Social Question

thesparrow's avatar

Do you think it's possible to 'not be cut out' for monogamy?

Asked by thesparrow (2733 points ) November 6th, 2011

Remaining completely neutral, I want to ask the following question: do you think that open relationships exist because people genuinely can’t be monogamous, or do you think this permission to say that one can’t be monogamous is simply:

a] a post-modern construct

b] for people with emotional / psychological issues not healthy enough to be in a committed relationship (i.e. sex addicts, afraid of intimacy, etc…)

Or do you think open relationships are legitimate ways for people to explore their sexuality without being limited.

My own opinion, once again, remains neutral.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

78 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

There are people who literally have a problem where they are addicted to sex, and its a psychological problem.

thesparrow's avatar

@XOIIO Good point. I should have mentioned that

laureth's avatar

It’s possible to be addicted to sex and stay monogamous. Just find someone else like you.

And yes, I believe some folks are not monogamous, by nature. This is the standard introductory text on the subject.

Or, you could check out Fluther questions here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.

thesparrow's avatar

This is interesting…

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I think monogamy is a real challenge for some people, myself included, so I would go so far as to say that there are people who just aren’t cut out for it. I think it is only a problem when a person is dishonest about their ability or lack of ability to be monogamous.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think it’s because I ‘can’t’ be monogamous. I can if I felt like it just like monogamous people can be with others. I just don’t see why I need to be. To each their own.

thesparrow's avatar

I feel like I should try to learn more about this lifestyle. Suggestions?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@thesparrow Unlike with almost everything socially related, I have not read any particular books on polyamory because I find it to be very case-specific. I can only tell you how it works in my marriage, not how it should or might or will or could work. So if you want to ask me, you can.

Coloma's avatar

It’s not for everyone. What IS for everyone is the capability to be truly intimate and to NOT use sexuality in a compulsive and unhealthy manner, and certainly not to use innocent people to meet a taste for non-monogamous variety.

Unless one agrees to live in an open relational system not too many people are going to find a non- monogamous person a good relationship choice.

It’s all about walking in your integrity, sure, have all the non-committed sex you want as long as you are sure to be 100% straight up with any potential partners.

Otherwise you’re just an ass, whether you are male or female.

It is never okay to use others.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, I believe it. I think if more people accepted their natural bent then they’d stop beating themselves up about not getting the satisfaction from it other people think they should feel. I know I much prefer a partner who doesn’t have live in a state of forced sacrifice, denial and endless effort to “keep the spark alive”.

On the flipside, there are plenty of people like myself who enjoy monogamy, who find the greatest satisfaction in it, who don’t look on it as any kind of sacrifice, doing without, stagnation, etc.

How nice it would be for people to clear through the BS and not be bogged down chasing a partnership with others who aren’t on the same page.

JLeslie's avatar

I think open relationships exist because some people feel it is right for them. I would assume people might even go through phases where they want an open relationship, and other times when they want a monogamous one.

I actually don’t tend to relate to the “natural” explanations on this topic. Some might argue it isn’t natural to be with one person your whole life, while others say nature intended us to be monogamous. I say, human beings have complicated psyches influenced by the environment quite a bit, and nature only plays a part and can usually be overruled.

The big thing for me is everything be above board, and everyone in the mix know what is going on and be comfortable with it.

I am a monogamous type girl, it’s pretty easy for me to be monogamous. I can see how polyamory could be attractive though. I think I would be insecure if my husband and I chose to try it. I would worry about him falling in love with someone else. Even if it is supposed to be just sex, I think there is a risk. At times I really want to give him permission to be with someone else, because I have had healthissues that inhibit my ability to have sex at times. I have a lot of guilt about it. I love intercourse, and feel totally cheated that life dealt me these health problems, I hate for him to be cheated too.

zensky's avatar

I know of a couple of people in an open relatioship. I know of a couple of people who do all kinds of things – to each his own.

I think monogamy is an intellectual and emotional challenge: when a couple, married, straight, gay, whatever is ready for a committment – monogamy can enhance it, adding a special and unique dimension to the depths of their love and committment. In essence, when two people feel strongly about each other, are in love with each other, sexually and intellectually fulfill their needs – monogamy is inevitible. Does one dream of pizza and ice-cream when on a diet? Sure, we have no control over fantasies.

