Writing, Emotional Cheating?

Earlier this week, I was standing innocently in the lunchroom waiting for chaos to ensue when my boss stepped up and said hello. I’m always caught off guard, seeing him in that particular area and usually start the conversation looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

Um, what was that?

This particular day, he asked me about my writing. I said it was going slow but I had my first actual book coming out soon and that was cool. He asked me what I write and I admitted it was just fiction, a love story. Every time I answer that question he follows it up with, Is it one of the racy ones? I shake my head, Not this one, I tell him. He kind of laughs, then launches into a bit about how he’d run out of stuff to read last week in the middle of the night and had resorted to the magazines lying around the house. He’d read through Time then found an article in Vogue magazine that asked the question, Is writing romance emotional cheating? He wondered what I thought about that.

I don’t know what I think about that.

He asked if the husbands of romance writers felt threatened by the brawny, thoughtful, rich men that filled the pages of their books and by association, the women’s minds.


That got me thinking about that place in my mind I go to write. That world where my characters and 99% of my curiosity live. I know three men I’ve invited to see that world. None of whom have ever lived with me. Is that emotional cheating? It’s a place I share only with the like-minded, only with those who’ve shown an interest. No one who lives with me has any interest in that place or what goes on there. They want to know what there is to eat and why must they have a bedtime.

The few writers I talk to on a regular basis also live in their writing space alone, sharing with a select few, none of which are their significant other.

My boss’s question seemed more toward the ‘Are they upset because they can’t live up to the fantasy?’ He’s not read anything I’ve written so I’ll cut him some slack. My men are normal. Okay, except Mitch, he was famous. All the other men I’ve written are just men. They are construction workers, scientists, land developers, a pilot, a cowboy, the last great King Under the Mountain (okay, he was exceptional). In my imagination, men aren’t ultra rich or powerful, they’re super power is awareness. They notice stuff. They want simple things and have learned that the right woman makes it easy. She needs laughter, she needs to feel safe, she needs to be surprised and she needs someone who will show up when it isn’t convenient or desirable.

Perhaps we are filling a need within ourselves. I see how it could make some men uneasy.

Is it emotional cheating or simple cartography, mapping a pathway to a new reality?



0 thoughts on “Writing, Emotional Cheating?”

  1. Interesting question and one I’ve heard asked by women as to how it feels for the writers’ partners. I’m going to say it’s only cheating if you think it is. I write for myself and I am fiercely protective of the world and the characters I create. They are mine and mine alone that I share with like-minded people. Therefore un-likeminded people need not apply. I prefer my SO not to see or read any of it at all; I don’t need the analysis. I prefer he sticks to his George R.R. Martin and Stephen King while I continue to escape into my world which allows me to figure out what the heck is going on in the real world – and also make a living.

    Your boss will probably be scouring Amazon for your books now…

    1. I agree…each to their own. I get paranoid when he asks, I don’t know about mixing my job with some of my writing. I’ve kept the worlds apart so far and I will continue on that path. I don’t see him searching for a romance novel, lol.

  2. And the major fault with this logic must be that, engaging with, or finding any person other than your partner attractive (real or fictional) is also ’emotional cheating’.
    I think he may have been flirting petal 😉

    1. Interesting, I always prefer solitude when I’m writing but then I seldom write around adults, lol. Maybe it’s related to the amount of energy you have to expend per different subject matter?

      1. When doing the ‘thinking it out’ part, noise, telly, music, people chatter are no problem. Actual writing for me, needs practically monastic conditions, no diversion at all, even shut the doggies out of the room.

        1. Though I should also admit, that some of my best ideas have come to me while I talk to myself in the bathroom. Not kidding. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me…what were you laughing about in there?

          1. I think that is a brave thing for a writer to express. I certainly write about what I’m curious about. And that’s all I’m going to say about that…😳

  3. If people feel like you’re cheating, I never get the sense that it’s about emotions as much as it is about entitlement — I am the one entitled to have your main attention, why are you giving it to anything else?

  4. That’s a good question.
    I’ve often wondered that myself.
    Most of us write of fantasy because it’s an outlet for a void that needs to be filled.

    The people in our daily lives rarely have interest in our written work so we depend on others for support and encouragement.

