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Why are we (mostly) monogamous? Is it meant to be this way?

(93 Posts)
CookieRookie Sun 28-Oct-12 18:16:49

I've been musing over this for a while. I know so many people whose marriages have ended, read so many threads about affairs, cheating, fantasizing about someone else outside of the marriage.

I can't for a minute imagine ever DH or me having an affair but who can? Who ever on their wedding day thinks "oh I'll enjoy this while it lasts because some day one or other of us is going to cheat". Yet it happens. Why? Is it that marriage has lost it's, I can't think of the word but sacredness or something. Are we marrying to soon? Are we conforming to a societal norm without really considering the consequences? Is one partner for the rest of your life just not good enough anymore or was it never good enough and we humans decided it was taboo or immoral to live a polygamous or polyandrous life and so we settled into a acceptable norm.

The list of reasons for marriage breakups could be infinite but my real pondering in all of this is - are we just not meant to be monogamous but are reared to believe this is how it should be (nurture) or are we absolutely supposed to be (nature) but are failing on quite a grand scale?

I have no reason to fear DH could be now or would ever cheat nor have I any desire to cheat on him but sometimes I can't help the feeling that the bubble is going to burst, that it is somehow inevitable because monogamy is just a made-up ideal.

CookieRookie Sun 28-Oct-12 18:29:52

I was going to name change but decided against it in case you all thought I was a journalist (not with my spelling!) or doing some sort of survey.

NotAnIdiotHonest Sun 28-Oct-12 18:31:26

It is a made up ideal, but it has many benefits and is just one if many choices we can make. I don't think we are "meant" to be monogamous, but we can be if we want to be.

As for why so many marriages break up, I don't know but just reading this board so many people seem to make huge commitments (marriage, DCs, house buying, moving in together) while knowing deep down that it's not right that I'm not surprised. Too many people desperately want to be coupled up and ignore the obvious signs that it's not going to work with that person.

Charbon Sun 28-Oct-12 18:33:35

Monogamy isn't a natural state and is something that is the product of social construction.

However, it's a mistake to think that people's reasons for having relationships outside of their sanctioned partnerships are solely connected to the desire to have sex with other people. Humans are far more complex beings and many people are driven not just by the desire to have sex with others, but to have secrets, to enjoy anything that is illicit or forbidden, to feel jealous or competitive and to form emotional attachments to others.

Hence, even if monogamy were not the default setting in couple relationships, some people would still have the above needs that would go unmet.

Just as it's a mistake to think that infidelity is all about sex with someone different, it is naive to think that a different social construct would erase all other human impulses, because that will never happen.

WarmFuzzyFun Sun 28-Oct-12 18:39:23

Wow. Charbon and NotAnIdiotHonest . I agree, life is shades of grey, not black and white.

I think if the 'one partner for life' model was not promoted as the only true/happy way to relate then perhaps the other ways of being in reationship, which I believe are probably suitable for many people would gain popularity.

(Where is SGB?smile)

CogitoEerilySpooky Sun 28-Oct-12 18:41:43

I think there are as many reasons for infidelity as there are individuals. Marriage is a big commitment, you're right, but it says in the service somewhere 'not to be entered into lightly' doesn't it? Some set out on marriage with no intention whatsoever of being monogamous - those people puzzle me. smile Some start out with high hopes and best intentions but find the reality doesn't match up. Some marry for the wrong reasons or they marry the wrong person and can't keep up with the pretence. People change, get tired of each other, want to hurt each other, are careless/indiscreet, feel trapped. There is a societal and family expectation that, once married, you 'stick with it through thick and thin'. One man I know claims his (very discreet) affairs make him a better DH and, who knows, they may celebrate their diamond anniversary with no-one any the wiser. But then there are the many thousands that pair-bond and stay bonded with no problems whatsoever... so it can and does work pretty well in the majority of cases.

L01S Sun 28-Oct-12 18:42:39

Well, it hasn't worked out for me. I was miserable in the longest relationship I had. He was so selfish and uncompromising and controlling though, so I don't really know if I would be cut out for it or not. Nobody seems to want monogamy with me?

I wonder how so many very ordinary people manage it.

Charbon Sun 28-Oct-12 19:03:18

I do think one of the problems with the way relationships are socially constructed is this unrealistic notion that everyone has a soulmate, so one of the reasons why people have affairs and jettison good people and previously sound relationships is because they convince themselves that the new person on the block is really their soulmate. Hence, their affairs aren't primarily driven by sex, but by romance and a belief in some mystical power that designated Miss Average who's just started in accounts, as their One True Love and Destiny.

And in many affairs, the quality of the sex isn't the motivating factor because objectively many people who've had affairs admit the sex wasn't that earth-shattering or sufficiently 'different' to sustain their interest alone. What fuels the affair is the secrecy, the illicitness and in some cases the new emotional bonds or the addiction to the feelings it gives people about themselves.

But if anything this shows that if there was a free pass to have sex with anyone, there would still be people who missed intrigue and romance and whose esteem and egoes aren't solely defined by someone willing to have sex with them. Those people need more than just sex with a new partner to fulfil their ego or excitement needs; they think they need all the 'trappings' of an affair and openly conducted new sexual relationships just wouldn't give them that buzz.

fluffyraggies Sun 28-Oct-12 19:05:07

You can marry with the very best intentions of staying married to that person for the rest of your life but then find you cannot fulfill that contract without condemning yourself (and therefore your spouse) to many years of unhappiness.

I believe many people managing life time relationships are enduring their partnership rather than enjoying it. Especially our parents generation and before that.

CookieRookie Sun 28-Oct-12 19:11:27

NotanIdiot I think that's another huge societal pressure isn't it? Having to be in a couple by a certain age. Not necessarily get married and have children but to be partnered with someone.

Charbon that's such an interesting post. I wonder is there a typical person who has typical traits though or is anyone or indeed everyone capable of straying because they cannot control the needs you listed. are they instincts that need supressing or are they desires? I also wonder do we know we have these needs or do they jump up mid marriage and take us by surprise. I think that's my question actually.

If we knew we would feel those needs at some stage what would make us say "I do" in the face of them. Would it be societal pressure or love or friendship.

I married my best friend. I would be more devastated if he had an emotional affair than a sexual one. If monogamy was only about one sexual partner then I could say I would be happy enough to be in an open marriage but it's not. It's all the things you listed and more. Sex and love are very different for me (that's a whole other story but I've come to accept that's the way I am) and I could never be in a polygamous relationship or an open marriage that involved several emotional relationships. This is my fear. That eventually we seek it out. Some of us. Lots of us actually and I ask why? I think it might just be in us to do that but I hope I'm wrong.

MooncupGoddess Sun 28-Oct-12 19:12:42

Society these days places too much importance on monogamous relationships; couples are expected to be well matched in every possible way (love, sex, finance, ambitions, living together, bringing up children, etc). It's just too much and not surprising things go wrong. In the olden days marriage was mostly for practical reasons and it was perfectly normal for people (well - certainly men...) to get sex/love elsewhere.

I don't really understand why marriage is still so common now that it's considered perfectly OK to have sex and live together without it. Of course the legal benefits are valuable, particularly if you have children, but lifelong fidelity, love and trust is a very high standard to meet and I'm not surprised it often doesn't work out.

motherinferior Sun 28-Oct-12 19:13:39

Monogamy is terribly boring. I personally find. Mr Inferior is a man of many charms but I know those charms frightfully, frightfully well wink.

