It’s New Year’s Day, and I was flipping channels as I ate lunch (vegan Philly cheesesteak!). I came across The Wendy Williams Show. I’ve never seen her show before, but the guests were discussing a recent quote from Ethan Hawke on monogamy. Of course, that caught my attention.
Here is a clip of the discussion:
Let’s start with Ethan Hawke’s comment on monogamy.
He says: “People have such a childish view of monogamy…our species is not monogamous…to act all indignant, that your world has been rocked because your lover wasn’t faithful to you, is a little bit like acting rocked that your hair went grey.”
I fully support Ethan’s position that monogamy doesn’t work for him. And if he believes that humans aren’t programmed to be monogamous, I’m also OK with that sentiment.
BUT – if you choose to enter into a relationship with someone and you know the expectation is monogamy, then you’ve made a choice to live by those rules. Violating someone’s trust isn’t the way to go. If you don’t want to be monogamous, then partner with someone who shares your world view.
People cheat for a variety of reasons, and I have a deep sympathy for many of those reasons. Our society doesn’t encourage open, healthy discussions about sex, kink, alternative lifestyles, desire, or unconventional personal needs. So, people get stuck, they feel trapped, and they cheat.
Instead, wouldn’t it be better if people felt safe enough and empowered enough to talk to their lovers and to discuss their needs and expectations openly? If non-monogamous relationships were more accepted by society, it would lead to a much healthier and open environment for people who feel the way that Ethan does.
On to the Wendy William panelists…
I was particularly bothered by a comment made by Joe Levy. He said that there’s an easy solution to the problem of monogamy. “Don’t get married.”
Um. No. That’s not a solution. Because you can be in a non-monogamous situation AND be happily married. Whether it’s an open marriage or a poly situation, I know plenty of folks who are very happily married AND openly non-monogamous. These are healthy marriages, with loving partners, who happen to also have other lovers or play partners of varying degrees.
Joe also went on to say that humans didn’t used to wear shoes and now he wears them everyday, as some kind of argument that humans have evolved into monogamy as if monogamy is the “right” way to be.
Again, I take issue with this sentiment. Whether you choose monogamy or non-monogamy in your life, your relationship is going to require communication, negotiation, compromise, trust, love, and support. One is not inherently better than the other because it’s ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN THE RELATIONSHIP and no one else.
It’s not Joe’s business, it’s not my business, and it’s not your business whether people choose to have a closed, monogamous relationship or a polyamorous situation or a hybrid of something unique to them.
Wendy Williams did say that you have to choose monogamy every day when you’re in a monogamous relationship and she’s right. It’s a choice, even when it feels like it’s not. It’s up to you. But, let’s be a little more forgiving and compassionate when it comes to something as complex as monogamy.