This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
The recently concluded elections swept into power a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, female-objectifying, and philandering mayor who campaigned on a rather nebulous, but apparently convincing, platform of change. His supporters continue to bandy about the smug threat that “change is coming.” One thing that is unlikely to change, however, particularly now that there is a presidential role model to emulate, is the Filipino married man’s penchant for mistresses, no matter the economic class.
He’s hardly the first president of the Republic to do so, of course. Marcos, Ramos, and Estrada are among the presidents of fairly recent vintage known to have maintained mistresses, with varying degrees of discretion. But with the presumptive president gleefully disclosing his domestic situation—“It’s Complicated,” his Facebook relationship status might state—as akin to a mini-harem of sorts, what with an ex-wife, a wife, and two girlfriends who are all aware of each other and presumably sharing his affections and rent money. Married men throughout the country must feel emboldened enough to flaunt their extramarital attachments, whether singular or simultaneous.
Unless there is a specific app for married men looking to cheat—the likes of Ashley Madison, essentially a match.com for cheaters, do not count as they are primarily websites, not apps—Tinder seems to be the virtual playground of choice. However, as with the subterfuge such men like to employ in real life, very few of them actually indicate that they’re married on their profiles, ostensibly so that a woman would swipe right based on the perceived appeal of their looks alone and the revelation of their marital status a mere detail that may or may not be revealed when they match and begin to message each other.
A recent foray into Tinder—swiping overseas only, not locally, lest I chance upon, with horror, old classmates, work colleagues, and heaven forbid, the sons of friends—yielded quite a harvest of matches, all conducive to quasi socio-anthropological research. The comfort of distance, both physical and virtual, and the lack of urgency to get laid, at least on my part, allowed me the time to suss out the person I was chatting with: whether he was interesting enough for me to want to meet; whether he was a clueless Neanderthal with a condescending attitude towards women; whether he was a dear God no, which corner of Hicksville did you crawl out of and unmatch immediately, whether he just had an Asian fetish, or whether he was all of the above but who cares because he was so f*cking hot.
And, it follows, whether he was married.
As it turned out, quite a few of them were—and quite a few of them were widowers, too, but that’s another column altogether.
The conversations followed a similar trajectory: where are you based, what do you do for a living, any kids, when will you be in town, when can we meet, etc. Usually around the “kids” part—normal, seeing as we are both from more or less the same age group—I say, as I notice they NEVER volunteer the information, that I assume they are divorced or single. With three of my matches, it turned out that they were still very much married. And oh, they were European and we were conversing in French, so of course they would be on Tinder and on the prowl because life to them is an Eric Rohmer movie.
One man, no doubt patting himself on the back for his searing honesty, admitted, without a lull in the chat, that he was married with three children and still quite in love with his wife back home in France.
“I prefer to be upfront about these things so that no one has any expectations of a relationship,” said every straying married man ever, and this Frenchman was no exception.
“It’s just that my work involves a lot of travel, and well, traveling can get lonely,” he said, like every straying married man ever.
So, naturally, he used Tinder to play.
I told him I never would have swiped right on his profile had he said he was married. I sensed a shrug from across the virtual universe.
“But I’m just being honest,” he said again, borrowing from the philanderer’s playbook.
“And does your wife know?”
“Oh no. My honesty ends at the French border.”
“Yes, of course it does,” I replied. “That honesty needs a visa to get in and it’s expensive.”
I never got to tell him that I hoped, for his wife’s sake, that she was swiping away on Tinder, too, in whatever petit village she was living in and taking the train to Paris for her amorous assignations whenever her husband was away on business. Et pourquoi pas? Fair is fair, n’est-ce pas?
Apparently not, according to the chauvinist’s—and most cheating married men are, whether they admit it or not—code of ethics, men can stray, to their delight. It could even bring them a windfall, as Jay-Z’s Tidal is no doubt experiencing at the moment with Lemonade.
Women who do, however, do so at their own peril.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.