Recently, I was accused of starting a war against the idea of monogamy. This accusation came from my boyfriend as we discussed our friend’s infidelity. I’m all for monogamy, however, it’s not for everyone. The problem that people as a whole, particularly black gay men, have is that we pretend that it is.
I don’t believe that monogamy is natural. Humans are one of two animals that practice monogamy but we’re the ones that fail at it. I also don’t believe that open relationships are safe, realistic or smart. I believe in something called “degree of monogamy.”
Degree of Monogamy means that you and your partner are somewhere between 80 to 99 percent monogamist and have adopted a cheating curve. This curve can be a number of things. For instance, I’m a big flirt. I flirt with everyone, even girls. It’s just something that I do. It’s understood in my relationship that I am allowed to flirt as much as I want and it won’t be considered cheating. Another couple I know has a travel clause; when they are out of town, it’s anything goes. Overall, you must do what works for you and your partner. Draw a line and do not cross it.
This idea of degree of monogamy or non-monogamy is actually a more traditional way of thinking, particularly for men. This notion of lifelong sexual and love exclusivity is a new concept and it clearly correlates with the number of failed marriages. Sex is simply a physical thing and you have to decide whether that physical act will hold a heavy burden over your emotional relationship.
We live in an age where freedom is vitally important. I shouldn’t feel guilty for looking or lusting after another man because I have a boyfriend. If my boyfriend gets drunk and makes out with someone, I’m not going to get upset. Why? It’s because that’s a random physical act that could never mean anywhere near as much as our love.
Someone once said that you could only expect to get about 80 percent of what you need from your significant other. The problem arises when that 20 percent is not met nor discussed, and you began to sneak around to get what you feel you’re missing. Once you don’t have to creep and your needs are met, you’ll realize that you don’t need them as often as you thought. (The couple with the travel clause mentioned earlier, has only exercised that curve three times in eight years.)
Remove the shame, talk about what you need and go out and find that extra 10 to 5 perfect. But only do so with your partner’s constant and a strict set of rules. Again, create rules, draw a line and do not cross it. If you don’t have enough self-control to not violate rules you agreed upon then you shouldn’t be in a relationship at all. Every relationship is different, so stop trying to make yours look like the ones on TV. If you didn’t know, those are fake.