I reckon that's got quite a lot to do with it.

panicnotanymore Sun 28-Oct-12 19:18:07

"As for why so many marriages break up, I don't know but just reading this board so many people seem to make huge commitments (marriage, DCs, house buying, moving in together) while knowing deep down that it's not right that I'm not surprised. Too many people desperately want to be coupled up and ignore the obvious signs that it's not going to work with that person."

That para has steam coming out of my ears. I take it you haven't been unfortunate to have to deal with infidelity notanidiot, as if you had I can't believe you say something quite so crass. I'm one of those people you married my soul mate.... We were one of those couples everyone holds up as the ideal, the ones who'll never split up. Didn't stop H having an affair though, which shocked his friends and family who thought (and I quote), 'he was far too honourable man'.

If we want to get all primeval about it, no we aren't meant to be monogamous. Men want to spread their gene pool, and women want the best genes, and may cheat to find them, but have more to lose as they want their man to stick around and catch lots wild boar for lunch.... or whatever. However evolution has moved us out of caves so things are a bit different now....

Me, I'm loyal, I could not more cheat than I could drown kittens. Others are happy to. What I guess I'm trying to say is that everyone is different, some hold monogamy as important, others don't, and the problem arises when 2 people with different ideals pair up.

AgathaFusty Sun 28-Oct-12 19:24:36

I am not sure why people say that monogamy isn't a natural state - I'm not sure that anyone really knows what the natural state for humans is. Certainly some animals mate for life, which I assume means that they are monogamous (although I am not any kind of expert on this grin).

We attended a wedding some years ago. It was my DHs aunt marrying a man a few years younger than herself, after (I believe) a fairly short relationship. The aunt didn't expect the marriage to last and actually said on her wedding day that if it lasted 5 years then she would feel she had done well from it. It didn't last. I thought it was quite sad really, that she would go into a marriage knowing that it was going to end prematurely, but that's only my opinion. I think that, from reading these boards, that opinion is not that unusual - certainly I have read a fair few posters saying that they knew they were making a mistake on their wedding day but they went through with it anyway.

I know lots of long term monogamous couples though, who appear very happy. So it is certainly normal for them. After 28 years with my DH, I have no desire to cheat on him, nor have I ever had.

I am sure that SGB will be inputting to this thread soon, calling monogamous couples mundane etc etc grin

CookieRookie Sun 28-Oct-12 19:25:33

Took me way to long to write that sorry.

So what affair-proofs the marriage then? Is it friendship, children, love, sex, balance of everything?

What makes me love dh and not want anyone else? I had a conversation with a work colleague a few weeks ago. We were discussing someone who had been paralysed from the neck down after a bad car accident. Someone said "You'd wonder would they be better off dead". I couldn't believe that attitude and said if that happened to DH I would just be so happy for his brain to be ok. I fell in love with his brain. My colleague said she would find it awful to have to stay married to someone who couldn't do anything or have sex. I was shocked to be honest but maybe that's just me.

Sex just means something different to me. I like it. I love it with DH but I love his mind more and I couldn't share it intimately with someone else. This makes me believe I'm not monogamous because of society but because of nature. I'm wondering if I'm delusional. That's a very strong word but what I mean is am I fooling myself. Do we all, in some way, eventually wonder if the grass is greener and maybe check it out and if we don't what stops us?

LynetteScavo Sun 28-Oct-12 19:29:03

I think nature intended males to spread their seed and get as many females pregnant as possible. But nature also intended women to stick with one man, to ensure he provided food and shelter for her and her child.

The two don't match up very well though, especially in modern times when women can provide for themselves.

I always presumed that any man would one day cheat on me. DH appears never to have done so, and tells me he can't be bothered. He does keep impregnating me, though, so maybe that's fulfilling his desire to spread his seed.

CookieRookie Sun 28-Oct-12 19:33:13

LynetteScavo grin

NotAnIdiotHonest Sun 28-Oct-12 19:38:01

Oh no panic! I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to offend or make you angry. I wasn't suggesting that the reason i gave was the only reason marriages break up. Obviously they break up for many many different reasons. What I said was just something that had occurred to me today after reading several posts where people were preparing to commit to people they were obviously unsure about. You are right that ive never had to deal with infidelity - but was my reasoning really so crass?

fluffyraggies Sun 28-Oct-12 19:38:36

I don't think you can affair proof a marriage.

I believe some marriages are a ticking time bomb of affair likely-hood.

Their are so many different variables when it comes to people and the way people change, how they age, life experiences, realisations about themselves and the world, the way they feel about them selves and others and so on that it isn't surprising that relationships flounder.

Perhaps it's more a case of good fortune when a couple manages to stay happy together through the years and thick and thin, just as much as a case of a good choice being made at the outset?

NotAnIdiotHonest Sun 28-Oct-12 19:59:24

Cookie sorry to ignore your question above - I agree. Thinking you have to be in a couple by a certain age and have a life that follows the traditional path of career, house, marriage, kids, happy ever after puts massive pressure on and can make you feel inferior if you don't manage to do them all, or in that order, even when they are not things that are necessarily right for you.

Charbon Sun 28-Oct-12 21:46:31

You can't affair-proof a marriage. You can only affair-proof yourself.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Sun 28-Oct-12 22:09:13

sgb's keyboard is broken

just sayin'

fluffyraggies Sun 28-Oct-12 22:10:30

Saw that just now happy on another thread. grin

Tressy Sun 28-Oct-12 22:21:38

I have heard that women too are biologically programmed to have sex with a few different men, then it's survival of the fittest as to who impregnates her. Then we are programmed to stay with that man for him to provide. Although that's not the case since women can provide for their off springs nowadays.

However, I would be more than happy to pair bond in my middle age and now that my children are adults. Don't know why now when I was happier alone previously.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Sun 28-Oct-12 22:35:27 grin

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Sun 28-Oct-12 22:37:32

if my marriage were to dissolve, I would never marry again

I'm not sure what that signifies in the face of a very good marriage, tbh

would I trust another bloke for anything other than no-strings good times ?

no way, not now

Helltotheno Sun 28-Oct-12 22:40:51

I think monogamy is pretty much about the best we've got but as Charbon said, if it wasn't the default, I don't imagine any other alternative would meet everyone's needs.

People do expect too much from it imo, given that we're only human. I also think people confuse it with possession, which to me is completely bizarre... mainly this results in women blaming other women for affairs instead of the men who had the affairs, and people insisting on having access to their partner's phone, laptop etc after an affair, which to me is just wack. I really just can't imagine living life this way.. how exhausting apart from anything else. I definitely don't feel any ownership over my DH.. if he chooses to have an affair, it's not really an action I have any power over.

My ideal scenario would be to be able to have odd fling with someone else every now and then but I accept that's probably not doable and monogamy is the only alternative right now. Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons.

ivykaty44 Sun 28-Oct-12 22:43:10

we rarely here of bigamy as a crime in this century - yet in the 1800's people were often sent to prison for bigomy, people were not staying faithful but upping and leaving and then marrying again without a means to divorce.

