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Gay Men and Monogamy

Being a gay man allows me to have perspectives on the human condition that straight people may not be able to tap into. It also allows me to understand the way a man’s behavior is supposed to be – gay, straight, or otherwise. We’re built for sex. Our bodies require us to have some type of release in order to feel grounded and sane inside our heads.

Monogamy, it seems, was created by society rather than nature. Could it be argued that humans actually weren’t meant to be monogamous after all?

As much as I’d like to daydream about the idea, I know for a fact that I’m a man who REQUIRES monogamy. Despite what my name might indicate, it might be the Afrikaner blood flowing through my veins that keep me from seeing anything else (my people get super jealous from time to time), but the argument still exists.

According to LiveScience, only 3 – 5% of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals (including humans) are known to form lifelong monogamous bonds – beavers, wolves and some bats are among them. But what are the benefits? Why do humans put so much weight on the idea behind commitment? Some psychologists suggest it may have been created for the well being of our offspring. But the system in which we gay boys go about it is vastly different from other animals roaming the earth.

For example, in humans, the father is pressured to take on a bigger role than most other primates not because his brain tells him so, but the community tells him he has to. The instinct to have sex with other people is still there. Many of us are continuously trying to fight away the urge; but those who succeed are considered “committed” while those who don’t are thought to be cheaters and dogs. At least that’s how the idea is constructed. Thanks to thousands of years of experience, humans learned that staying together makes our communities strong enough to withstand the threats of extinction.

With gay relationships in particular, we don’t need to worry about getting our partner pregnant. When we commit, most of the time it’s not because of a responsibility to raise a child; it’s because we want to. We decide that this man is worth it. We love him and we don’t want to hurt him. Not saying this isn’t also a reason why straight men commit to their mates but it’s very clear that in a gay relationship, you have less to lose so commitment becomes more of a choice rather than an investment.

Why does monogamy exist? Whatever your opinion on the matter is, studies do show that it’s very good for people and society. A study published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society said that it reduces crime, leads to gender equality, improves children’s well-being, raises self-esteem and confidence, and even helps people heal from diseases faster due to a heavy dose of optimism their man (or woman) may provide. We hear all the time that life is better shared. Perhaps it actually is.

On the other hand, there are plenty of gay couples in the world with open relationships, and most of them say it tightens their bond. When researchers studied it further, they discovered it enhanced both their physical and mental health. A study conducted through Hunter College in the USA surveyed more than 800 gay and bisexual men in New York City. The guys who said they were in “monogamish” pairings showed lower rates of depression when compared to single gay men, and higher rates of life satisfaction than singles or guys in closed relationships.

The bottom line is this. Monogamy is a construct that may or may not be innate within our nature, but it’s still thought to be a necessary tool for social order. Human beings have evolved by being able to distinguish our strengths and weaknesses. Survival of the fittest is the reason why we’re still here. When we ban together, we’re much stronger. Could monogamy have been the byproduct of our success? Or is it the consequence of our success?

Personally, I can’t see myself with a man who wants to be in a mongamish relationship, though I can understand the appeal. The body wants what the body craves, but there’s something beautiful about commitment. It enhances our value and worth inside our heads, but there’s also no question that people in open relationships must undoubtedly trust their partners even more so than those in committed ones. They feel secure – something people in monogamous relationships might not feel as strongly.

Love it or hate it, all relationships are different and make up their own set of boundaries. So long as your happy, it doesn’t matter whether monogamy is natural or man-made because one thing is certain: LOVE has no rules.