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.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: fidelity, infidelity, Love, monogamy, Open relationships, Relationships, Romance, sex | 3 Comments »
Posted by Jerry on March 24, 2008
I know of some Objectivists whose moral views on sexuality, romantic love, and virginity have a remarkable resemblance to the views of the Catholic Church on these issues (I am deliberately choosing to not provide links to substantiate my claim). Of course, being an Objectivist does not make you immune to errors of judgment; neither does it mean that an Objectivist would accept anything merely because Ayn Rand said so.
Here is what Ayn Rand had to say on these issues in her Q&A session titled “Of Living Death”:
On the question, “If romantic love includes more than one person, what does this do to the institution of monogamy?”
Ayn Rand: To begin with, if you want to ask it in principle, I’m fine. It is not only permissible, it is virtuous and moral. I have never said that marriage is the only proper form of romantic love. There is nothing wrong with a romantic affair, if there are reasons why a couple cannot be married or if they are too young to marry; and that is not promiscuity, provided it is a serious feeling based on serious values.
Now, as to more than one love, now remember men have free will. It is the Catholic Church that advocates indissoluble marriage. I don’t. And a reason one cannot is because man is not omniscient. He can make a mistake in his choice of partner or the partner may change through the years and therefore a man may fall out of love, or as so can a woman, if the partner he or she has chosen no longer lives up to the proper values. In Atlas Shrugged, … [Hank]… was romantically in love with [Lillian] at first because he thought she was a certain type of woman and she deliberately faked the kind of image she thought he would want and he got disappointed. Now, he was very wrong in carrying out a secret affair with Dagny, but what was wrong with it was not sex, but secrecy—the lie.
An open relationship with as many men as you can meet if you are unlucky—but not several at a time—is appropriate, except that of course, one cannot be as unlucky that often, one would have to then check one’s standard if one makes constant mistakes. But as a principle of romantic love, one cannot say that only a single life-long romance can appropriately be called romantic. That is the ideal. If a couple achieves that, they are extremely lucky and they must have extremely good premises, but one can’t make that the norm. Sometimes it is an exclusive single love for all time; sometimes not. The issue to judge here—the moral principle—is the seriousness of their feeling and one gauges that by what kind of values is it based on. What is it that the person is attracted to in a man or a woman, and why. That is the standard of romantic love.
I have transcribed Rand’s speech verbatim; you can hear the entire Q&A session for yourself by going to the Web site of the Ayn Rand Institute, create an account (if you don’t already have one), and then go to their library of free multi-media resources.
I have edited Rand’s references to events in Atlas Shrugged in order to not have spoilers, because my friend who reads this blog is currently reading the novel. Please keep this in mind when you choose to comment.
Posted in Ayn Rand, General Work/Life, Love and Romance, Objectivism, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged: affairs, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, fidelity, Love, marriage, Morality, Open relationships, Romance, romantic affairs, sexual experience | 7 Comments »