People also had a lower survival rate through child birth adn pg so people may well marry two or three times having been widowed.

We have divorce, so people stay out of jail, we live longer and yet expect people to stay together longer.

marriage hasn't changed but life has moved on and got longer

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 28-Oct-12 22:46:46

<pictures SGB pounding her broken keyboard raging to get at the thread>

venusandmars Sun 28-Oct-12 23:52:12

I think it's a continuum - at one end people who feel biologically monogamous, and at the other end, well people who don't. Add to that a social construct (heavily influenced by the church) which promotes 'one man married to one woman' for ever, which skews natural tendencies towards monogamy.

The difficulty is that monogamy is pretty much an all or nothing thing. You either only pair with one mate for ever, or you don't. So it doesn't really matter whether you've had 2 partners or 2,000. And once that barrier is broken where do you draw the line? Do you ignore the 6 people you slept with / had significant relationships with before you were married, and remain monogamous once you're married? Or do you accept that your life has disproved monogamy, and expect that you (or your dp) will have another partner at some time? Or do you discuss the possibility and options with the person you marry and agree to remain monogamous (despite the difficulties) or agree not to remain monogamous? Which values are most important to you both, and which could you both remain true to?

For my parents, monogamy was more important than personal happiness / self esteem etc - they stuck together whether they were happy or not. For me, being in an abusive relationship was wrong, and my personal worth and happiness were of higher value than 'staying together for the sake of the family'.

And then, if it is a continuum - we all have to be alert to the possibility that we, or our partners might be in a different place to where we think we/they are. So when someone appears in view who attracts our attention, well who knows how we will react?

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 00:28:17

I wonder is there a typical person who has typical traits though or is anyone or indeed everyone capable of straying because they cannot control the needs you listed. are they instincts that need supressing or are they desires? I also wonder do we know we have these needs or do they jump up mid marriage and take us by surprise. I think that's my question actually.

I don't think there is any such thing as a 'typical person' or an unfaithful 'type' and would stress again that IMO infidelity doesn't have much to do with dissatisfaction with monogamy. People involved in affairs might accept the primary partner relationship for example, but often react very badly if their lovers are seeing others as well. So even in affairs there is usually an expectation of semi-detached monogamy.

I think everyone is capable of straying, but a lot depends on how a person's ego is defined and their own self-awareness. For some people, their egoes are disproportionately defined by being sexually desirable to others and nothing else quite hits the spot as a life-buzz. For others it's a slow-burning realisation that age and fading looks have dwindled those reactions and this depressing bit of self-awareness hits home when there are likely to be other life pressures mounting, such as ageing parents, children reaching independence, reaching a lower career pinnacle than was hoped for and a level of comfortable safety in their longstanding relationships.

I think monogamous couples who cope best with this are the ones who are pragmatic and discuss potential flashpoints in their individual lives. But that needs to be coupled with a lot of self-awareness. So a woman returning to the workplace after raising a family might acknowledge that this is a typical flashpoint because for the first time in years, her identity is not going to be disproportionately defined by marriage and kids. She's likely to be making more efforts with her appearance, her self-esteem is going to rise and there will be more opportunities to have collegiate friendships. If she knows herself well and realises she's going to get a buzz from others finding her attractive AND she recognises the situation as a flashpoint, she will often navigate this situation with ease. Similarly, if a man realises he's in mid-life crisis territory and is self-aware enough to know he's going to get a buzz from an attractive colleague boosting his ego, he can navigate away from trouble.

I think it needs a lot of communication and honesty in relationships to discuss these flashpoints and character traits with pragmatism and also some humour.

I don't think these urges should take any of us by surprise therefore and I'm probably more bemused when people say they were shocked at their own behaviour, or didn't see it coming.

FastLoris Mon 29-Oct-12 00:47:17

I agree with Agatha re nature. I think the OP is based on a common fallacy that when we observe contradiction in human life, one side of that contradiction must be "natural" and the other not.

We are not "meant" to be anything. Evolution is not a single directing intelligence with a coherent goal in mind; it's a series of ad hoc happenings in which some selection advantages outweigh others, and a good number of disadvantages get carried along the way for all kinds of reasons. The result is a mash mash of often conflicting desires and expectations, hence the fact that life is so damn difficult.

The desire to shag everybody you find attractive and the desire to strengthen pair-bonding via monogamy are one such example. Neither is more "natural" or "meant to be" than the other. There are solid evolutionary reasons for both of them. As an individual, you pays your money you makes your choice.

I personally think people get too hung up about sexual monogamy, and it ends up causing more anxiety and distress than it's actually worth. Some of the most solid, peaceful, life affirming, long-term relationships I know are among gay men who aren't sexually monogamous. Now that we have developed much better ways to avoid pregnancy and STIs, I'm sure mainstream straight society could be a lot happier if we could relax a bit about sex and not insist on attaching so much significance to it.

expatinscotland Mon 29-Oct-12 00:52:08

I guess it works for many.

I never saw it as obligatory, anymore than I see sexual orientation as a rigid construction.

As long as people in relationships are open and honest, I don't see monogamy or a particular sexual orientation as a rigid confine.

If it works for them, great, if not, well, as long as they're open about it and the other party is okay with it, fine.

But I'm also seen as weird and I no longer believe in God so that might affect my views.

youngermother1 Mon 29-Oct-12 01:38:44

I think ( having read dawkins) -

Nature drives us to procreate in the most successful manner for our genes. At its most base level for men this is simply shag and run as the effort in each procreation is minimal, and you see this in much of the animal kingdom. For women, the effort is much more and the number of children is so limited, finding a partner to support/protect them is very important.

However, in humans it is not so simple. Human children need significantly more support for a much longer time period than other animals, so there is also a benefit to the man in hanging around with one woman, as the likelihood of a single mother bringing up a child alone (back in the neanderthal day) was small.

Women also behave differently, as a male child from a 'shag and run' merchant is more successful, so this is a good father for the child, if he survives.

Thus the ideal situation for a woman is a shag and run merchant and a supportive cuckold. For the man it is to be a shag and run merchant.

Therefore who is the cuckold?

As humans are rubbish individually, they congregate in societies. These societies can the move to one of two options to solve this dilemma:

1. there is an alpha 'shag and run' male and all the other members of society are subservient and support the society and children, even if they never father any. This is similar to many ape/monkey groups.

2. Society puts a lot of pressure on men and women to remain together so society does not have to play the cuckold.

As a society, this message comes across as love/devotion etc. and no-one wants to admit things are not perfect.

Modern society has broken the 'nature' rules as we live much longer than previously meaning the children issue is not the only thing, women can survive and thrive as single mothers (without necessarily using the State), communication (in terms of books and films) has driven our expectations of relationships.

Also we have, as a society, a thinking that things can be 'solved' and the right answer is out there and we all live happily ever after.

Interestingly, I think forums like this, where we can share what the truth is (not always easy with friends) actually helps show that we all have issues with relationships and makes it easier to deal with the not perfect.

Helltotheno Mon 29-Oct-12 08:45:43

All great posts... It seems clear that most are too rigid and have overly high expectations re monogamy. This combined with lack of self-awareness etc leads to the constant issues around monogamy proving to be a failure once again.

