The Absurd Anti-Monogamy Argument (Now With 50% More Grace)

I chose teeth over soul in my moments of fear.


Okay, I outted myself last post as clearly prejudiced against weaponized entitlement.

Instead of using sarcasm (which is a fear-based defense mechanism) to attack an argument I feel is absurd, I could have attempted to see the people behind the argument with compassion.

But honesty without props about deeply held beliefs takes courage. And courage is something we all have to gather every single time we need it.

I don’t have to get into the details about my personal life (which I have decided not to blog about here) in order to be honest about my hooks. All I had to write was this: full disclosure, its easy for me to poke holes in the absurd argument against monogamy (specifically founded in the philosophy that Noel Biderman propagates) because I’ve thought about it before.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that wanting to be “committed” (publicly) to one person while also wanting to philander without believing that it’s acceptable for your spouse to have intimate experiences outside of your commitment comes from a place of entitlement.

As I admitted in a previous post, I find it difficult to compassionately view those who choose to be hateful toward people because of something that cannot be changed.

But here I am, being sarcastic about choices that other people make. I was unable in that moment to feel compassionate toward those who sell this philosophy.

In my need to protect myself, I chose to put my needs before those who choose to weaponize their entitlement by living life in a way that is destructive to those they love. And I chose to do this in a way that was not compassionate.

I chose teeth over soul in my moments of fear.

When I take a step back and observe the argument from a different perspective, I can clearly see that this philosophy is one that has been handed down from generation to generation to generation in one form or another.

And I fully understand that breaking free of beliefs and attitudes that have been taught and role modeled takes insight, energy, courage, and a willingness to stand out against status quo as we know it.

I just forgot in a moment of being hooked by what I see as brazen and unapologetic entitlement.

So, I apologize to Noel Biderman and those who subscribe to and propagate this philandering philosophy. I apologize for the sarcasm. For not being able, in the moment, to see the people behind the beliefs through eyes of compassion.

At the same time, I stand by my own belief that the argument itself is absolutely absurd.

I’ve reminded myself that courage can be called upon over and over. It’s not going to fail me today because I couldn’t find it yesterday.

Thank You For Resigning, Noel Biderman, So Adulterers And Attempted Adulterers Can Recover From Their Feelings of Betrayal After Private Information Was Leaked By Hackers.

no matter what happens in life, we are in charge of our own choices

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:

The Greatest Gift Of The Internet

Privacy is an illusion.

I’ll often hear people born earlier than 1993 say, Thank God there was no FaceBook when I was a teenager. Or, more accurately, I often see people post this on their social media space. They look back at the embarrassing things they did as teenagers, comparing it to the embarrassing things teenagers do now, and can only see one difference: back then, there was no photo evidence to post for the world to see.

There’s no doubt that technology, The Internet especially, has changed the way we interact. Face time is an application now more than a real thing and texting is an intimacy afforded to close friends while acquaintances are relegated to minimal interaction on whichever social media sites we frequent.

Because we spend so much time online, intimacy has become way easier to avoid altogether in any form, and the social skills of most young people are declining year after year. If you are a cafe blogger, you will get your social practice ordering lattes and maybe, maybe awkwardly flirting with the barista.

But there has to be some redeeming qualities of a technology that has so completely changed the way we live our lives. I’ve heard some. Access to information, of course, is the most frequently celebrated. And I’ve heard that it connects small town kids with culture and a wider group of possible peers. I also remember watching a Ted Talk about the fact that our brains are actually changing how they operate thanks to the extra space and energy we have because we don’t store facts or images anymore (though, in truth, I think this was presented as a bad thing). I’m sure you’ve heard other redeeming qualities.

In my mind, the way we perceive privacy and the necessary changes that will come after will be the greatest gift of The Internet.

When I was growing up, privacy was a given and a necessity in society. Something we were all entitled to as a human right until we did anything shameful. But as far as I can tell, we had a few concepts tangled together and sideways. Now that there are so many of us online who willingly share details about our life, we are changing the idea of privacy itself. Some are shocked and appalled that anyone would willingly share anything about themselves online where anyone can see it. Those people have bought into the myth of privacy.

See, I believe that privacy is an illusion. There is no privacy. What we’ve termed privacy for so long is actually a word that represents the concept of being respectful of others’ boundaries. In the fifties, for example, privacy meant that all of your neighbors knew the sordid details of your husband’s affair, but wouldn’t dare bring it up in your company. Privacy never actually meant that you could hide certain things about yourself.

The more judgment and anger and blame and people who are unaware of their own limits or weaknesses there is out there in the world, the more we feel a need to protect ourselves by not sharing. And there are hateful, cruel people out there who, because of their own insecurities or mental illnesses, are more than happy to use anything you share about yourself to humiliate you in some way or another. Which is why you’d want to share with some and not others, or to only share non-intimate details with the world. But we never could control who knew what about our lives. Only those with no friends, no parents, no family, no teachers, no partners, no co-workers – nobody – would be safe from tongue slips or hateful gossip or spiteful rumors. Not one single person, short of using some seriously disgusting and well-honed manipulation techniques, can control what people think about him or her.

This concept of privacy was underscored by the promise of being shamed by neighbors and family if you did something that was considered unsavory. Shame is one of the antiquated ways in which groups of people keep others in check.

But communities don’t work that way anymore. And shame is not an effective means of controlling anyone who has fortified him or herself with self love.

And now, the resilient sharers of the online world are showing us a new way. We can share and not give a fuck what other people think. We can create boundaries – yes, boundaries online! – about who is allowed to comment on our space and what kind of comments we will allow. And these resilient sharers are growing in numbers. Soon, the norm will be sharing. And leaping even further into the future, one day, seeing humans through compassionate eyes will be the norm. (I’m not giving any technology credit for that wave – it’s all humans.) And when that day comes, there will be no more need to be private or to cling to an antiquated idea of privacy, because shame will not be the norm. The norm will be to call out or shut down those who cling to shaming and blaming.

The Internet is calling us to take back the responsibility of sharing ourselves in our own voices and of creating boundaries to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Even more exciting, online we have a chance to practice enforcing these boundaries all the time. And writing online can be a catalyst to knowing ourselves better – at least knowing what we will and will not accept from others.

Maybe it’s exactly what we needed to bring an end to a time when our social skills were there – ya, we met face to face – but also lacking in a few key areas.