(I wrote this two days ago before Anthony Weiner confessed to his internet escapades, so have added a footnote about his now widely discussed degree of evil at the end of this post.)
The other evening over dinner, while talking with my husband and a woman friend, after pondering such gentlemen as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I posed the (totally theoretical, you understand) question: What is the worst kind of cheating husband?
I tossed out some (completely rhetorical, of course) examples: Is it worse to have your husband leave you for, say, another man, or the trusted baby sitter, or his secretary (whom you know) or a colleague whom you don’t know, or, maybe your best friend?
My husband immediately said the worst would be to have your husband leave you for a man, but my friend (who is on her third divorce) and I both instantly disagreed, saying that, no, that would be the least crushing kind of betrayal, because the wife can tell herself “It’s not that he’s leaving me because I’ve failed in some way. He just has never acknowledged that he’s gay. It’s completely NOT MY FAULT.”
Just for the sake of argument, I would like to propose the following ratings on my cad-o-meter, ranging from one to ten degrees of evil.
1. One.. He leaves you for a man, having finally acknowledged that he’s gay.
2. Two. He leaves you while insisting that there’s no other woman, but he just doesn’t love you any more. (This category may deserve to be higher up on the evil scale. I think it also includes men who leave you because “You’re no fun any more” or because “You don’t turn me on any more.” And extra evil points for the ones who leave because “Ever since the kids came along, you don’t pay attention to ME any more.”) Please discuss.
3. Three. He cheats on you with an age-appropriate woman you’ve never met. (Extra evil points if she’s 20 years younger and/or looks just like you did 20 years ago.)
4. Four. He cheats on you with a paid professional sex worker, (Extra evil points for exposing you to a possible S.T.D.)
5. Five. He cheats on you with an employee—his secretary, the videographer for his political campaign, an intern. (Extra evil points if said employee produces a child. Many extra evil points in any category if you happen to have a terminal illness.)
6. Six. He cheats on you with an employee who is like a member of the household: a babysitter, longtime housekeeper, teacher or nanny whom your children have come to love. (Hello there Robin Williams and Jude Law!)
7. Seven. He cheats on you with your best friend (who’s single.)
8. Eight. He cheats on you with your best friend who is married to his best friend and you have always gone on vacations together. (Although Shania Twain made this situation work.)
9. Nine. He cheats on you with your sister.
10.Ten. He cheats on you with your daughter (who is not his daughter.) Hey there Woody Allen!
Beyond this category of cheating we move into areas which are punishable by law, like incest and pederasty. Let the courts and the police deal with these types of evil, hopefully by locking the perpetrator up for life.
But what is an appropriate punishment for the various degrees of cheating described above? And what should a betrayed wife do if she doesn’t have the nerve or the money to hire a hit man to teach the cheater a lesson?
What kind of recompense would be enough to convince you to forgive him? (Like giving you fabulous alimony or getting you a very high post, say Secretary of State?)
How would you rate the various types of cheating on your cad-o-meter?
Breaking news update—now that Anthony Weiner has admitted that he has harassed women, willing and unwilling, with “sexting” on the internet (and in one soon-to-be-classic slip of the computer, sent to the general public an e-mail message and photo that he meant to be private), everyone is now discussing the following question: —is it really cheating if, as he claims, he has never laid eyes (or anything else) on these hapless women, (some of whom were more than willing to play his creepy game.)?
I think that on my cad-o-meter, he only gets to be .5 (half a point) because he didn’t really have sex with them. But he has terminally destroyed his career and embarrassed his wife. Now everyone is asking WHY he did it (my answer—he’s a narcissist who loves looking at himself). So Anthony Weiner, in my opinion, definitely gets a rating near the top on the dirty old man creep-o-meter.