I don't see things changing any time soon though. More than ever, girls especially seem to be brought up with this knight in shining armour rubbish in their heads...despite all the evidence that is not working. It would be great to see a massive shift towards coparenting rather than monogamous relationships.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 10:00:29

Wow! Very interesting posts. I'm feeling very unintelligent slightly out of my league. I'm not well read or educated and don't articulate my emotions or thoughts very well but I do understand so that's good grin

What started me off with this line of thinking was finding out I can't have more biological children. I have a dd from a previous relationship.

Dh assure's me he's ok with it and as long as I'm happy he's happy. He loves me and dd and is looking forward to looking forward instead of back at the last 6 years of hell.

I started to wonder if, even if he doesn't realise it now, at some stage he will have an overwhelming need to father a child. That despite his thinking, conscious brain telling him he's happy there will arise some intrinsic, primal call for him to leave.

I've read some very sad threads on here too with partners blaming themselves for their partner leaving. Wondering what they did wrong, why they weren't good enough. Recounting some horrible things that were said to them before the other left. Charbons first post in particular I found very interesting because it pointed to reasons if you like, beyond those that are flung around in the death throes of the marriage. Very rarely do we see the leaving partner have accountability and instead blame is thrown.

Are they leaving because they're selfish assholes or is there some get out clause in the form of well it's in our nature but we've been fighting against it for hundreds of years?

If Charbons thoughts are correct and I believe she's certainly close to the reality, then what difference would living outside the norm or changing it completely over generations actually achieve? Millions of weakly connected people rearing confused children. An almightly fuck-up.

scorpiomyrtlock Mon 29-Oct-12 10:49:49

I should have read this thread before posting my new message smile
Some very interesting advice and thoughts.

Charbon did hit the nail on the head about flash points etc. I am in the middle of one which I am not navigating very well.

I have not had a conversation with my husband about it and don't really know where to start. Have others?

Re monogamy, I do believe in it or thought I did. Maybe I was kidding myself. I do wonder, if as consenting adults, myself and my husband could both agree to have the "odd fling" that it could work. I have absolutely no idea however how this would work in practise or how I would even open a conversation with my husband about it. I also having read lots of infidelity threads wonder if I simply don't have a clue about what it would really feel like if these got out of control, either of us fell for the other person, or whether it is possible to compartmentalise these sorts of things. Probably not - which is why we come back to monogamy being the best solution in the end.

Just a thought - we live much longer lives now. Monogamy is great for child rearing. But when they have all left home, have children of their own- that's when the rubber meets the road and can be another flashpoint I am sure.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 11:23:02

Yes, it's the fear of emotions getting involved for me. As I said earlier sex can be just sex, love is different.

I remember the feeling when dh first kissed me. When I first felt his hands on my body. The first time we had sex. It was the best feeling ever! I still love sex and intimacy with him but it's different, better. Still, that raw animalistic lust doesn't exist. That feeling has faded and whilst I'm not sad because it has been replaced by something far better I would love to feel that again and I wonder if that's what drives some people to affairs. The body and mind wanting that feeling whatever it is. I wonder is it a drug. It can't be endorphines or I'd be exercising my ass off for the same feeling but it has to be chemical.

For that reason we've discussed swinging. I'm bisexual also and I would love to be with a woman again but not for love or anything else, purely for that feeling. I wouldn't dream of cheating on Dh but with his consent I would love to feel the touch of a woman again and yes I would love to feel that feeling with another man but my love for dh wins every time.

I don't stay with him because we're married. I don't not cheat because it's wrong it's because I love him and I respect him.

Mostly what I'm learning from this thread, not just from your posts but also from my constant questioning of myself is that we're complicated creatures and I don't really know myself what makes me me. Not the conclusion I thought I'd come to but interesting all the same.

dontlaugh Mon 29-Oct-12 11:28:43

Scorpio, good post. I am also in the middle of a flashpoint as described so well by Charbon (excellent brilliant posts that woman btw). Monogamy works for us and I will continue to make it work as it is clear to me now that stepping outside of the social construct we have created will cause problems the the reason to step out (an affair) will not solve. Also I love dh and will never find another like him. Interesting to me is how easy it is to start something but hard to finish it. What tangled webs we weave.

dontlaugh Mon 29-Oct-12 11:36:31

Just wanted to add that in response to Scorpio asking did anyone discuss with partner/husband, I did, in a jokey way, and also show him messages etc. It takes the threat out of it for both me and him. Because it is not a route I want to travel (can't believe SGB is unable to respond, should we set up a fund to replace the keyboard?!).

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 11:44:50

There's a wide range of research (code for a bit too busy to find it right now, but I will) which shows that there's a significant amount of asyoungermother1 puts it supportive cuckold s about.

Between 15%-30% I recall, though stand ready to be corrected...

ReindeerBOOOOllocks Mon 29-Oct-12 11:51:12

I read a book called Sperm Wars, which basically said that biologically we are very much primitive and designed to procreate with those who we are attracted to and whose sperm will give any offspring the bet chance of survival. The books hints at the fact that monogamy isn't actually ideal for the purposes of recreation, and getting the best 'sperm' to win out.

However I believe what Chandon said, that it's social construction that makes us believe in monogamy. Marriage is an institution designed to keep us monogamous.

Couples can find their ideal partner and stay together for a long time, but if one in three marriages fail (that was the stats last time I checked) then it kind of shows that for a section of the community marriage doesn't work. Look at all the people on MN and in RL. There are plenty of relationship breakdowns/infidelities. I don't think the majority of people enter a marriage thinking it will end but if I'm honest, I went into marriage with my eyes open, and thinking that I want to be committed to this person for a long time, but that doesn't mean thbutting will work forever (cynical thing that I am). The country is more accepting now of people who have divorced, and I think this makes it easier for people to leave difficult relationships, which is a good thing.

So while I think monogamy can work for some, I don't think that this means it will work for everyone. That's not necessarily a bad thing either.

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 11:55:08

I don't not cheat because it's wrong it's because I love him and I respect him.

That could turn out to be a problem in the future.

Because what you're saying is that your fidelity is controlled by your feelings for your partner and not by your feelings about yourself.

There are times in long relationships when the respect and love for a partner is harder to find. That's just being realistic about marriage, because feelings tend to wax and wane according to other competing pressures or periods of individual growth. It will be the same for him.

If on the other hand you decide that you won't cheat because you love and respect yourself and know that would be eroded if you deceived and lied to others, the resolve comes from within you and not external sources or people.

Negotiating an open relationship is a different matter. The people who manage to make those work are not attracted to subterfuge or illicitness and deceit and lying holds no appeal for them. But their internal boundaries are very secure and they are not dependent on others for their sense of self.

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 11:58:42

OK, some figures relating to this...

as an aside, of course, this is why Judaism is matrilineal. An older rabbi told, me "We always know a child's mother; a child's father - that is between the woman and her God".

dontlaugh Mon 29-Oct-12 12:04:21

Charbon have you always been on MN or how have I missed your posts? You are exactly what I needed to read this morning smile. So right about feelings for self versus love for partner. An affair would say about me than my marriage, and I don't like what it would say. But some don't mind, obviously.

Lueji Mon 29-Oct-12 12:16:48

We are not "meant" to be monogamous, in the same way that there is no "design" for humans.

