The Monogamy Question

Do you think it's human nature to desire sex outside of a committed relationship? And if you agree that it IS human nature ... do you think it should be allowable, in just about every relationship, to have sex now and then with non-partners?

Oh, lovelies:

I am wickedly cranky right now. Some complete jerk perseverated in honking his horn right outside my window this AM, a good 90 minutes before I was ready to get up. I could not get back to sleep afterward. Unfortunately, this happens all too often--well, maybe once every month or so. But that's still a lot. How can I stop this? I've actually called the NYC government to ask them to put up one of the "no honking" signs I see everywhere in the more tony neighborhoods ... but they refused to help. Ugh. This sleeping thing--it's my Achilles heel.


Anyway, as we rolled into the weekend, I tried to take my own advice from Thursday: I tried to make plans to do things that would make me happy. (Um, that sounds so simple, doesn't it? So why has it historically been so hard for me?)


Friday night, my buddy Jack de Nerve and I had plans to hang out. I swung over to his place for a little food and conversation.

As you might recall, Jack is the one in an open relationship who gave me pointers about how I might have casual sex, if I ever decided I wanted that.

Just about any girl--and certainly any girl who likes books as much as I do--would be hard-pressed not to have a little crush on Jack. He's exceedingly handsome--thick swirl of ginger hair, toothy smile, high

cheekbones--in that way where I always take a little sharp intake of breath whenever I see him again for the first time in a while, remembering: Oh yes, he's hot! He's also witty, charming, hilarious--and ridiculously erudite. (He got a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Duke before going into the magazine world.) He's always making jokes, quoting the best lines from literature, or telling amazing stories (ask him the one about the fish). And yet he manages to be humble, kind and helpful--and a good listener.

If I could create the perfect boyfriend from scratch, he would be a lot like Jack--although probably minus the open relationship.

After he and I got caught up, I swung by some terribly crowded cocktail bar--Ward Three, in Tribecca. Not my scene. A little bit too full of aspiring yuppies. But two of my dearest friends were there: Kermie Ottawa and my actor friend, Riley Shalowmar, who recently returned to NYC from L.A. (Don't be surprised if you suddenly hear a lot more about him from me. I also wouldn't be surprised if you've seen him in some movies. He's astonishingly good! And has played the supporting man role in a number of recent flicks.) I introduced Kermie and Riley a few weeks ago, at that small dinner party I had right after Christmas, and they LOVE each other now--as Riley recently put it, it's a fine bro-mance. Anyway, it was worth the trip across town to see those two darlings.


A new friend--a guy I'd met at a party a few weeks ago--was in town for the weekend. He'd asked me out for a drink, but between one thing and another, it eventually worked out that I invited him to come over to my place for a very casual dinner, in part because I was going to go to a birthday party in my neighborhood later that night, and didn't want to be running all over Brooklyn. (I mention what I cooked on my Fbook page.) Plus, I've been trying to cook a little more lately--Zeus knows, I need all the practice I can get.

Now, I knew this person was, like Jack, also in an open relationship himself--not exactly my bag. And, of course, he lives in another city. Which is to say that I was not viewing this thing as a date. But since he's a professorial type who is into writing and literature himself, I was looking forward to getting to know him better--maybe even looking forward to a little harmless flirting.

We had a really nice time, for a while--laughing, discussing philosophy and poetry, etc. ...

Eventually the talk turned to relationships, past and present. He mentioned some woman whom he'd pursued with a vengeance a few years back, for no other reason than because she was so beautiful, and he was wildly sexually attracted to her. He also admitted the relationship he had with her ended very badly.

"I wonder what it would be like, to be that beautiful, and to get everything you ever wanted," he said, at one point.

I'm absolutely sure it's just my ridiculous over-sensitivity--and my vanity--but by that point, I was feeling insulted. Disrespected. And though under normal circusmstances, I love to discuss all things dating, the conversation had started to make me feel very depressed.

My guest went on to mention that he found monogamy very difficult--and that he assumed the vast majority of people do.

He asked me if I thought anybody could really be perfectly happy in a conventional long-term relationship; if anybody, in a situation like that, wouldn't have the desire to stray, and fairly often too.

As I told my guest, my own relationship history is so

spotty that I don't feel comfortable making any generalizations based

on my own experience. (I mean, hell, I haven't had a relationship that I would call "long-term." And thinking about that made me more depressed.) And while I have plenty of friends who seem very happily hitched, I can't say with absolute certainty if they are; these days, I see most of my married friends when husband-and-wife are together; there is no chance for secret confidences. I did have to wonder, since I was trying to give the question fair consideration, if they'll all feel more libidinous extra-marital energy after their little babies grow up.

Anyway, as it turned out, I never made it to the party--I got an advance report from Harry Berkeley that it was kind of small, and since it had gotten fairly late (making dinner and some gingerbread dessert had taken longer than I'd thought), I just went to bed after showing my guest out.


Lovelies ... I wonder what you think of this monogamy question.

It seems to me that every time I turn around lately, someone is happily in an open relationship--Mr. Emo was, for instance; and then there's Jack; and my dinner guest--which would indicate that plenty of people, men and women alike, don't love monogamy.

Since I still have a romanticized notion of what love is, I'd like to think that it's possible to be in a long-term, serious relationship without feeling any very serious desire to stray.

On the other hand ... some rational part of me can appreciate the idea that sometimes, people want a little extra sex outside of their committed relationships, and it's not necessarily a sign of some deep psychological problem that they do. Some part of me thinks that if we just took the shame, stigma and secrecy away from that kind of thing, none of us would think getting a little extra on the side was such a big deal.

But ... I don't know guys. What do you think?

If we, as a society, removed the stigma and allowed for some extra sex outside of a committed relationship, would everybody be having it? Or is monogamy naturally appealing and easy for some people, while very difficult for others? And IF we as a society removed the stigma ... would the world be in total chaos? Would everybody be miserable and defensive, playing games and trusting no one? Or would we all actually be a lot happier, since we could be honest, without having to hide, surpress or sublimate our instincts?