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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Arguments against gay marriage from unlikely sources (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Arguments against gay marriage from unlikely sources
Sterling
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With the recent decision in California, this seems a reasonable time to bring up something that's been in the back of my mind for a while.

Several months ago a friend lent me Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage, an author and columnist whose work has been featured in Seattle's The Stranger as well as Salon, NPR, and various other places.

Savage is a gay man living in Seattle who is in a long-term relationship. He has an adopted son.

Skipping Towards Gommorah is an examination (and in some ways celebration) of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's an interesting, often funny, and sometimes unsettling read regarding various vices as they're practiced in America: Greed (gambling), Gluttony (fat acceptance groups), Wrath (handguns), and so on.

But somewhere amidst Lust ("swinging" marriages) and Pride (Gay Pride) he rather casually claims that gay men simply don't tend to be monogamous, and that it's not realistic to expect them to be.

Cough, sputter... Excuse me?!

Now, Savage's biggest claim to fame is writing as a sex columnist. On one hand, part of me says that he's possibly more qualified to say what the reality of being a gay man in America than myself, a straight married guy.

But another part of me says, have you really examined that idea? Are you so sure that this is a reality inherent to being a homosexual male, and not simply part of a culture that the more negative aspects of "gay pride" have made introspective examination of all but impossible?

He shares some interesting and valuable thoughts on marriage and "gay pride" along the way. Notably, that we would have a much lower divorce rate if we thought of adultery as less of an unforgivable misdeed and more as a breach of trust that, while regrettable, occurs in many marriages and ought to be seen as a stumbling block rather than an impassable chasm. And that while "gay pride" was very valuable in its infancy, it sometimes provides cover for individual homosexuals who, as often as individual heterosexuals, aren't necessarily inherently good, considerate, caring people.

But on the unlikelihood of gay male monogamy, Savage's comments caused me to hit a stumbling block of my own.

I don't think of myself as a prude. I do think that committed couples, whatever their gender, should be able to enjoy the priveliges and recognition of marriage, including the ability to raise children of their own. Nor do I believe that premarital sex is inherently wrong.

...But there's those words committed and premarital.

I find I am perfectly willing to see the validity of two people who love each other making a permanent commitment, creating a home, raising a family, growing old together, and to call that a marriage whether those two people are male, female, or one of each.

What I'm not willing to call such is a relationship where one person waits at home for the other to call while said other is out chasing tail.

I confess I've seen people try to do things like this and I've never really seen it work. Someone always seems to end up getting hurt. Marriage means to me that when you need your partner, they're there for you, and only you, not someone else who happened to momentarily catch their eye. Doubly so when children get involved in the mix.

It's not impossible that there's someone out there somewhere who has an "open relationship" like this that's genuinely equal and non-explotive. But I find it incredibly hard to suggest, even for a moment, that we take it for granted that things will work out that way.

And I think, "Savage, you idiot. You just gave legitimacy to every opponent of gay marriage who says there's a homosexual agenda to change the 'definition of marriage'."

I really, really hope that Savage is actually in the minority in this matter. Because while I don't have a problem with marriage being a committed relationship between two people determined to spend their lives together, I do have a problem with juggling the meaning of that word "committed".

I sometimes think that America gets so caught up in the physical and moral aspects of sexuality that we badly neglect the emotional ones. No amount of semantic gymnastics, psychobabble, or philosophical contortion can make sexual intercourse an emotionally neutral act.

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Olivet
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I think monogamy and commitment are very challenging for a lot of people, gay or straight. (I say this from the outside looking in, as I've been quite contentedly monogamous my entire life. I'm not sure if it's because I'm just that way or because my husband is just that good. [Big Grin] )

The gay people I know are also pretty contentedly committed, or seeking commitment. That may be a case of 'birds of a feather' - I can't say for certain. This fellow's experience obviously varies from mine, and I assume he's known a lot more gay men.

