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Veritas

Marriage, Fantasy, and Lies

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Ok, so would it be immoral for someone to have thoughts of another woman while having sex with ones spouse?

To me the answer would be yes on grounds that one would be commiting fraud against ones partner and oneslef in a sense.

If I was thinking only about another person while having sex with my wife yet not discosing this with her and leaving the pretense that I was thinking of her then this would be a lie. I would be lying to myself first of all because I am faking the reality that I am with another woman and not my wife and I would be lying to my spouse secondly by making her believe that I am exclusively thinking of her.

This seems like this would go against the objectivist value of honesty since I would be faking reality in a sense in order to maintin a proper value of sexual fulfillmet with a partner in whom I am suposed to be in love with.

What do you all think about this? I have tried to search podcasts from Leonard Peikoff and have done some searching through some Objectivist books but I can only come up with an answer that I think in principle addresses this question.

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There is nothing wrong with “Fantasy” or other activities with someone, but this also assumes that you are both participating. What you seem to be describing, is that only you are doing this and further you are doing it to pretend your wife is someone else without her knowledge.

Well, my question is simple: If you wish to have sex with someone other than your wife then why are you not having sex with the other person instead? Who do you really want to be with?

You can’t have the other person because you are married? Then you may need to analyze your marriage at that point. Because you can’t have the other person? So you recreate the encounter you can’t have through someone else? What does that tell you? You have some soul searching to find out where the split is coming in and why other people seem more interesting than the women you married. You married her so she should be your ultimate desire. That is the point of sex to begin with! You deserve to have that answered and so does your wife.

aequalsa and softwareNerd like this

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Thanks for the reply, what I am wondering though is about the morality of the issue.

Tara Smith says, "...a value is the which advances a persons objective well being and because only that which exists can carry

positive effects on a person's well being. Only that which is real can be valuable to a person". (Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The VIrtous Egoist)

How would this act affect my objective well being? Does it hinder the advancement of an objective well being?

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How would this act affect my objective well being? Does it hinder the advancement of an objective well being?

To simplify it, you might broaden the question and ask is it wrong to fantasize about anything at all? Or further, should one ever try to escape reality? Say with drugs, alcohol, video games, vacations, or anything else? I would say that those things are good to the extent that they further your highest values. Since we're mortal we sometimes need breaks from stress, life, and even spouses, but breaks can be so long and enduring that they damage rather than further our values.

In that light, if you always fantasized about someone else in bed then you ought to think about what is wrong that is causing you to desire to stay so disconnected, or it would be harming your life. The only thing from Rand that I think might apply is the bit about vacations needing to be a vacation from something. I don't recall where that was from though.

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Thanks for the reply, what I am wondering though is about the morality of the issue.

Tara Smith says, "...a value is the which advances a persons objective well being and because only that which exists can carry

positive effects on a person's well being. Only that which is real can be valuable to a person". (Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The VIrtous Egoist)

How would this act affect my objective well being? Does it hinder the advancement of an objective well being?

Well, first I would say that there is a lot more context that is needed before you start throwing moral evaluations around. But if we go with what we have I’ll give you my take.

A value is something you act to gain or keep. The process of doing that is virtue. Yes, it does need to be real and it does need to be a positive, after all a value is supposed to advance your life and happiness. So my observation here is what is it you value in your sexual encounter? Is it your wife or is it the other person? If it is your wife, then she should be the center of your attention. If it is the other women, then you should be sleeping with her since she is your center of attention (and you need to have a serious talk with your wife about your relationship). This current state is not good sense it is not advancing your life and you need to discover why you feel the need to do this.

I think the real question here is why you don’t focus on your wife? You married her for a reason so the fact you project your sexual encounter onto someone else is something worth thinking about. A lot. You need to discover what is not making you happy with your current relationship and why a fantasy is preferable. Somewhere you have an internal compromise going on and you will have a better life, not to mention relationship with others, if you can resolve it.

Hope that helps.

