Were I to ask you whether or not you believe in cheating , you would answer “no”. Im betting that even Cyril Ramaphosa would say he believes in the principle of fidelity and marital honesty. Were I to ask you whether or not you’re cheating online as you sext, chat , flirt with a person who is not your partner , you’d probably say “no”. Only when your partner discovers and falls into a traumatic state of crisis, may you consider that in fact your online pecadillos could be considered non consensual non monogamy. Your fatal mistake was that you kept your online life secret from your significant other.
Were I to ask you if you have ever felt attracted to another person whilst in a committed relationship .. and for a moment in time wished you could spend time with this person, chatting , doing a mutually pleasurable activity or even having sex … without having to give up your committed relationship, what might you say?
Compulsory monogamy is the simple idea that in our culture, monogamy is somewhat less than optional. The rules around compulsory monogamy are pretty standard and strict: you have The One, you idealise the institution of Monogamy and if you break it , you are cheating. Ouch. As I mentioned, no one wants to be defiled by being called a “cheater”. However the desire to expand yourself out of idealised monogamy is strong .
Solution to this conundrum ? Cyber Infidelity. With a click of a finger you can connect and connect and get to feel alive , romantic, sexual or merely asexually and aromantically attracted to another – or more than one – other person online. You probably do not get online with the intention of cheating. You may well be happily committed to your partner. Once online chatting, however, the seduction of having multiple people in your life suddenly makes your life full, satisfying and richer.
Voila! Problem solved as you move out of the binary model of compulsory monogamy into the openness of non monogamy. The only problem is that you’ve forgotten to discuss and negotiate this with your partner. And therein lies the rub. Opening up a discussion about opening up your relationship is taught, tight and terrible.
However rather than suppressing your need to open up your relationship , I’d prefer you avoid cyber infidelity and have this difficult conversation with your partner. Once Cyber Infidelity occurs, people are so shattered by the trauma, that negotiating an open trusting consensual non monogamous non normative relationship structure, is difficult. On the other hand , once the trauma recedes people are way more open to discussing an alternative to compulsory monogamy. Mostly people do not want to leave their long term partners. And in a time of crisis people are most open to discussing alternative ways of staying together – in a more safe and trusting manner.
Perhaps the accessibility, affordability and anonymity of cyber infidelity leaves people with an on hand mechanism to escape the rigidity of monogamy and create more interesting non binary forms of attachment, such as polyamory.
Questions for you to ponder :
- If you are cyber engaging with another/multiple others , what are your motivations ? Emotional intimacy/romance/sexuality/friendship ?
- Do you think it is ethically wrong to connect with people on Facebook who you once knew and maintain an ongoing online only relationship with them?
- If you have committed cyber infidelity , have you and a partner discussed opening up your relationship?
- Was this as a solution to avoid ending your relationship?
- Was it a non negotiable option presented to you?
- Did you buy into the compulsory monogamy model until you found yourself online and wanting to keep connecting with other people?
- Do you prefer to live a part time monogamous life? In other words engage in cyber infidelity whilst living an openly monogamous agreement.
People don’t want to break up . Its considered a fatal failure. So more and more people are seeking alternative road maps for relationship development. A married man spent half the year working in partial isolation ,abroad. To while away boredom and meet his instinctive need to connect with multiple people, , he spent hours chatting to other women online. Over time he formed a significant emotional bond with another woman . His wife wanted the marriage to end . However both were reluctant to loose their property, investments, shared time with children and neither wanted to loose each other as companions and friends. Once I broke them out of the binary model of either monogamous marriage or divorce, they were visibly relieved . Creatively and painstakingly they began to think about an alternative relationship structure.
I say , get off the traditional relationship escalator which is a strong dogmatic scheme of how a relationship should develop. Face reality which is that you go online, connect with an-other, escalate it real quickly into a hyperpersonal space until it feels exquisitely significant. And begin to tell lies as you hold secrets from your In Real Life partner.
There is nothing wrong with choosing monogamy. If you do then do it ethically and avoid cyber infidelity. The pain of this is so intense that managing jealousy, social stigma, confusion , division of time between multiple partners in a polyamorous situation, feels like a walk in the park.