Last fall I was at a fundraiser, taken under the wing of one of teh salesladies at my husband's company. She was loud, funny and probably very drunk. Anyway, she dragged me around introducing me to people. One of them was the father of the charity's organizer, a fellow who was very pleasant and outgoing, and gay. He showed us pictures of his fella, and the saleslady asked if he was his partner.

This man, obviously of an older generation than either of us shook his head and said, "Why would i want to get married again? Share all my property" etc. He pretty openly said he wanted to hang onto his wealth and make certain of his children's inheritance. He thought younger gays were foolish for wanting the right to marry.

The saleslady soon enough dragged me off to meet more people, boasting, "I know all the best gays!"

(This was probably the exact moment that illustrated for me how different life was going to be in New Orleans, as compared to the conservative Atlanta suburbs we'd just left.)

But anyway. The older I get the more I realize that everyone's belief of How Things Are is colored by their experience, and no matter how large the sampling, the big picture is always too big for any one person to really see all of it.

I grow suspicious of statements of certainty on broad topics, no matter how well-informed. Especially where groups of people are concerned.

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Chris Bridges
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Actually Savage is on record as saying he doesn't think monogamy is easily attainable for any human, male or female, straight or gay.
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Raymond Arnold
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What I've heard (from a random unscientific source) is that approximately 20% of the population tends towards cheating, and those people tend to hang out together, resulting in a perception that "everybody cheats."
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Mucus
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Some of that 20% hang out in the Senate and Congress [Wink]
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dkw
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Olivet, you are in New Orleans now ?!? I was just there.
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Chris Bridges
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Monogamy Isn't Realistic

But I support couples who choose to be monogamous. It's an unnatural lifestyle, and it's definitely choice I wouldn't make, but I don't believe that couples who make the choice to be monogamous should be discriminated against in any way. They should be allowed to have children and adopt, for instance. I'd even go so far as to say that monogamous couples should be allowed to marry—legally marry—even though adultery rates and divorce statistics demonstrate that making sexual exclusivity a defining characteristic of marriage is destabilizing and often leads to divorce.

-- Dan Savage

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Chris Bridges
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However, Savage is also highly in favor of honesty in couples, and does not generally condone cheating. Non-monogamy is not necessarily cheating, in his view, when your partner knows about it and is OK with it. Or, for that matter, is present at the time.

But he has very direct views about people who screw over their partners for their own selfishness, with language not really suitable for Hatrack.

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Olivet
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Dang, dkw! Sorry I missed you! Next time you're down this way, let me know! I've been here almost a year, and we know lots of great family-friendly things to do and great restaurants that aren't priced for drunk tourists who don't know any better. [Wink]

I take exception to the idea that monogamy is not natural - it certainly feels very natural to me.

*realizes the irony of her statement, considering the thread*

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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bridges:
However, Savage is also highly in favor of honesty in couples, and does not generally condone cheating. Non-monogamy is not necessarily cheating, in his view, when your partner knows about it and is OK with it. Or, for that matter, is present at the time.

But he has very direct views about people who screw over their partners for their own selfishness, with language not really suitable for Hatrack.

That's the impression I've gotten of his take; I just don't agree. My suspicion is that many partners end up "being OK" with their partner's non-monogamy because the alternative is giving up on the relationship. If they indulge in the "openness", it's done out of spite; if the partner doesn't react to their "infidelity", they feel undervalued. And again, powers help you if there's children involved in that relationship. Even the enormous sampling of ONE couple that he writes about in his "Lust" chapter still simply hasn't engaged the problem of what to tell their children or their family.

I'm willing to consider the possibility that monogamy is "unnatural", but if so, so is marriage. And it being "unnatural" doesn't change that to be human is to move beyond the satiation of biological urges and do all manner of "unnatural" things for a variety of reasons.

