Due to some recent email discussions with the blogger at “Lanes Of Love” I’ve been thinking a lot about how my own views on love, sex, and monogamy developed. I certainly didn’t come to my current views randomly or without thought, they have been shaped by my experiences and an uncountable number of nights of reflection.
As most things in life it really started with the way I was raised. Coming from a churchgoing home sex itself was viewed as a bit of a taboo subject. It was never really discussed beyond being told that it is for a man and wife only. I managed to maintain this belief until well into my early 20’s when I list my virginity to a woman I thought I was going to marry. Making sex taboo is a risky way to raise children, I can see how there can be value if it works but if it doesn’t there can be serious confusion, resentment, and ignorance about sex that can be damaging.
I justified premarital sex in my mind because I viewed engagement as the same as marriage. Even the. I didn’t see how a government piece of paper or some antiquated ceremony somehow justified my love more than my feelings. When my engagement broke up I became bitter towards both my ex and the emotions that made me vulnerable. My thought process at the time was that emotion was the enemy and better relationships could be formed with a Vulcan (Randian?) like approach of pure logic.
This system worked well for me for several years during college when I had no desire for any type of companionship. Most of the girls I interacted with regularly wanted relatively simple things from me like sex, a cuddle buddy, or just an honest male friend who wouldn’t play games. I’ve always been good at compartmentalizing so when I was with a girl I focused solely on her and she felt the connection desired. There was never any lying but often a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement existed when it came to other women in my life. As is often the case this was an unstable situation in most cases and feelings developed after a few months or the girl thought I was playing an elaborate game of hard-to-get.
After college however things got more complicated because simplistic relationships were both less available and less desirable by me. My belief in the “pure reason” approach to relationships was starting to feel empty and I realized that emotion is part of a healthy and full life (at least for me).
This revelation required a reworking of my thoughts on relationships and all the subcategories that are included. I still found sexually monogamous relationships outdated and the idea of cheating to be more complicated than a physical act. After some thought I started to believe (and currently believe) that real cheating is about betrayal and/or lying. The act may be a violation of trust but the act itself is not cheating, the betrayal is.
I look at it the same way I would cheating on a test in school. If a teacher allows you to use notes on a test then no cheating has taken place, but if a teacher does not allow notes but you use them you have cheated. The action is the same and therefore not the relevant part of cheating, it is the violation of agreed upon rules that is cheating. It is the same with sex, sex is only cheating when it violates rules.
So, with modern medical technology removing the other major concern of sex (pregnancy) I had to had to figure out what all this meant for me. With sex leading to emotion and sex not necessarily being cheating I realized that emotion can (and should) be involved in relationships but sexual monogamy doesn’t need to be. It is about open and honest discourse with your partners.
That is where I stand now, honest non-monogamy (also called polyamory or responsible non-monogamy) where physical and emotional interaction is the norm. Like all types of human interaction there are pros and cons to this type of relationship and it can certainly be more complicated than monogamous relationships. It certainly isn’t for everyone but I think great value can come from spreading love to many people and opening yourself to new experiences.