A new form of cheating on your partner

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were out to dinner and she dropped what I first thought was a bombshell. She told me that she was cheating on me when I was out of town. What was more alarming was that she told me she was doing this by herself. But it wasn’t what you might think and her behavior had nothing to do with our love life.

What she was talking about was this. She was watching by herself one of our favorite TV shows that we had recorded on our DVR. When I was out of town, she watched the show without me. Okay, I’ll admit that it took a few minutes before my heart rate returned to normal. But she isn’t the only one using the cheating term in that fashion.

nnnApparently, Netflix is too. In a survey last month, it found that 10% of couples who were in a committed relationship – meaning that they agreed to watch the same movies or shows together – cheated on each other. They even produced this charming video to illustrate their point of “watching ahead”:

Certainly, this is alarming and something that should be addressed by the moral leaders of our times. (Jimmy Kimmel has already weighed in.) Video streaming has enabled this entire culture of binge viewing: you start at episode n and keep watching several series one after another until you reach 3 am exhausted. I first got into this mode on a trip last year to Australia, when I found the entire first season of Homeland on the plane’s video system. The 12-hour flight was almost long enough to watch all 12 episodes. This certainly made the flight pass quicker.

But is your marriage healthy enough to stand up to your video streaming contract, let alone the other kinds? Are we going to see video streaming fidelity being written into pre-nups now? This is the new area that technology brings us in modern living. It is bad enough that we have to trust our partners not to view particular websites of questionable content (I won’t go into details, but I think you know what I mean). Now we have to worry about what other things that can pass for joint entertainment too.

In the Netflix ad, the female partner has obviously seen the movie that the couple is supposedly watching together for the first time, and faking her reactions to particular plot points before her male partner makes her come clean. I guess this shows that we have a lot more to worry about (female) fakery than we once thought. Life was so simple, back when we had to buy or rent the actual DVDs or go to the movie theater, or had to record to VHS tapes.

Like other kinds of potential cheating, you can avoid the eventual nastiness if you take the time to communicate with your partner about your rights and obligations. And whether you have enough Internet bandwidth when you are out of town too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you and your partner are doing about this important social issue, and whether you too have watched ahead of your partner.

5 thoughts on “A new form of cheating on your partner

  1. We tape the shows that we like weekly and automatically and then watch each as we have time. We always watch together, when there is nothing that we want to watch. We also have never used Netflix or purchase movies online. We just don’t watch that much TV.

  2. The older I get, the less of a problem this is. Even if I’ve seen a program I can’t remember it anyway and so don’t need to worry about faking it….what were we just talking about?

  3. I encourage my wife to cheat on me and watch shows when she has time as our schedules don’t always mesh. It bugs me when she doesn’t tell me she has watched something or marked it off on the Tivo (wish their were a better system to track so multiple people could tick off what they had seen already). Ours is an open marriage.

    To be fair, I also encourage her to go out and see chick flicks with her friends and encourage her to enjoy guilty pleasures like that alone. Often, these shows are about romantic, understanding men. I realize, of course, that these shows will lower my standing in her eyes for some time afterwards, but at least I don’t have to suffer through watching them.

    In our open marriage, I also encourage my wife to date and find other men capable of being romantic. I’ve also told her that I would be happy with her taking another husband if it would take some of the heat off me. So far, no luck.

    Unfortunately, I’ve found that marriage is not symmetric. While my wife is often upset when I merely look at other women, that doesn’t worry her too much. She thinks of me more as a dog chasing a car. It’s fun, but the dog doesn’t know what to do when it catches one. So, she doesn’t worry about other women. But, if I start to look at or talk about some neat piece of hardware or software, she gets agitated and insists that I play with her instead.

    Tell me, Dear Abby, how can I get my wife to let me play with more fun toys?

    • Stop chasing so many cars and start showing her how to find neat stuff online. Women are more visual learners that we are for the most part. Thanks Tony, enjoyed your comments.

  4. I’m lucky. My wife hates to shop on or off line. I spent part of my youth on a farm, but she passed me a long time ago on Farmville and its variants. Her FaceBook account is an active one. I might as well be dead as far as FaceBook is concerned. She is more the traditional man of the house than I am, and has the interest in the games and such that I lack even though I’ve been a computer reseller for over 20 years. She is also the sports fan. She got mad at me when she made me go to our mutual alma mater and I read computer magazines during the game. Fortunately, she’s OK with the fact that we are backwards. At least I’m into Sci-Fi and Fantasy and she’s into Romance Novels (which *always* make guys look bad as no one is *ever* that understanding and thoughtful in real life). We can get together on things like NCIS (Mark Harmon is, apparently a hunk and she’ll watch him just stand there and breath), Stephanie Plum Novels, and some comic book movies.

    The REAL deciding factor here is *does SHE think it is or might be fun?* If the answer to that is yes and I do it without her, I’m in trouble. If she does it without me, it is OK (remember the asymmetry?). I can have fun as long as it is something she cares nothing about and it doesn’t interfere with *anything* she can think of me doing for or with her at the time. The only caveat is that naps are almost never OK because you cannot claim naps as quality time because they cannot be fun (WHAT?).

    In short, I understand women. I really do. It just doesn’t help! That’s OK. I think I frustrate her more than our kid and the dog combined. I’ve been known to say, “If you keep rolling your eyes back into your head like that, they’ll stick that way!”

    I’ll deny I said it, but cheating on your wife with Netflix, taking a stealth nap and the like is great! Sure, you might have fun doing whatever it is, but the thought that you are getting away with something makes it much more fun! Or haven’t you noticed that the evil guys in the movie are the interesting ones and they get to laugh a lot?

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