It probably won't come as a major surprise that at this particular stage in my research, I began to wonder if the Unmarriage Trend, as I had taken to calling it, wasn't even a real trend after all. I started to wonder if maybe it wasn't anything more than a series of randomly-occurring coincidences. A relatively small and scattered trend, in other words. Maybe it only appeared to be widespread because I was thinking about it all the time, and looking for it everywhere I went.
Many of you have probably had similar experiences: noticing something for the first time, and then seeing that something – whatever it is - everywhere you look. This is actually a well-known cognitive process, and it takes place in a part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System.
The RAS is a brain mechanism that essentially filters incoming information. It sends all relevant and important information to the brain (the sound of a dangerous animal approaching, for instance), and it tosses the rest. And because my brain was so focused on finding examples of polyamory and swingers and such, my RAS was finding them for me.
After an evening of internet procrastination, for instance, I discovered a writer by the name of Jenny Block. An essay she'd written for YourTango about her open marriage had since been expanded into book form.
A few weeks later I learned that Tristan Taormino, a well-known sex writer and educator, had just wrapped up her own book about open relationships - a guidebook, essentially, for couples curious about the lifestyle, but not sure where to start. Not long after, the former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey found himself all over the mainstream media. Apparently he and his wife were having regular threesomes with McGreevey's ex-aide and driver.
And it was that story, if you recall, that led to dozens of titillating news reports about the ginger-haired actress Tilda Swinton, aged 47. Graciously, she refused to show even the slightest bit of shame or embarrassment over the fact that she lives not only with her 68-year-old partner, John Byrne, but also with her 29-year-old artist boyfriend, Sandro Kopp.
Eventually, the media even came calling for me. Carrie Ann and I were interviewed on New York City's WABC by the notoriously conservative talk-radio host Curtis Sliwa. Twice, he referred to our arrangement as "freaky-deeky". Sliwa's assistant told us that because the piece went over so well with his audience, they even replayed it during the show's Los Angeles broadcast later in the day.
Which brings us right back around to the beginning: Is traditional marriage really on its last legs these days? Hell, I don't know. But I do know this: Ideas and suggestions for couples interested in an alternative to life-long monogamy seem to be all around us in the 21st century. I think that's a good thing, and I think it's an honest way to begin a life-long partnership.