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dkw
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We found lots of family friendly things to do, but I would have loved to get our monkeys together. We ended up getting a membership to the children's museum, since it paid for itself in two visits and was within walking distance of the hotel. Bob's going to be down again in a few weeks, but the boys and I won't be along this time. [Frown]

On topic, I think that some people are naturally monogamous, others probably not. But I do agree with Savage about the importance of honesty and agreed upon expectations in a relationship.

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Samprimary
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Monogamy 'isn't natural?' it's certainly within the obviously expressed range of human sexuality. The issue is that polyamory is also natural, to such an extent that the stigma against it is rapidly dropping away.
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MightyCow
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Sterling: You seem ready to accept that one partner in the relatinship might want to be open to other sexual partners. What prevents two of those people to get together, and both be willing to accept an open relationship?
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Sterling: You seem ready to accept that one partner in the relatinship might want to be open to other sexual partners. What prevents two of those people to get together, and both be willing to accept an open relationship?

Nothing. I just feel that such a relationship shouldn't be a marriage. To do so, to my mind, creates the expectation that one shouldn't expect monogamy in marriage, with the potential to do harm to the other (vast majority) of relationships. Something which isn't true, to my mind, of homosexual marriage.

It isn't a matter of replacing a fuse or changing a shirt with 'a' being different than 'b', but effectively fulfilling the same basic purpose. No one has come up with effective and accepted ways of dealing with a myriad of issues regarding polyamory that simply don't exist in a monogamous marriage. What if a lover becomes pregnant, or a spouse brings home a sexually transmitted disease? What if someone feels that extended sexual cohabitation implies a willingness to provide financial support? How does anyone come to an understanding of what time and attention elements of marriage or maintaining a home requires that simply cannot be put off for the sake of other people? What if both spouses accept an "open" arrangement but one simply cannot abide by a spouse's particular choice of lover?... And so on, and so on.

There are two very simple ways to make most of these issues go away. You get married, and commit to one person. Or you don't get married, and you accept that you're in a relationship that other people may move through and that the other party may at some point simply walk away from.

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ambyr
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quote:
No one has come up with effective and accepted ways of dealing with a myriad of issues regarding polyamory that simply don't exist in a monogamous marriage. What if a lover becomes pregnant, or a spouse brings home a sexually transmitted disease? What if someone feels that extended sexual cohabitation implies a willingness to provide financial support? How does anyone come to an understanding of what time and attention elements of marriage or maintaining a home requires that simply cannot be put off for the sake of other people? What if both spouses accept an "open" arrangement but one simply cannot abide by a spouse's particular choice of lover?... And so on, and so on.
No one has come up with one overarching solution for all the issues inherent in all polyamorous relationships because not every poly relationship is alike. But many individuals have come up with acceptable ways of dealing with all the issues you mention above in their relationships. Some of those ways of dealing include not marrying anyone. Some of them do include marrying someone. I happen to be the not-marrying sort (at least, at present), but I know plenty of people who are in happily open marriages, and have been for years--or decades.

It seems that what you're saying here is basically that you could not satisfactorily resolve the issues you raise. Which, you know, is absolutely fine. Stay monogamous! Most people seem to want to. Societal norms are in their favor.

But if someone else can answer all the questions you raise for their marriage--to the satisfaction of them, their spouse, and any other partners--why do you care if they choose to open it?

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dabbler
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quote:
What if a lover becomes pregnant, or a spouse brings home a sexually transmitted disease? What if someone feels that extended sexual cohabitation implies a willingness to provide financial support? How does anyone come to an understanding of what time and attention elements of marriage or maintaining a home requires that simply cannot be put off for the sake of other people? What if both spouses accept an "open" arrangement but one simply cannot abide by a spouse's particular choice of lover?
I don't see these issues as being inherently more problematic than other issues couples face. There exist people for whom open relationships are worth the effort to understand and examine these issues. Some of these people will get married and continue their open relationships. I don't see how it significantly impacts my own interest and ability to maintain an open relationship.

We can pick any number of issues that could be Big Important, Relationship Defining or Breaking Questions. What if one partner wants children and the other one doesn't? What if one partner loses their job? What if one partner loses sexual interest in the other? etc.