However, it does seem that we have evolved to be mostly monogamous. And mostly, because apparently, in terms of testes size, amount of sperm produced, that ovulation is hidden, etc it does seem that the most successful strategy for our species has been to be mostly monogamous, but to have some degree of unfaithfulness.
It does depend on societies, though. Some societies are largely "promiscuous" others rigidly control access to women, in some men are allowed several wives, and in a few, women are allowed more than one husband (usually brothers).

As women become economically more independent, it looks like we are heading towards serial monogamy, as we don't need a "provider" so much.

Personally, I'd forgive more easily extramarital sex (not cheating, because that involves lying) than financially ruining the family through gambling or domestic violence.

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 12:17:44

Thank you! smile

I tend to 'come and go' on MN, mostly because of work commitments. I try not to MN when I'm in the middle of a big project because it's so easy (for me) to get sucked into a thread and commit too much time to it. The only exception to that is if I'm on a support thread, when I usually find the time to help if I think a different opinion might be valuable.

ReindeerBOOOOllocks Mon 29-Oct-12 12:22:31

Damn I got your name wrong charbon, sorry about that.

(note to self check the name before using!)

ReindeerBOOOOllocks Mon 29-Oct-12 12:24:02

That is really interesting onemore. I didn't know that about judaism.

MamaMary Mon 29-Oct-12 12:28:49

I think if both spouses believe wholeheartedly in monogamy and are fully committed to their wedding vows, then the marriage is more likely to last and both parties remain satisfied. Yes, affairs happen, but they are destructive and damaging.

If people are entering marriage thinking 'well, we can always divorce' they may not work at it/ have the right expectations/ attitude to make it work or last. I can think of some celebrities - wasn't it Kerry Katona and Jordan - who married stating that they could always divorce if it didn't work out? That's not commitment. Not surprisingly, the marriages didn't last too long.

I believe monogamy is the best set-up for stable, functional, emotionally healthy families. One only has to have a quick glance at the Relationships section of MN to see how infidelity is destructive to families. And there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that 'open marriages' aren't successful - it's often a case of licensing one party (usually the man) to stray and jealousy is a huge issue that doesn't go away.

oohlaalaa Mon 29-Oct-12 12:35:48

I'm happy in a monogomous relationship, as is DH, and our DD.

I agree with Lueji, I think our hidden ovulation points to monogomous, with some cheating.....

AnEerieAirOfHorror Mon 29-Oct-12 12:42:03

Just throwing this in.

My mum told me that if everyone was shagging around;
1) Std's would kill more people
2) Half Brothers and Sisters would make babies and they would be genticaly flaured/ inbred
3) What would happen to self disaplin and selfrespect? Would there be more killings as jelousy run wild?
4) Whole communities would be related as you have to be close physacly to shag so the gene pool would srink and not in a good way.

In history with no medical intervention death from stds and birth would be high so marrage was passed as law to provent illness and conditions passing gentically.

Marrage helped civilation and formed a structure to follow. It is possable to be with only one partner but it takes work and commitment by both partners.

It also helps to pick the right person to be married to and to accept that you dont control the other person only yourself and its ok to love someone even if they might hurt you. Its only your conduct you control. I like personal responsability and i chose to marry.

Helltotheno Mon 29-Oct-12 12:49:46

I believe monogamy is the best set-up for stable, functional, emotionally healthy families.

See the problem with that view is that, while it may be true in the absolute best case scenario, it's still largely aspirational. People, in practice, don't seem capable of making it work. Society needs to recognise that the best setup for stable, emotionally healthy children is to have people in their lives who respect and trust each other in the first instance, out of which flows all the positives for children. Monogamy is not necessarily a required basis for that scenario.

Helltotheno Mon 29-Oct-12 12:53:20

My mum told me that if everyone was shagging around

How did we go from monogamy not necessary being the only way, to everyone shagging around? confused
There is a happy medium you know, in the same way that there's a happy medium between being teetoal and a raving alcoholic (for most people)...

MooncupGoddess Mon 29-Oct-12 13:10:30

For me the argument for society-wide monogamy is similar to the argument for communism. They're both perfectly nice ideas and if they suit you then great. No one is saying that people shouldn't be in monogamous marriages, or set up a commune where everything is shared. The problem comes when those ideals are extrapolated to society as a whole, where the evidence suggests they just won't work for many people and families.

(Curiously, the right-wingers who are most down on communism as an ideology that is unrealistic about human nature are the least likely to criticise heteronormative monogamy for the same reason.)

WarmFuzzyFun Mon 29-Oct-12 13:20:27

Mooncup, are you SGB in disguise grin

MooncupGoddess Mon 29-Oct-12 13:28:10

No, but I do harbour a minor internet crush on SGB grin I am more wishy washy than her though and more conservative about porn and things like that. I don't have a problem with 'mundanes' at all, only with people who think that everyone else should live and feel exactly like them.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 13:28:49

"Because what you're saying is that your fidelity is controlled by your feelings for your partner and not by your feelings about yourself"

I can see why anyone would come to that conclusion based on the sentence I wrote so I should have elaborated. There are lots of different reasons I wouldn't cheat and certainly one of them is that I have self-respect after many years of self-destructive behaviour.

I was very promiscuous before I had dd. During that time I lost friends who labelled me a slut. My thinking was "fuck you, I can sleep with whomever I want and as many as I want as long as I'm not hurting anyone and am being safe". I thought why is a man a stud and can go around boasting about how many he's slept with but if I do it I'm a slag? There was no logic in that for me. I was exploring my sexuality and having fun. Well at least that's what I thought. I was destroying myself according to my therapist and I still don't understand why but that's another thread, something to do with not having my father in my life. I don't like my brain being picked apart and searching for answers in my past but I keep going in the hopes there'll be some lightbulb moment where I get me, who knows.

I wonder if my fear of DH becoming emotionally involved with someone else has it's roots in my feelings of abandonment by my father. I wonder is that why a sexual affair is less threatening to me because I don't hold it in as high a place as I do trust and love.

My biggest fear is that I see sex as unimportant because of childhood experiences. Do I not understand sex? Am I different to all of you? When I told my mother I felt like she went crazy. Not because it had happened right under her nose but because I knew it was wrong and I confided in a friend who persuaded me to tell her. She was more angry that I told someone else. Sadly he wasn't the only one. I don't want to talk about it but it scares me to think they damaged me mentally. I wonder if I fully expect DH to have an affair because somewhere in me I believe that's what men do. Of course women do too but my experiences with family and friends has never involved the woman leaving.

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 13:53:12

Why do you think your behaviour was self-destructive? Was there behaviour that was self-destructive other than the behaviour you attribute to exploring your sexuality?

Was your therapist saying that promiscuity is a self-destructive behaviour in and of itself, or was she acknowledging that you yourself felt destroyed by your own behaviour?

The point of that is that if you didn't feel destroyed by yourself, the behaviour can't be labelled as self-destructive. What might have been destructive on the other hand, were others' reactions and double-standards - and I include the therapist in that.

I think it takes time to decide what sex means to you as an individual, but it's a mistake to project your own values about it on to a partner or anyone else. So if you feel sex is unimportant and can regard it as a discrete activity without emotions involved, your partner might be someone who cannot. If you've also learnt some erroneous messages about men-as-a-group being more capable of having sex without emotional involvement, this can further distort that projection.

