Cheaters and Monogamy

Another Chapter in my Defining Monogamy Series

Cheaters and Monogamy


In my last post, defining monogamy, I compared how lenient we are will infidelity in the animal kingdom when compared with the strict social constraints that we have within our human species.  Now for a little bit of social fun, I created this little poll:

When I asked people on twitter if they would label a person who cheats as monogamous, non-monogamous, or other, it was instantly apparent that anyone could cheat and that the label of monogamy was just not valid.  And I agree with this entirely.  The reason I asked the question was to prove something that has always bugged me, non-monogamous people often get labelled as cheaters.  You can discuss ethical non-monogamy till you’re blue in the face, but there will always be someone who says that if you cannot be faithful to one person then you are not with the right person and you should leave.  Or that non-monogamy is just an excuse to get some strange and that you really are just a cheater or unfaithful at heart.  The whole negative pushback is real, especially in the real world, which is why so many of us hide it.  There are a multitude of people who, no matter what, will call anyone who is anywhere on the non-monogamous spectrum a cheater.

And this is a huge problem for me.  As Dr. Liz Powell tweeted “People who are monogamous or non-monogamous can all cheat.  Cheating doesn’t define your relationship structure”.  And this is the rub, cheating doesn’t define your relationship structure, but if you cheat, then you are no longer monogamous.  You are outed from that exclusive club.  Well, that is what is indicated by the above poll anyways.  Again, we are so quick to shout that if you cheat then you are not monogamous.  But how many cheaters still call themselves monogamous?  I would hazard to say most do.  They don’t want to label themselves in the category of non-monogamy just because they had an indiscretion.  That would almost be more than they could handle.  They must keep working to remain monogamous, and learn to overcome the mistake that they made.

I am always fascinated by inconsistencies in our society.  And in this case, hypocrisy is king.  Is it a common held belief that to own that you may not be monogamous could be worse somehow than admitting that you cheat?  Are there that many people out there terrified of a little self-reflection?  Is it true of our society that cheating is almost an accepted action, but non-monogamy is still the big bad taboo?  That we are evil outliers who are just having rampant orgies and sullying the sanctity of our bodies by sharing them with more than one person?

Let’s be honest here, if you are reading this post you are probably an enlightened sex positive individual, and I don’t make that statement to brag about me.  Instead, I am actually trying to give you a compliment.  You have taken the time to research something that you were probably not raised to believe, and you are now thinking outside of the box when it comes to your own monogamous upbringing.  Wherever you land on the monogamous or non-monogamous spectrum is irrelevant at this point, because you have already asked the first question in regards to something most people take for granted, that everyone in our society is monogamous.

Now, to show a balanced view, I had one person mention that non-monogamous doesn’t imply cheater (thanks @justinaaverydc) but I think he is in the minority.  Yes, on my filtered, sex positive twitter, many of us understand this.  But in the real world?  Nope.  In the real world, we for some reason are lumped in with the cheaters.  And in fact, I can shout ethical non-monogamy rhetoric until I am hoarse and still will get blank looks and snide comments that I am a whore.  Or someone who is unfaithful, with disbelief that my partner would let me sleep with other people.  This is part of the reason I no longer date single men, but that is a whole other topic.

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Now at this point, I would like you to keep in mind how easy a subject like this is to talk about.  We all have first hand experience with cheaters so we can talk at length about what our society feels is the correct thing to do with them.  But I ask again, if you cheat, does that automatically make you non-monogamous?  Why would we, on that end of the spectrum have to include cheaters as part of our subset?  Is it fair that they are automatically relegated to our spectrum simply because those in monogamous land don’t have room for them?  Are cheaters by definition non-monogamous?  It’s a two- way street here.  And it brings biases out, the whole which is worse? being a cheater or being non-monogamous with such labels as philanderer, slut, easy, and the list goes on and on and on…

So, I leave you with this one question, if you have ever cheated, do you still consider yourself monogamous?  At the end of the day, it may only be your label that matters.

