Back on Monday, Stephen Colbert had on his show Philip Weiss, the author of "The Secret Lives of Married Men
It was an interesting interview because Weiss pokes at our idealization of monogamy. And btw, despite the title of the book, good points to Weiss for making the effort to add throughout the interview that women, too, are not necessarily fundamentally monogamous.
I don't know what I think about the idea that some of us are less capable of restraining themselves when they're aroused by someone outside of their relationships, but I certainly do believe monogamy is not THE way of life for everyone. And I like that Weiss mentioned that we're more sexually liberated and we should have these conversations in our couples. What I do regret is him not insisting on that.
I remember a conversation a couple of years ago at one of our birthday parties where people were discussing the whole concept of cheating. Y'know, the whole "is kissing cheating?", that sort of thing. Well, the beautiful (?) thing about cheating is that it's nothing specific. Cheating is crossing the line that you and your partner drew for yourselves. Dude, if you wanna say that oral sex with someone else is cool, but kissing them is out of the question? That might not be a line most people would draw, but so what?
We need to stop thinking in terms of norms for consensual sex. There is no norm. There's only what we, as individuals, feel good about, and feel comfortable with. It's the same for sexuality in general. So what if you're a gay man who doesn't like anal sex, or a straight man who does? It's about pleasures and attractions and sexual behavior is not
synonymous with sexual identity. Nothing makes you gay - and nothing makes you straight, either - and no one should be ashamed about what they like in bed. It doesn't define who we are - simply what we like.
Everybody would be a lot better off if we could talk more freely about sexuality. Yes, we're saturated with discourses on sex and sexuality but they're all very limiting. It's sex, it's a man and a woman (or "gay sex", whatever that is), it's monogamous sex. We've eroticized extra-marital sex because we have those strict norms that say that this is a really bad, naughty thing to do (while we're all thinking, that bad and naughty is kinda sexy), and we need to stop doing that, because it also comes with shaming people in real life for their desires. We need to be more open and more open-minded about sex. Not necessarily in public and certainly not necessarily graphically. It's like the homo thing - you can teach children that being gay is okay without shoving a dildo in their hands at age 5. It should be about creating an environment where our concern shifts from normal and acceptable sex to consensual decisions about sex.
So back to the original point, I don't care if you're having sex outside of your marriage. I do care if the partner you're married to has agreed to the fact you're having sex outside your marriage. That's why I have a problem with the whole not being able to restrain oneself thing. That's an excuse. You abide by the rules you set with your partner. Now, if you didn't agree on rules that make you happy, then there's something to be said about your couple, and you need to resolve that. See what gives - their vision or yours and there's often a lot of room for compromise if you're willing to think outside the box and you decide what your priorities are (and there's nothing with giving - as long as you're not the only one doing it all the time. Compromise is a very respectable and amazing thing. On the other hand, only caring what you want and what you like and not being willing to incorporate anyone else's well-being into your life is a sign of extreme selfishness and immaturity.). But if you disagree fundamentally, if nothing can
give? Don't let anyone tell you what you need is wrong or weird; don't let yourself be unhappy in a relationship and find yourself in that situation where you've grown so unsatisfied you're going to cross that line you and your partner have set.
Basically, my point is: sure, monogamy is what most people on Earth are good with (and probably a big part of that is that we grow up learning that monogamy is the thing). That doesn't make it normal or natural. That makes it, at best, hegemonic and heterosexist. Just like most people on this Earth are mostly straight, and that's not a judgment call on anyone who isn't. We all like different things, and it's a diversity we should embrace. Two people in a consensual relationship - whatever they agree on, whatever they feel good about - I say good for them. I have a lot more respect for that than a married couple forcing themselves to stay monogamous because that's the "right thing to do".
So it's not about right, or wrong, or normal. It's about making a conscious decision with your partner, because that's the kind of thing that gives value to your relationship, that means you're both in this together. And yeah, even if the conclusion's often going to be that you both want to be monogamous (there can be a bunch of reasons for that, and that's okay, too), it's good to have that conversation. It's good to know it's something you can discuss openly with your partner. Nothing wrong with being monogamous, either, but be monogamous for the right reasons (ie: not because you feel obligated to).
Easier said than done, I know. But if at least we strive
for that, our relationships - and public climate - will be healthier for it.
And yes, I've turned into Doctor Love. Have a good day everyone. ;)
PS. I think it's obvious, but all of this applies to sexual acts as well as sexual behavior (if that's what you call monogamy, open relationship, polyamory, whatever else you wanna call the agreement you have with your partner), maybe even more so because that belongs completely to the private realm (whereas monogamy and its cohort doesn't). If you like something, it's game. You just have to make sure your partner is okay with that (or willing to work on it), and make an effort to be okay with what they
like. Mutual consent is key at all levels.EDIT: I wish my own RP characters would follow my advice. Least they could do, the brats.