Lots of women can have sex without emotional involvement. Lots of men cannot. You and your partner might be in those different groups simply because of your individual stories and scripts about sex and love.

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 14:12:12

It's dreadful who a woman has lots of sex is labeled a slut, while in general a man is labeled "bit of a lad" or so on.

Often, men leave because they aren't the primary child-carers - or believe they can't keep the house and children...

CookieRookie from bitter experience, if you stay communicating with your husband, and you respect each other he's less likely to to have an affair; some men do [I was one] but by no means all.

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 14:24:10

....and I would say that if cookie communicates with her husband, stays invested in her relationship and respects him, she is less likely to have an affair.

and if her husband communicates with cookie, stays invested in his relationship and respects her, he is less likely to have an affair.

What cookie can't do is prevent her husband from having an affair and he can't prevent her infidelity either. You can only prevent your own.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 14:40:38

I've been to many therapists and they all see my promiscuity from a very young age as bad in some way. That I was doing it deliberately as a way of self-harm or confirmation of a deep belief that I was bad.

To be honest I'm not sure I believe all that. I still remember at the time that I liked it, I didn't feel bad I felt young and free and in control. That's why I miss my appointments sometimes. I can't be arsed to try to work out exactly what the hell he's trying to make me see.

Thankfully DH and I are very open and honest with eachother so I can talk to him about anything. Interestingly though Charbon reading your last post has reminded me that it's always me who brings extramarital possibilites into the conversation. DH will say "oh yeah sometime we could do xy or z" but he never instigates the discussion which leads me to winder which of two things is happening - am I looking for a way to scratch an itch without betrayal or am I so convinced he will leave some time that I think giving him the okay to sex outside the marriage will somehow prevent it.

I've very aware of blabbering on and not making much sense. I'm just writing as I'm thinking.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 29-Oct-12 14:46:07

Cookie are you sure you are with the right therapist? I don't think having a large number of sexual partners is self destructive in itself, though realise that it's just a snapshot we are getting on here.

Ilovemyteddy Mon 29-Oct-12 14:52:25

Charbon said:

"I think everyone is capable of straying, but a lot depends on how a person's ego is defined and their own self-awareness. For some people, their egoes are disproportionately defined by being sexually desirable to others and nothing else quite hits the spot as a life-buzz. For others it's a slow-burning realisation that age and fading looks have dwindled those reactions and this depressing bit of self-awareness hits home when there are likely to be other life pressures mounting, such as ageing parents, children reaching independence, reaching a lower career pinnacle than was hoped for and a level of comfortable safety in their longstanding relationships."

I absolutely agree with this ^^

I've had two affairs, one physical and one emotional, and what Charbon has written is exactly what happened to me, although I wasn't aware of needing that 'life-buzz', or of the realisation about age and other pressures mounting until my affairs had ended, and I had done a lot of work on myself to get to a level of self-awareness that made me realise what my motivations for cheating were. I didn't acknowledge those flashpoints that Charbon talks about and was, therefore, surprised by my behaviour as I was, and am, still happily married. My affairs were all about me , not my marriage and therefore the only thing I can "affair-proof" is myself.

Charbon also said:
"If ... you decide that you won't cheat because you love and respect yourself and know that would be eroded if you deceived and lied to others, the resolve comes from within you and not external sources or people."

This is absolutely right. It's all about understanding yourself and the choices that you choose to make.

JackieLanaTurn Mon 29-Oct-12 14:53:34

I have been married for 21 years and neither my husband nor I have strayed as far as I know. I used to worry that my self control was so poor that if I met someone handsome who tried to chat me up, I wouldn't be able to refuse, but it happened at the weekend at a bar. A very handsome man started dancing with me and was getting very up close and personal. He kept looking into my eyes, but I was so busy giggling and asking for help from my friends that I couldn't have flung a fling with him for a pension. It probably also helped that I was wearing my granny pants smile No-one wants to start a fling when they're wearing granny pants!

I'd say the thing that keeps us together is an over-riding feeling of loyalty and love. There's also the fear of losing our family and our great life together. And my 11 year old would seriously hate whichever one of us did a runner.

I don't know if one of those factors overrides the others or not. I just know that we are both committed to our life together.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 15:13:43

I would say that men being labeled 'a bit of a lad' is pretty dated. I would have throttled my DS had he been a bit of a lad because of the risk of unwanted or unplanned DCs. (also not sure that women are labelled a slut so much nowadays, except by the men who would want sex with her).

The problem with non-monogamy is that it is bringing in other people into an already tricky arrangement. So two people decide they want to marry, then further on down the line, one or both think they will have sex with someone else, but what if the someone else expects it to lead to a long-term relationship/ babies / becomes disgruntled with their own partner because of what happened? The chances of extra-marital relationships involving 4 people enhancing all 4 partners' lives is slim. Though possible, just unlikely, so all in all the happier outcome is probably that the 4 all remain monogamous.

Also I think the claims that women can now provide adequately on their own for their children is ok in theory but really not often the case in practise. There is the loss of earnings whilst minding small dCs and the cost of childcare to come out of the mother's earnings, then the demands of the children being seen to by one parent (unless there is a live in child carer). Plus the extra housework generated by DCs being the responsibility of one full-time worker, though a cleaner could be employed. So women can be the single child rearer but they need to earn a high income to pay for help. This would therefore also be a reason to encourage monogamy so that there is a partner to contribute.

Without the help of plastic surgery we are unlikely to remain the handsome men and pretty women we are in our twenties. Balding and greying hair, saggy flesh are expected. The effects of ageing and acceptance of our mortality are things we can share together in a long term relationship. The risk of acute ill health is always there too. Plus acceptance of the gradual loss of hearing and memory, we can support our patner more easily if both are going through these changes together.

So perhaps the grass appears greener but, in the end, it's easier, and, because you don't know what the future brings, safer to stay with the one person.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 15:19:06

TheDOS sorry I do realise I'm probably drip feeding. I don't mean to but it's for two reasons. I didn't namechange so I'm trying to be careful about what I say but it's safe to say there were times when I put myself in situations that would be shocking to most people and because of those times the regular promisicuity get bunched in with them and it's all judged the same. The other reason I may be drip feeding is that I'm just typing as I'm thinking.

I feel quite conflicted and confused today.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 15:26:14

I've gone way off topic, sorry blush

Thanks for all you replies. I mentioned charbon a few times but I did read and appreciate all your opinions.

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 15:35:25

I don't think you should reveal anything you don't want to Cookie but if I were your therapist I'd gently encourage you to revisit the past and ask yourself whether you were actually the victim of unacceptable behaviour by others who should have treated you with respect and dignity regardless of the situations you chose to be in. If anyone broached your consent boundaries for example, those people are to blame - not you.

Your motivations for instigating those conversations with your partner are worth analysing, but just bear in mind that your partner might not be able to scratch an itch without experiencing emotional involvement and that you too might have changed. Even then, what people like to believe they are capable of doesn't always translate to reality.

dontlaugh Mon 29-Oct-12 15:44:12

Thank you Cookie, your honesty is very clear to me and I hope you can find a therapist who can enable you to carry on with your journey, you sound like you didn't have an easy time of it when younger and from a selfish point of view you have given me some food for thought. I love this thread, so glad it popped up and the non judgeyness is simply delightful.

