There. I said it. Someone had to. I know it hurts – as the truth often does – but this denial bullshit we’re living in has to stop. I know not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fine. But I think we CAN agree there’s an epidemic of hypocrisy going on around here. Politicians, church leaders, sports figures, desperate housewives – they’re constantly being outed for one devious behavior or another. For the record, I don’t think they’re necessarily wrong. We just enjoy making a big fuss over it (because we’re relieved it’s them, not us).
Humans are not wired to be monogamous. Some of us can be and many try and eventually succeed, but, in the end, a lot of us simply aren’t any good at it. Call it a flaw or an addiction, a hobby or a gift. We know who we are (Bill? Tiger? JFK?). Our parents, friends, society, and God expect us to pair up, multiply, vote, and live happily ever after… until we die. Still, we’re on second or third (or more) marriages, and we keep walking into them with the same messed up thinking, the same hollow promises, the same need to hide what comes natural. There has to be a better way.
People want to connect, it’s why we’re attracted to one another. The instinct guarantees survival of the species. Some cultures embrace the attraction, others call it wrong or evil, a few consider infidelity a crime punishable by death. In America, “cheating” is the #1 cause of divorce. The root of the issue stems from the simple fact that, at our core as humans, all we really want is to love and be loved. And by love, I mean the verb, not the feeling. To love is to show someone they’re important, and that their life, their efforts, mean something to you. How many of us never get to feel that? How many times have we recognized the opportunity too late? Or knew what it was, but chose to ignore it because it was “wrong”? How many have missed out due simply to fear?
Hippies had it right a long time ago. Every minute on earth is precious, every experience offers a chance to learn and grow, and every person we come in contact with allows a new opportunity to love. It could be with a hug or a kiss, an understanding smile, a public affirmation, a makeout session behind the bleachers, a roll in the hay, or any number of other actions, whether written or verbal, physical, emotional, or spiritual. Denying any part of that is unnatural for a lot of us. Holding it in is painful (confusing, frustrating). Letting it out, however, can make things worse.
Why? If it’s a natural instinct to be attracted, why is “cheating” such a big deal? If we can’t be with the one we love, as the song goes, why does it have to be such a horror to love the one we’re with? Whether powerful or subtle, love doesn’t always last forever. Sometimes there’s only the moment. And, right or wrong, sometimes it’s just fucking. Why force anyone to deny the gift of love? Why let it ruin marriages and tear families apart?
In a perfect world, relationships would all begin with complete honesty. Given our divorce rate, it’s obvious we’re far from perfect. But why do we lie? Why hide parts of ourselves, especially from the people we’re supposed to love most? Is it fear? Of what? Being ridiculed? Being alone? There are no guarantees in life, no matter the path we take. We hope the ones we love will never leave us, but they do – they move away, they get sick, they die. We want every day to be free of pain and sorrow, heartache and misery, but they’re not. A perfect, carefree world is impossible. We can never attain the ideal we’re reaching for. What we CAN do is recognize our limitations and be honest with ourselves, THEN share that honesty with those closest to us. It might not be easy. It might even be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But the alternative is a life of hiding, lying, and hypocrisy. Which is the better path?
If you’re into monogamy, good for you! I hope the person who accompanies you in this life is truthful when they tell you they’re into it, too. Finding out later is no picnic. The rest of us need to look hard and deep at ourselves, our values, and our behavior. Are we living honestly? Do our actions support our beliefs? Or do we keep secrets, even from ourselves? Where do we expect that to get us?
Someone told me once they wanted to live with “integrity.” It sounded honorable, and I was curious as to the exact definition, so I looked it up. It’s the adherence to a moral or ethical code. Seems to me that, if I’m living by the code I believe in, I could claim I live with integrity. On the other hand, if I said I valued one code while my behavior supported another, I’d not only be NOT living with integrity, I’d have one hell of a problem. That’s currently where too many of us are.
So, get real. And get over it. Monogamy sucks. You know it as well as I do. But I’m here to tell you it sucks less once you admit it and move forward. I should know, I wrote the book on it (sorta). And, after all, like so many of you, I am Ted… and he’ll be okay. ;)