Cheating and love don’t mix unless you’re listening to R&B duo DVSN.
Drake’s OVO Sound artists’ polarizing single, “If I Get Caught,” has people up in arms and in their feelings defending what they view as dealbreakers in their relationships, and for good reason. The song openly wonders if one sexual indiscretion should break up a loving relationship, and its chorus brazenly declares, “if I get caught cheating, that don’t mean I don’t love you.” Many have reduced the song to simply being a cheating anthem and denounced it as misogynistic male ego stroking. Jay-Z himself even implied it was the most toxic song he’s ever heard.
But DVSN, comprised of Canadian singer Daniel Daley and producer Paul “Nineteen85” Jefferies, pushes back on the criticism. “A lot of people are taking this song as a man versus women thing. It’s a relationship thing. It’s not an us versus them thing,” Nineteen85 told Men’s Health. “When you are in a relationship with someone, sometimes there are things you need to discuss or figure out inside your relationship before you go out.”
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No three-minute song can hold a nuanced conversation on cheating, so we caught up with the pair to have the tough chat they hope everyone else will have with their significant other.
Men’s Health: Since the song’s release, have any of your exes or current partners reached out with their own opinions about it—or about you?
Daniel Daley: I’ve definitely had a few texts and DMs from people I haven’t talked to or seen in a while that have been like, “So, I heard your new song (laughs).” Just before I got on this call, people were sending me videos of it being on the radio in their city and were like, “I hate that I’m forced to hear you right now. I can’t lie; the song is catchy, though.” So, I’ve had a little bit of both. But, it’s all in jest, for the most part of it. No, one’s been trying to get into a real debate with me. They’ve said, “Oh, so you’re admitting you’re a ho.” I’m like, “First of all, I’m not a ho. Second of all, I was never a ho. Third of all, that’s not what the song is saying.”
I don’t know if everyone’s even fully digested the song yet. Really what I’m talking about is a relationship in those verses where my partner is now insecure and feels like I might be doing something. She thinks that it might be possible that I’m out here doing things I shouldn’t be doing. I’m addressing it from the perspective of someone that’s wondering where this is coming from. I was addressing it from the standpoint of explaining how [cheating] isn’t happening, but even if it did hypothetically, it wouldn’t have been because I fell out of love with you. A lot of people don’t realize that cheating is more about the ego than anything. It’s more about stroking your own ego.
Are there any specific moments in past relationships that inspired your views on relationships enough to bring us this song?
Nineteen85: I’ve been caught cheating before. I’ve been in a long-term faithful relationship for four or five years, and I’ve also been in a relationship where I cheated multiple times because I just wasn’t being honest. I wasn’t being honest with myself, which in turn led to not being honest with the person I was with. The biggest lesson I took from it is that the relationship has to start with open lines of communication because it’s very hard to open them after. You must start from a place of extreme trust, respect, and friendship.
Daley: I definitely agree with what he just said. My best situations are the ones where the girl and I were so cool, and our friendship was so intact, it felt like I could say anything to her. But unfortunately, most people don’t create a safe space for their partners to come and say anything. And that’s on both sides. I’ve talked to women who even feel they can’t tell guys or their guy what they’re into sexually because they think he will judge them. On the flip side, a lot of guys don’t feel comfortable going to their woman and saying, “Hey, look, I’m not at a space where I can just say I’m cool with having sex with you and you alone for the rest of my life. I love you. You mean the world to me, and I don’t ever want to lose you, but I don’t know if I can do that.”
Nineteen85: There are plenty of different types of relationships where you can speak to this person and sleep with this other person. You can have a person that is just a companion, or you can be sleeping with everybody, or maybe there’s no sex involved. We’ve been taught, especially the women of society, that everything is singular. If this person isn’t giving you all of their attention, they are not ready to handle you, which I don’t think is completely true. That’s where you start to get into the debate. That’s what the song does. It makes you have to have the debate.
Daley: I’ve definitely loved somebody who I wanted to remain my girlfriend. I cared about her. I would’ve taken a bullet for her. I would wake up first thing in the morning and cook her breakfast, and I still cheated. A lot of people, especially women, don’t understand the psychology behind it. Sometimes we hear about how a celebrity cheated, and everyone’s like, “Oh, how could you do that to her?” They don’t realize that it often has nothing to do with the other person, especially with men. From all of the things we’ve heard when we have conversations with guys, it very rarely has anything to do with the girl they’re already with. It’s more about what they wanted and felt inside in that moment, completely separate. We don’t attach the two. I’ve felt that where I’ve wanted to say something. I’ve thought, “Could I just tell her because I really, really love this person, and it matters to me, and I hate the lying part of it? I hate having to feel as regretful as I sometimes do, but I don’t want to stop doing what I’m doing, and I don’t want to lose my girl.”
Daniel Daley (background), Paul “Nineteen85” Jefferies (foreground)
How do you feel societal expectations around relationships hold people back from maximizing their happiness?
Daley: They definitely hold us back because people are told what makes them happy versus following what makes them happy. We can’t truly be happy until we identify within ourselves what we actually want. If we’re being told what we want, we never take the time to self-identify
Nineteen85: I think we’ve also been accustomed to whatever traditionally has been handed down through generations. If you’re in certain parts of the world, you might have multiple wives or multiple husbands. If you are in North America, you’re supposed to get married by this age and live out this type of life. Even now, we have to rework our thoughts on same-sex marriages because we’ve been told those are wrong. The conversation has never been open enough so people can feel comfortable and just do what they’re doing. You get that same thing even with how we view relationships. I remember the other day we had an open conversation on Twitter Spaces, and one of the audience members said, “If guys feel this way, why don’t they just say that instead?” I was thinking, “I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of guys that know how the conversation will go if they go to their girl or the girl they’re interested in and say, “I like you, but I like her and her and her too.” There’s so much talk about how guys need to express their feelings, be open about things, and stop holding things in. But guys have also been told that they are not men if they do that. I can’t tell my girl this is how I feel because she will look at me a little bit weird, which will lead to another situation.