But a committment is not a diet. Monogamy is saying; you are the only one for me. That, is a powerful message; when reciprocated, worth it.

mrrich724's avatar

I’d wager that more mammals on this earth have many partners, compared to the mammals that have one mate for life.

I think your “not being cut out for it” is simply your being more open minded than most and accepting what comes naturally.

Only society has created the standard that it should be a 1:1 ration. Some people conform, some don’t!!!

I’d say it’s normal.

Mantralantis's avatar

I think at best it’s a complete messy mix of psychological issues, emotional instability and the willing choice to want sexual freedoms with that certain type of individual. More than any one reason that is.

Blondesjon's avatar

Hell, there is a disturbingly disproportionate amount of the population not cut out to be considered human, let alone cut out to adhere to a set of archaic, ever shifting set of societal norms.

just in case, i bought in to all that monogamy bullshit when i was young, stuck with it, and now am fairly rest-assured that i won’t die too alone . . .

JLeslie's avatar

I like what @zensky said, committment is not a diet. I have never felt deprived being monogamous. There is something very special about a total commitment of love, sharing, sex. My relationship with my husband is like no other in my life.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think anyone’s relationship with their lover/husband is like anything else they’ve felt. I don’t think my relationship with Alex is like any other in my life. That’s not what happens when I go outside. I don’t feel anything is missing from our relationship. I hate diets of any kind too. I think, again, (and I’m so tired of saying this over and over) polyamory doesn’t mean ‘lack of commitment’.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I believe you. I think both can be true. I don’t accuse people who prefer polyamory of being unsatisfied or having less of a committment to their SO. I was just speaking for myself as someone who is monogamous that I don’t feel deprived.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Why would you feel deprived is what I’m asking? Are people going outside their relationship something that would make anyone feel this way?

cockswain's avatar

I think a lot of people want to have sex with a lot of people, and social conventions may prevent most of them from acting on what they want to do.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think the original question implies that some people feel deprived of sex with others when they are inclined to have sex with many people and the expecations of their primary relationship is to be monogamous. I think there are people who prefer polyamory, but don’t feel deprived in a monogamous relationship. It just depends on the person.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Oh, I thought the OP said they’re neutral.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir She did, but she mentioned various comments or opinions others may have.

Are we fighting? I have no argument with your lifestyle, and no judgement, and no presumption about why people are, or are not monogamous. Did you see my first answer on the Q?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie Ha, no we’re not fighting.

fizzbanger's avatar

I don’t see how a relationship cannot be legitimate if both the parties are in agreement of the terms of it, and happy.

JLeslie's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Ok, good. Because I am very tired and would have a hard time digging myself out of some hole I dug by stating something badly. Logging off. See everyone tomorrow.

wundayatta's avatar

Being non-monogamous is not necessarily about sex. It can be about having deep, strong connections with more than one person. Our lives are complex things, and there is no telling what will happen down the road no matter how many promises you make at any one particular point.

I was totally excited and totally sincere when I promised my wife to remain faithful to her until we died. When things started deteriorating between us a decade later, it was extremely painful. I didn’t want to break the ”‘til death” part, but eventually I decided that I needed some kind of closeness, or our relationship would end. If I couldn’t get closeness with my wife, then maybe with someone else.

My wife forgave me, and we have been building a new and different relationship. But for a time I was not monogamous. I can’t say I’m not cut out for monogamy, because I have been monogamous for most of my life. Just not always with the same person. I prefer to be with one person at a time.

But at some points in my life, one love has not been enough. It’s not about sex. It’s about feeling close to someone—feeling connected. Sometimes it seems to me that I needed a temporary relationship with someone else before I could figure out what was wrong with my marriage. I’m sure a lot of people think that was the wrong way to go about it, but it worked out for me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Do you think it’s after hearing accounts like that that some people draw erroneous conclusions about all open relationships? I commend your honesty and that the two of you have forgiven one another for whatever indiscretion but including what you did in polyamory kind of gives it a broad definition. Which I guess is fine for some people. I don’t think polyamory is ever doing anything because of lack or anything or behind someone’s back no matter how well-intentioned the stepping out.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m sorry. If I mentioned polyamory in my post, I didn’t mean to. I also did not mean to imply that I was talking about anyone other than myself. I don’t think non-monogamy is equivalent to polyamory. So I would agree with your last sentence.

