Are You An Infidelity Stat?

Infidelity_Statistics.jpg

If you need any more evidence that monogamy is a failed, non-instinctual human construct, check out the infidelity statistics above, from this study published by the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy in August, 2013.

The numbers are stunning. If monogamy was truly the way we were MEANT to be, then why are we so prone to infidelity?

Someone might protest, saying the reason infidelity is so rampant is because we are all God-less heathens. We are sinful, so what do you expect?

But maybe there is another answer. Maybe we, as a species, are naturally promiscuous. Maybe we were not meant to be monogamous.

Perhaps the most telling statistic in the entire list above is the percentage of men and/or women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught. The percentage is virtually the same for both genders, approximately 70 percent!!!

So almost three quarters of all those surveyed admitted they would be interested in having sex with others if it didn’t mean the end of their marriage. Yes, I changed the wording slightly, but that’s what people are afraid of. The same survey proves it, showing that the percentage of marriages that survive after the discovery of infidelity is only 31%. So clearly, this is the big fear. Discovered infidelity will usually mean the end of a marriage, and often, tragically, a wonderful relationship.

The survey also shows, that despite this fear of getting caught, approximately 55% of males and females admitted to committing infidelity in at least one relationship, marriage or otherwise.

AshleyMadisonScreenShot1.jpg

I took this snapshot of the Ashley Madison ‘infidelity site’ as I was writing this. Notice the over 22 million anonymous users! The founder of the site, Noel Biderman, gives an interesting TEDx talk on how he got started and why major universities are interested in their data, found HERE.

So we really don’t want monogamy, folks. We really don’t. Yes, we want love. We want partnership. There are some, of course, who have made monogamy work. But most of us, both male and female, don’t want to be limited to exploring sexuality and intimacy with only one person. This makes perfect sense on many levels. Anyone who has had more than one intimate partner in life will tell you that each intimate encounter has a different “flavor” and leads to new realizations about yourself. The variety enlarges us. The connections broaden us. There’s no argument that we all have the capacity to love—to really romantically love—more than one person in our lifetime. And if that is true, then surely we can fall romantically in love with more than one person at a time.

Yet this reality is often denied by those caught in infidelity. They say they have either fallen out of love with their old partner and into love with the new, or they only cheated for the sex. Really? Why can’t we admit that we are romantically attracted to more than one person. It’s okay.

Are you an infidelity stat? What would your confidential survey answers be? It is natural to feel loving sexual attraction to others. Lots of people in this crowded world of ours are likely to appeal to our spectrum of characteristics, each perhaps in a slightly different way.

What if we changed the some of the questions above? Would you be open to intimacy with others if your partner/spouse convinced you that they were genuinely okay with “sharing” you, and that such sharing (both ways) wouldn’t threaten your relationship? Yes or no? Even a ‘maybe’ would be a good start.

Embracing a framework that allows for a different experience of love and living than monogamy provides—a framework that shuns the cultural myths, like our problem with infidelity, which hurt, shame and bind us—begins with dialogue. That is our purpose.

The Bonobo Factor: No Jealousy

Jealousy02.jpg

Read the introduction to this series of posts here.

Bonobo Love Secret 04 - Jealousy Isn’t Romantic

“Sex At Dawn” co-author Christopher Ryan writes:

While bonobos no-doubt experience unique feelings for one another, they don’t seem to worry much about controlling one another’s sex lives. Nor do bonobos seem to gossip much...

What does this mean for us?

Jealousy. Whew, it’s a big subject. Too many times, sadly, I have heard someone say that their spouse/partner/lover’s jealousy makes them feel more loved, or that their jealousy indicates the intensity of their love.

This is so opposite to our deepest desire to be loved unconditionally. To be loved for exactly who we are.  To be loved even if we stray outside expectations.

Love is, by its very nature, not possessive. Enter the bonobos. They share everything, including sex. They are free to enjoy each other intimately in whatever combinations they desire, despite having unique feelings of affection for particular companions.

Do you know what the opposite of jealousy is? The word used to describe it is compersion. Wikipedia defines it as:

An empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.

The word is largely recognized to have originated from the Kerista Commune
that formed in the Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco in the late 1960s, early 70s. Their community relationship model was described by another word they invented: “polyfidelity” (a group of equal male and female partners, all committed to be sexually fidelous within the group only). They used the word compersion to describe the happiness and joy experienced when one of their partners was sharing intimacy with another. (I’m sure the Kerista Commune will come up again as part of a future blog post.)

Just like bonobos, we have unique feelings of love for certain people. Within the framework of love, imagine not controlling your partner’s physical or emotional experiences with others.  Take a moment right now and imagine that you are watching your primary partner experiencing loving sexual pleasure with another. What are you feeling?  Most often, it is our worry about our imagined deficits that trigger jealousy.  We are scared to live without the traditional rules that appear to provide us with a sense of security.

But here’s what the bonobos inspire us to ask ourselves: if we truly believe our partner is a beautiful person, and we truly want whatever is best for them, why could we not watch them making love with another and feel compersion? That is, to feel joy and happiness that our partner gets to experience moments of beauty with another, and also to feel joy from sharing our partner’s wonderful traits with that other person.

The bonobos challenge us to look at a model of community that puts an end to jealousy.  They say, “Why not try open, loving sexual energy generated by the female sisterhood that keeps everyone deeply connected?” The bonobos tell us that compersion—not jealousy—is romantic.

Hmm... a community without jealousy and insecurity. Imagine that!

Read Part Six HERE