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Moraly. You are defrauding your spouse and as such you are moraly failing her by disguising her in your mind as someone else. Its that simple. If you would like to justify your immoral ways of thinking then it is simply best to remain with said spouse and continue your fantasy replacement until you tire of that and decide to either a.conclusively end your marriage and find someone that you can keep in your mind while you have sexual intercourse with her or b.have intercourse with the person who occupies your mind and continue with your spouse wthout her knowing about it until the guilt of what you have done causes your mistake to come forward at a much later date or your spouse leaves you because she feels your detachment to her during intercourse

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Why is one not telling the other involved party? I think that is where the answer to the morality or immorality of such things can be found. What is the goal for not telling? Do you have any specific kinds of examples in mind?

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This is sort of like smoking when you are stressed out. There is a problem here, but by suppressing it with a fantasy of another woman, you are avoiding it -- much like an alcoholic or smoker -- and creating a much bigger one.

I would consider this immoral to yourself and to your wife because you are lying to both. It is not fair to your wife as she is being deliberately misled and it isn't right to yourself because it isn't advancing your life in a positive way. By positive, I mean towards the goal of happiness. You would be happier having sex with someone you are attracted to; i.e. separating the mind and body in relationships doesn't allow you to reach your potential happiness.

I don't know if you are looking for advice or if this is hypothetical, but get to the root of the problem. Why are you fantasizing about another woman? Is the attraction to your wife still there (assuming it was there at the beginning of the relationship)?

Ultimately these questions lead to the validity of your relationship in the context of your goal of happiness.

Edited by Matt Giannelli

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Do you seriously suggest that one could be hold morally responsible for his fantasies? Sexual fantasy is very common, and qua fantasy doesn't pertain to reality, therefore it's not a fraud It's often even helpful and benefits both partners. In any case a person doesn't have control over his fantasies and cannot be responsible for them.

Edited by Leonid

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Leonid, I think people do have control over their fantasies. But it sounds like we might be talking about different things, so I'll clarify.

It's false to say that we have no control over the content of our thoughts. Snap judgments and emotional reactions are the result of past conclusions, but emotions and mental reactions aren't under strict conscious control so they are not actions that are (in themselves) subject to moral judgment. Fantasies on the other hand, are like playing a movie in your head -- but in this movie the daydreamer has complete control over who to cast in each role, how they behave and what the plot and script of the movie will be. Fantasies are an active, creative process.

Edited by FeatherFall
clarity

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I don't think sexual fantasies fall very much under morality. I don't think you can judge your own thoughts as moral or immoral, since they are simply thoughts, not actions. Whether fantasizing about another woman is a smart idea depends on you. Are you fantasizing about her for physicality, because she's different from your wife and you crave that variety? Or are you in love with this other woman? If the first, then calm down, you're normal and human. If the second, then you may need a marriage counselor and a good talk with your wife.

Fantasies are as valuable as their effects on your life. If you feel fantasizing about another woman is harming your sex life then you need to address that in a candid conversation with your wife, and find out what kinds of things you can both do together to have a better sex life.

A sexual fantasy is not an attempt to escape from reality anymore than a non-sexual fantasy about living in the world of Middle Earth or Mass Effect is.

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Jackethan, even in your post you seem to have started to give an example of how to morally judging a thought. Sure, craving variety seems neither here nor there with regard to morality. But fantasizing about sex with a woman you think you might love more than your wife does seem to have moral implications. It represents a conflict between your own actions and reality - either a conflict with your love for your wife or with your love for other woman. If you love the other woman more, it's the sex with your wife that's immoral. If you love your wife more, it's the fantasy that is immoral (to the extent that fantasizing interferes with the intimacy you share with your wife).

If you aren't able to sort this stuff out for yourself, a psychologist can help. But if you and your psychologist come to the conclusion that you love your wife and that engaging in these fantasies is retarding (or harming) your marital relationship, then it is fair to say that you shouldn't engage in them. Engaging in conscious processes that are bad for your long-term wellbeing is, in a nutshell, the Objectivist description of immorality.

