Friday, August 11, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006
The "M" word

That's right, guys, the "M" word is MONOGAMY. Since I've tossed this term around in describing my and my partner's relationship, in order to avoid any misunderstandings, I had better devote a blog to clarifying the situation.

First and foremost, my partner and I are not monogamous out of any ethical, moral, social, or political conviction. We certainly are not monogamous à la Andy Sullivan, modifying our behaviour to win friends and influence people among the straights. Monogamy is right for us and how we define our relationship and our attitudes towards and expectations from sex. It is not necessarily right for everyone, and "open" relationships are certainly no less valid than ours. Some of our best and most respected friends are in "open" relationships or even "happy whores." We are, in fact, the exception; most of our gay friends are in one way or another non- monogamous.

One could, then, justifiably ask why we chose apparently to limit ourselves in this way. First and foremost, it has to do with the worldview that everything we do, even the most apparently insignificant act, has some meaning in terms of our definition of ourselves as a person. Once you accept this premise, you have to admit that sex is a pretty intimate and self- revealing act. I don't want a stranger, or even a friend, to see me in a rapture of sexually induced ecstasy, nor can I see having my face in someone's crotch as anything but something pretty intimate (When one is single, it's a different situation. Revealing oneself this way to a potential partner is a way of opening oneself to him, and potentially, to a new relationship.) In short, seen this way, sex becomes inextricably tied up with trust and intimacy.

One could, of course, object that we don't really need to load sex down with all this psychological baggage. Why not just screw and have fun? If you can successfully divorce actions from meaning, why not, in fact? Of course I am suggesting that doing so is somewhat superficial; but no one's life is fully examined. Everyone has areas of superficiality; life would be unbearable if we didn't. There is really nothing wrong in letting one's sex life float along the surface. You can save profundity for other aspects of your life. That is, of course, if you can carry it off.

But to me, psychologically charged sex expressing intense intimacy is simply much sexier than an anonymous, purely physical roll in the hay, especially in the long run. I'll just come right out and say that to me, depersonalized sex becomes, after a short while, quite boring. There have been times in my life when I have found myself engaging primarily in this type of sex; it was great fun for a while --- the sharp, erotic surge that sometimes comes with touching a new man's body for the first time is, without a doubt, wildly exciting--- but at least for me, it doesn't last. It quickly becomes the sexual equivalent of junk food (apologies to McDonald's addicts). To be sure, however, life would be much easier if I could maintain that level of wild excitement with serial partners, but I can't.

I am, therefore, monogamous simply because I don't have much choice. To me, nothing can compare in excitement to exploring new and different aspects of intimacy with a man I know, care about, and trust. Such intense intimacy can, of course, be frightening at times, and produce a distancing defense reaction. But with time, you begin to recognize these momentary periods of pulling back for what they are, and they become, then, less disturbing.

This is not at all to say that I am not attracted to men other than my partner; I would be very upset if I weren't. Likewise, I know and expect that my partner is attracted to other men, too. This simply proves that our hormones and erotic senses are functioning properly. We understand, however, that picking these fruits of passion would have a certain price. I am quite certain that my partner and I are still, after almost 10 years, deeply attracted sexually to each other because we don't disperse our sexual energy with other people. Most "open" couples that I know eventually stop having sex with each other. Also, that sharp, sexual surge that you get from a new male body can be pretty heady stuff, and if you're the type that automatically associates sex with intimacy and meaning, the price of picking such an apple can be pretty high for your relationship. Life is full of beautiful things. You don't have to possess them to enjoy them.

The most difficult aspect of being monogamous, however, is not renouncing the apparently willing young man with spectacular abs I saw at the beach the other day. It's the difficulty in making gay friends. There's an old joke whose punch line involves a lady telling her social climbing lover, "Sexual intercourse is not an introduction to Philadelphia society." Unfortunately, however, the opposite seems frequently to be the case with gay society. A lot of our friendships seem to form after we've tricked with someone a couple of times. Perhaps there's the desire to eliminate the sexual tension--- get the sex over with--- before we allow a friendship bond to develop. We tend to form friendships with people we find attractive, one way or another, and in order to let the friendship develop, it is necessary to dissipate the potential erotic content of the relationship.

