Monday, November 14, 2005

The new monogamy

New York Magazine's annual sex issue looks at some interesting concepts, including the way some couples are opening the door to outside experiences.

"For much of human history, monogamy (or, at least, presumed monogamy) has been the default setting for long-term love. Hack the system, goes the theory, refuse to forsake all others, open the door even a crack—and the whole relationship will crash. Any dissenters have been pathologized as delusional idealists or worse. But now a new generation of couples is employing a kind of homeopathic hypothesis: that a tiny injection of adventure will ward off the urge to stray further—as long as it’s all on the table and up for discussion. (And just as with homeopathy, a healthy percentage of the population considers this premise bunk.)"

I kind of think this is a load of crap. Clearly there are people capable of having this kind of open relationship and more power to them. But let's not get all excited and make it out to be a trend. Maybe I'm just too traditional to be hip. I like the idea of a relationship strong enough to go through changes of all sorts, including the desire of one or both partners to branch out at whatever level is acceptable to them. I want the kind of openness in which everything can be put on the table without judgment. But at the same time, I feel like if what you really want is to screw around on a regular basis, why bother being in a committed relationship at all? I guess I'm just a one-man woman at heart.

The article's authors make the point that maybe being bisexual is the new requirement for being the perfect girlfriend. I hate the whole "perfect girlfriend" thing. It's a pointless, deadly trap that keeps you from ever being yourself, except when it's convenient or pleasing to your partner. Like Ariel Levy's book asserts, it looks like relationships and passion in general have become very consumerist. Levy, herself a New York Magazine writer, looks at the mainstreaming of raunch culture in light of how women are getting in on the act and participating in their own exploitation. Basically, Levy says that smart, intelligent women are buying into sexual stereotypes to make themselves feel more liberated and come off as supercool to their boyfriends.

Not that I'm saying monogamy is the only way to go, or that women can't be empowered by their own sexuality. I just question the motives behind the way these things are sometimes expressed.


theinsider said...

Hmm.. I'm a fan of empowered women. Hell, I even consider myself one, but I'm still a one guy kinda girl.

I'm a big fan of monogamy, so yeah, I agree—load of crap—at least for me.

Carmen said...

A friend in New York was telling me about a rooftop party at which she was partying with guy at another rooftop party, one roof over. That this is really cool is beside the point...The point is that he turned out to be married, but he told her, "It's OK, I'm in an open marriage." And the wife was like, "Yeah, totally." Apparently this is getting more and more common, but maybe it's just New York. And probably certain really bored sections of Iowa.