I'll give you more extreme example inspired by Horrible Bosses. Let's say your boss makes you come in on a weekend for the third time in a month. You could spend a few minutes fantasizing about how to murder him so you'll get a better boss, or you could spend a few minutes fantasizing about convincing him of the importance of your weekends and your short breaks from work. One fantasy desensitizes you to killing and wastes time, creating a conflict with your long-term goals. Consider the opportunity costs. The other fantasy prepares you for one possible (and realistic) way to solve your problem. Sure, just thinking about killing your boss is no crime, but it has real-life consequences. Fantasizing is an action.

Edited by FeatherFall
clarity, grammar, emphasis

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Jackethan, even in your post you seem to have started to give an example of how to morally judging a thought. Sure, craving variety seems neither here nor there with regard to morality. But fantasizing about sex with a woman you think you might love more than your wife does seem to have moral implications. It represents a conflict between your own actions and reality - either a conflict with your love for your wife or with your love for other woman. If you love the other woman more, it's the sex with your wife that's immoral. If you love your wife more, it's the fantasy that is immoral (to the extent that fantasizing interferes with the intimacy you share with your wife).

I sincerely doubt fantasizing is actually a creative process. There is the fantasizing of *trying* to develop scenarios for stories or any other reason you may want a story, and there is fantasizing on an automatic level that doesn't involve consciously coming up with a scenario. I don't know about you, but sometimes even the developing scenarios is pretty close to automatic and stream of consciousness, as opposed to carefully thinking to present those ideas into a coherent form. In either case, the consideration to make when discussing one's relationships is if telling the other person will resolve a conflict or growing conflict. If there is conflict, such as if you think that other woman is in fact a dishonest person so don't like the desire, then something should be done about it. Then again, if the marriage is nonexclusive, then there likely is no conflict that needs fixing in the marriage. A fantasy might also express a desire that is worth having, too. I could keep going on about other possibilities, although that's not the point; the hypothetical is too broad right now There are certainly moral implications for all mental states, but the fantasy itself is hardly any different than an emotion/feeling. No use condemning the fantasy.

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You Eiuol, the word has multiple implications. Here are some definitions from Dictionary.com:

1.

imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained.

2.

the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.

3.

a mental image, especially when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy.

4.

Psychology . an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream

I take the last sentence of your last post to mean, "there is no use in condemning any fantasy." Most of the above definitions would support this conclusion, but not all. Consider the second definition. It is neutral about whether the "forming of mental images" is a consciously directed activity. Emotions, initial reactions to statements or events, and unfocused daydreaming are all be examples of the undirected "forming of mental images." On the other hand, the phrase, "imaginative conceptualizing," suggests to me a different type of fantasy; something akin to creative visualization, or purposeful fantasy. So before deciding whether or not a particular fantasy is open to moral judgment, we need to find out what kind of a fantasy we are talking about.

Edited by FeatherFall

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Heh, I see that you started to spell my username phonetically. :P

Your distinctions there help to better explain my thoughts. Typically, I hear "fantasizing" used in the automatic sense for this context, rather than consciously constructing images like in drawing.

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Eiuol, thanks for pointing out the spelling error, I probably would have never noticed and continued to look like a jerk forever.

It's interesting that I usually heard it the other way. I was actually surprised to see so many people here who think differently about it. I actually had to revise my understanding of the word because of this thread. I wonder how many times I assumed people meant something completely different than they really did.

Edited to add:

Fantasizing is an action.

What I should have said is, "fantasizing can be a purposeful action." It sounds like most of the fantasizing that people talk about is undirected. That's weird for me, because when I fantasize, I'm almost always in the driver's seat. That's a metaphor, by the way (I'm actually a safe and attentive driver).

Edited by FeatherFall

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Yes, my response was analyzing the morality of deliberately fantasizing in order to enjoy sex more. I am like feather and think of fantasizing as a creative process. Interesting others see it differently.

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Leonid, I think people do have control over their fantasies. But it sounds like we might be talking about different things, so I'll clarify.

It's false to say that we have no control over the content of our thoughts. Snap judgments and emotional reactions are the result of past conclusions, but emotions and mental reactions aren't under strict conscious control so they are not actions that are (in themselves) subject to moral judgment. Fantasies on the other hand, are like playing a movie in your head -- but in this movie the daydreamer has complete control over who to cast in each role, how they behave and what the plot and script of the movie will be. Fantasies are an active, creative process.