AbbyRue Mon 29-Oct-12 15:54:52

An excellent thread with so much brilliant posts. I need to gather my thoughts but am posting now to mark my place!

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 16:02:24

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 15:13:43
also not sure that women are labelled a slut so much nowadays, except by the men who would want sex with her

Really? *Really?*

Sorry, think you're wrong.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 16:15:37

Yes, good point OMC but I would discount the police constable's views as those of an ignorant sexist so not worthy of note.

What I said 'except by the men who would want sex with her' surely applies to someone like that police constable, he thinks that girls with low cut tops and short skirts are looking for men to have sex with????? Pleeeese, dated or what?

Though I accept there are probably alot of them around.

scorpiomyrtlock Mon 29-Oct-12 16:25:40

I do agree with others who said that you cannot affair proof your marriage only yourself. Where I disagree is that the affair only makes you feel worse. This is probably very controversial but I am only being honest as someone who has strayed. I actually felt fantastic about myself. I did not sleep with the guy thinking that he would fall in love with me or offer me anything other than a couple of fun nights. But I left his room feeling a million dollars -like there was a part of myself I had forgotten about that had come out and hadn't died after all. I still have not, frankly, got to the point where the affair has made me feel bad. This is mainly I know because I have not been discovered. It would be completely different I am well aware if my h had found out and kicked me out of the house.

The not feeling bad thing is something I am finding very difficult and have posted about elsewhere. It indicates that there is something in me that is still craving this and I haven't come to terms with it yet. But this is off topic, I think the point is that if people are having affairs and being discrete, this could easily become an addiction - I can see how it can happen, and it is definitely not only men who do this but women too. Its just that we like to think that men are more liable (maybe they are) but I do think that as women become more independent financially and career wise and have ways and means of looking and feeling younger and fitter for longer the prevalence of women who have affairs later in life will rise.

Offred Mon 29-Oct-12 16:35:32

I don't agree that monogamy is not a natural state I think that's a pseudo scientific argument. I don't think "natural" comments about monogamy, polygamy, promiscuity etc there are evolutionary advantages and disadvantages to each thing. Co-parenting which would have required a degree of monogamy or polygamy for at least the period of child rearing, which enabled Homo sapiens to have a longer childhood, gave Homo sapiens an evolutionary advantage over neanderthals. Clearly certain parts of Christianity and patriarchy promote some damaging forms of monogamy.

I don't think there is a clear "natural state", perhaps serial monogamy and co-parenting of resulting child/children is quite "natural" although there is so much culture which is both anti and pro monogamy it is hard to tell.

Offred Mon 29-Oct-12 16:38:01

And rather shockingly I'm not sure I really interpret marriage as "one partner for life" which is the religious view. I suppose I think it is a legal and financial commitment which whilst serious is not something that should be protected at all costs.

OneMoreChap Mon 29-Oct-12 16:39:15

Co-parenting which would have required a degree of monogamy or polygamy for at least the period of child rearing, which enabled Homo sapiens to have a longer childhood, gave Homo sapiens an evolutionary advantage over neanderthals.

Interesting. Any linkage for that? I'd have suggested polygamy certainly with all children being brought up by "aunties" as younger, and then males reaching a certain age being brought up by males - but maybe I've read too much about separation of roles in modern research into be certain. Or possibly I'm talking half-remembered bollocks.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 16:53:09

I actually felt fantastic about myself. I did not sleep with the guy thinking that he would fall in love with me or offer me anything other than a couple of fun nights. But I left his room feeling a million dollars -like there was a part of myself I had forgotten about that had come out and hadn't died after all

The 'I actually felt fantastic about myself' makes me really curious.

Fantastic because another man finds you attractive.
Or because you 'got one over' your DP?
Or sex can be as good as it was when you first met DP?
Or you can be a femme fatale, which is fantastic compared to a boring DM?

Which is it Scorpio?

Charbon Mon 29-Oct-12 16:55:41

Scorpio I've posted a response to what you said on this thread, on your own current thread, as that seemed more appropriate somehow.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 17:14:20

I've just had another thought that might explain all the crazyness I feel.

Mayisout questioned scorpios feelings and it got me thinking. Of the four things May listed I thought "none of those are good" Why? Because DH wouldn't be involved.

Dh and I do have a good sex life, been a bit crap lately because of the news we got but that aside we really do turn eachother on and have a lot of fun. We've tried lots of different things I suppose you could say to spice it up and without going down what we would consider a strange path we've really done all there is to do with two people. I'd walk out of that room feeling a mollion dollars IF dh was with me. To me this means I want more but with him not without him! It would do absolutely nothing for me if he didn't know about it. It seems far more attractive to think he would be there, present, involved, watching or with another woman or whatever.

Does that make sense or does it sound like an excuse?

I've tied myself in knots today grin

youngermother1 Mon 29-Oct-12 17:30:15

Cookie, interesting about sleeping around before settling down. IMO, there is not enough of this and, I think, this leads to affairs in the future.

I suppose the best analogy is a child in a sweet shop who wants to sample all the varieties before deciding which one to settle with. If you try enough you will realise they all are good to begin with, but too many and the initial buzz disappears ( I realise the analogy is falling apart here so will move on) - If you have a number of relationships, then you know they all start with the same heady buzz and 'feeling a million dollars', but then settle down to varying degrees of contentment.
If you have done this before marriage/settling down in a monogamous relationship, then I think you are less likely to stray as you realise the benefit is short term and not worth the disruption they cause the your life (also the odd crush can give you some of the same feelings without the downsides)

Sleeping around can be very self-empowering or self-destructive, depending on where you were mentally at the time and what it was trying to achieve.

Most teens/young people feel they have very little control in their lives and will try and find things which they can control - if this was you, then it can be empowering as control in this area enabled you to take the uncertainties in the rest of your life.

However promiscuity can be an attempt to get security from another person (ie love/affection) and this can drive accepting more and more abusive behaviour from others as you 'fight' to keep them happy and looking after you.

As Charbon said, you can only be responsible for yourself and therefore need to learn self-love and respect to take into a relationship - this is then (hopefully) reinforced by your partner.

This is easy for some, who have good familial and parental support than others that lack this, hence children in care are more vulnerable to abusive behaviour.

Only you can answer which explanation suits your circumstances (or whether they are both cant)

Regardless of this, you are where you are and can build yourself to a position where the loss of your partner (either through infidelity or death) would not destroy you. There are enough threads on here to make me be aware of 'what would happen if I were alone tomorrow?' and have a vague awareness of my options. This, I think, makes me more relaxed about worrying about my partner.

Think that's enough unrelated babble from me - as you were smile

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 18:27:22

I'd walk out of that room feeling a mollion dollars IF dh was with me

Well, maybe there are alot of exciting deviations we all fantasise about and would like to try out - if we knew no one would ever find out.
If it's 'fine' to have fantasies but somehow not fine to act them out then if we could act out our fantasies with the absolute knowledge that no one would find out about them (and those involved are consenting adults), therefore they cannot have repurcussions on our marriage etc, then surely that is fine too.

