Conventional wisdom dictates that men are so sexual that they can't possibly be faithful, and the stereotypical gay man has sex with bathhouses full of dudes every night. So what could we possibly learn from gay men about monogamy? A lot, according to Joe Kort, author of Psychology Today's Gay's Anatomy blog.
It makes a certain amount of sense: If men have more trouble with monogamy than women then a gay male relationship has twice the probability of having faithfulness issues. But since men do marry and stay together for life, maybe we can learn something from them about how they manage the urge to stray.
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Kort cites a stat that 75% of gay male couples have successful open relationships (this comes from David Nimmons' book, The Soul Beneath the Skin). Open relationships are notoriously difficult, but if three-quarters of gay male couples are doing it, and doing it successfully, they must have something to teach us.
Kort lists 10 things gay couples can teach other couples about sexual monogamy vs non-monogamy.
1. & 2. Responsible monogamy vs responsible non-monogamy. In both cases the partners should talk openly about desires and expectations and agree on rules of conduct. In a monogamous partnership the rules are "usually sexual and emotional intimacy with each other, and no one else." A non-monogamous relationship can take many forms. Each person "agrees to open the relationship in ways satisfactory to both," and "working [the agreement] out is imperative."
3. & 4. Don't assume monogamy. Being married, or "in a relationship" is not a guarantee of fidelity. People have different definitions of cheating, so partners should mutually define the rules and stick to the agreement. Infidelity occurs when one partner violates the contract.
5. Be safe! Gay men in particular are very careful about safe sex. Assume that everyone is HIV positive, and protect as such.
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