Are we fighting human nature in trying to be monogamous? I’m dating a guy I dated five years ago. Back then, he was sexually inexperienced. Now that he’s been around the block, he totally disagrees with monogamy and wants us to have a sexually open relationship. I’m very open-minded and have no problem with people in these relationships, but know it’s not for me. We can’t discuss the issue because he gets so defensive and riled up, civil conversation is impossible. He accuses me of looking down on him and finding him “disgusting,” which I don’t. He almost has me convinced that the only successful relationships are the open ones, and that I’m one of a minority of people who want monogamy.
— Turned Around
Yes, the suburbs are just teeming with wives calling to their husbands as they’re going out the door for work, “Honey, want me to TiVo your dinosaurs thing in case your sex date runs long?”
Actually, it seems clear that vast numbers of people are having sex with somebody other than their partners or spouses. They just do it behind that person’s back, as did the then-married Newt Gingrich, probing Clinton about lying about l’affaire Lewinsky — when Gingrich wasn’t too busy probing his naked congressional aide. Other married cheaters will roll out of a motel room bed, then snarl about how horrible and disgusting it is for other consenting adults to have sexually open relationships: those where partners honestly confront the fairytale notions that one person can meet another person’s every need, that two people can remain together “till death do us part” and not get to the point where keeping the spark alive is a job for a panty bomber load of PETN explosive.
The Bible is no help to those who claim that the multiply partnered are immoral and wrong. Gideon, the guy the hotel room editions are named for, had lots of wives and a concubine. King Solomon had hundreds of both. In “Biblical Literacy,” Rabbi Joseph Telushkin writes that “Biblical law permits a man to have more than one wife,” but he adds that “biblical narrative … depicts multiple marriages as almost always leading to multiple miseries.” Even Nena O’Neill, co-author of the ’70s bombshell Open Marriage, came around to that point of view. She subsequently wrote in The Marriage Premise that couples may agree to sexual nonexclusivity, but often experience jealousy, insecurity, resentment, anger and feelings of abandonment — “sometimes as strongly as they do when a clandestine affair is discovered.” So, people can make lofty pronouncements about not wanting to deny their partners any of life’s pleasures — until the difference sinks in between having extra hot fudge and having the hairy guy next door.
As for your situation, are you in a relationship or a really tiny cult? You’ve made it clear that the open thing just isn’t for you. If your boyfriend cared about you, he’d say, “Aw, gee whiz, wish you felt differently,” and probably be on his way. But he’s determined to have his cake and a bunch of other people’s cake, too, so he’s trying to bully and head-game you into believing you’re small-minded and boring. He’s got you so sidetracked defending yourself against bogus charges (looking down on him, finding him “disgusting”) that you’re on your way to glancing up from your relationship and finding that you’re no longer part of a couple but a face in the crowd. Ditch this guy and find one who’s open to discussing your needs — beyond how you’ll need to let him keep the key to your heart in a cabinet he bought off somebody running a valet parking concession.
Felon like some company
I’d appreciate if you’d introduce me to a lady between 35 and 65 for friendship and more. I’m 48, 6 feet tall, 220 pounds. I’m an artist, writer and musician. I’m currently in prison, but I’m not guilty, so I expect to get out of here soon.
— Jailhouse Rocker
I guess you’re asking me to post a personals ad for you: “Enjoyed long walks on the beach; now enjoying short walks between electrified fences.” Sure, the incarcerated man has his merits: There’s no wondering where he is at night or worrying he’ll run off with another woman (at least not for another 10 to 20). Of course, a woman who goes for a man behind bars almost always has something seriously wrong with her. Luckily, like almost all the prisoners who write me, you’re innocent. Put your time into attracting a lawyer, and maybe you can invite a lady to your house instead of your House of Corrections. You’ll get a better class of woman when you can say you’re a 48-year-old artist/writer/musician rooming with another guy because you need to pick up extra cash, not because you got caught leaving three bodies in a ditch.
Amy Alkon’s just-published book: I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).