You are probably wondering if I think about Melissa having an affair with the Farmer.

I do. I think about it all the time.

As a preventive measure I tell the farmer that if he cheats on me, I'll stay with him. Forever. I'll never leave him. He'll be stuck on the farm with me, in misery. I try to create a scene in his head like a Beckett play: Two characters isolated from the world, in a room, making each other miserable.

Melissa and the Farmer always assure me that they will never do that.

One night, in bed alone, I ask the Farmer: “Do you think about having sex with Melissa?”

He says, “Well, I notice her body. But I don't think about having sex with her.”

I say, “Of course you notice her body. She has a size 00 waist and a size C bra cup.”

“Well, okay. Then stop talking to me all the time about having sex with her and then I'll be less likely to think about it.”

When I ask Melissa if she is going to cheat, she is horrified. Probably because it would ruin everything we have here. Also, though, I don't think she's attracted to him.

The problem is that I think she is getting more attracted to him. Which gets me thinking about how you can tell if someone will cheat.

1. Cheating is a lot about proximity.
We are most attracted to the people we see most often. I have read this in a lot of places. Most notably, a co-worker is more apt to like you if you work in the same office, as opposed to telecommuting, or working in another field office.

But the proximity research works for families, as well. A psychologist I interviewed, around the time that the Farmer was dumping me because his parents hated me, told me that if I were living on the farm, his parents would start to like me more because proximity leads to affinity.

This never happened, by the way. The Farmer's parents hate me more than ever and they disinherited the Farmer from their land even though he is still the only one of their kids farming on the land.

What it shows me is that you have to be open to affinity in order for proximity to enhance it.

I think a man is always open to affinity when it comes to a woman half his age.

And check this out: 70% of married investment bankers have cheated on their spouses. This doesn't surprise me as much as the fact that they are most likely to cheat on a business trip, with whoever is near them at the time.

Also, the reason half of Enron was indicted is probably because we become like the people we work with. (The people least likely to believe this, by the way, are law students who take on tons of debt and say they will join a big law firm, not get addicted to power and money, and when their loans are paid they'll join a nonprofit.) So cheaters foster cheaters.

Location location location.

2. You can estimate the verity of someone's response to: will you cheat?
Melissa's horses arrived.


In order to get the Farmer to agree to horses, Melissa told us, over and over again, how great she is with horses.

I believed her.

The Farmer says that a lot of people say they are good with horses, when really, they know nothing.

Melissa told the Farmer about how her parents home schooled her so she could spend all of her adolescence at a stable, helping the trainer with the horses.

The Farmer said, “Okay. Get horses.” But he knows absolutely nothing about training horses and he can't help her at all. So she cannot ask him for help—he doesn't even like horses.

The horses got here and they were supposed to come already accustomed to having a saddle on them. Instead, they reared up like in a Lone Ranger movie when we tried to ride them.

So Melissa left the horses in the stall, sort of ignoring them.

After a few days, the Farmer said, “Something's wrong. She is not doing anything with the horses.”

It turns out that Melissa had no idea how to get them to lunge longe without a pen. I don't even know what the word lunge longe means, actually. But the farmer went out and helped her. And it turns out the farmer is great with horses. It turns out that he knows how to get the horses to lunge and Melissa was not so confident.

This scenario makes sense to me because people’s ability to self assess is generally constant.

For example, the Farmer generally underestimates himself, and Melissa generally overestimates herself. If you can get a read on how someone estimates himself in one scenario, then you can apply it to other scenarios.

All that makes me think that the Farmer is a little less likely to cheat than he tells me, and Melissa is a little more likely to cheat than she tells me. And the farmer loves the horse more than he admits.

3. Assuming everyone is honest is a better way to live.
It's hard to be trusting. But I'm not sure I have another choice. People who trust those around them are happier, more successful people. I want to be that.

And I'm struck how all the same things we do to build trust at work are the same things we do to build trust at home. So the more trusting you are the more trusting you get.

4. Being able to identify cheaters is a useless skill, even if you could do it.
Melissa sent this link from The New Inquiry to me about spotting liars. It’s an interview with a college professor who talks about how he sniffs out plagiarism. When he describes the signs, they make sense, but I might have missed them myself. For example, he says, “The correct use of a semi-colon is a red flag to me,” because most college kids don't use semi-colons at all, let alone correctly, when writing their papers.

The interviewer, who is someone who writes college papers for a pay, suggests that maybe so many kids plagiarize because the ability to come up with the stuff on their own isn't that useful when it's right there on the Internet. And maybe the kids just don't value a college education.

Hm. First of all, I think that probably is true. And a Stanford study shows that writing for social media is more educational than writing for class anyway.

So what is the point of the guy being able to identify plagiarizers? Sixteen percent of the students plagiarized. He needs to realize that he has more problems than he does cheaters. For starters, he has the problem that kids obviously don't see value in what he is teaching.

Also, did you know that the biggest problem with theft at Barnes & Noble is employee theft? They spend a lot of money to guard against internal pilfering. It seems like it'd be more effective to spend the money on making people happy at work.

5. Distractions are the best antidote to obsessive worry about cheats.
I did some research about cheaters. And it turns out that people who are likely to cheat have a ring finger that is longer than their index finger. I got this from Dr. Phil via Perez Hilton. But before you bitch about my sources, it does turn out that a longer ring finger is a sign of higher rates of testosterone in utero.

But I don't know how useful this will be to me. Because I have a longer ring finger. And I have never cheated on a boyfriend, or in a 15 year marriage. But I think that testosterone thing does make a difference in work. I think I'm better, more able to compete in a man's world, because of my extra testosterone.

So maybe I've been no use to you as to how to tell if someone is cheating, but you can tell if a woman will fit into an all-male office by looking at her ring finger. Really.