The Question: She lives in Vancouver, you live in Toronto. You only see her once every three or four months, as the cost of travel is high and you both lead busy schedules. Once she completes her masters at UBC, she’s on her way home to you – but that’s not for one more year. Both of you are aware of the stress that long distance relationships cause, just as you are aware of how horny you get about three weeks after your quarterly rendez-vous. Is it okay to flirt, kiss or screw someone else on the side…it doesn’t have to ‘mean’ anything, just physical – right?
Al Batrosse: The short answer comes from a close personal relationship with a Whitney Houston song, to wit: "It’s not right but it’s okay."
The long answer begins with the "fact" that long distance relationships do not work. I know many couples that were in the LD situation and are now in fact married or living together. None of the couples I know were in an academic scenario though, save for the kooky couples who set a wedding date. I choose a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy if I am in an LD, which is quite frankly never these days.
The best thing a woman has said to me about that situation went something along the lines of the following: “Of course I am going to fuck other people, I am going to be away a long time. And I bet you will do the same. You will never know about any of what happens when I am away. And when we are together we can do the things we do with each other and be happily monogamous.” In any LD situation expect a Three’s Company scenario if you choose to make a surprise visit.
Vincent Darkbloom: I respectfully disagree with my distinguished colleague Allan. LDRs can work if both couples have made a mature commitment to each other–but not if they think that casual sex won’t interfere. Someone I know once posited that cheating is anything you wouldn’t want to tell your significant other; that may be a little too harsh, as friendly flirting can be harmless and maybe even healthy if it satisfies some more prurient urges, but once transparency becomes opaque, a relationship is doomed–and unless the two people are deeply confident in their mutual love, sexual jealousy is hard to avoid.
Bob Smith: Absence makes the heart grow fonder but it also makes the penis go looking. Unlike Vincent I don’t put as much stock in human nature. Unless a couple has been together for years, long distance relationships are destined for failure. While I at least partially agree with the premise that a person in a committed relationship can hook up with someone without it "meaning" anything it’s a matter of perspective. The cheater was there. They remember that their dirty tube socks stayed on and the girl’s granny panties dangled on her ankle during some awkward fumbling around after the bar one night. No matter how the encounter is explained all the significant other hears is mind-blowing sex by candlelight with a marine biologist gymnast wearing a lacy thong. Which is why most cheaters keep it to themselves.
So no harm no foul, right? Well true if you’re a complete psycho but somewhere between kicking her out of your apartment and furiously scrubbing your genitals guilt will kick in and that’s a pretty crappy feeling. To avoid feeling that bad again most guys will either break up with the girl or vow on their mother’s life to never, EVER cheat again…. After some more genital scrubbing and a painful mourning period the girl’s gone.