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My Holidays, My Family, My Way

In just a few weeks, my partner and I will pack up our car and begin our annual road trip south for the holidays.  It has become our tradition and something that I just couldn’t imagine not doing.  But when I tell people that we are doing this, the very first question I get asked is, “oh are you going to go visit family?”.  Well, let me just preface this by saying, my partner and I are a family.  For us, Christmas isn’t a time for visiting our family.  It is a time for us.  We go down there because we love it, it gives us a chance to relax, do whatever we want without any obligations and simply to have just a total and complete reset.  It is our Christmas Vacation, on our terms,

It’s funny though the looks you get from friends and acquaintances who just cannot imagine ever not spending the holidays with their family.  It is almost a moral obligation.  We are outsiders, again, straying from the norm.  Here’s a familiar term within my blog, I am once again an outlier in the way I do things.  Just because you have always spent time with your family does not mean that you have to continue to do that.

In my immediate family, the holidays were about obligation, and stress.  It was about dividing time between families, and scheduling dinners, and basically pleasing everyone but myself.  I was informed that I was only allowed to make my own holiday traditions once I had children of my own.  Until then, I was on everybody else’s clock.  And for a while, I was compliant.  I spent my 20’s just driving from house to house, having quick little visits and then heading home craving that celebratory drink, thankful that I survived another year without tears or having huge blowouts with certain family members.  Writing this, I honestly cannot believe I actually tolerated this way of spending the holidays for so long.  Especially knowing what I know now.  The holidays can actually be really fun, relaxing and completely drama and stress free if you choose to do it that way, and you better believe that I do.

I love many things about Christmas.  I love watching movies, baking cookies, and drinking all the Christmas cheer I can get my hands on.  I love getting dressed up for the parties, and wishing happy holidays to strangers on the street, and just the general joy that seems to be in the air.  It has a sense of wonderment and magic that makes me so happy.  But I also appreciate that I can do all those things completely obligation free when I am far away from those that have kept me locked in tradition for so long.

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Last year, we had our entire campground to ourselves for Christmas and spent the morning drinking beer, taking sexy photos and just enjoying each other’s company and the sunshine.  In the evening we got invited to a potluck for all the people who didn’t have family that year, and my goodness it was amazing!  Everyone was so thankful to be there, that Christmas cheer was overflowing.  There was absolutely zero dinner stress.  There was no bickering, no drunk aunt that was going to say something offensive and possibly ruin the rest of the night.  There was no secret sign between partners as to when the appropriate time to make your leave was going to be.  There was absolutely zero, and I mean zero drama or even a hint of it.

That is how I choose to spend my holidays.  That is how I want to celebrate this joyous time of year.  That is why I have zero qualms about driving for nearly 30 hours at a time to arrive at this little peace of tranquil perfection.  I firmly believe that the relationships in your life should enrich you in some way.  We cannot choose our family, but we absolutely have a choice in how we spend our time, and with whom.  Even if you feel the overwhelming obligation or guilt this year, try and remember to take a little time for yourself.  Spend authentic time with those that are important to you this holiday.  And perhaps you will be lucky enough to have the mindset spill over into the rest of the year.

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Money and Relationships

AKA The Adage of Never Mix Business with Pleasure: Relationship Edition

I doubt there is a person out there who has never heard the warnings against mixing business with pleasure.  Announcing plans on going into a financial partnership with your best friend will elicit gasps, dire warnings, and a whole barrage of “never do that” anecdotes.  It’s a very simple concept to grasp, when finances are involved the relationship will suffer at one point or another, and very often erupt into irreconcilable differences that sever the friendship.  Ok, so we all agree that this adage is well known, and is ripe with a million and one examples?

Then how the hell are relationships supposed to survive this very thing.  Mixing sex, love, a partnership with the obvious financial merging of two people is supposed to be taboo (never sleep with a coworker as an example).  Something that we are supposed to avoid in friends but have zero choice about in long term relationships.  Does anyone else find this mind-numbingly insane?  Instead of teaching partners on any level about how to do this legally or otherwise we completely and almost universally clam up about this.  It’s almost as if society seems grateful that two people can share financial difficulties as a unit and solidly behind closed doors.  It takes the public pressure off of this glaring deficit in our societal norms.  There is no medium for dealing with these things.  Instead we completely remove finances from the public discourse, very similarly to the way we avoid talking about sex in public.  And the bottom line for me is that the subject of money is my weakest link.

