Y Me?: The politics of the fantasy 'cheat list'

Posted 8:32am on Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2012

This week I'd like to address something that I find disturbing and pervasive in long-term relationships: the cheat list. Most people involved in a lengthy monogamous relationship have one. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it's simple: You and your partner compile a list of anywhere from one to as many as five celebrities that you're allowed to have sex with, without any consequences from your significant other. Of course, the idea is that it is so unlikely that you'll ever get to meet that person, let alone sleep with them, that it's all done in the name of good fun.

But I don't find imagining my significant other sleeping with Roger Federer or Ian Kinsler fun at all. In fact, it's a little emasculating, since I'm pretty sure neither of them have the same hillock of belly fat that I have, and I'm certain they are both in better shape than me. And let's just say for the sake of argument that I somehow end up getting it on with Scarlett Johansson. I doubt that any girl I'm dating would be OK with that, even if Johansson was on an approved list.

I think the list is born out of sexual boredom and the need to include your partner in your fantasy life. I think it is also a way for women to try and curtail their man's cheating hearts, before his eye ever starts to wander -- something of a fidelity bribe. I think a lot of women use the game to find out the type of women their men are attracted to. And then, as women are wont to do, they compare themselves to the women on your list.

The opposite is also true. They want you to know who they are really fantasizing about when the two of you hit the sheets for the 300th time, and you don't even bother to take your boxers all the way off.

I asked a buddy of mine, whose wife and he compiled such lists, who his wife was allowed to cheat with. In no particular order: Robert Pattinson, Ryan Gosling, David Gandy, Penn Badgley and Ed Westwick. I was not surprised that, after a quick Google search to see who those guys are, none of them looks like my friend. They are all in super shape, young and fashionable, whereas my amigo has let himself go a little and often has dirty fingernails from his job as a mechanic.

Guys, your girlfriend isn't as cool as she it trying to make herself out to be. Just because you have a "hall pass" for a list of women you'll likely never be in the same ZIP code with, doesn't mean that she's cool with you banging other chicks. I admit, I would be way too insecure to go through with this exercise.

In case you're wondering, my list is, in no particular order: Scarlett Johansson, Alyssa Milano, Mila Kunis (whom I've actually met, but who alas did not seem interested in sleeping with me), Liv Tyler (say my name in Elfish) and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

I'd like to get your thought on these lists. Do you and your partner have one? Who is on it? Are they all in good fun, or is there a dark side to all this fantasy?

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