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sinflower
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Don't blast polyamory until you've tried it! There are a lot of people who've made polyamorous relationships work for them, and who've even found that it works better than monogamy.

quote:
No one has come up with effective and accepted ways of dealing with a myriad of issues regarding polyamory that simply don't exist in a monogamous marriage. What if a lover becomes pregnant, or a spouse brings home a sexually transmitted disease? What if someone feels that extended sexual cohabitation implies a willingness to provide financial support? How does anyone come to an understanding of what time and attention elements of marriage or maintaining a home requires that simply cannot be put off for the sake of other people? What if both spouses accept an "open" arrangement but one simply cannot abide by a spouse's particular choice of lover?... And so on, and so on.

http://www.scarletletters.com/current/021403_nf_rk.html

Here's a polyamorous relationship contract that addresses all of the issues you bring up and more. It's really interesting, actually, and very well thought out--they've defined their triggers, their boundaries, rules regarding protection, veto powers, criteria for what people qualify as secondary partners, sex acts that are exclusive to the two of them, and so on. In fact, I bet the percentage of monogamous couples who've put this much thought into their marriage before they got married is definitely in the single digits.

Reading this, I get the impression that a polyamorous relationship takes a lot of maturity on all sides, and a lot of communication. But ideally, you wouldn't be marrying someone unless your relationship possessed those attributes either.

Here's a general poly FAQ if you're interested:

http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html

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Samprimary
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how well you do in the poly scene measures pretty solidly with how mature and honest you are. You also have to be honest with yourself. Some people are the jealous type and psychologically lock up over the idea of their partner having sex with another person. You either overcome this then become poly, or you try to become poly to overcome it (or because a partner insisted and you didn't know how to stand up for yourself in saying that you were not cool with it/would 'go along with it' hoping to make things work, etc) and disaster and fireworks result.

Thankfully it's all a lot of fast-burning drama, not the long slow implosions of many marriages. It works, or you move on.

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sinflower
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A few of my friends are poly and it works for them so I've been seriously considering it, but I think I may be the jealous type [Frown] Not over sex so much as emotional connection. Maybe when I'm older and more mature.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by ambyr:
But if someone else can answer all the questions you raise for their marriage--to the satisfaction of them, their spouse, and any other partners--why do you care if they choose to open it?

I suppose, in honesty, it's because of the potential for people getting hurt. "Here's a tightrope, c'mon, walk on over, it's easy!"

I will grant you that I can only speak from my experience, which is limited. And as I say, I do not doubt that there are people for whom such a situation could work, but I've encountered very few. And that, like many monogamous relationships, things can look fine on the outside.

My leading examples are someone who left a string of unhappy women behind him because he somehow never made clear what *he* felt was acceptable for him to do within the bounds of the relationship, and a married couple who basically can't stand each other and have used polyamory to keep stringing things on for a while to prevent them from admitting that they should just get the hell away from each other. Oh, and one threesome that quickly dissolved into a twosome because they couldn't handle each others' needs for attention.

Within any relationship there is the possibility of dishonesty, communication failures, disproportionate power structures, and so on. It is very hard for me to believe that these problems do not multiply with more people involved. I have encountered little to disuage me of this view, YMMV. It's all well and good to say that it's a mark of maturity to be able to handle a polygamous relationship, but... You never know, really, until you walk the tightrope. I've just seen people fall. Some of whom might have been happy, had they not tried.

quote:
It seems that what you're saying here is basically that you could not satisfactorily resolve the issues you raise.
To be fair, there are also serious legal and ethical issues regarding some matters that go well outside the existing framework and have the potential to affect people well beyond the polyamorous relationship. In part because said framework was created with marriage-based families in mind from long standing. It isn't just me being a fuddy-duddy. [Smile]

[ August 06, 2010, 03:26 AM: Message edited by: Sterling ]

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MightyCow
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Sterling: No offense, but I don't see how it's yours ou anyone else's business.