Though perhaps some of the thrill is the risk of being found out.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 18:37:39

May I was reflecting on my own experiences and thoughts not judging anyone who fantasised or acted out anything different.

I apologise if I came across as judging.

RedGreenRouge Mon 29-Oct-12 18:43:12

DP and I aren't officially monogamous. Until the last few years (we've been together for 8 years), we did have other sexual relationships. Never ongoing or emotional, though. Our relationship has developed from a fully open relationship to a (almost) monogamous one. I don't know whether this is our nature telling us that we should now become monogamous or whether it just became right for our circumstances over time.

The thrill doesn't do anything for us so we had a mutually understood arrangement.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 18:45:14

No, I wasn't judging. Just rambling. Had found myself wondering if I would do certain things if I 'knew' I would never find out.

Had also thought that I would never have a fling because the thought of the repercussions - disappointed adult DCs, angry DH, shocked others, would stop me and was patting myself on the back thinking what a fine, considerate, upstanding individual I was. Which took me to thought above, would I do it if I knew I wouldn't be found out.... hmmmm, yes.

Mayisout Mon 29-Oct-12 18:46:10

Should read 'knew' I would never be found out.

CookieRookie Mon 29-Oct-12 18:55:04

"Most teens/young people feel they have very little control in their lives and will try and find things which they can control - if this was you, then it can be empowering as control in this area enabled you to take the uncertainties in the rest of your life.

However promiscuity can be an attempt to get security from another person (ie love/affection) and this can drive accepting more and more abusive behaviour from others as you 'fight' to keep them happy and looking after you"

I'm very on the fence in my own mind as to my reasons for doing the things I did and it's one of the reasons I keep going back to therapy. On one hand I tell myself I'm 100% sure I did all I did because I could and I liked it (some things I didn't like but rationalized them as men are stupid, please bare in mind that was my 19 year old brain). The depressed person I become without medication tells a very different story. That person felt lost, abandoned, hurt, desparate, scared, lonely and in need of attention. Male or female didn't matter. They wanted me, they came back. That person has some real regrets. The problem lies in deciding which one is the real me.

The gp says I have a chemical imbalance and the real me is found by taking medication to correct the imbalance. The therapist thinks the medication hides the real me from past hurt and it's better to deal with it and then decide how I feel. I don't lik crying. I don't like picking apart hurtful things and who knows maybe they're not really hurtful. Maybe it's ok that I did all the things I did. Maybe like I said earlier in the thread the therapist and those like him are trying to force an ideal on me that doesn't fit. Maybe it's ok to have slept with many and still want to or want my dh to.

Honestly I don't know. I'm not sure if I should be afraid or happy that I don't know. Just sometimes all the analysis seems futile and I just want to live happily in the present, make plans for the future and forget the past.

youngermother1 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:50:59

I am not a doctor or trained in this field, so take what I say with due regard. The therapy you are having is obviously not helping you, the medication seems to be from your post above (only you and those close to you can know).
The body produces lots of chemicals on a regular basis and your activities and desire for these change over time. For example nicotine increase dopamine production, which is why people smoke. However users 'get used' to a higher level and therefore, when they stop smoking, the level drops and they have to get used to a lower level, hence the difficulty and also the reason it goes away over time as you get used to the reduced level.

Most anti-depressants are SSRI's, which effectively increase the level of serotonin in the brain. People are not sure how this impacts mood and why it is lower in some than others. Most treatment for depression include some form of therapy as well as the tablets are considered to treat the symptoms rather than the disease.

However there is no problem with just treating the symptoms, you get the end result you want.

My view of my past, which contains some unpleasant things, is that these were done by/to another person. I am not the person I was then, in terms of beliefs, status, relationships etc - I think this is true for everyone - the seed does not look or act like the plant and we give them separate identities.

One thing I found useful was to write a letter to that younger person as though they were a loved child who had confided in you. I found this helped me to understand the behaviour based on my increased knowledge of the world and changed current position. This did involve some crying, but was limited as I started to understand why people behaved as they did (my young self included) and enabled me to change my opinion of all involved (positively and negatively). Having the knowledge settled me as i understood better.

Remember, the only real you is the one now and you cannot change the past, only understand and learn what to avoid/do more of in the future

scorpiomyrtlock Mon 29-Oct-12 21:05:46

Only posting on here because the question was asked directly - don't want to hijack the thread smile

Mayisout asked which it was:

Fantastic because another man finds you attractive.
Or because you 'got one over' your DP?
Or sex can be as good as it was when you first met DP?
Or you can be a femme fatale, which is fantastic compared to a boring DM?

It was mostly number 1 with a bit of 4 thrown in. Not 2 and definitely not 3, because the sex was worse. It was the lead up to the sex. There is more on the other thread if you are interested.

Cookie from what you say I'd say that you need to focus on what makes you happy. If picking over the past doesn't then don't do it, live in the present and move on. You can't change the past only the future. I am not sure there is such a thing as the "real me". I am on the one hand a happily married pillar of the community with a succesful job and happy family. On the other hand posting on Mumsnet about how I would like to sleep with men that I spotted on the train. Which is "real"? I haven't actually shagged a man on the train, so the reality that everyone sees when I switch off my computer is the first one. On the other hand not really sure I should be giving advice given my current state of mind. fwiw I don't think monogamy is "natural" it is a societal norm that we all subscribe to because of the consequences of non-monogamy most especially where children are concerned. I do think that more people would actually act out their fantasies if they were certain they would never be found out. I am living proof of that. My otherwise useless counsellor said basically the same thing - that most people do think about others sexually but don't act it out because the possibility of negative consequences outweighs the temporary thrill that you would get from an affair or infidelity.

CookieRookie Tue 30-Oct-12 11:56:01

YM1 and scorpio thank you.

I have put myself in a quiet room and talked to the younger me. Painful beyond words but it did help. I say I want to forget the past but sometimes it's important for me to remember where I've been and how far I've come. It helps me to stay positive in the now. It's always painful but I don't dwell on it. I recall it, remind myself that it's over and feel grateful for what I have.

I've reflected a lot since I last posted and I keep coming up with the same answer. Bar a short period of sexual activity that I dearly wish I could erase I'm okay with the sexual experiences I chose.

The real me I think is the honest me. The person who accepts she's not perfect, life is not perfect. The person who can be a bit muddled and not 'fan-bloody-tastic' all the time. The human with ups and downs, happy memories, not so happy ones, good days and bad days. The person who knows she's loveable and kind and loyal and sometimes a bit crazy. The person who knows that she's done many things she can be proud of and will do plenty more. The person who is writing this. This is me. Hi! grin

I talked to DH about all this last night and showed him this thread. It was good. We talked about our infertility problems and the whole notion of monogamy. What we both agreed upon was that the questioning of whether it's natural or not doesn't matter, what we both feel, need and want matters and as long as we're on the same page and keep talking we'll be fine.

Thanks to everybody for your posts. Very interesting and thought-provoking.


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 30-Oct-12 16:47:53

Glad you are feeling strong Cookie and that you talked to DH.

CookieRookie Tue 30-Oct-12 18:00:09

Thanks smile

letsgomaths Sat 10-Nov-12 22:14:23

The book "Thinks..." by David Lodge has a lot of interesting thoughts on this.

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