Fantasies called fantasies because they don't pertain to reality and the person knows this. So what if man fantasies that his wife is a star in the pornography movie and this helps his arousal . How that constitutes a fraud? Besides, in many cases a person doesn't have control about his fantasies. They just come.

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Leonid, like I said, we need to know what kind of fantasy we're talking about before we even know if it is open to judgment. A passing thought, uncontrolled daydream, etc., would not be open to moral judgment even if it was horrible. Also, I didn't mean to give the impression that I think any fantasy open to moral judgment is automatically bad. It seems to me that the fantasy you just described is purposeful, and therefore open to moral judgment. Furthermore, I would judge it as a good fantasy, because it sounds like it promotes intimacy.

Edit: By the way, most of my fantasies don't just "come." I use them as a sort of mental preparation; I direct them to try to understand how I think a situation might play out. I could also see someone using a sexual fantasy to get in the mood despite being tired or uninterested. Both are acceptable, "moral," fantasies.

Edited by FeatherFall

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I'd clarify it by saying if it is something you can openly discuss with your spouse then it is a healthy fantasy. If not then that speaks volumes. Fantasy is perfectly fine and odds are the longer the relationship the more it could even help, but if you are doing it without her knowledge and afraid of her reaction to it then that is the time to check premises.

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Not every fantasy you can openly discuss ( unless you are speaking with your shrink and even that could be very difficult). How about a typical Freudian fantasy of sexual attraction to the one's own mother? How many people could openly discuss this? There are many other sexual fantasies which people would never confess.

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That's true, Leonid. It's why I am not in the habit of judging other people's fantasies. I stick to what I know, which is what's in my own head. I think introspection and self-evaluation are important.

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Fantasies are deliberate mental processes that can help us to flourish, if conceived and applied honouring reality.

Inasmuch as they help me to understand or celebrate reality (specifically, my life as part of that reality) they are fine... indeed, they are great.

When you read a novel, and you feel inspired by the main character, you may fantasize you ARE that character and image how you would behave in those scenarios and in new scenarios: for example in the scneario of your current life. This can bring new insights to your life, and pleasure about being a part of this world.

Fantasy is a celebration of the existence of your conceptual mind. It is a big party of your mind.

When you see the house of your dreams, you imagine yourself experiencing its halls, rooms, gardens. You recognize the benevolent nature of a universe which has such architects and such houses. You fantasize as a celebration that those good things are present in YOUR world.

By the same token, in your world you will always be meeting, now and then, women that might be as beautiful, intelligent and virtuous as your wife, or even more than your wife.

To me, fantasizing I am their lover is a clear recognition that I COULD be their lover. And that such wonderful possibility, among million of possibilities in my life, is worth celebrating.

I cannot conceive my mind being "neutral" about the sexual attraction such wonderful women exert on me, and then, just the day after becoming widow or divorced, starting conceiving such a relationship out of the blue.

A moral man is always prepared to be the lover of a greater woman, the buyer of a greater house, the citizen of a greater country.

This does not mean that he rejects what he has, or that he finds no joy in his current achivements.

On the contrary. It means that beacuse of what he is and he has now, he is happy enough, self-confident enough, as to embrace changing reality.

Edited by Hotu Matua

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"To me, fantasizing I am their lover is a clear recognition that I COULD be their lover."

Many people are fantasizing they are lovers of movie stars. Could they really be?

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"To me, fantasizing I am their lover is a clear recognition that I COULD be their lover."

Many people are fantasizing they are lovers of movie stars. Could they really be?

That's why I stated as a condition of morality "if conceived and applied honouring reality".

If I fantasize about getting rich by winning the lottery I am not honouring reality. Such fantasies may distract me from real work.

But fantasizing about getting rich by succeeding in the project I am actively involved in may indeed help me either to achieve it, or to enjoy my efforts even if I don't achieve it..

If I fantasize about a woman I could reasonably expect to love and be loved by, I am honouring reality.

The content of the fantasy is crucial, as it will inflluence action.

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