Jayne Renault

Musings of a Smut Queen
Smut Saved My Life: Cheating Edition

Smut Saved My Life: Cheating Edition

CW: infidelity, allusion to sexual trauma, victim blaming

This post was written for Smutathon 2018, a filth-fuelled 12-hour marathon where 8 of us are furiously compiling words and photos on sex and smut to raise money for the Abortion Support Network. Consider donating to the cause here (and up your chances of winning our sex toy raffle!)

I noticed recently that one of my earlier stories has seen some renewed popularity in the past couple weeks. The story in question is called Compliance Risk.

As I’m still quite new to the game, I’m going to run on the assumption that most of you are still in the early stages of acquainting yourself with my writing (if you’ve read anything at all yet). Because Compliance Risk was written so long ago, it may have easily slipped under your radar.

It wasn’t the first story I ever wrote. In fact, it was the third. But it was the first that I grew immediately attached to because it hit pretty close to home.

Compliance Risk is the story of a girl navigating the complex thrill of being the other woman to a handsome guy who is probably not the best life choice or her in the long run. It’s a hot little scene that harnesses the excitement that comes from acting on primal impulse without any regard for convention or consequence.

For me, it was also an exploration of how we use others to feed our hungry demons. Because heaven knows I’ve held my fair share of hellish feasts, and so have many of my past lovers.

James, the love interest of this tale (or antagonist, depending on your interpretation) is the collective embodiment of the many complicated philandering men who have dominated my affections at different points in my life. It may go without saying, but I have very mixed feelings about him. Which is probably why he has occupied a lot of my thoughts, both written and yet-to-be-processed, over the years. In fact, he makes a non-too-small appearance in my upcoming debut novel.

Cheating is a controversial issue because what constitutes as infidelity is subject to the interpreter. But I think it’s safe to say that no matter how we set the parameters of what cheating means for us, we can agree that it is a transgressive act. That is to say that when someone labels something as cheating, it’s because they have deemed the act a severe breach of their moral guidelines and expectations.

But in fiction, unfaithfulness can take on many more nuanced forms for plot and character development. And depending on how it’s presented, we might not even consider it to be such bad thing within the context of the story. Sometimes – dare I say it – we even like it.

This is especially true in erotica, where a lot of how we get turned on is by actively flirting with transgression (or diving head-first into it) by means of a safe, controlled conversation between the page and our imaginations. We get turned on because there is a thrill to misbehaving, to breaking the rules, even if it is only imagined.

Maybe if infidelity wasn’t so hot, we wouldn’t be so tempted to do it.

Cheating is one of those rule-breaking themes that will never go out of style because it is inherently transgressive, and thereby arousing for many. The adage that we always want what we can’t have will never stop being true either

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being excited by the notion of cheating while consuming your erotic media of choice. And I do enjoy exploring infidelity in my writing for the freedom it affords me to do so without affecting real humans.

But. It does go a little deeper than that for me for my relationship with cheating is a convoluted one.

The first man to prey on me — someone I had grown to love and trust — was a chronic adulterer and made me part of his game. My boyfriend at the time accused me of having been unfaithful to him by allowing this predatory man to get too close to me. After having been stripped of my value, I struggled to gather up what was left of my shattered identity. It’s not surprising at all to me now that one of the broken fragments of my self figured I might as well just play the part I’d already been cast — the wanton, cheating harlot. At least I was exercising some control by proving once and for all to that boyfriend — and to me — that I was not worthy of love or respect. From him or anyone else.

Following our inevitable breakup, sex became both my medicine and my weapon. I chewed boys up for breakfast, selecting targets I deemed weaker than me in a crude attempt to reclaim some of my lost power. But the fun was even more short-lived when they didn’t offer any kind of challenge.

That’s when I found that allegedly monogamous men were the best — and most thrilling — way for me to work out my frustrations. He is guarded, emotionally unavailable, not looking for commitment. He has a tendency to want to explore forbidden fantasy. Our relationship is secret and scandalous because of course, no can know what he’s up to, but it’s a little exciting to flirt with the notion of getting caught. And there’s something to be said about someone choosing you over the person they chose publicly.

Overall, maintenance is low and risks are high. They were the perfect candidate for a sexually insatiable twenty-something who had long since separated sex from love and commitment.

I preyed on adulterers because it made me feel powerful without putting any of my own relationships at risk. I built a wall around my heart with the entrails of devoted boyfriends and husbands, and for a long time, I believed my macabre fortress was keeping me safe from the scarier villains in the book.

Flash forward several years and a few lifetimes later, my relationship with sex and myself have taken a real turn in the right direction. I haven’t given up playing around with married folk, but I do it in a much more conscious way without the intent to destroy myself or someone else.

I owe a lot of this progress to the fact that I now make a business of writing down thoughts and feelings and re-writing them as arousing bedtime stories for grownups. Weaving stories that revolve around the many permutations of unfaithful characters has provided me ample opportunity to explore, question, and heal in ways that time couldn’t do for me on its own.

James will always be a part of my past and my present (and some of my future because I’m still working on editing that damn novel). Our history may be sordid, but thankfully, my relationship with him is a lot less toxic than it used to be.

And if nothing else, our story makes for some damn fine smut.

1 comment found

  1. This story resonated with me as well. The tension between immediate desire and delayed negative consequences creates wonderfully emotional and dramatic potential in the realm of fiction, but can test one’s psychic core in reality. Continued exploration about the two characters’ journeys would be rewarding, though. I hope you can find the inspiration to bring the narrative to fruition.

What do you think of that?

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