I don’t think I’m cut out for monogamy, at least as most people define it. But I don’t think I’m cut out for polyamory, either.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@wundayatta Huh. Well I guess when people usually say non-monogamy, they mean something like ‘open relationship’. But you’re right. It can be other kinds of spells of non-monogamy but those same people would call it cheating. Which is a technicality. As to your last sentence, that’s really interesting. I think that’s where most people are, actually, in general.

nikipedia's avatar

I think nearly anyone can be monogamous, but people have very different levels of wanting to be, evidenced by the answers above. Monogamy doesn’t have any value for me personally, and my partner and I generally agree that having other relationships is a strengthening, stabilizing influence on our relationship with each other.

Aethelflaed's avatar

How is it a post-modern construct? I’ve never heard of it that way, so can you elaborate?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed Haven’t you heard? That’s what people say about anything they don’t like these days.

cockswain's avatar

What’s a post-modern construct? For that matter, how can anything happen after “modern” that we’d know about? I don’t think I like that phrase very much.

EDIT: Never mind, I just looked it up.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I must be taking different classes than the rest of the world, because in mine, every time post-modern is mentioned, it’s all “oooooo… how wonderful” and “ugh! Modernity rears it’s ugly head again…”

@cockswain Just so as not to derail this thread, go ask it as a separate question. (please?)

cockswain's avatar

Nope. Don’t care enough any longer.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed No, I know. You and I take the same classes. That response isn’t exactly my cup of tea, either because post-modernity can’t just be mapped onto any movement without nuance but, nonetheless, the people we’re talking about are much less in number than those who are just throwing the word ‘post-modern’ around.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Ok, cool. I mean, I know post-modern gets a bad rep (not entirely undeservedly) for being all wiser-and-more-evolved-than-thou, but I wasn’t quite sure it was being thrown around as just another word that means “bad”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed Not just to mean bad. To mean a fad, to mean something transient, not real. Example: Simone says she’s a post modernist when it comes to gender. She thinks gender doesn’t ‘really’ exist but we all know that it does obviously and we can’t seem to locate our own bias in modernity.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Actually laughing out loud…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed Actually, I’ve heard the ‘it’s a post-modern construct’ thrown in polyamory’s direction more than in the opposite direction. So it’s a wash.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Is monogamy a modern construct? I usually hear of monogamy as being “the way things were” long before modernity came to be.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed What is a modern construct (or a post-modern construct, who knows) is that we have named it something. We know that marriage as an organizational technique goes way back to some (if not most) hunter-gatherer societies (which aren’t the only ancient societies but anyway) but that doesn’t mean there was monogamy. I think monogamy as a moral thing has been tied to abrahamic faiths and upheld during the Victorian times. I don’t think it was ever reality though. Not for men.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Interesting. Really hating that the History of Sexuality class isn’t offered till next fall… Why can’t it be this semester!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Aethelflaed OOH, hello Foucault! It’ll be great.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir It will; it’s my favorite teacher who’s doing it, too, so it’ll be extra awesome.

ucme's avatar

It could be argued that it all comes down to “brand loyalty” some people are clearly comfortable with that arrangement, while others prefer to “shop around” for affordable replacements.
Wow, that sounds so romantic! :¬)

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia Do you find it stregnthening to your relationship with your SO because you don’t expect your SO to be able to be everything you need in a relationship (which I think is realistic actually) or because after spending time with others you realize he is the best for you (he right? I seem to remember your straight) or something else? I don’t assume any of the things I mentioned, just curious. And, do you go outside of your relationship just for sex? Or, do you wind up having multiple relationships at one time that are lasting?

nikipedia's avatar

@JLeslie, all the reasons you state factor in. Also, if one of us has a crush or a flirtation or is attracted to someone else, it’s not, as Dan Savage puts it, an “extinction level event.” It’s just a fun thing that one or both of us can pursue.

I don’t think either of us is interested in “just sex” (although that’s probably more true for me than for him). If a situation came up, like a one night stand while on vacation, we would probably go for it, but sex with someone you’re not interested in beyond that (or who is not interested in you beyond that) is not very satisfying. Especially when you already have someone you can have sex with who you do have a meaningful connection with—going out and finding someone for just sex seems pointless.

