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To cheat or not to cheat? 

That's often the question

For the past three years, I have been in a stable relationship with a great guy. Our relationship is uneventful. He is always there for me; he has never cheated on me. It is the kind of relationship that some girls dream of. The sex is OK.

But I'm only 24 and I'm feeling suffocated. A male coworker and I recently started to do things socially. We have a lot in common and have a great time together. This past weekend, we admitted that we were attracted to each other. We ended up kissing. He is in a relationship and isn't thinking about leaving. So it would work out perfectly; we could be like fuck buddies.

I am feeling conflicted. If it goes further with my coworker, I don't think I would tell my boyfriend because I don't want to hurt him. But I wanted to get your feelings on getting some on the side. What are the pros and cons of cheating?

Some On The Side

The pros? Sex, excitement, variety. The cons? Discovery, breakup, hellfire. Every idiot knows those pros and cons, SOTS, including you.

But here's a pro that's rarely acknowledged: Sometimes cheating can save a long-term relationship. Sometimes only cheating makes it possible for a sexually rejected partner to stay in a relationship that's worth preserving for other good, valid reasons -- like kids, for instance. And sometimes only cheating makes it possible for a person whose partner has a chronic, debilitating illness to stay put and stay sane. In these cases, cheating isn't just the right thing to do; it's the decent and honorable thing to do.

Some fuckwits, of course, piously insist that Cheating Is Always Wrong. To the CIAW crowd, I say this: Fuck you, you self-righteous Pollyanna fucktards. I am so sick of CIAW types insisting with one breath that sex and sexual exclusivity are hugely important. Even the contemplation of an affair, to say nothing of its consummation, represents an unforgivable betrayal. And then in the very next breath, CIAWers insist that sex is so unimportant, so colossally trivial, that a person should be able to go without -- forever! -- if their mate is unwilling or incapable.

You can't have it both ways, CIAWers. If sex is hugely important, then people can't be faulted for wanting some; if it's unimportant, then it shouldn't be seen as a huge betrayal when some poor fuckers, under duress, are forced to get their needs met elsewhere.

That said, SOTS, I'm not gonna give you a pass. You're not done with sex, he's not dying, you don't have kids -- cheating under your particular circumstances can't be justified. Regardless of what happens with your coworker, SOTS, you need to end this relationship. You're not all that attracted to your boyfriend emotionally or physically, and you don't have the kind of entanglements -- biological or durational -- to rationalize having a fuck buddy. You need to do the right thing, SOTS, and break up with this guy.

I'm a 17-year-old male with a tickling fetish and I don't have a problem with it. It just gets me off to tickle women. So why am I writing to you? My parents divorced when I was 13 and I live with my dad since my mom moved away. Six months ago, my dad married a 29-year-old woman. A few months ago, I tickled her armpit when she reached up into a cupboard. She didn't pull away and seemed to enjoy it. Surprisingly, she also has a tickling fetish on the opposite end. She loves it when a man tickles her. She now walks around the house barefoot and with skimpy clothing so that her stomach and ribs are exposed so I can tickle her whenever I want.

However, we always do it behind my dad's back. I would never do this with my real mother (that's sick). But with a stepmom, is it OK? I'm starting to feel guilty about doing this without my dad's knowledge.

Lusting After Father's Fresh Spouse

Ever since Oedipus gouged out his eyes, LAFFS, conventional wisdom has held that it's better to err on the side of not fucking your father's wife. Oedipus's dad was married to Oedipus's mom, granted, but if Sophocles were writing plays about today's blended families -- and it's a shame that he's not -- a 17-year-old Oedipus with a tickling fetish and a cock tease for a stepmom would doubtless come to a bad end.

Let me be your Cassandra here, LAFFS: Keep the tickling up and you will shortly be fucking your stepmom. Now, to a horny 17-year-old, that may not sound like a compelling reason to stop tickling his stepmom, but pause to consider the stakes. You've already concluded that your father would be furious about the tickling alone (why hide it from him otherwise?); have you contemplated the tragedy that would unfold if he found out you were fucking his wife? The stakes are lower for your stepmom; she doesn't have to be your father's wife forever. You and your dad, however, are stuck with each other for life, LAFFS, so you would be well advised to keep your hands off your stepmom's feet, ribs, pits and soon-to-be-proffered twat.

My workplace in the Bay Area is a heterosexual scene, except for Ricardo. Ricardo is smart, cool and professional. It's generally known that he's into bondage and hairy men. Ricardo is our buddy and our bro. Nobody's weirded out by his kinks.

Along comes Milton: well groomed, built, somewhat effeminate and weirdly reserved about sex. We conclude he may be that rarest of species: the San Francisco Closet Case. Then last week, Milton suddenly resigns, and goes to HR claiming that Ricardo made him feel so uncomfortable that he had to leave. Ricardo freaked out Milton with a simple IM exchange: Milton: "What did you do today?" Ricardo: "I did my laundry and masturbated." It's the kind of flippantly transgressive banter that everyone in our office engages in. But Milton's resignation has provoked a spasm of administrative wrath that has impacted everyone, not in the least poor Ricardo, who may lose his job.

Then we learn something else: Milton left his previous job under similar circumstances. What's going on here, Dan?

Names Have Been Changed

Milton may be a closet case, but Ricardo engaged in flippantly transgressive banter with the wrong coworker. Why would he mention masturbation to a coworker who's clearly fucked up about sex? You and Ricardo's other "bros" can still save his job, however. Just walk into HR en masse and pull an "I am Spartacus!" Tell HR that you're all guilty, each and every one of you, of sending flippantly transgressive IMs to each other. HR won't be able to crucify all of you at once -- they can't fire everyone, right? -- and will opt for extracting an HR-face-saving/Ricardo-job-saving promise that the transgressive banter will stop.

Hey, everybody: Every week I let my readers know they can download a Savage Love podcast at www.thestranger.com/savage. I wanted to thank everyone for doing just that. My podcast has been in the top 10 in the Health category at iTunes, and bounces between first and second place in the Sexuality category, regularly trading places with Man and Wife, a hilarious video podcast. I was dubious, to say the least, when some tech-savvy, at-risk youths approached me about doing a podcast. They were right, I was wrong, and we're going to keep those podcasts coming.

A new Savage Love podcast is available for download every Tuesday at www.thestranger.com/savage. To ask Dan Savage a question, write to mail@savagelove.net.

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