Atlanta gay man asks if monogamy is even possible, or is it hypocrisy?

Vince Shifflett knows gay men in open relationships who seem happier allowing dalliances with no restrictions, and ones in so-called “monogamous relationships” always trying to get into his pants on the down low. Just in time for Valentine's Day, he weights his monogamy conundrum.—Editor

The divorce rate in the U.S. is more than 50%, and that doesn’t even include those who are separated but not formally divorced. What causes it? Are we trying to put ourselves into a box that we don’t belong in? Are we trying to conform to what society says is right? 

I was always taught that you find that “special one,” marry them and live happily ever after. Well, the divorce and infidelity rates are evidence that it isn’t working very well. 

We are sexual beings. We are beings that love. Do we have control over whom we fall in love with? Can you fall in love with someone else while already in love with another?

Polyamory is defined as having multiple loving, romantic relationships at the same time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. It’s neither a good or bad idea. It is a choice, just as monogamy is a choice. 

In some countries like India, Philippines, Nigeria and South Africa, polyamory is acceptable. It goes against traditional U.S. thinking, especially from some of the religious corners, but Psychology Today reveals that 9.8 million Americans allow satellite lovers in their relationships.

So is monogamy hypocrisy?

I think the idea of a monogamous relationship sounds great, but is it reality? Were we created to be with just one person sexually for our entire lives? For me, monogamy was a possessive, controlling experience. I have come to the conclusion that I would rather date someone who is openly polyamorous than to date someone who is cheating.

For those in long-term relationships, are you sexually fulfilled? How many times a week are you sexual with your “monogamous partner?” If the sex with your long-term partner ends or drastically decreases, do you just ignore that part of yourself, or do you constantly just take matters into your own hands? No pun intended. 

The lack of intimate physical connection with another being would seem rather boring to me. 

Sex is not love. Sex can be an expression of love, but the two words are not synonymous with each other. Can it be that you can have more than one sexual partner but still be in a committed relationship with that special one? 

There is so much cheating, lying, hiding and deceitfulness in relationships. It seems as if people pretend to be monogamous while sneaking around and hooking up with others. Is that healthy?

I think honesty and complete transparency are much healthier and lead to longevity in relationships — just be open and honest. Unconditional love doesn’t put limitations on another person. It just loves regardless. 

If monogamy works for you, awesome. If not, perhaps it’s time to have an open, honest chat with your significant other.  

Secrets lead to sickness. I have friends who have been in relationships for over 20 years, some open and some “monogamous.” Or so they say. Those in open relationships seem to be happier allowing each other dalliances with no restrictions or rules. The ones with “monogamous relationships” are always trying to get in my pants on the down low. What does this say? 

Why put limitations on our normal desires?  Why not express yourself fully including your sexual self? Why not open up to just loving? Why limit your love to one person? 

I am not advocating for one way or another. I am just pondering the idea and asking myself why there is so much infidelity and divorce. I know this article is full of questions, but maybe the answers can help us find happier, more fulfilled relationships minus the hiding and secrets. 

My personal intention is to be true to myself and honest with the one or ones I love. Honesty always wins. 

Vince Shifflett is a writer and nurse practitioner living in Atlanta. Contact him and read more of his writing at vinceshifflet.com 

A version of this column originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the latest issue below.

Pick up a new issue of Q each week at queer and LGBTQ-friendly venues around town.