Social Question

tinyfaery's avatar

Why does it seem like same-sex couples do not have the same amount of concern over monogamy and keeping a partner as hetero couples?

Asked by tinyfaery (42766points) December 3rd, 2009

I know this is a sweeping generalization, but it is something I, and many other people I know, have remarked upon. And I did say seem.

Many gay couples have no problem when their mates find others attractive, or when their mates have friends that could be potential partners. I also notice gay couples often have less issue with their partners being with other people, or “cheating”.

Why does it seem like this, or why is it like this? Do you notice this? Can you shed some light on the subject?

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45 Answers

Phobia's avatar

I haven’t really paid that much attention to it, but maybe it’s because what one finds attractive, the other probably does too? When a hetero guy catches his girl looking at another guy, he might feel threatened by him. When a gay guy catches his man looking at another, maybe he sees the same thing his SO is seeing.

I dunno, just a thought.

rangerr's avatar

::Waits for Dominic::

beautifulbobby193's avatar

I think you raise a good point. I agree with you, but being hetrosexual myself I don’t really understand why this type of behaviour is commonly acceptable.

Perhaps it’s different in that the idea of families come into it. An open marriage would seem very strange to children if they were witness to it occuring, whereas with homosexual people most don’t have children and have no intentions of having them. So children are generally not a consideration.

I think hetrosexuality has a lot more to do with traditional values. Homosexuality on the other hand is has only recently become acceptable to the general public (relatively speaking) so it’s possible that in some respects there is less tradition to be broken, less rules to be followed, and the people are arguably more open-minded (for a start by being homosexual and “out” they have already made a statement against what is typically considered normal).

Jeruba's avatar

Does the presence or absence or prospect of children and family responsibilities play a role? Just asking.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think, just based on my observations of both straight and gay couples, that the prevalence of non-monogamous behavior is pretty equal on both sides of the orientation spectrum. Not saying you haven’t observed something different, maybe it’s differences in where we live?

gemiwing's avatar

None of my gay friends are in an open relationship or encourage non-monogomy. Perhaps it’s just those in your area/social/age group?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I remember a homo friend telling me it was tough enough belonging to small numbers pool and harder still when some of that pool is still “in the closet” to find people to consider much less settle down towards happily ever after. He would say how sad he was sometimes to give in and just go with the flow of being a player since he felt the odds were against him to find a partner he wanted to be exclusive with and many times he said he was just giving up. Well, he gave up over and over enough times to make a hit and has been living the happily ever after for some time now. Any other gay and lesbians I’ve known or known are all more interested in monogamy.

As far as flirting goes, I don’t see any differences than with heteros. You either are secure about you SO and maybe get a thrill to see others appreciate and compliment them or you’re not secure and feel demeaned or threatened when that happens.

The handling of friends who could be potential partners- same thing. It’s about boundaries and choices. It’s not impossible there are several nice fits for each of us.

proXXi's avatar

I disagree

For example: What does a lesbian bring on her second date?

marinelife's avatar

I attribute it to the history of same sex sex. Since, historically, it was not socially acceptable, people took their pleasure where and when they could.

There was a freedom associated with gay sex because children could not occur. Also, many gays had cover relationships so there same sex relationships involved cheating automatically.

Once gay people began coming out and pushing for equal rights (I’m thinking the 60s here), the atmosphere in urban centers was very heady and party-like. That changed again with the emergence of HIV, for a long time a death sentence.

Gays did not even have a chance at legal recognition of their commitments. With it not an option, some people rejected the institution of marriage.

My own experience is that a percentage of gay people want the legal recognition and the commitment. Many of them choose monogamy. Many others choose serial monogamy. I suspect that once the false pressure of being underground about one’s sexual orientation comes close to going away, the percentages will look similar to those of heterosexual couples.

Facade's avatar

It doesn’t seem that way to me. I don’t think sexual orientation has anything to do with monogamy.

justme1's avatar

I think it is equal. there is nothing wront with opn relationships for homo sexual or hetero.

dpworkin's avatar

I am not gay, so take my answer with a grain of heterosexual salt, but I have studied these issues, and it is my understanding that homosexual females in committed relationships are far less likely to engage in extra-pair copulation than are males.

Since females tend to be hypogamous, discriminant maters, it seems reasonable that two females, having found one another, would be unlikely to open their relationship to indiscriminant behavior, unless it were satisfying in some way to both partners.

On the other hand, in a male homosexual couple, both men are hypergamous, opportunistic maters, and will probably act in ways which would increase their likelihood of having intercourse with the greatest possible number of “foreign” or “strange” males, and since they understand the motives, they would seem to me to be much more likely to be forgiving of one another, and not to take extra-pair copulation too seriously.

However, in heterosexual couples, the male is pretty much hard-wired to do everything he can to diminish the possibility of parental doubt, as it is not in his interest to provision the offspring (and therefore the genes) of a rival male. Therefore, jealousy is an adaptive reaction to fears of parental doubt.

