In Russia, they turn it into a vacation. In Japan, they believe if they pay for it, it’s not completely taboo. And in North America we’re ashamed of it.
When it comes to infidelity, Pamela Druckerman would have us believe it’s an affair of international standing.
The author of Lust In Translation and former Wall Street Journal correspondent travelled the world over anecdotally documenting adultery and the cultural norms countries succumb to.
Her analysis is somewhat general, but when it comes to her views of North America, she couldn’t be more spot on. “In North America, guilt is the grease of our affairs. Every aspect of what happens — even why you explain why you are having an affair — is driven by the feeling that you are doing something terribly wrong. (North Americans) were the only ones I met, after travelling all over the world, that would tell me stories about how they had a torrid affair, but then would say, ‘But you know, I’m really not the kind of person who would cheat.’ Yet, by definition, they are!”
Russians, it would seem, are much more liberal on the issue of fidelity, and even incorporate it into their vacation plans, with what’s known as Roman holidays.
“Apparently it’s not uncommon for Russian couples to go on separate vacations ... to a beach in Turkey or a resort somewhere. And you’re allowed to have, what’s called “Roman affairs” because it’s Roman holidays and the idea is what happens at the beach stays at the beach. For a lot of people it’s not considered an affair, it’s just considered a form of recreation,” says Druckerman.
What, I wonder, ever happened to swimming laps in the hotel pool?
Russia, however, doesn’t hold the record for most unfaithful. The African nation of Togo claims that title, with 37 per cent of married or co-habitating men reportedly having sex with more than one partner in the past year, Druckerman’s research found.
“Money is a big factor,” says Druckerman. “There tends to be a lot more infidelity in poorer countries, especially by men.”
But for those with a wandering eye, Druckerman recommends France. “Not because they encourage infidelity, because they don’t,” she says. “There just isn’t the same kind of social ostracism on your marriage in France.”
Druckerman says that unlike North Americans, the French have learned to deal with adultery without the costly and time-consuming habit of going to therapy to absolve themselves of the guilt they feel over cheating.
“(In France, cheating) doesn’t make you the villain in the narrative of your life. It just makes you a normal person who has succumbed to temptation.”
Chalk it up to my North American viewpoint if you’d like, but, personally, I’d prefer a faithful mate with a guilt complex, than a carefree adulterous one.