Scottie wonders about the responsibility of ‘the other man’ when that man sleeps with someone who is in a relationship that is supposed to be monogamous.
By now, I’ve become used to my friends starting a conversation off with the phrase “oh, here’s one for your column,” before launching into some sort of confession. Sometimes, I can’t help but tell them that their story would barely shock their grandmother. Then, there are some that just stun me.
Recently at a get-together in the city, a friend grabbed my arm and started off a new conversation with that now ubiquitous line. He’s one of those friends who I’d have all the time in the world for, if we both didn’t have schedules that made us run around the city like crazy people. Eager to catch up with him and get a glimpse of how he has been since the last time I’ve seen him, I settle myself into my chair and listen to his story.
He proceeds to tell me about a guy he met recently while at a party. The two started chatting and soon it was clear that they enjoyed each other’s company, especially when they ended up in bed together that night. The downside was that this new guy lived over in England, and was only back in Dublin to visit his friends and family for Paddy’s Day. Still, they got on well, and I’m told that the sex wasn’t too bad either – double point. So far, it sounded like my friend’s encounter was something fun and casual, where no-one was hurt.
That is, of course, until he tells me that his buddy had a boyfriend back in England.
My eyes widen at this point, but I stay silent for a moment, waiting for more. My friend now had my complete attention; Channing Tatum could have tapped my shoulder and asked me out, and I wouldn’t have moved an inch… okay, that’s a complete lie, but you get where I’m coming from. What was actually pretty surprising about it was that my friend slept with him again, even after he found out he had a boyfriend. In some ways, it felt a little surreal; my friend described how he found out about the buddy’s beau as casually as if he said he was going to the shops to buy milk. No shock, no remorse, no visible signs of guilt or regret. In fact, when I asked him if he’d sleep with the buddy again if given the chance, the took a moment before nodding his head.
Was he wrong in his attitude? I instantly wanted to say so, and that my friend was wrong for even seeing his buddy again after he found out that he wasn’t single. Fair enough, if the couple had some sort of agreement to play away from home every now and again, that would be one thing. But they didn’t. Mister Play-Away had a one night stand, and only told my friend that he was in a relationship – an apparently monogamous relationship – when my friend contacted him on Facebook. Play-Away first called it something he “shouldn’t have done,” yet that announcement of regret didn’t really make sense when it happened again. Funny, that.
The moral of this story might be never to contact your one night stands after the deed is done, but I doubt it. When Play-Away returned to the motherland, lust’s fire was relit for one night only, like a good Jennifer Hudson cover. My friend knew well that what happened was wrong, but didn’t want to show it. I asked a few ‘quick fire’ questions, trying to see if his conscience would start to shine through. Sure enough, the logic behind his attitude was almost watertight; it wasn’t likely that he’d ever meet his buddy’s boyfriend, so whatever happened in the future wouldn’t really affect him. He didn’t want to describe himself as ‘the other man,’ because he didn’t want to steal Play-Away from his partner. A fling of fun was enough, and romance was neither needed nor desired. It was just physical, and my friend needed an emotional pick-me-up after a bad break-up. So, why should it matter?
This is where he stumped me. He knew perfectly well why it should matter, so much so that nothing I said would have been news to him. An innocent guy knew his boyfriend was back home in Ireland for a few days, and probably presumed that he was being faithful. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, and my friend let that happen more than once. Despite that, he acted as if he had done nothing wrong.
I couldn’t condone my friend’s actions or attitude, but for some reason, I didn’t feel the need to scold him either. Maybe it was because I hoped that his conscience would take over once he made his confession to me (a gay columnist must be our equivalent of a parish priest) or maybe I understood his logic. I wouldn’t have advised anyone in his position to keep having his fun, but the two were both adults who knew well what was going on.
If there’s any karma in the World, though, that boyfriend in England will soon realise that he’s the one who needs to find someone else.
‘Scottie’ Illustrations by Stephen Charlick