People do a lot of things in their marriage that someone else doesn't want to do, or thinks is a bad idea. So what? How does that hurt anyone else, and why should we worry about what might or might not work for them?

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Reshpeckobiggle
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Post #2: I think monogamy and commitment are very challenging for a lot of people, gay or straight.

So that's not the issue at all then, is it?

Polyamory is not a viable consideration, and no one who values his or her time is going to explore it. Go for it if that's what you want to do, but don't be surprised when you come away from it wondering what you've been wasting your life doing.

In the meantime, what is the real issue concerning gay rights, regarding legal marriage?

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Black Fox
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A lot of this debate all comes down to simplified thinking and a love for particular definitions. To say that marriage ( as a title of a relationship ) should be kept solely for monogamous individuals or really any specific group.

What it all ends up being is an error of composition. To give "marriage" a meaning requires that your society gives it a meaning. Part of the problem of mega-societies ( such as the USA ) is that just because you are part of that society does not mean that all definitions necessarily go up and down the gamut of societies within it. For instance the United States government deciding that marriage is X does not mean that the societal definition for say the Missouri Lutheran Synod changes. They might value marriage as Y.

Assigning different values to the same term does not change that value or term for either party. However, for many people this is extremely difficult to deal with. Its like going into a coffee shop and ordering a coffee and getting an espresso, except quite a deal more disconcerting for the parties involved.

As far as Dan Savage goes, my main issue with society is our love-affair with comfortability mixed with utilitarianism. A great article by Ross Douthar in The Atlantic ( http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/10/is-pornography-adultery/6989/ ) is if pornography is adultery ( to the chagrin of many I know I agree with Douthat) Douthat would say that it is.

That and the desire to do something is neither sufficient or necessary to an act being "natural", but then what is really is natural and can there truly be an unnatural.

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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Sterling:
To be fair, there are also serious legal and ethical issues regarding some matters that go well outside the existing framework and have the potential to affect people well beyond the polyamorous relationship. In part because said framework was created with marriage-based families in mind from long standing. It isn't just me being a fuddy-duddy. [Smile]

I'll be honest--I have no idea what you're saying here. Can you clarify?
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Olivet
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I think he's referring to the fact that most members of poly relationships have no legal rights.

My sister-in-law's first husband got her into poly groups on the web, talked her into taking part in some activities and then divorced her, using her web browsing history and evidence of her 'infidelity and perversion' to get full custody of their children. She had no proof that he had brought her into that life, and still has very limited access to her kids (and was stuck with most of the marital debt in the divorce).

He then married the woman half of the couple he wanted her to swing with. It was, and is, one of the ugliest, most destructive things I have ever seen one person do to another.

Maybe a contract would have helped her, but she was young, naive and trusted her husband. ;(

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kmbboots
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There are also marriages where one spouse decides that physical intimacy is over for the both of them. There is still love and commitment but no more sex. Couples don't always reach this point at the same time, leaving one partner starved to be touched. Is that right? Should a man or in their thirties have to accept that they can never have that again unless they give up their family?
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ElJay
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Frankly, unless the spouse that has decided there will be no more physical intimacy agrees that the other spouse can seek it elsewhere, yes. If the "deal" when they got married was that it would be an exclusive marriage, one person does not get to change the deal. As far as I'm concerned, it's get permission, get the other person to change their mind, or divorce.

I realize that's over simplifying things, of course. But on a "buck stops here" level, it's what I believe.

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Olivet
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
There are also marriages where one spouse decides that physical intimacy is over for the both of them. There is still love and commitment but no more sex. Couples don't always reach this point at the same time, leaving one partner starved to be touched. Is that right? Should a man or in their thirties have to accept that they can never have that again unless they give up their family?

Certainly not. But if the spouse is against it, or changes his/her mind, they could lose their family anyway, because of the way the laws are written.

