"It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired." --Robert Heinlein

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Monogamy is Irrational

(I first wrote this on January 14, 2003)

I've thought a lot about monogamy, open relationships, and polyamory. I've got meaningful relationship experience with each type of relationship. I've learned about the pros and cons, about the need for honest communication and negotiation in each type of relationship.

Personally, I think that life-long monogamy is irrational. To base a relationship solely on sexual exclusivity is silly, when there are so many important qualities that feed a good relationship. Plus, even the most saintly boyfriend will occasionally find himself tempted by another man. Should we throw away years of love because of one sexual adventure?

I think it makes much more sense to admit to each other that sexual exclusivity is not the ultimate basis for the relationship, to discuss what we like and dislike about relationships, and then to negotiate boundaries and ground rules. People who blame "sleeping around" for the problems in their relationships are typically ignoring the real problems. Often, in monogamous relationships, a partner sleeps with somebody else as a way of getting revenge or expressing anger.

Jealousy is often a problem in all kinds of relationships, but jealousy is not purely a sexual issue. Jealousy is also about expectations, fairness, and insecurity. People who are 100% monogamous still get jealous!

I also think that open relationships and polyamory are emotionally dangerous without the use of mutually negotiated boundaries and ground rules. It is all too easy to get a crush on somebody new and forget how important your established relationships are. But, hey, you can get a crush on somebody new even if you are faithfully monogamous. I promise you that if you live long enough, you'll get a crush on somebody other than your mate.

Both monogamy and polyamory require practice in order to master the skills needed for long-term relationships. Wanting one or the other isn't enough. We must learn the skills! Some people take a long time to learn. Others never learn.

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