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.)