Cheating is easier.

“So, are you and Luke still swingers?” says my very attractive male acquaintance.

“We’re not swingers, but yes, we’re still open.”

He looks around for his girlfriend and leans in, “Well, are you ‘open’ to me cheating?”

He laughs a little, in case I deny him, so he can tell me he was just kidding, but I’ve been that girl enough times to know better. Fortunately I’m not that girl anymore, but the sad truth is this guy represents a huge chunk of the mainstream attitude toward monogamy, and it seems there’s no end in sight. The conversation continued, and he asked me if Luke would have to know about it, because, “We’re friends, that would be crossing a line,” (but lying to him wouldn’t be?).

Why are people so willing to cheat, but if honesty is involved, “that’s just weird”? When people have desires outside the relationship, why is cheating the default setting? When I look at my own past, I remember fear being the main motivator, and the absolute certainty that my partner at the time wouldn’t be open to discussing something like that.

I came across This article, featured in the London Times, which shows a new statistic of how many people are cheating, but the most important part of the quote is the very first line:

Monogamy is expected by 95% of couples, yet a survey, by the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University, of sexually active Seattle residents aged 18-39 found that 27% of men and 18% of women reported that during their most recent sexual relationship, they had had sex with at least one other partner.

Monogamy is expected. We (the mainstream collective), want monogamy, we really do. And we expect it of our partners. But the statistics are glaringly contradictory – many of us can’t commit. It seems that monogamy might not be natural for many of us, even though we desperately want it to be.

Why do we want it to be? Is it biological? Is monogamy hardwired in our brains? That question is actively debated by people much smarter than myself, so I won’t claim to have the answer. But what I do know is that America has puritanical roots, which places one man and one woman in a holy union under God, revering marriage as a sacred covenant to be upheld until death do us part. Whether we’re christian or not, these are our roots, and these are the morals that have been passed down to us (as a society).

Anti-polyamorists like to talk about restraint, about commitment being about sacrifice, and the “hard work” required to be faithful. “Monogamy is a choice, and if you do not have the discipline, you have no business being in a relationship,” say the holier-than-thou’s. Yet the numbers don’t lie – roughly 30% of people are cheating.

So does that mean people who cheat are all a bunch of failures? Does it really just require will power to be faithful? And with all this cheating going on, why is everyone so afraid to renegotiate the boundaries? It seems to me that being honest with yourself and your partner, in spite of everything society tells you, is pretty hard work and rather indicative of dedication. But I know I have a different perspective on things.

The truth is, cheating is easier. It is too ingrained in us that if our partner wants to have experiences outside the relationship, there’s something wrong with the relationship, or with us. There is simply no way to bring it up without the image of “the pristine marriage” being tarnished. Instead of risking honesty, risking them freaking out on you or thinking you don’t love them anymore, or risking them wanting to do the same, it’s easier to just follow protocol.

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