Cohen, Sisters of Mercy
i love Nerve. i have enjoyed many mental and visual pleasures there. i have developed new friendships through its membership and, perhaps, potential lovers.
i read an article today by John Perry Barlow (http://www.nerve.com/PersonalEssays/Barlow/shameless/) on monogamy, or rather, his lack of it. my feelings on monogamy have until now, existed internally so bear with me as i attempt to peck them out.
Barlow, who writes essays as perfectly as lyrics, has publicly declared himself a libertine. what is the female counterpart? a libertiness?
i come from a long line of cheaters on both sides of my family. i wonder if there is a faithful gene that missed us in the evolutionary process. don't get me wrong, i've been faithful. but, like Barlow's Cynthia, i think it takes something - someone - extraordinary to make it a voluntary condition.
"For reasons I'll explain, I feel strangely exiled into a condition of emotional wandering. I think my heart will travel widely."
i smiled and nodded to myself when i read these lines. "emotional wandering" isn't that what leads to physical wandering?
i am a commitment-phobe. i can admit this. i stutter a bit when it comes to the "C" word. a man i had been seeing for some time once left a toothbrush in my bathroom. that innocent toothbrush, hanging in the holder next to mine, sent me into a tailspin. i called my mother, frantic, determined to toss his toothbrush out the window, call out all the stops and never see him again. you would think there was an engagement ring linked in the bristles! to this day he and my mother get a good laugh at my over-reaction and tease me about it.
another man i had been sleeping with for about a year commented once that i never leave anything at his house. an earring on the nightstand, my lighter in the den, something forgotten and misplaced. leaving something behind would imply some type of commitment, subtle as it may be. i could be obligated to return for it. we had a perfect relationship. we spent time together once or twice a month, made no demands on each other and expected nothing at all. we never asked when we would see each other again; we just knew we would. everyone should have a fucking buddy.
i don't sleep around. i don't have many sexual partners at one time. in fact, i often have very long periods of celibacy. and i don't deceive. i am open in my inability to make promises of fidelity. most of my adult life i have chosen unattainable men. those afflicted with a malady congregate well together.
one would think shying away from commitment and monogamy would increase sexual partners. it doesn't. seems these days everyone is looking for a relationship. one night stands are not my thing either.
i had "til death do us part" taken out of my vows when i married. it isn't that i knew then that the marriage wouldn't last. we should never make promises we cannot keep. when i approached the subject of an "open marriage" with my rather vanilla x-husband he reacted as if i was asking for us to go on a national killing spree. i never brought the topic up again. instead, i had an affair.
somewhere in the back of my mind i know that my fear of commitment stems from my uncertainty of monogamy. monogamy is not natural throughout nature. i've heard arguments that many species of birds are monogamous. however, studies have shown, through DNA of offspring, that even birds are not faithful.
monogamous expectations are the ruin of many relationships. why? we try to be something that is not natural and then we find ourselves lying to our partner not only about where we have been and what we have done, but about our own needs and desires. people settle into a relationship without ever discussing, fully, the terms.
According to Peggy Vaughan, author of "The Monogamy Myth", 1998 by Newmarket Press,
"Conservative estimates are that 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair. These figures are even more significant when we consider the total number of marriages involved, since it's unlikely that all the men and women having affairs happen to be married to each other. If even half of the women having affairs (or 20 percent) are married to men not included in the 60 percent having affairs, then at least one partner will have an affair in approximately 80 percent of all marriages. With this many marriages affected, it's unreasonable to think affairs are due only to the failures and shortcomings of individual husbands or wives."
lack of monogamy is not the failure, lack of openness is. physical attraction to other people does not cease to be simply because you are sleeping with one person. hell, physical attraction doesn't cease to be even when you are in love. i think a relationship is healthier when you can share those feelings with your partner instead of hiding them.
i can be monogamous. this, i have proven to myself. i was monogamous in the most unconventional way - an LD relationship lasting over three years during which we were only physically together every few months. so, i am not saying non-monogamy is the only route for me. i am saying, however, it is not a realistic approach to a long-term, c-c-c-c-c-committed relationship. it should not be an absolute, not open to discussion.
now, i will toss in the complication of monogamy and D/s. if i become involved again in a D/s ....no, an M/s relationship and my Master requires monogamy of me, he will get it, beyond doubt. i am not sure where i stand on polyamorous relationships. when i speak of non-monogamy i think of bringing a third into the relationship from time to time, either together or apart. i do not think of my Master having multiple slaves and i certainly do not entertain the idea of having multiple Masters at all. i am speaking of sexual non-monogamy, not emotional. i don't think i have that much love to give. i am not a jealous person, but i also am not sure i share well on a grand scale on a permanent basis. perhaps you may think this paints me a hypocrite, but, in my book, there is a difference between non-monogamy and commune poly.
so, back to Barlow.... he writes that he will not attempt monogamy again unless and until he encounters someone who induces it in him naturally. yes, that is where i stand too.
"Everybody knows that you love me, baby. Everybody knows that you really do.
Everybody knows that you've been faithful, ahh, give or take a night or two."
Cohen, Everybody Knows