Cheating: Why is This Such a No-No in the M/M Genre?

Cheating is a big deal in the m/m genre. Most readers don’t like it and won’t read it.

I don’t get it. Cheating is the very essence of relationship drama. It adds all kinds of angst to a story, and in talented hands, can involve the reader to the point where they can’t put the book down. Think of Presumed Innocent. Brokeback Mountain. Anna Karenina. The English Patient. Madame Bovary. The Scarlet Letter. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that some of the best books ever written center around someone cheating on someone else. 

In my just-released ebook, Devin meets and has sex with Jim while on vacation. There’s enough of a spark there to convince them they should explore their connection further, but Devin goes back to Sarasota while Jim remains in the Keys. They agree to keep their relationship open for the time being.

This isn’t sitting well with some readers, and I have to wonder why. The guys just met, for chrissakes. They haven’t committed to each other and they’re separated by an entire state. It makes sense that they remain open to sexual offers from locals while pursuing their interest in each other. But they consider Devin fucking his psycho teammate, Jorge, cheating.

Sex and love: Is it different for men and women?

Women want the happy ending. They want the love interests to meet, fall in love, get it on (preferably with tons of fireworks), and never, ever stray. Since the majority of readers of m/m books are female, most of those books have an HEA (happily ever after). That’s okay. Reading is escape and the reader should get what they want.

The Blue Paradise has a happy ending, but the main characters go through some shit before they get there. For those that want a completely angst-free book, buy Bringer of Light. The characters meet, fall in love, and never fucking stray. It’s happy/happy from start to finish, a wonderful love story without great conflict.

I prefer something meatier. I want the books I read to reflect real life. I know that some men will collide in back rooms and alleys for a quick orgasm and go merrily on their way. It’s just an orgasm, people. It’s not love.

Men have a much easier time separating the two. Until they commit to The One, they’re content to enjoy casual sex with as many partners as possible. They’re hard-wired for it. Not to acknowledge that is to ignore one of the great truths about men.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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7 Responses to Cheating: Why is This Such a No-No in the M/M Genre?

  1. abichica says:

    you are right!!! a lot of readers hate it when some character in the book cheats.. and it is true that for women we wish to find a sole mate who will love us for ever and never stray, but i actually think in a book cheating does create a lot of drama and i always like that.. but of course in real life if my boyfriend ever cheated on me i would chop off his ballz.. 😀

    • In The Blue Paradise, I don’t consider it cheating. The main characters weren’t exclusive yet, but some readers are so sensitive to the idea of cheating, they exaggerated the initial connection, looking for something that didn’t happen.

      In real life, cheating is unacceptable if that has been agreed to by those involved. I’ve been in such relationships. I’m in one now. But in the past, I’ve enjoyed open relationships. Each couple (or however many are involved) define their relationship. If, for instance, one decides screwing someone else on Sunday is cheating but it’s okay on Tuesday, then if the partner jumps into the sack with someone else on Tuesday, they cheated.

      It can get complicated.

  2. AJ has written his own take on this topic over on his blog. Click on his link under Blog Roll in the right hand column.

  3. Ana Bosch says:

    This is something I’ve never understood either, but I definitely don’t think it’s a matter of people not tolerating the cheating just because they’re women. I’m a woman, and I don’t have a problem reading about a character who cheats, or separating sex and love. The main character in my own upcoming novel cheats. I think it’s more a matter of some readers having a more rigid idea of what constitutes a “romance” based on their prior reading choices and life views, while other readers aren’t as strict and are more willing to let the author take them on an unpredictable ride. I don’t think it has anything to do with gender.

  4. W. Lotus says:

    Since when is it “cheating” for two unattached people to have consensual sex without strings attached? I don’t get that.

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