There are few things I’m more proud of than the eclectic collection of books I’ve accumulated in the bin next to my toilet. A Bible, Save The Cat, Bitch Is the New Black, a pamphlet for a near-by methadone clinic, Afrodisiac, a sheet with the lyrics from “Talk Show Host“; seriously, my bin of E-Coli ridden reading materials kicks your bullshit living room bookcase in the nuts.

Included in this library is Chuck Klosterman’s A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas — a collection of essays and interviews that’s both my least favorite Klosterman book and the one I’ve read the most times — and included in this book is “Monogamy,” an essay where he theorizes that “…cheating begins the moment anyone decides that it’s unreasonable to be sexually committed to one person.”

Basically, even if a person hasn’t technically cheated yet, if they truly believe that monogamy is unreasonable, they’re already unfaithful because they’re either just waiting for an opportunity to confirm this belief or they’re just scared of getting caught.

Now, I don’t know if I quite agree with Klosterman’s view on cheating. Calling someone who hasn’t quite cheated yet a cheater rings of the pre-crime unit from “Minority Report,” and I’m not trying to f*ck Katie Holmes. But, although I’ve written about my feelings towards cheating and monogamy numerous times (Short version: I’ve never cheated and I have a tendency to get holier-than-thou when speaking to people who have), I have to say that reading his essay against this weekend raised a few questions. Most notably: Why do I feel the way I do about monogamy?

Yes, I’ve been faithful to every girlfriend I’ve had (and I strongly presume that this fidelity has been reciprocated), but am I monogamous because it’s the right and moral thing to do, or because I’ve been taught that it’s the right and moral thing to do and I blindly trust my teachers?

I guess this question is applicable for everyone. Or, at least, everyone who believes that monogamous relationships are the right choice. Sure, we argue that monogamy and being committed to one person is right — sounds right, looks right, and, most importantly, feels right — but how much of that is confirmation bias — us looking for evidence, any evidence, to confirm a belief we wish to be true?

And yes, it’s true that our wish for something we want to be true to be true, our need to know that we’ve always been doing the right thing, has a way of superseding rational thought. Being right becomes more important than the truth.

I don’t know where exactly I’m going with this. I mean, I don’t have any personal qualms with the idea and/or practice of monogamy. And, as far as “proof” goes, the people I know who are in (presumably) monogamous relationships seem to be on average a tad happier and more successful than those who aren’t. I guess I’m just wondering if we (the pro-monogamy people) are irrationally holding on to a concept that we all already recognize as being imperfect…and just might be wrong. Do I feel this way because it feels right for me to feel this way, or do I just desperately want it to be right?

Anyway, people of VSB.com, I’m curious: If you believe in monogamy, well, why do you believe in monogamy?

What role have your “teachers” (your parents, the Bible, etc) played in constructing this belief….and what would you do if you somehow found out that they were full of shit and monogamy was, in fact, completely irrational?

(Also, to be clear, monogamy and fidelity aren’t the same thing. Cheating is always wrong. Monogamy, on the other hand, might not always be right. Big difference.)

—The Champ

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Pjuls

    “love is cursed by monogamy…”

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5FR1LGsT7E TheAnti-Cool

    First! Haha!*

    *Just wanted to see how it felt to do that. Carry on.

  • http://www.testorshia.blogspot.com Tes

    I believe in a connection between people and the fewer people in that connection, the deeper it can be. Be it friends or lovers, I always feel myself the most when I’m one-on-one (no Kyla Pratt) with a person and thus I feel like there’s less of a pretense. With a group of friends/people, consciously or not, I have a role to play and take on that role where with one person I can let that veneer go.

    I’m a romantic and sh*t; romance and monogamy in my idealistic view go hand-in-hand.

  • The Other Jerome

    Because that’s what my Mama told me?

  • The Other Jerome

    Dangit, i thought i would have been first with my second only post here! All well….. back to lurking lol

  • Reka_Baby

    There is no need for me to comment because you said exactly what I was going to say.

    Co-Sign 100%

  • Yoles

    Damnit.. No electricity & can’t waste all my phone battery for this but i WILL be back!!
    I believe that monogamy is only for those that truly want it and non-monogamy is for the rest of us.. People are so busy saying what is right and wrong for other peoples lives.. If adults consent and are happy in that consent.. Mind yours…

    I’ll be back #no arnold

  • Mo-VSS

    If you’ve never cheated or been cheated on, then you don’t know what the whole “unrightness” of cheating feels like. Basically, I’m saying it could be hard to say that monogamy feels right if you’ve never experienced the alternate. However, that’s not something I entirely believe. Just as I don’t have to be a crack smoker to realize that something about that sh*t seems terribly wrong, neither does a person have to be a cheater to realize that monogamy feels right.

    People (men) always want to come with the nature argument. But, if you believe that we’re more than animals based on our intellect, then you should reason that because of that, we are set apart. Now, one can give into their animal like nature and spread their seed until Jesus comes to smite them Lil Wayne style. That’s cool. But for those thinking men/women, if you can hold a job, drive a car and do other things that are deemed higher function (as compared to animals) then you can certain be monogamous.

    And as someone who has cheated and been cheated on, it sucks. The feelings of jealousy and possession that arise from being with someone isn’t a byproduct of manufactured conditioning by society either. It’s innate. It can be controlled but the bottom line is it’s there. If monogamy isn’t what we’re supposed to do, then why the feelings of intense jealousy and rage when we find our beloved has been loving another?

    Anyway, the men will come in and argue against it and the women will have their say. Bottom line is this: If you don’t want monogamy, don’t be monogamous and find those people who think the same and have a good time. What kills me is when people portray one thing and fully intend to do another. So in some regards, that author is right. Once you believe that monogamy isn’t right/natural/for you, you are just waiting for the opportunity to make that are reality.

  • ro

    Keeping up with more than one side just seems like work and i already need to make more money because my current job isn’t sufficient.

    Monogamy is hard enough…why make things exponentiallly harder by adding polygamy to the mix???

    I have never experienced it…first hand so I have no idea what its like to have feelings for more than one person. Or maybe I’m better at compartmentalizing than i realize.

  • randomeffery

    have you ever read “the ethical slut?”

    i’m not convinced that just like homosexuality, monogamy is not for everybody…and some people may have a more “natural” inclination for it than others. but i agree with your klosterman dude…if you believe monogamy is unreasonable or unnatural, you’re gonna act on that belief, whether it’s by cheating or being real resentful that 1 person expects you to tie yourself down to them…unless you like the idea of being a martyr for love.

    but this is why i don’t date people who have actively expressed qualms about monogamy.

    i wouldn’t say i “believe in it”, in any moral sense, it just makes the most sense to me.

    i’m too grown to lie, and i think lying and being lied to are completely disrespectful and insulting to one’s intelligence.
    i would say i believe more in “fidelity” than monogamy. i haven’t been in any lifelong relationship, but it seems reasonable to me that when i do find my lifelong love, maybe we might need to spice up our lives after 5-10-15 years. i’m definitely open to working out other arrangements, as long as we’re communicating honestly, and willing to compromise.

    the only times i’ve even thought about other people when i was with my dude, it was b/c i already knew the relationship was going to end b/c of real serious problems.

    i’ve been completely monogamous thus far, b/c it makes the most sense to me, especially as i get older. if we really have a bond, are really attracted to one another, both putting in work…then you add on things like sharing a home, sharing bills, rearing children together…it just seems like no other side things would be worth messing that up. relationships take work, random side pinga is really not a priority.

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