Yes, this post is about the Ashley Madison scandal. It’s also about the argument against monogamy.
Thinking about those who lost something in the last couple of weeks. Something of value. A husband. A lover. A family. Trust in the one person you thought you could trust. Face. Posture. Dignity. Peace. That feeling of security and comfort that comes with believing that everything is okay.
There seems to be a growing counter-culture that is dedicated to propagating monogamy as impossible. The basic message (as far as I can tell) is this:
Listen, we both know that cheating happens. I’m not going to lift one finger to curb my primordial urge to fuck every ass that stimulates my visual cortex. It’s science, baby. Instead of going through a pointless exercise of getting married, fucking around, and then losing everything that I – I mean we – value in marriage, why not just face reality.
We cheat. We all do it. It’s biology. Society’s standard of monogamy is impossible, and therefore society is the enemy here (not me) because the standards are setting me up to fail.
So, listen, how about this? We get married because we cannot deny the benefits of marriage. You like marriage, I like marriage. But my archaic biological drives (which happen to feel really fucking good when engaged and then released) are too strong to ignore and I don’t want to get into this whole marriage thing knowing that I will lose everything that I – I mean we – worked so hard to achieve. That’s not fair.
So, let’s just accept that we cheat. Let’s accept that even if I did have the ability to control my archaic biological drives (science is split here, and I’m not sure about the validity of the studies in favor of our ability to control it), I don’t want to control it.
I’m going to go ahead and fuck a few other people while we’re married. Because I love and respect you, I will use a condom. It’s completely natural to cheat.
I really do not want to give up a single thing that benefits me, or may benefit me in some way in the future. I truly do not want to have to make a decision that will result in the need to prioritize benefits and needs, which inevitably means I lose something that I value on some level. That’s not fair.
And I will try my best to be discrete, but here’s the thing: when there are unknown factors involved (ie a hot young college student who may or may not understand the importance of my need to keep the status of my marriage because of her limited experience with marriage and stuff) I cannot and will not make any guarantees. You might find out. There is no 100% containment of these things. I’ve seen it before.
Therefore, in the event that I am called out on my betrayal, I don’t want you to see it as a betrayal, so I’m going to do everything I can from the beginning to make sure this marriage will stand. Which means convincing you that monogamy is impossible.
And if I’ve made a convincing enough argument, you can’t say that I betrayed you when I’m caught, because you knew that I was not capable of monogamy. You were informed.
Your feelings of betrayal will be rendered null and void, and we will go on like none of this happened. Because it’s the feeling of betrayal that incites anger and sadness, which is ultimately what leads to divorce in cases of infidelity. Acceptance, on the other hand, is love. And I really do love you and the kids.
That’s the basic circular argument as far as I can tell. And it sounds absurd coming from someone we aren’t caught up in loving or stuck feeling dependent on. It sounds like a hollow, laughable argument unless it’s being spoken passionately by the one you really want to love and accept you.
I think a growing number have been there. And whether this argument is spoken out loud or it is implied at the beginning of a committed relationship, or it comes when lies fall out of pockets or cracked online accounts, those who have been betrayed have to make a choice.
Oh, the feeling of betrayal is real whether there is an arrangement or not. There is no logical way out of feelings.
Some will get caught up on the unfairness of being forced to make a huge decision because of something that someone else did.
But acceptance actually is love, and if we can accept the fact that we are all connected and that the actions of those in our lives will have a great impact on us, and that we made the choice long ago (or not so long ago) to allow this person’s actions to impact our lives, then we can take a sidestep away from feeling like a victim, and then step into the role of creator.
Which means, simply, that no matter what happens in life, we are in charge of our own choices. We feel our feelings. We reach out for support. We step into the creator by making choices that are best for us and our children (if we have children).
When we say yes to anything at any point in our lives, we can also say no to that same thing at any point in our lives. The need to reevaluate our decisions often comes up when new information is revealed. Saying no to something we have previously said yes to is not a failure. It is not a betrayal of a promise. It is not a betrayal of self.
Life is fluid. Everything changes. We grow. We become more of ourselves every day – at least, that’s the goal, I think.
And change becomes much easier when we accept the reality that we can handle whatever comes at us. We can handle the good and the bad. And if we do this consciously, we will come out on the other side of any challenge stronger and more trusting in our ability to handle the ups and downs of life.
We are all connected. But we are not bound by contracts when things become unbearable, unhealthy or humiliating.
Maybe monogamy doesn’t work for many people. So why stay married?
In all seriousness, though, every person has to make choices that are best for him or herself. Make those choices from a place of inner strength and peace, and I believe life will be better.
It takes work to find that inner strength and peace. It takes time. And that might scare people off. That’s okay. Wherever we are is okay. Acceptance of self is vital.
I wish the best for those who are facing feelings and decisions they would rather not be facing right now. Betrayal, devastation, anger, sadness, grief. I humbly suggest that you reach out if you are facing this or a similar situation right now. You don’t have to go through it alone.
I also wish the best for those who are facing outcomes no longer in their hands after choices that were made long ago (or not so long ago).
As much as I poke fun at the anti-monogamy philosophy, I don’t ridicule the individuals who have bought into it, or been sold on it. I understand through compassion that there were reasons for putting all of that time and energy into creating, selling and buying that philosophy. Into making it your own.
Feeling limited and boxed in can be dreadful. And not being aware of alternatives, we try to make things work as best as we can with the tools we have.
I believe that monogamy is possible. (And not just in heterosexual committed relationships.) But it isn’t easy. And all parties have to be committed to doing the necessary work.
Please also see my addendum in response to the tone I chose for this post: https://tendrilwise.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/the-absurd-anti-monogamy-argument-now-with-50-more-grace/