Vickie Larson’s recent article in the Huffington Post titled, “Why Men Need to Cheat” caused a flurry of attention.
She interviewed Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England’s University of Winchester and author of the provocative new book, The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating.
Mr. Anderson calls monogamy a, “socially compelled sexual incarceration” within a society who has a stronghold on our beliefs. Those beliefs, he labels as ‘monogamism’, brings with it ostracism and judgment to anyone who questions or strays from its boundaries.
His main point in the interview is that men have a strong urge or NEED for quick, frivolous, unattached sex, while thriving on and wanting the emotional monogamy and continued love of their wife.
Quick sex here, stable marriage there.
Honestly, who of us wouldn’t like to have our cake and eat it too?
Anderson’s idea is that one (in particular men) can engage in sex outside of marriage without emotional entanglements and still have strong love, interest, and desire for a long term marriage with their spouse.
Many couples I have worked with struggle with the concept that one partner ‘stepped out’ and can STILL claim to love them.
How is this love?
Well its not about the lack of love of the spouse, it can be more about meeting our own selfish needs. Its more like a lack of respect for the monogamous commitment they agreed upon with their partner.
Getting a thrill here, attention, excitement and alot of pleasure ‘down there’.
I believe that monogamy is not a natural human inclination.
Bonding, community, team work….yes-a natural inclination, it provides safety, security and promotes the continuation of the human race. Yet monogamy albeit providing financial security, stability in raising a family, emotional security and more, is a choice.
Those that recognize this and discuss their interest in sharing themselves sexually with other people, often receive a backlash from not only their spouse but from society.
How dare you?
Well its honest, raw, real.
Often the ‘injured’ partner will state they would ‘never do that’, which to me means, monogamous choices are easier for them. It is not something they battle or at least commonly battle. They are able to prioritize their respect for their monogamous agreement rather than seek sexual gratification elsewhere.
Limited research is available that looks at the success of open marriages, where a strong commitment and love remains in the long term relationship while agreeing upon sexual escapades elsewhere.
Dan Savage has the term ‘monogamish’, to describe his long term relationship.
Savage states, “Why do most people assume that all nonmonogamous relationships are destined to fail? Because we only hear about the ones that do. If a three-way or an affair was a factor in a divorce or breakup, we hear all about it. But we rarely hear from happy couples who aren’t monogamous, because they don’t want to be perceived as dangerous sex maniacs who are destined to divorce. ”
Dossie Easton, is a psychotherapist, specializing in polyamory and penned the book, The Ethical Slut.
“The Ethical Slut discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way. Discussion topics include how to deal with the practical difficulties and opportunities in finding and keeping partners, maintaining relationships with others, and strategies for personal growth.
It contains chapters discussing how consensual nonmonogamy is handled in different subcultures such as the gay and lesbian communities, information on handling scheduling, jealousy, communication, conflict in relationships, and etiquette for group sexual encounters.”
What we can agree upon is that affairs occur with somewhat regularity in our society.
Mr. Anderson notes men’s NEED for sex, the constraints of monogamy, and limits to disclosing our natural state.
I postulate that both men and women choose monogamy. This choice can be a difficult one.
It is also NOT the only choice.
One can love a partner and eye another, have a sexual romp, and return to their commitment at home.
Most of us would enjoy the occasion of eating our cake.