A closed or open book? Since the subject of gay marriage is top of the list right now, it feels right to tackle the subject of monogamy, commitment and expectations. Most gay men I know support gay marriage from the position of equality rather than their own desire to be legally bound, but the dream of ‘settling down’ still resonates through every gay meeting place and dating site. Our heterosexual friends have proved that monogamy is not for everyone, many have informed us that marriage as a form of committed capture, is not what it’s cracked up to be, and the idea that love conquers everything, is now obsolete. Take two examples I have come across; the compulsive sex addict who thinks a relationship will stop his ‘acting out,” in the same way that a wife is often seen as ‘taming’ her newly acquired husband from his seed-sowing activities, and the codependant who ‘needs’ a relationship in order to feel complete and wanted, whilst avoiding the fear of abandonment. Old habits return and secrets grow in both cases.
In my Relationship Coach Training the phrase that stood out like a fey gay at school is that; “Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing.” This means that everything you buried like abandonment, low esteem, guilt, control and fear of rejection, simmers likes a slow cooker beneath the ritual of coupling, so a committed relationship gives you the chance to see what defects of character hold court. Many who have taken the route of commitment take an ‘open relationship route’ once an emotional baseline is held, which in my practice experience, is not always the answer to sexual needs and emotional functioning. A relationship that lasts, needs honesty from the beginning, when initial boundaries are created, so future changes can progress with equal honesty, so going straight into an ‘open relationship’ from the beginning is ill-advised as one partner often agrees in order to capture the boyfriend, people pleasing their way into emotional suppression. The idea sounds great, but without honest boundaries at any point, a car crash looms. A frequently reviewed and discussed ‘open relationship’ is one that is more likely to reap rewards and is one that has had a period of monogamy to act as foundation.
Michael Shelton, American author of ‘BOY CRAZY’ – Why Monogamy Is So Hard for Gay Men and What You Can Do About It, writes; “Though there are many variations in the ground rules for sexual activity in relationships, they are still variations of just a few core themes. A couple may opt for mutual celibacy, to remain monogamous for the duration of the relationship, choose some form of open relationship, or have occasional or even frequent covert sexual activity outside the parameters of their established relationship. None of these decisions is written in stone, and they can and often do damage, particularly in an environment that places so much importance on sexual satisfaction. Two men might start out very much desiring sexual exclusivity; non-monogamy is simply not an option. As the years go by though, one or both partners may want to modify this agreement.”
The sexual compulsive thinks that aquirring a monogamous relationship will kill the natural urge to shop around. It doesn’t, nor does it reduce the desire for approval addiction. The solution to this conundrum is loving yourself more, warts and all, so you lovingly approve of yourself without the need for others to give you a 5* review. This is how I healed my own sex addictions, compulsions, codependencies and negating habits. It may work for you too. Self awareness, recovery and liking more of yourself is also the path to those addicted to relationships, the serial relationship seekers who don’t take breath in between one ending and finding another so quickly. We know who they are, their Facebook status’s that bounce ‘in a relationship’ every few months, give us the opportunity to raise eyebrows in their speed and dedication to not being alone. Many self-help books on gay relationships often discourage open relationships, whilst encouraging commitment to monogamy, yet in my experience of viewing client relationships over two decades, the best commitment you can make in a relationship is to be honest ‘at all times.’ Honesty and clear communication is the best wedding present to give yourselves. Some spiritually based readers like myself, don’t believe in the concept of ownership, romantic fantasy or capture. Healthier interdependent relationships, with or without a ring on it, recognise that change is inevitable over time, that everything is temporary, including feelings, and that guilt, shame and fear hold no purpose except to hold you to ransom, kidnapped by the fear of abandonment.
I found BOY CRAZY to be a trusted tome on relationship education, without judgement of choices, one way or another and suggest you give it a try. Think of all the study books you have read to acquire a career, yet how few you have read to acquire peace of mind and relationship satisfaction. In London it’s available from GAY’S THE WORD bookshop, established in 1979, the only exclusively LGBTQ bookshop in the UK, or the usual online book sites worldwide.
More of my blogs and details about skype coaching can be found on my site: http://mygaytherapist.me