Friday, May 3, 2013

Why We Need to Talk About Monogamy

I have a tendency to state things stronger in writing than I do in speech. I have time to think about the words and I remove the language of uncertainty. This sometimes makes my statements too forceful. This was true about my post on monogamy. Some people thought that I said men can't be monogamous. Men can, and often are monogamous, but I know many men aren't and I want to stand up for them. There's nothing wrong with you. If you want to be monogamous please do that and be happy. If monogamy is making you miserable you might not even know it. You may feel it's wrong for you,  maybe even for anyone, and can't get past the feeling of infidelity and insecurity it brings you. You may have even tried it and it didn't work, but I know it works if you can do it right.


Why Some Men Shouldn't Be Monogamous? 

The reason they shouldn't be monogamous is because they aren't and never have been. I know guys who've never been monogamous with any partner they've ever been with, and yet they still believe that monogamy can work for them. These men are in their late thirties and forties and still don't know themselves well enough to see the truth in their own behavior. They think they just need to find the right person. I'm here to tell you that the common denominator in all those failed relationships is you. There's nothing wrong with your sexual needs. You have been lied to just as much as you've been lying to your partners. You're just a guy. Men have a need for sexual variety and I'm here to tell you that it's okay.

"But I want a committed loving relationship"

I want you to know you can still have that. It's not less of a love relationship if you sleep around with your partner's permission. It's all in how you do it. Dan Savage is a author of the term "monogomish" in his column Savage Love. He talks about "monogamish" heterosexual couples who wanted to tell their success stories. You can read about these types of relationships and see that it's not just for gay men. We base our relationships on what straight people do, so the links I'm including are about straight couples. They apply even more for us because two men are involved, not because gay men are inherently more sexually promiscuous, but because we're men.

What's Wrong with Monogamy?

I would say nothing is wrong with it, but that's not true. In Mark Oppenheimer's New York Times Magazine piece "Married, With Infidelities," Savage put it best when he said:

"I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted."

Monogamous couples need to recognize how tough it is to be with just one person forever. It's so common to see people break up and get back together again just so they can call themselves monogamous. All they needed was a conversation and a lot less self loathing over moral norms. Men may have a biological imperative to reproduce with as many partners as possible to ensure the survival of our genes. It's not a mistake or a quirk, it's why we're here. Be grateful that men are the way we are. Gay or Straight, men are exactly the way we should be.

Do Gay Men Who Can't Be Monogamous Make Us Look Bad?

All this talk of non monogamy can, and probably is, worrisome to marriage equality advocates as we fight for access to the traditional relationship options that heterosexual people already enjoy. But should we see monogamish relationships as a threat to traditional marriage? No. If people are actually happier when they're able to openly and frankly discuss their desires, their passions and what they need from each other, even if that means another partner a few nights a year, wouldn't that help straight marriages remain strong? We may have some things to teach our straight brothers about sexuality. In fact that's why diversity of experience is good, so we can learn from each other.

How Gay Men Can Strengthen Straight Marriages

I would argue that heterosexual marriage is in great need of an intervention. We're addicted to the past and we need to realize that our traditions are outdated. It's often said that half of all marriages end in divorce, so the sanctity of marriage is being threatened even without help from us. A slight readjustment in perspective about monogamy and what we expect from each other could save a lot of marriages. Clearly the way society approaches marriage now isn't working. By expanding our understanding of how couples can operate together, we're actually going to strengthen the institution of marriage.

Let's Keep Talking

It's not that men can't be monogamous, but it's the fact no one talks about non monogamy in a healthy way. So many gay couples bought into those old traditions when they really didn't have to. Those who did find non monogamy worked for them don't talk about their success for fear, legitimate as it may be, that their friends would think less of them. Don't shut down the conversation because it makes you mad or nervous that you'll never find a monogamous man. I'm saying you can find him, but that you may not need to. You may have already missed out on a great relationship because of your belief  that "two's company, but three's a crowd." We'll have a lot more happy, loving, long lasting, and healthy relationships when monogamish couples stop being misunderstood. We can only do that if we keep the dialogue going.


MALCOLM TRAVERS
Male Media Mind