Category Archives: Monogamy

What It’s Like to Date a Married Man

The Mother and The Whore, 1973  (La Maman et la Putain)

Scene from “The Mother and The Whore,” 1973
(La Maman et La Putain)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My boyfriend is married to another woman. Yes, he’s in the process of divorce right now, but for much of the past year that I’ve been dating him, he’s been legally married and informally separated. Dating a man with a wife tars me as a hussy, a vixen, a minx—all the stereotypes of the devouring woman. And since I’m blonde and a quarter of a century younger than my boyfriend, I become a walking cliché, a symbol of the mid-life crisis, a threat to marriages everywhere.

People assume I’m a homewrecker, which I’m not. I can see it in their eyes.  There’s a certain look that you’re given when your recently separated boyfriend introduces you to his friends, a look that suggests with little subtlety that you are a stain on the pristine fabric of society. That you have dared to entered into a relationship with someone who is still legally married to someone else is still a socially fraught act, even in this supposedly progressive America. Sure, fewer people are getting married, but make no mistake about it, Americans still revere marriage. Gays are clamoring for it. Women are Pinteresting the shit out of it. Parents continue to pressure their children about it. In this matrimonialist culture, I’m cast as the villain to my boyfriend’s soon-to-be-ex-wife’s martyr.

I’m used to being judged for studying sex or having controversial viewpoints, and I’m fine with it because I’ve made a choice to devote my life to helping to change attitudes about sex. But being judged for falling in love with a married man is a different experience because falling in love is not a choice. I guess I could have not acted on my feelings. I could have walked away. But that would have left me and my boyfriend miserable. And his marriage would still be over. Continue reading

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Why Monogamy Should Be Classified as a Paraphilia

Married Couple

Do these people have a paraphilia?

Imagine this scenario: a friend (we’ll call her Rene) says to you that she plans on spending the rest of her life having sex with the same person (we’ll call him Tom). Rene claims that for the next fifty or so years she will flirt only with Tom, fantasize only about sex with Tom, stay with Tom even when he gets fat and sick and old. This will make her happy, she thinks. It will make her so deliriously happy that Rene must celebrate by inviting all their friends to an expensive, drunken party where she declares these intentions while her friends and family cry, not out of sadness for her misplaced ideas about happiness, but with joy, with the hope that unlike the majority of married couples, she will continue to have a great sex life with Tom. But in all probability this will not happen. There’s about a 50% chance that there will be cheating in the relationship and a 15% chance that they will stop having sex altogether. And most likely even if Rene and Tom are still having sex, it will be of the routine, robotic variety. Yet our society continues to perpetuate the myth that lifetime monogamy is a normal state for most human beings and that it leads to happiness.

It’s such an ingrained societal belief that deigning to question it is seen as heresy, which has created a situation where people who question monogamy are too scared to openly discuss it because they fear social reprisal. They then assume that most people are happy practicing monogamy, since few people are saying otherwise. Communication theorist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann called this phenomena the Spiral of Silence, which is succinctly described by Wikipedia as “the process by which one opinion becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority do not speak up because they fear isolation from society.”

Side note: The Spiral of Silence is controversial among some because of Noelle-Neumann’s connection to Nazism. Having tea with Hitler and writing for Das Reich, a newspaper founded by Joseph Goebbels, isn’t the best way to endear yourself to the academic community. Some scholars believe that her theory is “riddled with totalitarian ideology gleaned from working as “Germany’s leading pollster.” Continue reading

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Why Obama Relies On the Myth of Monogamy to Defend Gay Marriage

Obama Gay ScandalAlthough I’m thrilled that Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, I’m not happy that he trotted out his monogamous gay staff members as a justification for his changed opinion. “Members of my own staff…are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships” and “are raising kids together,” Obama said as if this were a new phenomenon that hadn’t been going on for decades in the United States. Even though my opinion is biased since I’m straight-phobic (according to this test), I felt like what he really wanted to say was: “Now that gay people have finally stopped spending all their time fellating customers at truck stops in exchange for peanut-butter Wicked Whoopie pies, they should be granted equal rights.” Praising same-sex couples for following the heterosexual model of lifetime monogamy allows him to seem progressive by advocating for sexual minorities, while also enabling him to reinforce the deeply held belief that all worthwhile sexual relationships should culminate in monogamous marriage.

Since I’ve never been particularly impressed by the institution of heterosexual marriage, I’ve found it unfortunate that gay marriage is being used as a proxy for gay rights. A monogamous lifestyle should not be a requirement for civil rights. If that were the rule, then nobody would have any, since in practice, in nearly half of “monogamous” relationships, one or both partners has cheated, according to Dr. Terri Conley. And you can’t throw a rock without hitting a “straight” monogamous married man who frequents transsexual hookers.

Lost in this whole gay marriage debate is the idea of whether marriage as an institution is valuable and whether monogamy makes us happy. The gay marriage debate glorifies marriage, presenting the betrothed as blissful creatures who live moral lives of tranquility. But this is an inaccurate picture. Not only is cheating rampant among the married, but also 15% of married people are stuck in sexless marriages. Sure some people are happily married, and that’s great for them. But what is rarely discussed is that most married people have shitty sex lives. Defenders of marriage routinely trot out statistics that married people have more sex than single people. What they don’t mention is that most of this sex is boring and mechanical. A disappointing sex life seems to be an accepted trade off for the security of marriage, but does it have to be? Continue reading

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