I mean, as long as you know the risks and do your best to protect yourself, I don't see why things couldn't work out. But romantic relationships often have a huge amount of trust inherent in them, and if that trust is misplaced things can get very ugly, very quickly.

I'm sure there are lots of ways to make those relationships work.

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kmbboots
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I think that, often, getting permission to seek elsewhere is a better choice than divorce.
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katharina
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If you are going to break your vows, be honest about it and break them: get a divorce. Dating while married is fundamentally dishonest to both your spouse and the person you are dating.

I have to wonder, what kind of loser dates a married man? Who wants someone who, in the very act of asking you out, is proving himself to lack integrity or courage or both? Who wants that kind of guy? How low does someone's self esteem have to be to WANT to be a mistress?

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kmbboots
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You are making a lot of assumptions, there, that are not universally true.
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katharina
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He proves himself to be someone who doesn't respect the promises he makes. Either keep them or officially disavow them. Divorce exists - someone who wants to keep the benefits of being married but be free to date is too selfish for respect.

It is sad when someone wants to be the partner of someone with low integrity and be a part of breaking serious promises. It doesn't reflect well on either person, and I have to wonder about the mistress's self esteem.

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kmbboots
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One assumption you are making is that you know what promises were made in the first place. You also don't know what was "re-negotiated". Nor do you know the many reasons people may decide to stay married.

I don't need to or expect to change your mind. But I will remind you that you are making a lot of assumptions that may not be true in all cases. People are different; marriages are different.

Back to the original point, I don't see why this would be different for SSM than it is for OSM except that marital expectations are sort of "new" for SSM.

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Amberkitty
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Dan Savage - and anyone else - commenting on what's natural relationship or sexual behavior is bullshitting. The range of such is so broad, it is unfitting to say any one specific behavior or inclination is natural other than we seek emotional and sexual bonding, and sometimes in very creative ways. Saying that it's unreasonable to expect gay men to be monogamous is like saying that it's unreasonable to expect straight married men to stop "appreciating" beautiful women. It removes responsibility from both parties - one from acting in concordance to the established relationship contract and the other from creating and enforcing boundaries that make themselves happy. Having relationships - mono or poly - requires the maturity on both parties to do both. Savage has great insight on many things concerning sex and relationships (such as honesty is of utmost importance), but on this he has not.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
He proves himself to be someone who doesn't respect the promises he makes.
I don't think most people actually promise to exclusively have sex with their spouses when they marry, now that I think about it. There's perhaps an implied promise, but the applicability of that implication depends entirely upon both spouses' expectations of sexual behavior.

[ August 06, 2010, 12:06 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
If you are going to break your vows, be honest about it and break them: get a divorce. Dating while married is fundamentally dishonest to both your spouse and the person you are dating.
Can someone be wrong without being dishonest? I mean, I know what I, personally, think marriage is and as with any kind of moral question, if someone diverges sharply enough from it, I will disapprove just like anyone. But I wouldn't assume just from external, publicly known facts that they must be sleazy liars. Just because marriage means one thing to me doesn't mean it means the same thing to whichever them is in question.
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Lisa
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Men have a bigger problem with monogamy than women do. Statistically, of course; any finding like that is only statistical, and there are exceptions, but still, everyone knows it.

So how odd is it to think that a relationship that's only men would be less likely to be monogamous? Again, statistically.

In the gay community, there's a joke:

Q: What does a lesbian bring on the second date?
A: A U-Haul.

Q: What does a gay man bring on the second date?
A: What's a second date?

Both of those are stereotypes, and I personally know exceptions to each of them, but stereotypes come from somewhere.

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Samprimary
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I know plenty of people who are going to get married for the tax benefits and both parties are freely poly and they have never been 'dishonest' with each other about that fact, so the premise of fundamentally dishonest is false there.

I know plenty of swingers who are married to each other and love each other and date outside of the marriage and got into the marriage with that premise - they're still each others' main loves and want the partnership to stand that way, with all the civil benefits and permission sin cases of medical emergency, etc. They've never 'promised' just to have sex with each other.

