Monogamy May Not Be Sexual Fidelity
Posted by Jerry on March 12, 2012
I think some clarity is required around the varieties of legitimate romantic relationship designs. In particular, we must dispel this notion that monogamy is identical to sexual fidelity.
In reality, truly loving and healthy romantic relationships can occur in at least the following designs. The different is merely in the negotiation of boundaries, keeping in mind the character, virtues, motivations, and psycho-sexual orientation of the individuals involved:
(1) Monogamous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner
(2) Monogamous open relationship — Only Emotional/Romantic fidelity with only one partner, but sexual openness based on consensual boundaries
(3) Poly-amorous closed relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic closed-ness with a defined and exclusive set of partners
(4) Poly-amorous open relationship — Sexual as well as Emotional/Romantic openness with an undefined and non-exclusive set of partners
In other words, the concept of monogamy does not necessarily include the behavior of sexual fidelity.
Now, there can be strong arguments made about the varying degrees of prudence, success, and wisdom attributable to each of the above relationship designs. For example, I believe that design number 4 above is highly imprudent as a practical manner of living, because it may not entail emotional stability and success in achieving some romantic goals; it may engender emotional conflicts and logistical difficulties, and it may demand unreasonable amounts of emotional, financial, and psychological investment.
Having said that, it does not follow that deep, intense, passionate, and real romantic love cannot exist and be experienced by individuals involved in any of the relationship designs described above.