Similarly, a heterosexual female who had a child would have been at an extreme disadvantage in a feral state if she were abandoned, so she has the hardwired motivation to wish to protect the committed relationship.

Haleth's avatar

It seems about equal to me, but maybe it was different in the past. Straight people outnumber gay people, and the behavior of gay people, especially in America, comes under a lot of scrutiny. So we’re probably all doing the same things, but it makes a way more sensational story if a gay person does something unusual.

whatthefluther's avatar

I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to gay couples (friends, family and acquaintances), my entire life and it does seem more gay relationships are open than hetero counterparts, predominately at younger ages. And when a gay relationship is open, it tends to be very apparent in that one or both of the partners may be very vocal and not at all bashful about it., which may make it seem more prevalent than it actually is. See ya…..Gary/wtf

laureth's avatar

I have many gay friends and a lesbian mom. Few of them are in open relationships, and amongst the monogamous ones, cheating is just as much of a heartbreak as when it happens in straight couples. As with just about everything, your mileage may vary.

@beautifulbobby193 – you say that open relationships would be very strange for children to experience. I disagree. It’s like saying that Chinese culture would be very strange for children to experience, but only for children who don’t come from China. For children who have grown up in situations where the parents have an open relationship, that is the norm and a closed relationship would be weird. That’s the thing about children – they tend to not have very much in the way of previous experience from which to draw expectations. (People ask me all the time how I felt about the strangeness of growing up with a gay mom. To me, it was not strange, and all those families with a mom and a dad are the freaks.)

As for the friends of mine who are gay and have open relationships, they are overwhelmingly male. I believe that the reason is just as @pdworkin stated – men (by their general nature) like to fark around. Women, not so much. (This is a generality and does not describe all the people in the world.) However, I still know more monogamous male matchings than open ones.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Laureth, agree to disagree. It may appear normal to the children at first, but once they are exposed to inevitable outside influences they would be increasingly likely to question the situation in their own home.

Children tend not to want to stick out from the crowd for reasons like this, and because it’s so different they can be teased and humiliated over it. When I was younger my parents separated and I was embarrassed and nervous about others finding out. It was not a normal occurence in my community (or at least not one that was publicized) and it was stress I could do without.

I realize not everybody will share the same experience, but in terms of parents being in open relationships, it is not the type of home I would personally like to bring up my children in.

justme1's avatar

I agree with @laureth. I also see that children might wonder about it once they get outside, however if you raise them right to know what other people are going to say and think about it before they experience it. @beautifulbobby193 Do you think it is wrong for people to want to bring their children up in that type of home?

beautifulbobby193's avatar

justme1, it depends on what is more important to a person – sexual desires or their childrens well being. I’m sure there are many people who think it is perfectly ok to bring up children in a home where the parents are in an open relationship, but as I said, it is not one I would choose for mine. So your question, Is it wrong? Well does it hurt anybody? Children possibly imo…

MissAnthrope's avatar

For example: What does a lesbian bring on her second date?

@proXXi – That’s a joke and a stereotype. It happens sometimes, which is why it persists as a joke. But just because some lesbians make rash decisions about moving in with someone doesn’t mean they don’t cheat on each other. Cause they do, with as much frequency as straight women. After all, a girl gets bored once she realizes she doesn’t really like the person she’s living with.~

absalom's avatar

Because we aren’t allowed to get married.

No, really, that’s a sweeping generalization like you said.

Thammuz's avatar

Not only that’s a sweeping generalization (and a wrong one at that) but it’s also quite idiotic on another aspect: what’s wrong with being sincere with one another?

If i find someone attractive why should i hide it? Does it mean i’m not a committed partner? No, afterall i’m not going to hit that, am i? But why should i not say it?

proXXi's avatar

@MissAnthrope It happens enough to be understood to function as a joke.

laureth's avatar

I grew up in a home where Mom had serial girlfriends. Frankly, I’d rather have had a new one each month than to have Mom in an unhappy but monogamous relationship, maintained solely due to guilt over trying to give me a fakey good home.

But yeah, we can agree to disagree.

justme1's avatar

what do you mean about children’s well being? A child’s well being is if they are taken care of, loved, and trreated well. Not about if their parent’s relationship is open or not. Any child should be happy if they are in a happy loving home. That is fine if you would choose not to raise your kids that way, just sounds like you are juding people who do by saying that ha to do with their well being.

tinyfaery's avatar

I live in L.A. I probably know more gay people than many of you put together. In So. Cal, among all age groups, incomes, races, etc. of same-sex couples, I see much less possessiveness and jealousy, in general. I also know more gay couples that have open relationships than hetero couples. Maybe it is where I live. Maybe I just have a bigger pool of people to observe.

beautifulbobby193's avatar

justme1, it depends on how much responsibility one feels they have to their children and how far that extends. We both have different interpretations of this.

