Cheating on your partner can be both a controversial topic and nuanced situation. It's easy to say that cheating is wrong in every single situation it occurs, but some may argue in certain cases that it's justified.
Questions surrounding the morality of cheating came up in a recent post by Reddit user throwawayforeife (or Throw for short) who asked the r/relationship_advice subreddit for help with deciding whether he should give his wife permission to cheat with an ex.
The post was originally removed by moderators but conserved in the comment section and by other subreddit pages.
Here's the story in Throw's own words: "My wife has a terminal disease. She is projected to live at most nine months. I am, of course, destroyed. We’ve been together for a decade. I don’t remember life without her, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when she’s gone."
"I have been doing my best to make the last days of her life good and grant whatever wish I can. The doctors said that she was likely to need a wheelchair in four or five months, then by month eight, she’ll be bedridden for the last few weeks. That’s if she doesn’t decline faster."
"Recently, she sat me down and told me that one of the last things she wanted to do was have sex with a previous partner of hers. I, of course, was shocked, and I asked why the fuck she wants that. So basically, she thinks that her most physically compatible, satisfying lover was him."
"She gave a whole monologue about how sex sometimes is just physical and how emotionally fulfilling sex is with me, but it was bullshit to get to that point."
"So now I’m left with this: deny my dying wife a wish for my own ego, or let her go fuck another man who she feels was better. Honestly, I’m so pissed off and betrayed that she asked this of me. I feel like I’m put in a position where I have to say yes because she’s dying. I know what I want to say, but I don’t know if that’s right."
"I’m so hurt that sex with an ex was apparently so good that she needs to do it once before she dies. I just hate everything about this."
WHEW. So that was a lot. And after reading through Throw's story, I was surprised to find that most people's immediate reactions were not to say whether his wife's request was reasonable or not, but to question her relationship with her ex instead.
"How does she know this person at all after 10 years with you? Or that this person would want to involve themselves in no strings sex with a dying EX from over a decade ago? This seems like a very odd request to bring to you without any leg work or preparation," user u/1threadkiller1 posed. "It's unbelievable that she would significantly risk blowing up her marriage, end of life companionship, and care for sex with someone she isn’t in contact with and doesn’t know would still even entertain the thought of intimacy with her."
A lot of commenters feel as though Throw's wife has already confirmed her ex is open to having a sexual relationship again, and that Throw's permission is the final step in her plan toward making her wish come true — which could be a form of cheating in itself.
"Immediate concern: Is she in contact with her ex? Is she seeking permission from you, when she's already established a reconciliation with her ex?" user u/dancerwales asked. "Either way. WTF. She wants your lasting memory of her to be that she left you for a rumble in the bedsheets with an ex? Sorry, but her illness is not an excuse to treat you like shit. That is incredibly insulting to you and your relationship."
And though it's certainly heartbreaking and unfair that she is dying of an incurable illness, many state that it's no reason to hurt her partner in such a way by not only cheating on them, but making a request she knows will hurt him in the first place.
"This is a lot to unpack. But you don't have to grant this wish, and it was incredibly inappropriate and cruel for her to even ask this. In fact, it's downright disrespectful and just wrong. Tell her that she married you, and you don't feel comfortable with her cheating on you with some ex. Remind her of the lifelong vows she took to be faithful to you. She shouldn't have even made this request." —u/depressivedarling
"Dying doesn’t mean suddenly you can live your wildest fantasies even if they really hurt people. You don’t get a pass where you’re suddenly allowed to do whatever you want with no consequences," an anonymous user shared before suggesting Throw make it clear that if she chooses to cheat, she will have to do so alone.
"If that’s what she wants to do, it’s totally OK to tell her she has to do it alone, and that you don’t want to be part of it. That’s totally fine, and you owe her nothing that you aren’t comfortable with just because she’s dying. I think she’s disgusting for even saying this stuff to you."
And finally, to offer a more rounded, overarching look at the situation, user u/Vickorystix reminded everyone that while Throw's wife's actions are hurtful, they might not be fully calculated.
"I don't have any good advice on how to get to a decision. One thing I do want to point out, though, is: I assume your wife's illness affects everything in her body, including her brain. It might be worth it to take into account that she might not be fully in her right mind right now, and if she were, she would never have come to this request. I hope in the months and years to come you can put these memories in a separate box of 'illness her' and keep them separate from 'real her' and you can cherish who she was before her whole self was completely altered. I'm so sorry. Sending you good thoughts," u/Vickorystix said.