In the straight world, friendships between single men and women are rare, and friendships between married couples tend to break off into friendships between the husbands and friendships between the wives (unless, of course, there is some hanky- panky going on). Friendship between people who are potential sexual partners is, in fact rare. As gay men, we are all potential sexual partners of each other, and we seem to handle this problem by fucking first first and shaking hands later, after it's clear that the sexual danger is over. This makes it rough for guys in monogamous relationships.

Giving monogamy ethical or moral significance, especially in a gay context, is foolish. Lying, cheating, and other forms of deception in a relationship are, of course, morally reprehensible, but once we discount producing babies as the moral justification for sex, there is no ethical discinction between a monogamous and an "open" relationship, or even outright promiscuity. If sex becomes morally neutral, then it makes no sense to dictate moral terms for its context. So, guys, there no reason you shouldn't do what's best for you.

Previous from Bruce

posted by Bruce at 5:06 AM

Robguy said...

That must be why I don't have any gay friends. :p I haven't had sex with any of my friends. Seriously though, it would seem that most of my gay friends are either in relationships of their own or on-line friends.

Monday, August 07, 2006 3:58:28 PM

charlie said...

I have have Gay friends. I have not had sex with them. I have had 2 of them ask me to engague in sex with them. I told them no because I said that it would change our friendship. At the time I am not sure that they understood what I meant but after a while they both thanked me for saying no. They soon realizided that our friendship would not be just a friendship. I like them and they like me as feiends and not partners or lovers. We confinde in each other the most intimate details of our lives. I do not think that we could do this is it were more than friendship. Sometimes I think that people fall in "sex" and think it is love at the time, but later on when the sex wears off then they realize that is all they had. To me a Good friend is far more importnt then sex. Of course, I DO LOKE sex. :-) Very Good psting and oh so true.


Monday, August 07, 2006 11:24:12 PM

Rey said...

Great post.

I often thought about this topic and wonder if I was from another planet or something. I tend to find myself with a similar dilemma. I've been in a monogamous relationship with my partner for seventeen years, and everything is great, but often we (more I than him) feel isolated from the rest. We go out a lot, but we find that unless there is something sexual do, we don't have much success connecting with other gay people. I sometimes even get the feeling that some people dislike us just because we are a couple (e.g.: "look at those two, don't they ever get sick of one another?"). No, I've never heard anyone say this about us, but I've heard it said about other couples; but I do sense some attitudes. Perhaps is the idea that we have such a close relationship that you can't tell one of us something without the other one finding out? Is because people soon after meeting us realize that there are no secrets between us, and therefore you can't take one without the other?

And like you, my concept of monogamy is not tied to a moral or ethical concept, but to a feeling that sex is more than an ejaculation. Also, my concept of monogamy is different than that of others, in that I don't view an occasional sex encounter with others, with both partners present, as not being monogamous.

I think some/many people think of sex as being something of value, like money or food, and therefore 'one' must take as much of it as 'one' can. It is similar to a behavior observed with people that would eat a lot because it's all you can eat, or get drunk because there's free booze. Like food or drink, you can't accumulate sex satisfaction by doing as much of it as you can regardless of whether you want to or not. I also think that many seek sex for the sake of satisfying an ego need. Nothing wrong with giving into one's ego requests on occasion, but too much energy spent on feeding one's ego is recipe for unhappiness (the ego always wants more).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against having sex outside of a relationship, I'm just saying that sex outside of a relationship is not worth it unless there is more involved than a mere shot of cream. So monogamy is preferable than the endless pursuit of sex with others instead of nurturing your own relationship. I love sex just like the Joe next door, and perhaps more. I always fantasize about sex with the guy on the train or bus or with several of them at the same time. I know if I tried, I could easily have sex as often as I wanted, but knowing me, I would not feel satisfied ninety percent of the time.

Those are my two cents, and it's good to know that I'm not from outer space.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 11:57:21 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home