Monogamy … a necessary requirement of a healthy relationship, or an unrealistic expectation placed on individuals by our monogamy-centrist society?
Like many of you, I was raised in a society which values monogamy, long-term relationship/marital commitment, and expects sexual exclusivity as the “norm”. Until my early twenties, I had never even heard of an “open relationship”. The first time I met someone who told me they were in an open relationship, I remember thinking this person (and his partner) must be strange. After all, how could someone claim to be in a relationship but still allow their partner – and be allowed by their partner – to pursue outside relationships as well? I assumed that being in an exclusive, monogamous relationship was the only way to “be” with someone. That’s what everyone does, right?
Fortunately, I value learning and I try to keep an open mind. It’s not always easy (my first response to non-monogamy wasn’t entirely “open-minded”), but learning about and educating others about sexuality means learning about what I’m going to be talking about. And since much of sexuality takes place in the context of interpersonal relationships, I’ve often found myself wondering about how those relationships function. So, being the nerd that I am, I’ve read books, articles and magazines on the subject; I’ve talked to people who are in non-monogamous relationships; I’ve subscribed to and follow a number of blogs on the subject. And, as I’ve mentioned in the past, I faithfully read Savage Love every week, listen to Dan’s podcasts and try to keep myself informed about the subject in general. So when the New York Times published a magazine article entitled “Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity”, I had to check it out. (In case you’re unsure, Dan is also the founder of The It Gets Better Project).
You can read the full article here: “Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity”.
“Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples … We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them … honesty is the best policy.” (Oppenheimer, 2011)
… He does not believe in promiscuity … And he does not believe that monogamy is wrong for all couples or even for most couples. Rather, he says that a more realistic sexual ethic would prize honesty, a little flexibility and, when necessary, forgiveness over absolute monogamy. And he believes nostalgically, like any good conservative, that we might look to the past for some clues. (Oppenheimer, 2011)
… “Folks on the verge of making those monogamous commitments,” … “need to look at the wreckage around them — all those failed monogamous relationships out there (Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Vitter, whoever’s on the cover of US magazine this week) — and have a conversation about what it’ll mean if one or the other partner should cheat. And agree, at the very least, to getting through it, to place a higher value on the relationship itself than on one component of it, sexual exclusivity.” (Oppenheimer, 2011)
… “The point,” he wrote on his blog last year, “is that people — particularly those who value monogamy — need to understand why being monogamous is so much harder than they’ve been led to believe.” (Oppenheimer, 2011)
FYI: By posting this, I want to share with you an alternative perspective that says that relationships are not only about sexual exclusivity, and that there is more to loving relationships than what we’ve been socially conditioned to believe. I wish to give you an opportunity to to open your mind to more information.
Again, you can read the full article here: “Dan Savage on the Virtues of Infidelity”.