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nikipedia's avatar

Are there any pieces of cultural wisdom you've found to be untrue?

Asked by nikipedia (27519points) November 10th, 2011

Last night I got to see a live Q&A session with Dan Savage (a brilliant sex columnist, and much more). He argued that two closely held cultural stories we tell each other are, for the most part, myths:

(1.) That if you’re really in love, monogamy is easy and you don’t have any interest in other people, and

(2.) That you should never have to do something you’re uncomfortable with in bed—sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do something you might not want to for your partner. (He is not arguing that you don’t have the right to say no to a sexual partner, he is just advocating for more flexibility and openness to experience).

For the most part, I think cultural folk wisdom tends to be dead on—for the most part, honesty really is the best policy, you really should treat people the way you want to be treated, and so on. I would be interested to hear your experiences with one or both of these ideas that Dan Savage challenged, and I’m also wondering if you can think of other cultural myths that many people buy into that you haven’t found to be accurate.

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12 Answers

Brian1946's avatar

This might be more of a piece of tacitly held presumption than cultural wisdom, but I don’t believe that one is obligated to socialize with someone just because they’re family.

My wife and I don’t hassle each other about exchanging gifts on our birthdays, anniversary, or on xmas.Therefore we don’t believe that we need such rituals to maintain our relationship. I think removing that stress from both of our lives has actually strengthened our marriage.

Blackberry's avatar

Physically beating children doesn’t make them better. And marriage doesn’t “solidify” your relationship, neither do children.

Regarding love and monogamy, I am not certain if my aversion towards it is due to my age, or if this is a part of my personality. I think most of my monogamous relationships failed because the honeymoon period was over and/or someone else came along. But I also have some desire to “live happily ever after” one day, I just haven’t found the person right for me.

Monogamy seems to just be a personality trait that moves along a spectrum. On one end are people that can’t even kiss anyone unless they are totally in love and looking forward to marriage, and on the other end are people that do not even make it past 1 month. Then there’s all in between.

I agree with biting the bullet to please your partner. There are times when relationships get old, and the sex lessens in frequency, and one day when you’re ready to sleep, but your partner needs some. If you still love this person, why not take a few minutes to help them out? As long as there is a mutual understand that if you’ve chosen to be in a monogamous relationship with this person, if you don’t want them to stray or whatever, you both have to make an effort to stay up a little longer to please them. They are attracted to you; they love you after all, so what did you expect to happen? That’s my opinion.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with number #1, and only partially agree with number #2.

Being playful and open to new sexual variety is great, however, if someone is asking you to engage in harmful or uncomfortable sexuality that is abusive.

I’d say it’s the opposite. Pressuring someone beyond their comfort zone is not acceptable.

Want me to dress up in hot lingerie and pounce on you on the staircase, sure, ask me to stuff a zucchini up your ass and pee on you…uh, not gonna happen. lol

I’d also say that along with the unrealistic idea that love and commitment means never having a sexual attraction to another, another very unhealthy relationship concept is the concept of “forever.”

All relationships need to be re-evaluated on a regular basis, marriages, lovers, friendships, jobs. Love is a choice, not a given, and to afford an unrealistic ideal of “forever” is one of the most harmful concepts that can end up devastating people.

flutherother's avatar

These aren’t myths as for most of us they are true. The idea that our society is enlightened and our values are the best is a myth.

mazingerz88's avatar

True on #1. I tend to want having multiple sex partners but when in a relationship with someone I’m in love with, I lose the libido to sleep around. The longest I did that was five years.

thesparrow's avatar

I don’t necessarily subscribe to Dan Savage’s views on monogamy, though I’ve seen a video on youtube with him giving a speech about it. I like being in a monogamous relationship. It’s a rewarding experience. Many people are tainted because monogamy has not worked out for them, and they give up or they choose to have open relationships. It’s still working for me. I hope it continues to work, though I know it’s not a 100% secure possibility. I will keep fighting for monogamy because that’s the only way I know how to live.

Blackberry's avatar

@thesparrowMany people are tainted because monogamy has not worked out for them, and they give up or they choose to have open relationships

Uhm…I just wanted to point out that this is false. That is all.

GladysMensch's avatar

How about this one:
Your soulmate is out there, and there is someone for everybody.
Some people are seemingly incapable of love and being loved. Those people may find some sort of companionship, but they will not find a soul mate.

Blackberry's avatar

@GladysMensch I agree, but it does kind of suck knowing that it is possible for your soul mate to just be on the other side of the planet, knowing you will never see them :/

rojo's avatar

@mazingerz88 I always remember what Wanda Sykes said; “You can’t even keep one woman satisfied, why would you want to piss off two?”.

mattbrowne's avatar

How about that alleged positive effects of bloodletting. It was considered wisdom in many cultures for many centuries.

thesparrow's avatar

@mattbrowne Honestly, you’re the only person on this whole website who ever has any real wisdom about anything . I don’t mean this particular issue about blood-letting that you’ve addressed (blood-letting does work to some bizarre extent.. probably because taking blood out of anyone will make them weak and thus appear less agitated/nervous) but I mean the posts you make. Normally, I see that you never say anything stupid. I say stupid things all the time… but they’ve never been criticized by you. As well, I’m hammered right now. In any case, whether intocxicated or not, I feel Ive found perhaps somewhat of a kindred spirit on this website.

PS. regarding my posts on monogamy. Do you really want to know what I think about it?

Monogamy is a bunch of bickering, tension and bullshit. It’s committing to something just because you’re committing. It’s being an honourable and responsible person because you want to be honourable and responsible. It seems empty to some people. Want to know what’s empty? People are f**king stupid. They believe life is a vase of beautiful roses. Monogamy is not roses. It’s a real commitment. Nothing in this world matters or is worth a sh*t if you can’t stay with one person depiste your various little ‘attractions’ here and there, your bickering, the tension, the conflicts.. but life has just gotten a little laissez faire, hasn’t it?

Let me tell you what I don’t believe in. I’ve seen it happen. Parents, mother or father, leaving their children because they go to be with girlfriends or boyfriends. Leaving children on their own, without parents.

As Kant said, do your f**king moral duty. Just do it. I am a deontologist.

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