural expectations of what constitutes fidelity in your marriage do not need to conform to the cultural expectations of the many people in this thread judging you for feeling that dry hump flavored sexy dancing is a sexy thing you do not want opened up in your relationship. Period. That is a totally reasonable and not crazy expectation to have in a healthy marriage.

That said, this sounds like a totally reasonable and understandable misunderstanding of your boundaries for your wife to have had. Cheating is violating the boundaries in your relationship and if this was a thing that was not communicated or understood as a boundary then that is not really cheating. It sounds like you have now communicated those boundaries and your wife wishes and intends to respect them, which means its not really fair to blame her for the also totally reasonable and understandable hurt that you feel. Sometimes things happen that hurt that aren't really anyone's fault.

As far as moving forward, I've found that the best way to internalize shitty emotional things that hurt is to first acknowledge that it hurts and then channel that focus into productive things that I wouldn't otherwise want to do. Clean your whole house, repair broken things, scrub your toilet, organize your desktop and files, do that other thing you've been putting off, or just about anything that is also going to suck because hey - it couldn't make you feel worse right? But then soon enough your house will be clean, your stuff won't be broken, your toilet will sparkle, your computer will be more useful and you won't feel any worse while you're making that happen. All you can do is live well anyway, might as well use how much this seems to suck for you to do the things that would make otherwise better times suck a bit but can't touch you now. You'll also be in a much better position mentally and emotionally to live well and just be in love with your wife with that cleaned and repaired stuff of yours.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:07 PM on October 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


You are not wrong to feel hurt. I advise you to keep talking to her about your feelings. Ignoring it won't make it go away.

Whether or not mefi thinks it's cheating is academic. You're very upset by it. That's all you need to worry about right now. Keep telling your wife what's going through your mind, so she can keep reassuring you that she's still your partner.

Personally, if the roles were reversed, I'd have mentioned a little more detail to my wife and not gotten huffy if she kept quizzing me. This is a sensitive area and yeah, it may take a while to talk about. And I've never personally been sexually aroused at any club (strip or dance or whatever). I could totally buy that it happens, but to me, getting turned on and then remaining in that situation is where the line is crossed.
posted by disconnect at 10:33 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been a long-ass time since I've been dancing in the sort of place where dudes felt entitled to grab me without my consent, but I do remember those times. And the feeling of, he doesn't seem so bad, maybe I'll go along with it. And then there is the whole once you have your token male, the other dudes back off with their grabby hands thing.

Have you considered that maybe she got tired of needing to have her defenses up against these dudes and wanted to just dance and have fun so she let it go and danced with that one dude for a while? I think there is a context to this that most hetersexual men cannot easily understand.


This. It can be an unpleasant situation to have random guys you don't even see come along and rub their "junk" against your behind all of a sudden. Dancing with someone prevents random guys from coming up behind you and rubbing against you.

Your wife was in a strange city at a club with unfamiliar customs. Her friends may have left her while they were off dancing themselves. She probably wanted to fit in.

Most of your questions to her could be termed "leading the witness", if you asked if she felt a bit uncomfortable with the situation but wanted to fit in with her friends and stay at the club with them (they may have been more familiar with these sorts of clubs), if she wished the guys had not been so grabby, she probably would have said yes.

What would YOU do in that situation, if you could stop random men from grabbing your butt and rubbing their "member" against you by picking one man to dance with for a while?

Really think about that.

If you expect her to know what you consider cheating, you need to talk about that instead of assuming she knows, and if you have trouble talking about that you should see a counselor together who can help facilitate that discussion.
posted by yohko at 2:10 PM on October 21, 2013


So it's well over a week since you asked the question, and I'm not sure if you're still checking answers or if you've resolved the question. But, I thought maybe a slightly different answer might help.

On a totally unrelated note, it's been very interesting to read through the answers.

My marriage is not your marriage, and it's not fair to compare, as all marriages are different. I don't care if my husband watches porn. I don't care if he goes to strip clubs and I don't care if he gets lap dances. That's not to say that others shouldn't feel differently. That's to say, I've thought about it, I where my lines are, and we've discussed it. It's not that I don't value him, or us, or me. I just don't feel - for me - that those are violations of our marriage vows. I know what is to me, and they aren't it.

