While watching The Office, I found myself disgusted by the overt displays of jealousy and insecurity between the Karen, Jim and Pam triangle. At times Karen was overtly rude and tried to police both Jim and Pam’s feelings in order to create her own comfort level. She tried (and failed) to control the situation. This also happened when Roy attempted to attack Jim (out of a sense of possession) and was often overtly aggressive toward Jim because of his attraction to Pam.
Some people might suggest that this is a pretty typical – albeit unhealthy – response to perceived infidelity. Neither
characters physically cheated on their partners and Pam insisted on staying with Roy despite their stark incompatibilities.
Granted, The Office is a fictitious example, but I would say that these relationships aren’t too far removed from the reality that they’re based on. According to this article published at Madame Noire, “Is Monogamy Really Possible?”, it suggests that because over 50% of both men and women admit to cheating; does that mean monogamy isn’t a viable option? Should more people begin to explore polyamory to curb cheating?
This implies that cheating is primarily sexual, not emotional or mental, which plays down the severity of a cheating spouse. For me, cheating is a sign of great personal weakness. It means you know so little about yourself that you are unable (or unwilling) to address issues of unhappiness. In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden cheated on his wife for two years with Dagny for very similar reasons. He was attracted to Dagny, but he didn’t completely understand why. He was no longer attracted to his wife, but he didn’t completely understand why.
He divorced his wife when he realized what it was about their marriage (and her) that he had grown to dislike.
The very act of cheating (or wanting to cheat) is about escaping reality, not wanting to admit what’s wrong. I firmly believe that if more people had deeper self-introspective skills, cheating would be less of an occurrence. You would know immediately when and why a relationship ceased to be valuable to you, and you could come up with solutions. But by cheating, you’re admitting to yourself and the world that you’re too afraid of confronting any inner, personal truths.
Cheating is a personal choice, not en evolutionary one.
Some might herald polyamory as preferable because the atmosphere creates one of open communication – which monogamous couples notoriously lack. But I sincerely believe that the perceived emotional perks of polyamory are achievable in monogamous relationships. Honesty, trust, communication – there is a reason why some people have been happily married for decades.
So, what happens when you’re faced with a healthy, and fully functioning relationship? Do you pursue this with just one person or multiple people?
And there – we have the element of choice.
Here are some other blog posts that discuss this:
1. Eat the Damn Cake – “Fidelity – how big of a deal should it be?”
2. The Lion’s Historian – “a letter to the monogamous masses”
3. Arielle Loren – “Double gender standards: polyamory vs polygamy”
What about you? What you do believe in terms of polyamory, cheating, monogamy?