Relationships and Fidelity
Posted by Jerry on July 15, 2006
Over at The Objectivist Center website, William Thomas recently answered the question: What is the Objectivist view on infidelity/cheating in a relationship, be it either dating or marriage?
Reading his answer to the question, I feel like I’m re-reading one of my own posts on the topic! Thomas and I have come so close in our responses that it appears as if we even use the same words in the same way! For example:
The commitment to a relationship is…worth no more than the relationship itself. As value-oriented ethic, Objectivism as such is neither for or against exclusivity in relationships; it does not prescribe a form of dating; it does not favor or oppose marriage as an institution. It favors serious commitment to one’s values, and honesty toward oneself and toward others in one’s relationships.
Monogamy is not intrinsically moral as such. The morality of a relationship – regardless of their design – is an attribute of the integrity of the individuals involved in that relationship. Thus, two people involved in a monogamous relationship are not necessarily involved in a de facto “moral” relationship – nor would three people involved in a relationship be in a de facto “immoral” or lascivious relationship.
Love is premised on knowledge: what the lover does not know, he cannot love.
The very idea of being in “love” with someone presumes that you know what loving someone means. Thus, inorder to say to someone, “I love you”, and be honest about it, you have to keep salient in your mind all the processes of thought and choices and values that brought you up to that point of saying, “I love you.”
Objectivism holds that honesty is one of the major virtues. In the end, one gains nothing by dishonesty; it leaves one trapped in a web of fakery, which makes reality one’s enemy and reason a threat to be feared in anybody one knows. [I]n relationships Objectivism holds that one should be honest, especially with a lover. “Cheating,” as it is normally thought of, involves hiding what one is doing or sneaking about. Objectivist principles imply that if one is (or is going to be) involved with someone besides one’s committed partner, one should be honest with all parties concerned.
Personal integrity should be the hallmark of one’s character. Integrity subsumes honesty, and honesty means never faking reality. In relationships, as in other areas of life, there is no room for wilfull, deliberate and/or pernicious deceit. This connects with honesty, in that if there is any form of uncertainty, it should be brought out into the open. Any instance of wilful repression of doubt or faking of certainty is an instance of being deceitful and is compromising on your integrity.