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia Interesting.

Coloma's avatar

One rule I strictly adhere to in any potential dating or relationship potential I am happily single and not looking at this time is ones ability to be alone and at peace with who they are.

There are far too many people out there using addictive sex and relationship pursuit as a way of coping with their own unaddressed emotional issues.

My “rule” is I will not even consider dating anyone that is less than a minimum of several years out of a longterm relationship and has made a conscious choice to be single and enjoy it for at least a several year period.

Jumping from bed to bed and relationship to relationship is a huge red flag of an addictively driven person that is compulsively running, from themselves.

No thanks.

mattbrowne's avatar

From an evolutionary perspective there are two male mating strategies for passing on male genes.

1) Have sex with as many healthy women as possible being always on the move.

2) Have sex with one healthy woman and make sure that as many children as possible from this relationship grow up to have sex themselves.

Some men are implementing strategy 1, but the majority goes with strategy 2. There is hormonal evidence for this (oxytocin and vasopressin). Monogamy is a success story. For most men. Yet some are not cut out for it.

nikipedia's avatar

@mattbrowne, although Genghis Khan, employer of strategy 1, had so many offspring that 0.5% of the world’s current population is believed to be directly descended from him.

Coloma's avatar

@nikipedia

Haha..YES, just read that THIS morning in a book I have!
He was also a sociopath according to the same source, sooo..was his excessive siring a product of the times or his predatory nature? ;-)

mattbrowne's avatar

@nikipedia – Yeah, he clearly wasn’t cut out for monogamy…

thesparrow's avatar

Wow.. I’m very happy with the success rate of this thread!

thesparrow's avatar

@zensky But the value of a lot of messages is lost in post-modern culture.

thesparrow's avatar

But do you think if as a woman we want to be with only one man in a monogamous relationship they will always not want to? Ie. that’s their inherent nature? They’ll always think about how they’re ‘trapped’? Or do you think it’s genuinely possible for a guy to want to be committed to one woman without feeling ‘trapped’?

On that note, why can’t women feel trapped too?

Coloma's avatar

It’s possible, and many men prefer monogamy, but, men are the more likely gender to struggle with the desire for variety.

It is an evolutionary thing, and while I believe we all have the power to make choices, most men will, at the very least, have more of a predisposition towards a wandering eye, if not a wandering weenie too. lol

Anybody can feel “trapped” if they are in a relationship that is no longer working or meeting their needs.

I divorced my ex for a variety of reasons, but wanting to screw other men was not a part of it.

However, while one cannot argue with biology I also don’t buy into the ” he couldn’t help himself” excuse.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Coloma One can totally argue with biology. Biology isn’t some set and ineluctable thing, but rather it is heavily influenced by our surroundings and socialization. Nature isn’t versus nurture, rather, nurture affects nature, and nature effects nurture, all throughout our lives, intertwining.

Coloma's avatar

@Aethelflaed

I agree, hence my comment on choice and not using biology as an excuse for low integrity.
However, it is true that the male human, historically does tend to want to spread his seed around, so to speak.

thesparrow's avatar

I just feel like cheating on the part of any long-term partner I have is inevitable (since it’s common for men). I don’t mean my current one.. or do I? Well, he certainly doesn’t seem like the type who would cheat, but who knows right?

As for me, I would never cheat. If I found a match more suitable, I would break up with my partner and leave him for the other guy. I don’t believe in cheating.. just moving on. My mom has said the same thing to me. Even if you are unhappy with your partner, don’t cheat because that is non-ethical. Simply move on and let him know what’s up.

Then again you can’t find someone more traditional and old-school than me. I want all of it—husband, kids, family. All of the stuff guys are supposed to be very afraid of. So think about how hard it is for me in this world.

I feel like I’m with a pretty morally-conscious person and he really does love me. He barely even looks at other chicks when we go out. But I don’t believe in fairy tales. What you people have said seems to be the norm for men, and I can’t get my hopes up thinking I’ll have my ‘prince charming.’

Then again.. my grandparents were married for over 50 yrs with no cheating!

Coloma's avatar

@thesparrow

Cheating is usually not about just sex, it’s about an overall breakdown in communication and intimacy. The best preventative strategy is to be open and honest and nip problems in the bud, before they fester into huge resentments.