I was out of town for work in a remote town several states away a few months ago. We went out to a bar and I ended up flirting and dirty dancing with some guys who'd flown in from another work facility as well. Did it feel good? Yes. Did I feel young and sexy again, when I'd recently been feeling old and frumpy and ugly and middle aged and like a sack of potatoes? Yes. Did it mean I didn't love or desire my husband? No! Absolutely not. But - but - the big difference is we'd talked about it beforehand. We'd talked about what he would and would not be comfortable with me doing.

You know what though? I ended up talking about it with him anyways the next day. But I could be open and comfortable because I knew the focus wasn't on what I did or didn't do, what I felt, if I was cheating, etc. I could tell him, "Hey, I feel bad telling you this, I don't want it to hurt you, but it felt really good, a lot more really good than I was expecting, and this scared me, and I think I need more touch. And I need to be more openly sexual with you, and I'm tired of feeling like a lump of potatoes sack, and I want to go back to the gym, and feel like I'm your hot sexy wife instead of a middle aged blob. I feel old. I feel like I'm fading. I don't want to have to go to a bar in a strange city and dance with gay men because I feel bad. I want to feel good like this all the time with you. Can we figure this out together?"

And the conversation went ok, in part because we'd talked about what was ok and what wasn't ok (and I was well within the ok zone for us), but also because my husband heard the parts that were important to us ("I want to feel like this with you and I don't right now because of how I feel about myself, and what can I and we do to fix it") and wasn't so heavily focused on the parts that weren't important to us ("I danced with some guys and it felt good but I couldn't tell you their names if I tried").

It really may not have been important to her. It may have been one fun night out that she'd have as a good memory and that was it. Or maybe she knew, sober, the next day, that she'd gone over a line. Or maybe she deliberately didn't want to talk about it with you for a variety of reasons. But, my advice to you would be, you can take the moral high road and divorce her, or separate from her, or make her real damn sorry she ever left the house that day and feel super supremely better and much more moral than her - and have one night with men she didn't know who mean nothing to her cause a huge rift in your relationship.

Or.

Or, you could take a step back. If you want to wallow in it, you can - do it privately, bitch to a friend, go to the gym and run as hard and as fast as you can until your body hurts more than your heart (figuratively, don't have an actual heart attack). I've been there (for other reasons) and all of those things work. But once you've gotten to a place of relative calm, try to see it from her point of view. I'm not saying this means she's right and you're wrong. NOBODY IS RIGHT AND NOBODY IS WRONG. What I'm saying is, you say she's hot, but my husband says the same about me. I still feel like a sack of potatoes pretty often, because I'm nearly 40 and our society is a real asshole about that to women. Does she think she's hot? Do you know? Is this the first time someone has openly admired her for more than her ability to juggle six million things and feed the baby too? Do you know if she feels like her breasts are more than food dispensers and funbags for you to play with? Have you asked? It's not to say that you're doing or have done anything wrong. What I'm trying (probably poorly) to say is, what is bugging you about this? Is it the sense of propriety? Is it possessiveness? Is it the thought that she had fun in a sexy way with someone not you? Is it the quiet fear that maybe you're both boring as hell now that you've had kids? And is there anything bugging her? Does she sometimes wish for the days when you could have sex whenever the hell you wanted? Does she feel old? Does she feel boring and unappreciated?

The key to having these conversations is to have the ability to listen, all the way to the end, when your partner is telling you about themselves, about how they feel, about where they are at right now. It may hurt. I've sat through conversations which hurt like absolute hell. But if you can be patient, and listen to her side, and be compassionate, and ask questions to understand better (as opposed to "get the facts", which is completely different), this could be something that brings you much, much, much closer. If she says, "I've been feeling boring and middle aged, can we have your folks watch the kids once a week and go work out together?" - man, how hard would that be, really? And what a gift to be able to figure that out together and have something new and fun to do to strengthen your relationship with your wife, and bring you closer together.

Or, you know, divorce her as recommended above, and toss away 10 good years with the mother of your children, and feel morally superior. Personally, I think divorce would be a lot more painful than one really open conversation where you did your damndest to try and understand her and what you could do together to keep your marriage good, but that's me. I think taking the tack to really talk with her about her thoughts and dreams and what she wants for you guys is a way to answer your first question, especially since she's apologized and promised to never do it again. She can't undo it, and you can't undo your grilling 20 questions session (I've been on both sides, and it's fun for no one. Try to avoid if you can in the future). You move on by looking to the future, and asking what you can do together to build the best marriage possible.
posted by RogueTech at 10:34 PM on October 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


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