I don't usually filter. When people ask about my marriages I say I cheated and that was the end of those. Sometimes people are taken aback by the over-sharing and look like they wish they'd never asked.
It wasn't fun when Todd cheated on me. It was a very difficult time for me, but I had yet to be diagnosed with bipolar and efficiently treated. I had anxiety attacks, non-existent self confidence and paranoia. I needed stability and safety and what I got was deceit and encouragement that it was all in my head. It was painful.
I have never really considered monogamy viable. The sex becomes mechanical after a while and boredom sets in when we have exhausted our partner's intellectual content. I experienced this in both of my marriages, along with severe emotional alienation. Most of us, and I certainly, crave stability and community; we need a tribe. The tendency toward a tribe is the hallmark of being a social animal. We work together for the benefit of all. Many have a better chance than one. We stick together to protect ourselves from the other tribes.
A pair relationship is a tribe. Two are stronger than one. A relationship is also a hub for us to revolve around; the thing that remains the same when everything else changes. Ironically, that sameness is what makes monogamy unrealistic. There is a whole industry devoted to spicing things up, and good luck with that.
Sex is all about novelty. That's why so much porn is produced. Once we have watched a movie it doesn't turn us on anymore. What's worse, it sometimes becomes repulsive.
Intellectual stimulation is all about variety too. That's why we hate tropes and cliches, why fashion changes and why things "get old".
However, thinking these things and living by them are two different things. The fact that a relationship is also a measure of our value and desirability fucks everything up. External validation is the way we hurt ourselves. The fear of not being good enough, of not being worthy of love and ultimately of being tossed aside, is what creates the yearning for symbols. Monogamy illustrates our priorities and commitment, that the relationship is what matters most of all.
There are some practical advantages of monogamy, like protection from VDs. Then, of course, there is research that concludes that sex chemically causes us to bond emotionally. And that's the clincher right there.
Technically, there is no difference between committing to a monogamous relationship and committing to an open relationship. That's because what you are really promising is not to leave.
Other contexts require similar symbolic behavior. For example, religions demanding a tenth of our salary, missionary work, wearing a hijab, and our employer, our team and our family expecting loyalty and criticism to be private. These behaviors are concrete and measurable proof of your allegiance. Perhaps we don't do so well with implicit.
If I have moral qualms about cheating it's because of the lies and the deceit. We will be found out sooner or later, we may not be caught red handed, but fucking our girlfriends with our hands smelling of pussy juice, well, not good.
It hurts, not because our partner fucked someone else but because she chose someone else, Sex is supposed to be something we want to do only with our partner, just being attracted to someone else is a betrayal.
These thoughts have been on my mind lately. I have been talking a lot about sexual exploration with Mike and about his inclination toward polyamory. He considers himself the vanguard of a new definition of relationship. He thinks pair relationships are outdated and oppressive. He wants to explore his sexuality, while being in preferably several committed relationships.
But there is a big ass elephant standing in the room.
We are expected to show constraint and to police our behavior. Tantrums are for children, delinquency and rebellion for teenagers. We are expected to mature and realize the value of corporation. We are expected to understand that what we say and do might hurt other people and we are expected to moderate our behavior accordingly. We are supposed to learn the rules that are the foundation of a successful community and hopefully understand the reason for those rules. We are supposed to sacrifice our desires for the common good.
When I was cheating on Todd with Frank I was fantasizing about living in a house with them both. I didn't want to choose. I figured if they were allowed the same latitude we could live happily ever after.
But of course that can never work. Not like that. A polyamorous relationship cannot grow out of one person arbitrarily adding a third to a relationship. All of the participants must choose, accept and love the new partner, otherwise, what you have are two separate relationships where one person gets half the pie and the others a quarter each. The balance of power is so heavy skewed toward one person that the relationship is a mockery of a partnership.
Today I was out walking with a co-worker. She knows the broad strokes of my relationship history. She was herself in a relationship with a serial cheater and was terribly hurt by it. She has not been in a relationship since and goes to meet ups for singles who are enjoying their singleness.
I think she accepts my cheating because I suffered the consequences and I have myself been cheated on.
But, then I kind of misstepped.
There is a guy I run into now and then. He looks an awful lot like Todd. He is married and had an infant child, and he wants to fuck me and, of course, he is practically irresistibly attractive to me. So, I am perched on the fence. Since Todd decided to end our friendship I haven't had sex. It's become a bit obsessional. I constantly evaluate people for fuckability. I want this guy. I am considering it. And, of course, I wanted to talk about it. He is hot and he is easy; theoretically, I don't have to get into a relationship and it getting all messy.
But, in my experience the chance that his wife will find out is 100%, I want him to understand that, I want him to understand what he has to loose, that he is betting more than I. I am going to have that conversation with him if I decide to go through with it.
When it goes south they'll both blame me, and that's fine by me. As we have concluded, my morals are a bit sketchy in this area and I take responsibility for the outcome. The problem is that for them, my willingness to accept the blame doesn't change the fact that things went south. Killing the murderer doesn't bring the murdered back to life, so to speak.
I have been dying to talk to someone about this. To get some input. Mike is useless in this context because he wants to hear only the things that confirms the rightness of the choices he wants to make. And further, he'd rather I sleep with him, it'd be better even because he has his girlfriend's permission. Most of my other friends are not viably candidates either.
I told her about the guy who'd graciously offered his services and that it was great because he's married. I never got to the doubt part. Or, the thoughts on monogamy part.
She, quite earnestly, condemned me. She told me that just considering it this lowered her opinion of me. She was clearly disgusted. She told never to mention it again. She looked me in the eye and said, "That really sucks."
I considered talking about the doubt bit, to talk about the mandatory pre coital conversation, but I decided against it.
I regret telling her, but I don't hold her condemnation against her. I doubt I'll be able to earn her respect again.
My reasoning and my opinions do not change the fact that I would cause irreparable harm to their family. I may not believe that monogamy makes for a sustainable relationship, but that doesn't relieve me of responsibility. I would be forcing my beliefs onto another person. That is unforgivable. It makes me callous. I deserve her disgust and I don't want to convince her to see it my way.
I am trying to decide if I am going to change my mind. The world is full of people, many of whom are not paired up. Wanting to avoid complications by having sex with someone who is unavailable doesn't really put me on the good guys list. And that's actually worth some thought.
I wish I could tell her that she's made me reconsider, but I think it would sound like lip service.