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If You’re Going to Cuck Me, At Least Do It Right

Cuckoldry is more than a meme — it’s an art

This week I was amused to read NME’s recent interview with actor Peter Sarsgaard, who recalled a time when he saw his wife, the actress and director Maggie Gyllenhaal, kiss another man in a movie. Sarsgaard says “it drove him crazy,” though not with jealousy — he was mad because the guy had his hand in his pocket, as though not fully present for the passion depicted on screen. “I was like: ‘That’s my wife,’ and he had his hand in his pocket, like he was looking for his keys while he was kissing her!” Sarsgaard exclaims. “This woman is incredible, show it!”

That got me thinking about an important, yet often unspoken, principle of intimacy: If you’re going to cuck someone, you damn well better do it right. Otherwise, it’s just boring old adultery

Sarsgaard’s comments also took me back to a high school play in which I had a leading role (no big deal). A couple times during the show I had to kiss my co-star, whose boyfriend was also in the cast, and after one performance he angrily confronted me, saying I’d grabbed his girlfriend’s butt on stage. I had done no such thing, which she quickly verified, but hey: That’s the power of art. I made him believe I was honking that ass, and all I had to do was play the part of an alpha.

Consider the opinions of two more — quite different — entertainers. On the one hand, you have the evangelical activist Kirk Cameron, who makes religious propaganda films like the widely panned Saving Christmas. In the 2008 Christian drama Fireproof, he had to kiss the actress playing his wife, an act that went against his commitment to his real marriage. So the filmmakers “dressed his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, like the movie’s female lead and shot the scene in silhouette,” per a segment on TODAY. Occasionally, this sort of illusion is necessary due to scheduling: Chris Hemsworth’s wife, the model Elsa Pataky, stood in for a kiss in Thor: The Dark World when Natalie Portman was unavailable for reshoots. But Cameron’s fakery, by comparison, is cowardly, unprofessional bullshit. Grow up and learn how to act, loser!

Booooo. I much prefer the view of director Tahira Kashyap, whose husband, Ayushmann Khurrana, is one of the most popular and highest-paid actors in India. She’s thrilled when he smooches anyone on screen, regardless of gender. “When he kisses a girl, I can see that the man is in love with her and this is what he needs to do to show love,” Kashyap has said. “I would make my characters in my movies do the same. And now if he is kissing a man, that’s the most natural thing for him to do, because he is gay and that’s his way of expressing love.” 

Yes, yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Hold nothing back. Make it count.

The same should apply in actual open relationships. Are the two of you dating other people to have aggressively mediocre sex? Of course not. I’d never want my partner to be disappointed in whoever she’s got on the side. She deserves the best, and as much of it as she wants, whenever she demands! Don’t even think about skipping foreplay or quitting before she comes. And, quite frankly, I hope you’re genuinely attractive. That’s a critical baseline here.   

It’s funny. The internet turned “cucks” and “cucking” into a joke — but it’s serious business. You’d better not go in unless you can commit. You not only have to please the person you’re sleeping with, you also have to satisfy the cuckold, whose kink fantasy is riding on your carnal talents. It’s enough to make even a self-described stud rather anxious. But if you’ve got the goods, then afterward I’ll be happy to give you the Paul Hollywood handshake like we’re on Great British Bake Off and you whipped up the perfect 10-layer cake. 

Heck, Maggie Gyllenhaal went and arranged her own cucking by directing a movie, The Lost Daughter, where Sarsgaard’s character has a steamy affair with a younger woman — and they don’t skimp on the bedroom scenes. Goes to show that the cuck job is more than a tango: It takes three to dance.