What is cheating to you both?
Daley: I’m pretty traditional in the sense that it’s anything you wouldn’t do right in front of my face. If you feel the need to go and hide it, it’s probably because there’s some infidelity. But, generally, I think the bigger conversation is having that conversation with your person before you guys even enter a relationship. Ask them, “What if I like a girl’s picture? Is it if I DM? Is it if I’m dancing with a girl? Is it sex only?” It all plays into our insecurities, boundaries, traumas, and experiences. You have to create your own definitions.
Nineteen85: I think I used to agree with saying cheating is anything you wouldn’t want to have done to you, but then I realized there are certain things you might not even find wrong, but if your partner finds it wrong, technically in their mind, they, you’re cheating. Your best bet is to find out their version of cheating, disrespect, or boundaries because it almost doesn’t even matter what yours are. You can do what you’ve been doing your whole life and be like, “Oh, that was never a problem. I didn’t sleep with anybody.” But they’re like, “Yeah, but I know you’re flirting with them.”
Is there any scenario where cheating is okay?
Daley: Then it wouldn’t be cheating.
Nineteen85: Yeah. If it’s okay, that means you guys talked about it and didn’t cheat. You guys have an open situation, or you have an agreement or whatever it is.
Daley: You guys have understanding. I think cheating is born in the lie.
Should you have to apologize for cheating?
Daley: If you actually cheat? I think so. You violated the trust of your partner. If you can’t apologize, that means you can’t be accountable.
With that being said, is it possible not to feel guilty after you cheat?
Daley: Apparently, you can. Some guys have said, “Yo, I don’t feel anything. I was just getting a nut.” I have a very overactive conscious, so it plays with me. When I do wrong, I know I’m doing wrong. That’s what sometimes leaves me in this conflicted state, and it comes out in the music.
Nineteen85: I don’t know if you can not feel guilty because as long as you know the other person’s going to be bothered by it, there’s guilt attached—unless you’re a sociopath. Put it like this: If you’re hiding it in some way, you know it’s wrong, so there’s a guilt attached. You wouldn’t have been hiding it if you were not feeling guilty. There are different situations where people can excuse themselves more or give themselves a way out of why it made sense or wasn’t as bad as the other time. Daniel and I had a conversation with a sex therapist, and the number one thing she said was, “Cheating is never about the other person. It’s 100% about whatever you have going on.”
How did that conversation with a sex therapist shape your view on monogamy?
Daley: It’s given me a title to something that I feel should have always been there. I feel like to have a successful relationship, you have to have that level of understanding. And that’s pretty much what open monogamy is. That’s why it’s a little crazy when, for instance, we’re commenting on celebrities’ lives, but we don’t know what they have going on. We don’t know what’s allowed in their relationship. We don’t know if he’s even cheating. I’ve learned that one of the biggest problems with cheating is people hate how it will make others look at them. They hate the idea of being embarrassed in front of people because they thought we had this thing. And then now you’ve made it look like I’m okay with whatever it may be. I just realized from this talk that we as a society need to stop putting traditional things on a pedestal.
Nineteen85: Yeah, for sure.
Daley: That’s what I’m realizing. There are old traditions that had to break. We’re Black people (laughs). Things that used to be regular were things like segregation. Then, eventually, people’s minds had to open up to, “Hey, what’s really right here, though?” When it comes to relationships, we have traditional monogamy set as the highest standard of what success is. This is what you should be aspiring to have. I think we should have the aspiration to have somebody who understands what we want, and we are making sure they’re happy. That should be more at the forefront than having the same relationship.
Nineteen85: Outside of what you just said, does anything else matter?
Daley: No, it doesn’t.
Nineteen85: We’ve been brainwashed to think that it does. We’ve been taught that you have to fit this thing by this age where you’re married, have two kids, a two-car garage, and do things traditionally. That’s how you know you are graduating to adult life. But, when you don’t do that, everybody tells you, “I think you need to get it together.” Why? What if the person is fine? What if they’re perfectly happy with whatever they’re doing? Why does it even matter?
Paul “Nineteen85” Jefferies
What do you hope is the lasting impact of the song?
Daley: I hope it opens up the communication lines for people to say things they’re all thinking that we don’t communicate to each other. This record is affecting the culture. I saw some women say today, “Most of you guys shouldn’t be talking like this. You don’t even have enough dick to cheat.” It’s like, Wait, what? This is the toxic stuff. Or they’ll say, “cheating is a rich man’s sport.” Or, they’ll say, “If you’re not DVSN, you shouldn’t even be feeling yourself like this.” Then, some girls say, “I totally understand what he’s saying. What he just said was completely real.” Hopefully, it opens up a line of communication that gets us somewhere better because I think we’re in a terrible state right now regarding relationships. I don’t think a lot of us are really getting what we really want out of a relationship. We’re getting what we were told to want, or we’re getting something transactional, or we’re getting something that looks good for the ‘Gram, or we’re getting something that our parents liked. We’re not getting the most out of it. I want us all to get there. I want myself to get there.
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