If I was brought up knowing that various men were calling around on a regular basis to bone my mother, I would not have been too happy about it. If this sort of thing got back to the schoolyard the poor child would be a laughing stock.

I would not risk something like this. Open relationships before children, yes fine, but after children, my opinion is no.

Say what you want to try to justify it to yourself, but it’s not going to change my viewpoint on it.

I’m not telling you not to do it, I’m just saying that from a personal point of view I do not agree with it, and if it’s something you do, I just hope your children don’t get humiliated as a result of your actions.

tinyfaery's avatar

Children tease no matter what. Teach your children not to care and to love themselves. In some areas minority kids have a tough time at school. Should minorities not have children?

beautifulbobby193's avatar

Sorry, I would prefer a more conventional upbringing.

By minorities you mean…?

dpworkin's avatar

Mayhap this discussion should be in a new and different thread?

justme1's avatar

@tinyfaery You are correct. @beautifulbobby193 I don’t have children, nor am I in an open relationship. However I think it is fine for other people to raise their children in that environment. I even feel it can be good for them to be taught to be accepting to that stuff. I know I am not changing your viewpoint, I am just saying you shouldn’t be so judgemental of people who do raise their children that way. Children tease others for almost everything it seems.

rooeytoo's avatar

beautifulbobby193 you said in another thread – “Men like variety. Think of a fine woman like a fine wine. We all have our favourite but it doesn’t mean we want to drink the same one every night. That would be far too boring.”

So are you saying now that it is okay for hetero men but not gay people?

Medlang's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence and @Phobia pretty much sum it up i think. me being gay, I would be pretty understanding about my partners attraction to another guy largely because its likely i would be attracted to them as well. This is where the “treat others as you would like to be treated” rule would apply.

YARNLADY's avatar

I can only say your question does not apply to the same sex couples I know, so it seems too broad of a generalization.

gemiwing's avatar

I thought everyone cheated in LA. I kid, I kid

proXXi's avatar

I keed I keed… I joke with yooooou…

Kade13's avatar

The question seems a bit off in its assumptions.. I doubt that anyone who is in a relationship would be okay if their partner cheated on them, this applies to both homo and heterosexuals.

If they are okay or accepting of their partners indiscretions then they would be in what most consider a open relationship and thus monogamy doesn’t enter the equation.

Though the lack of jealousy in homosexual relationships can be explained somewhat.. the reason most relationships fail are due to loss of communication. Though we are a single species the variance in our physicality, social perception and expectations makes males and females very different creatures and thus communication is between the two is not easy. Males can communicate with other males on levels they simply cannot with females and vice versa.. this means that communication in homosexual relationships is a lot easier.

laureth's avatar

@tinyfaery – Perhaps it’s a regional thing. I live in Michigan. I bet in a more worldly, open-minded place like coastal California, there are more swingers and open relationships of both the gay and straight varieties. Here in the Midwest, it would seem that (on the whole) the couples are more conservative and monogamous, no matter what the gender of their mate is.

tinyfaery's avatar

@laureth Michigan has always been at the forefront of gay rights. Interesting.

kheredia's avatar

I’m also from the LA area and let me tell you the gay people I know are far from being okay with having an open relationship. Some of them have been together for years and I don’t see them breaking up any time soon or having other partners. Where are these gay people you are talking about? All that comes to mind are the gay people who are very into the club scene and meet different people every time they go out. But aren’t there heterosexual people who do that too? I don’t know, this does seem like somewhat of a broad generalization.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Doesn’t seem that way to me and most of my friends are queer…
But one possibility may be that people in non-mainstream relationships may be more open to the idea of structuring their relationships in non-mainstream ways which includes rejecting monogamy

tinyfaery's avatar

Did I not say “I know this is a sweeping generalization, but it is something I, and many other people I know, have remarked upon. And I did say seem.”? Geesh.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@tinyfaery you did…so I’m just saying it doesn’t seem that way to me..but it might seem that way to you…and I gave you a reason, at least…

augustlan's avatar

Interesting… the only gay couple I know well enough to comment on seems to be split right down the middle on this issue. One of the guys would be fine with an open relationship, but the other can’t bear the thought of it. They’ve been together for over 10 years, and this still comes up between them! Jealousy is also an issue for them. Obviously I don’t have a big enough sample to make any determinations, but based on these guys and the many straight people of all types I know, I’d say it’s a personality difference rather than a sexuality difference. In my experience, most people have a jealousy issue and would be horrified by the idea of an open relationship, while a select few have no problems with either.

OpryLeigh's avatar

This is not something I have noticed at all, in fact quite the opposite. I have always been aware that gay and lesbian couples seem far more committed to their relationships and often their relationships are for life. Don’t get me wrong, most of the gay men (especially) that I know have played the field in their younger days but once they have settled down it has been for good.

mattbrowne's avatar

Jealousy isn’t limited to heterosexual couples, I think.

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