I, feel great shame talking about debt.  I feel even worse feeling like a financial burden on my partner and would love to continue just avoiding the whole conversation.  And yet, there is simply no way to separate the money from the relationship for any length of time.  It’s impossible.

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And it freaking sucks!  Money should not be the cause of such a high divorce rate in our culture.  And there should not be a gender gap when it comes to income earning and I could honestly just go on and on about all the crappy reasons and excuses that I can to explain why I feel so lost and helpless at this very moment.  I’m struggling to understand how two people, who are supposed to be partners can survive if there is financial disparity.  Is it up to one to be burdened by the guilt of the other?  Are the two just supposed to accept the past mistakes and help each other move forward?  Or as in my case, is my extreme stubbornness to fix my own mistakes and problems going to be the detriment of the most amazing relationship that I have ever had?

These aren’t easy questions to ask, and even harder to answer.  But ultimately that’s where you end up when things in your culture, society or even household are taboo.  You end up in what feels like a no-win scenario.  Wishing you could fix things with the snap of a finger or press the magic reset button that will allow you to move forward without having to face the music head on.  I’m talking about money and relationships because it is hard and scary, especially for me.  I am clawing my way up from debt one day at a time.  That is my mission and mandate.  And most importantly, my promise to myself.  And someday, I hope that this small step forward will lead me to be able to more openly discuss my finances, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Comparing Polyamory to Veganism?!?!

Now this is a topic that I find both hilarious and surprisingly widespread.  There is a huge misconception that people who practice polyamory are on a quest to convert you, just as vegans are, to our or their way of thinking respectively.  There is in fact a social justice warrior type movement, hopefully they are only on the internet,that perpetuates this sort of stigma.  In fact, almost every single polyamorous forum or network that I have seen, or been a part of, always seems to digress into this strange dynamic of hierarchy and control.  A strange belief that always seems contrary to the multiple love and acceptance mantra that I personally associate with poly people, and myself.  The bottom line, “polyamorists” are trying to expose you to their superior, and ultimately more natural and free way of life because they want to fuck you or share with you what enlightenment that they have found in multiple loves.

So, here’s the thing, on the internet, yes, YES this is a thing.  In every forum, the squeaky wheel or the troll makes the loudest fuss and always seems to illicit the most attention.  The resulting perception is that, yes in fact, we want you to join us because we have done all this research and believe that our way of defining relationships is more in tune with nature and ultimately better.  There is no denying that in the beautiful world of social media, this statement holds true.  Bring on any debate or conversation and someone, somewhere will pipe up, and try to bring you over to the glittery side of our relationship spectrum.  The one free from monogamy and the pair bonding that binds you and closes you off to amazing new experiences.  Yes, that is the internet in a nutshell, but thankfully, the real world is much different.

I have many friends with whom I have discovered over the years, have dipped a toe into the swinging world, open relationships, polyamory and everything in between.  They are normal, regular people that I am happy to call my friends.  And the coolest thing is, if it were not for my blog, I would never have found out about their lifestyles.  Why is that?  Because in the real world, we do not just go out there to convert our friends, co workers or every awesome person we meet on the street.  It just isn’t a thing.  Non-monogamy takes a lot of work, amazing communication and a real understanding of who you are and what you want.  This journey, as most can attest, began with a lot of soul searching, research and an intrinsic understanding of your core beliefs.  It is not something that happens over night.  It is rare that a random threesome or orgie (as part of someone’s bucket list for example) will turn into a relationship perception switch.

I truly believe that some people are far better suited for monogamy than others.  And the variety of those relationship norms makes this journey incredibly diverse and interesting.  There is no right way of living.  Some people are vegan due to physical dietary restrictions and have absolutely no choice but to eat things that their body can handle.  And some vegans are on the opposite end of the spectrum, trying to convert everyone to save the animals and do no harm.  They have a mission.  A mandate and an intrinsic belief that they must save humanity, by saving the animals. 

