Perfectlyflawed asked about my specific views on monogamy. Adam also recently referenced an article on his own blog about the same subject. After doing a search thru my blog files, I realized I’ve only given partial answers on the subject. What better time than the present to put it into a post? I had to really condense it though. There are so many aspects that come into play in relationships however, I’m trying to keep the topic about monogamy.
First, let me list out a few axioms which I firmly believe to be true1 and represent the bulk of my argument.
1) Commitment and monogamy are not the same thing.
2) Intimacy and sex are not the same thing.
3) Men, by genetic disposition, are less inclined to bond emotionally with their sexual partners.
Just from the above mentioned ideas many often assume I am against monogamy. Not true. My argument is that monogamy is possible just not probable for most gay men. Big difference. I am against applying monogamy out of personal insecurities, irrational fear or as a form of control. We also often forget what works for one may not work for others. We project our own morals or ideals onto those around us. A very natural human trait. However, it is our reason that should save us from false ideologies. What works for one may not work for all.
If one looks at most species in nature, monogamy is not the norm. That is not to say it cannot be. There are some species that often form life-long bonds with one mate. Again, possible? Yes. Probable? No. Back to my little axioms.
1) While monogamy is a type of commitment, it is not all encompassing. The failed assumption I encounter is that you cannot have one w/o the other. IMHO, we get this concept from a paradigm designed for opposite-sex couples to propagate the species.2 And, considering we are bombarded with this relationship model practically from birth, it is no wonder many gay men fall into the assumption they too must follow the same model. Commitment to share your life with someone involves a lot more than sex. Sex can be a big part of that but by no means the only part.
2) While intimacy and sex can be very intertwined they are also not mutually inclusive. From my own perspective, intimacy often involves very non-sexual acts. I often find this to be a big issue for gay men. Out of loneliness, I think many of us are really searching for intimacy and using sex to get it. It can be hard to separate one’s desire or lust from the need for companionship and/or emotional fulfillment. Now throw in varying sex drives and you see yet another failed assumption.
3) Men as mammals have lower levels of the chemical in their brains that causes bonding with sexual partners.3 That is not to say all men have the same levels. Libido goes hand in hand w/this argument. For some, like myself, with a strong libido, sex is more of a constant need vs a random occurrence. For others who may have lower sex drives, it can relate more to intimacy vs carnal satisfaction. Neither is wrong or right just different. Now put the two together as often happens. Who’s needs should come first? The person with the higher or lower sex drive? Is it fair to ask one to do without because the other just isn’t interested? Well, if he really loved me, he’d be faithful. Relationships are supposed to be about mutual fulfillment, emotionally and physically, not one-sided controls.
“What about the children?” Forgetting for a moment we aren’t talking about children, children shouldn’t be exposed to the sexual exploits of adults (regardless of sexuality) until they reach a level awareness that usually comes w/puberty. However, when children are involved one should be putting the needs of the children first. The rather obvious failed assumption here is that children only thrive in monogamous relationship models because it provides stability. Well, I guess the thousands, if not millions, of us who grew up in totally dysfunctional families can prove that little assumption wrong. How many of us grew up with parents who hated each other but stayed together for the sake of the children. The reality is children rarely grow up even in heterosexual relationships only being influenced by their parents. What about Uncles/Aunts, Grandparents, and family friends? All of these folks often play a vital role in the development of children. Children need love, acceptance, and support. It doesn’t really matter so much where it comes from as long as they get it.
Now figure in a variety of variables like a complete lack of gay role models, environment, childhood trauma/abuse, upbringing, religion,4 the stigma of being gay, etc you begin to see how really complex it can be. Is it any wonder we as gay men struggle to find meaningful fulfilling relationships?
Instead of creating labels, limits, and controls for relationships or prospective ones, we should take the time to be honest. First and foremost, we need to be honest with ourselves about our desires, drives, fetishes, etc. Forget what you think you should be or is expected of you and admit to yourself what it is that really floats your boat. Then comes honesty with your partner(s). If you can’t be honest w/yourself or your partner, you really aren’t ready for any type of relationship, open or otherwise. We often see the fallout from such lack of honesty thru “cheating”. Lets face it, if your needs aren’t getting met at home (emotional or physical) you often find it elsewhere. That or it manifests in other ways like poor health, depression, etc. Either way, you are doing yourself and your partner a disservice.
Here is where I sort of go off topic a bit. Open or closed, relationships are hard work. Many of us rush into relationships w/o really being able or ready to handle it. No shame there. Loneliness can be an ugly and bitter emotion. But to truly conquer it, we have to reach a level of self-acceptance and respect that is not always easy. We need to love ourselves before we can truly love another. We also forget, humans are fallible. We make mistakes. Love without room for forgiveness, isn’t really love but control. I can only love you if you do this or don’t do that. Sound familiar? And just because many men rush into an open LTR5 w/o taking the time to understand it doesn’t mean it is any worse (or better) than a closed one.
Does this mean you might find less prospective mates? Of course it does. But, you are finding less because you are refining your search to those better suited to you vs anyone who expresses interest.
Let the “oh no he didn’ts” begin!
- IMHO,they are documented fact but for some, them is fightin’ words! [↩]
- This planet is suffering already from overpopulation so there is no real fear of extinction. [↩]
- I know the name of the chemical but having a brain fart on how to spell it at the moment. [↩]
- Actually, religion shouldn’t count because monogamy was added to most religions much later. However, religion does play a big part in how we get our view of relationships. [↩]
- People often assume having an open LTR means a complete free for all. Relationships can be open or not in a variety of ways. [↩]