It IS entirely possible to not cheat, and while the nature of the beast is there, the beast can be tamed by a healthy and conscious person that holds their integrity to a high standard.

Cowards cheat, honest PEOPLE choose honesty. ;-)

thesparrow's avatar

@Coloma Thanks. That was a very smart answer.

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow There are men who don’t cheat. There are different types of cheaters. Chronic ones, and those who find themselves cheating when they had never thought they would. I agree with @coloma that most people don’t cheat for the sex. People like to feel good about themselves and to want to come home. The simplest advice I give women is tell your husband how great he is, be supportive, review your goals with each other so you understand what you both want from life, and when he walks in the door be happy to see him. Girlfriends are excited to see their new boyfriends, they do think their boyfriends are great, boyfriends talk about their dreams with their new girlfriends. Don’t lose that. It’s not that you have to be always positive, giddy, ready for sex, can’t complain about life, nor discuss difficult challenges in life. You just need to set it up that he likes coming home, looks forward to it. That’s what I think anyway. A lot of women reject feeling like they have to kiss up to their husbands needs, that the men are adults, and this puts the wife in a position of having to cater to him in a sense. Him and his ego. I can see why women feel like that, and men might even be offended by the comment, what can I say?

All this is for people who are inclined and want to be monogamous. People who prefer not to be, that is a different story. The dynamic is a little different I think. A happy home life is just as important though. Those not cut out for, or not desiring monogamy need to be honest with their partners is what I would say, because cheating usually destroys trust, respect, and in turn destroys relationships.

How would you know if your grandparents cheated?

thesparrow's avatar

Lol. My mom never caters to my dad’s ego.. sometimes, in a funny joking way implying that she thinks the male ego is a ridiculous construct. And they are happily married. I myself am not really a big ego-stroker. I just say ‘that’s nice’ or ‘good for you.’ I’d also much rather dish out compliments when this is deserved. I’m not going to fawn over some dumb scar you got while you fell over drunk 2 years ago, you know what I mean.

Also, notice the ownus (sp?) is on the woman to ‘keep her man’ from cheating. This isn’t fair, and it’s a popular view promoted in a lot of relationship self-help books for women. That somehow cheating was HER fault.. as though the man, unhappy with the relationship, couldn’t have just TOLD her what was up.

Also, I’m not sure whos going to be ‘coming home’ to who. I expect both my husband and I to be professionals with careers.

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow I am not talking about fawning. A lot of couples get into a habit of hitting each other with all the crap that needs to get done, and all the problems and complaints of the day as soon as they finally see each other after a work day. I am just suggesting start on a happy note, and give the positive compliments when deserved. I tell my husband he is gorgeous all the time, not because I think he might cheat on me, but because I love looking at him. I tell strangers they are gorgeous also sometimes. But, some people never tell the people right in their home the positive things they tell strangers, we easily take our loved ones for granted.

You might want to ask your dad what he wishes your mom did do. You might be surprised. Maybe not.

thesparrow's avatar

Aww, that’s sweet. I sometimes say things like that. Usually, he’s the one who will compliment me in the looks dept. But I’ll say things like ‘that was a smart decision’ or ‘I know you’ll get into law school because you’re one of the smartest people I know.’ Of course, he’s made comments like that about me being in grad school. So… maybe we DO do that..

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow Sounds like you do.

thesparrow's avatar

We also get snippy with each other and critical. He moreso than me.

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow Bickering can be very normal in some relationships. It depends on the couple. Not really knowing you both I have no comment about it. In my family bickering is very common place, in my husband’s it is the end of the world. We found a sort of happy medium for our own relationship, but he still wishes I was less argumentative I think, and I wish he was a little less sensitive about disagreements, but we are not too far apart on the matter.

thesparrow's avatar

We’re the opposite. I wish he was less argumentative and he wishes I was less sensitive (probably).

thesparrow's avatar

I’m still nicer than he is :P

JLeslie's avatar

@thesparrow I don’t know how long you have been together, but most couples over time move closer together in temperment I think. They develop their own rhythm to discussions and disagreements.

thesparrow's avatar

My temperament is becoming a little more saucy like his.

zensky's avatar

I actually think monogamy is sexy.

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