Ok, in polyamory, there just simply isn’t just cause for everyone to start falling in love with everyone else.  It just wouldn’t be practical or realistic.  Group love, on an international scale actually seems quite silly, to me anyways.  And perhaps there are in fact radical poly folks who believe their sole purpose in life is to unite the world in loving harmony.  And well, there are radicals in every mindset.  People who take a good idea and push it to the often laughable extremes.  Myself, I just don’t buy into that.  I don’t want my community saturated with people who were just converted for the sake of getting more sex.  It would absolutely spoil my experience.  But hey, that’s just my two cents on the laughable twitter conversation that has a ridiculous number of people coming forward stating just how similar these two groups of people are.  I honestly do not think any of them have met a polyamourous person in the flesh!

 

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Sharing My Opinions and the Current Radio Silence

The first few years of non-monogamy, I felt unsure.  I had zero clue what I was doing, wanted, and therefor no voice.  I made mistakes, and when I would try and write about them, it just came out fuzzy and convoluted.  I wrote as a girl experiencing something new for the first time, but with a fragile and timid voice.  Sitting here now, writing the “big” story for the first time, I realize, with complete humility, that I found my voice.  The writing style has progressed and that scared and timid girl is no longer a part of me.  It is so crazy looking back and seeing the complete change in identity and voice that I have found.  It almost feels like I was searching for my strength and identity through my blog for so many years that I barely noticed when I switched from it being my safety net, to a real part of my identity.  And this goes beyond my writing, because in the past few months, I have actively shared my opinions and views that I did not first test out in writing.  And I was doing it without even realizing it.  I have gained a voice beyond my blog, and it is as exhilarating as it is a little strange, to be sharing my opinion on non-monogamy.

Why though does this matter?  Why am I writing about finding my voice?  Well, simply put, there has arisen an interesting reaction or rather, a radio silence.  Some people in my life, are extremely off put by me having opinions.  It was one thing for me to just write about my journey, and question the things going on around me.  As it turns out, it is quite another for me to voice my opinions about societal changes, or my views on relationships.  I’m accepted if I am just a wanderer questioning and exploring, but hot damn, coming to conclusions of my own is polarizing for my readers.  It’s a pill that cannot easily be swallowed.  And rather than just talking to me about things, asking questions or even engaging in a little discourse, it’s much easier to just run away or ignore me.

When did our society get so scared of conflict or a difference of opinions?  If you don’t like a particular subject or opinion of someone, do you just block and ignore them altogether?  Can we not reconcile a way to engage with a person who thinks a little differently than us?  It seems we are so afraid of offending others that we are losing the ability to actually communicate.  Yes, it is easier to just close a tab when you read something you don’t like, but guess what?  There is nothing gained, or learned by just walking away.  There is everything to learn by asking yourself why are you offended or uncomfortable.  Is it due to your preconceptions, biases, or perhaps even a word just sets you off?

I don’t love the feeling of being scoffed or shamed, but it feels much worse, when I am ignored and cut out because I share an opinion.  It’s not a very inspiring feeling.  But, unfortunately that is a part of our social climate right now, that I have to come to terms with.  If someone disagrees, the chances of me hearing about it are sitting at about 2 percent.  Whereas when I began my blog over 7 years ago, I was sitting at about 20 percent of people who were willing to have a conversation with me or engage and share a different perspective.  And as a writer it is little lonely having all this radio silence.

I move forward, knowing that I have earned my opinions, of which I know I have many.  And when I share them, I am not looking for validation or even really like minded souls to engage with, but I do very much appreciate the brave souls who are willing to at the very least think about what I have said.  But this is merely an assumption that I make based on the readership and clicks, because beyond that, I hear crickets on my end.  Perhaps this is something that I will just have to mentally prepare myself for when my book comes out.  I no longer believe that no news is good news, because as I am learning, no news often means that people just don’t have the capacity to disagree or engage.  We are afraid of offending and it is paralyzing our ability to communicate.

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