Monogamy is difficult

To continue with an introduction to the main ideas behind Open Fidelity:

Many people try their utmost to be monogamous. They try to avoid getting tempted into having sex with anyone other than their spouse (or their partner, in other words the person they have committed to). But more fail than succeed.

Yes, there are couples who stay happily together for decades, with no interest in anyone but each other. They are the lucky ones in today’s society – they find it easy to keep to the conventional rules.

But I suspect that many other couples who do manage long-term monogamy struggle with it. They are tempted and resist the temptation, or they avoid situations where they could be tempted. Perhaps one of the two partners struggles alone with their attractions to other people. This person might be afraid of mentioning to their partner how difficult they are finding the struggle to be monogamous, for fear that their partner could be angry or could leave them.

Alternatively, the two partners might struggle together when one of them is attracted to a third person. One partner is suspicious and the other partner makes promises or denies everything.

Looking at relationships this way, we can see that large portions of the energy in a relationship can be used in keeping to the rule of monogamy.

And of course many others don’t manage it. I will go into the numbers in more detail in a future post but, essentially, studies show that in western societies marital infidelity occurs in 40-70% of all marriages. These infidelities can take many forms, from visits to prostitutes, one-night stands and holiday flings to affairs lasting years.

Many of the married people having affairs have vowed to ‘forsake all others’ when they got married, usually with full sincerity, and even when these exact words are not an explicit part of the marriage ceremony they are implied in it. Can we argue that they have changed into different people, suddenly not caring about the feelings of their spouse? If infidelity was a rare occurrence we could treat it as an aberration; but it is not rare, not at all.

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