    Is fantasy romance or Erotic writing emotional cheating? Only if it replaces or is a substitute for normal healthy relations with a significant other /spouse. If you rather spend time reading romance novels or watching porn than being with your mate then yes, that is emotional cheating.

    For single folk with no significant other, then fantasy is all we have. We have an enormous void to be filled and our healthy imagination is all we’ve got. ☺

    1. It was a question that caught me off guard. I agree that the intent matters. And as complex as humans are, of course there will be voids in all relationships, good thing for imagination! I completely agree with that!

  5. This is a most excellent question. I’ve not had a partner in years – well, ONE in the last, oh, decade or so, and he didn’t seem so much interested in my writing. He preferred ‘non-fiction’ and what I wrote wasn’t what he wanted to read. I suppose not. My men are beasts. He wasn’t.

    Well, yes he ended up being, but that is neither here or there.

    I found a comment you made very interesting however – for the most part, you write men. Not wealthy or what not – just men. I write fanfiction. Someday I’ll get off my butt and write something ‘real’ but until then../.

    I realized a long time ago, I like to write the men that there is very little canon about. I say it gives me more leeway, which it does, but the truth is, I don’t tend to write The King. I have once… or twice… but mostly…

    A Marchwarden – an elven guard.
    A Rohirrim Knight
    Another Rohirrim Knight
    or… a 3rd Rohirrim Knight
    Rohirrim King – twice. but then a Rohirrim Knight took the story – and then there was their shared (sorta) hellcat.
    A leather knight. Okay he did become all rich and powerful, but… it took 9 lives to do it.
    A Marine. Someday i’ll finish that one…
    A wizard. one who everyone thought was the bad guy, but wasn’t.

    I dunno. I prefer the every day Guy… erm… guy. Although, sometimes, in order to escape my dull, drab, wretched, life, it’s nice to fantasize about something a bit… easier.

    Which brings us back to literary cheating. When Former-Suitor was around, my muses went on a cruise without me. There was nothing. They didn’t talk, didn’t drive me to write. Nothing. The day he and I had our huge blowout, they came back in a rush, all talking at once. Weird. It was like they knew there was no coming back for that one.

    Former Suitor was not jealous of my crush, or my muses, or my writing… or so he said. It was fantasy vs reality and one has to decide which is more important. That’s my take.

    Did I have a take? I dunno….

    1. He was a beast of the exact wrong kind.

      That’s interesting, the cruise part. I too find that certain people chase the muses away but I’ve found one or two that draw them like magnets. I haven’t thought about why that is, but I’m going to now!
      You are a furious writer, I’ve no comprehension of how you churn out the pages and Tolkien himself has got nothing on your command of the Rohirrim, in my opinion.
      Does it have to be fantasy vs reality? Can’t it be fantasy I’d like made real? Is that too threatening?
      Wonderful comment, Thanks Zee!

  6. What a thought provoking post and comment thread…well done👏 Some people may consider it cheating but, honestly, I think that is a “them” problem. I don’t consider it so. I’ve thought and read deeply about what I’m about to say and believe in my mind and soul. I explored it in my post–Romantic Love: Hearts on Fire. Within each of us, we have an ideal of the perfect man (animus) or woman (anima) that is divine perfection. It is dangerous and ultimately disastrous to a relationship to project this image upon another person…they will never (in the long run) be able to sustain and live up to someone’s divine projection. It is far better that we celebrate, explore, and tend to our anima as an inner experience. One of the best ways for doing this through our art: painting, drawing, writing, digital art, etc… We connect with part of our soul in these endeavors. It belongs to you and is yours for tending to.

    1. I assume you mean ‘them’ as in those who don’t write.
      I loved that post.
      I love those last two lines of your comment, that we’re connecting to a part of our own souls and it belongs to us and (only we, I believe) truly know how to tend to it.
      Beautifully written. 😍

      1. Sort of.”Them” being those that consider any thoughts (even fictional or artistic) that aren’t about their lover to be cheating. Glad my comment resonated 💖Keep tending to your should beautiful girl. Not that you need any material but I’m around 😉 You sure help with mine😘

          1. Haha, I’m always around just not visible so to speak…with comments. I’ll share more and don’t mean to not satisfy you…your curiosity.

  7. That’s a really good question and something I never really considered before – what if I was married to a writer who writes the kind of women in his novels I’d never be? Would it make me feel insecure? Now it makes me think!

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