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Lust In Translation

The Rules of Infidelity From Tokyo To Tennessee

Pamela Druckerman

Americans are getting steadily more tolerant of practically every social issue about sex, except infidelity. 1973 70% said always bad; by 2001 up to 80%. And applied across all social groups and regions.

One woman said that in theory she'd be happier if husband went somewhere else instead of pestering her for once-a-week sex, but in practice she'd be devastated.

But other societies bemused. Japanese woman surprised to be asked if felt guilty. Why? I'm meeting my family obligations. Frenchman asked if he'd considered therapy to handle sex problems said that in fact he'd quit therapy after starting affair because finally happy.

In Russia almost obligatory because so few men available (alcoholism takes out significant number middle aged men) - if wasn't for affairs many women would get no sex at all. By age 65, there are just 46 Russian men for every 100 women. Plus it's the one thing the govt can't control.

Japan is all single beds, not double. When baby born, mother moves into his room until 5 or 6. Husband replaces her with a big TV.

But each culture has unofficial rules about what is OK.

In America, men who go to church have fewer affairs, but no difference to women's rates. Being religious makes people feel more guilty, but "I can pray for forgiveness."

Americans have much higher expectations about all relationships. Strive for perfect health and fitness, and expect emotionally satisfying marriages and complete fidelity. "Adultery robs us of the happy ending we believe is our due.

'Extra marital sex' only becomes infidelity when partner finds out about it.

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