It doesn't make them 'low integrity,' unless you think that being poly or swinger itself makes you 'low integrity.' Which is completely untrue, so.

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Raymond Arnold
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There's a poly blogger (that is, a blogger who happens to be poly, as opposed to someone who blogs exclusively about poly-related things), that I generally respect. He often emphasizes a few things about how he manages his lifestyle:

1. Always remember that poly is HARDER than monogamous relationships. If you're doing it because you think monogamy is "hard," you're doing it wrong.

2. Whenever they want to introduce a new person to their poly circle, they have to get express permission from EVERYONE who's already involved.

3. Whenever things between he and his wife are tense/difficult, they retreat AWAY from poly relationships, focusing on fixing their core marriage, because if they used other girl/guyfriends to escape from whatever problems their facing, their marriage might break.

4. Since sexual fidelity is less of an issue, he (and most poly groups he knows) find other ways to be faithful to each other. For example, there's a playful word that he made up, which he only uses with his wife.

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katharina
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Extreme counterexamples are suspect and even if true, statistically irrelevant.

Asking the person who is cheating if it is okay is not going to give you an accurate picture. Ask the people are being cheated on if this is what they had in mind when their spouse promised to be faithful.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Extreme counterexamples

Extreme counterexamples of what?
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katharina
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Try to keep up.
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TomDavidson
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Katie, do you think it's inherently "cheating" to sleep with someone other than your spouse, even if that spouse knows about it or has previously given consent?
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katharina
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Unless stated otherwise in the marriage vows ("I'll always love you, and I'll sleep with you even when I'm sleeping with other people, which I plan on doing"), monogamy is one of the assumptions of marriage.

Also, vows are said in front of witnesses for a reason. It isn't just a promise to each other, so you can't just dissolve them by an agreement with each other. You're married until the divorce is legally final.

If you want to sleep with someone else, get a divorce. Until then, it's cheating. This is not a gray area.

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Raymond Arnold
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I think it IS worth worrying about the fact that a lot of "poly" relationships are men getting "consent" from women who are afraid of losing their husbands. I don't know what the statistics are (nor how to get an accurate picture of) the number of poly relationships that are actually healthy. That doesn't mean such things are "extreme counterexamples," though.
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katharina
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That's a good point, Raymond. I know a huge number of women that tolerate their husband's cheating because of monetary or family or low self estreem reasons. That toleration doesn't make the cheating man worthy of respect.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Unless stated otherwise in the marriage vows ("I'll always love you, and I'll sleep with you even when I'm sleeping with other people, which I plan on doing"), monogamy is one of the assumptions of marriage.
Where? Why?
I mean, Christy and I had fairly normal marriage vows, and we certainly entered into a marriage with the expectation of monogamy, but there was absolutely nothing said at our wedding which stated or implied monogamy.

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Raymond Arnold
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As much as I do think the first point is extremely important to consider, it doesn't make the second point - that relationships, even marriages, can be based around something other than sexual fidelity and be healthy - any less important as well.
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kmbboots
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I think that there is also an element of "vow breaking" for one partner to decide unilaterally that sex is no longer part of the relationship. There may be good reasons for it but the person asking to "seek elsewhere" is not the only person not living up to the original expectations.
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ambyr
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quote:
I think it IS worth worrying about the fact that a lot of "poly" relationships are men getting "consent" from women who are afraid of losing their husbands.
Based purely on observation and anecdote, I would actually say that more heterosexual couples get into poly at the behest of the woman than at the behest of the man (though not by a huge margin). Poly women also seem to have an easier time finding additional partners than poly men. Some of that is because most of the poly women I know are open to partners of either gender, while most of the poly men I know are not, but there's certainly other factors in play.

The swinging community has very different dynamics, I gather, and since I'm not involved in it I don't really feel like I should comment on it.

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