Many a Man Has Good Horns
After my last serious, monogamous relationship ended in 2008, I became really disillusioned with the entire concept of romance, love, marriage, monogamy, &c. I spent years avoiding any romantic commitments like the plague and hurting a few feelings along the way.
In 2012 I met my wife, and in 2014 we got married. It’s been a long, strange journey that has changed my mind about some things and reinforced my feelings about others.
I readily acknowledge that my initial suspicions about monogamy beginning in 2008 were more about protecting my feelings and avoiding commitment than they were about any moral stances. But along the way, I really did come to believe that monogamy hurts relationships and reinforces people’s insecurities and fears and at this point, I wouldn’t ever go back to being in a monogamous relationship.
My wife and I have been non-monogamous since day one, but what that has meant has evolved over time. I don’t have the time or energy to delve into the intricacies and minutiae of our entire relationship w/r/t monogamy, but there are some things I wanted to touch on.
Why non-monogamy? The main reason is that we find that our relationship is much more honest as a result. Most monogamous couples have to consistently lie to one another, pretending to only be attracted to one person, and pretending to the believe their partner when they say the same lie. My wife and I don’t ever have to pretend that we don’t find other people attractive. Lying about anything undermines the trust of any relationship. If she ever told me that I was the only person she was attracted to, I would begin to doubt any other flattering or positive things she ever told me.
I don’t believe that humans are built for monogamy. I believe that most people have wandering eyes, and that most people would be happier in their relationships if they could sleep with an attractive stranger once in a while. I can attest to the fact that almost every single time, no matter how fun or physically satisfying the experience is, it will only serve to remind you why you enjoy your partner’s company more than anyone else’s.
Monogamy is about obligation, and I don’t believe in building relationships on obligation. I spend my time with the people whose company I enjoy, not the people I am ‘required’ to spend time with. Given the option of spending time with anyone I know, I’ll choose to spend time with my wife 99% of the time. Not because I have to, not because her feelings would be hurt if I didn’t, not because I don’t have anyone else to spend time with, but because I enjoy her company more than anyone else’s.
People always ask how we deal with jealousy, which I always find a hilarious question. If monogamy were the cure for jealousy, then why are monogamous couples always at each other’s throats over jealousy? Jealousy comes from suspicion, rumor, fear, uncertainty; none of which is part of my relationship. Knowing that my wife is attracted to other people and knowing when she sleeps with other people means I don’t ever have any uncertainty. I know who my wife is interested in and I know who she sleeps with and vice versa. Having that honesty and openness means that I don’t have to worry about it.
The biggest problem that my wife and I face is the misconception that my wife is simply a passive victim whose husband steps out on her. The false pity that people in my life — my coworkers are the worst offenders in this regard — heap on my wife is insulting to both of us and is based solely on an outdated idea that women are not as interested in sex as men are, and that women use sex as a bargaining to obtain commitment in relationships. It’s as ubiquitous as it is stupid. My wife is a wonderful, strong human being and the idea of anyone pitying her infuriates me.
The most amusing, perplexing, and sometimes enraging part of being in an open relationship is the reaction from partners and potential partners. 90% of women who message me on dating sites only do so to ask me the same three or four questions about the logistics of my relationship. After satisfying their curiosity they generally make some insulting remark or convey their moral outrage at the very idea of my marriage.
The most salient interactions I’ve had with women w/r/t to my open marriage have been with women who regularly cheated on their partners with me when I was single, but were disgusted by the idea of being with someone in an open marriage. It is such a specific circumstance that it seems impossible that it could have happened more than once, but it did. I’m not bitter at being rejected physically — obviously no one is obligated to sleep with me for any reason — but I was amused by the idea that so many women find a faithless monogamy more ethically palatable than a faithful open marriage. And that is the crux of why I don’t believe in monogamy. Monogamy is the great lie of great lies; it values the overt display of faithfulness rather than the true practice of faithfulness. There can be no honesty in a system built on a dishonest premise.