mandag, august 30, 2010

On sexual infidelity

The other day I wrote an annoyingly garrulous post on my mate-choosing criteria. (If you managed to finish reading that whole pile of noxious garbage, I salute you - you exhibited superhuman endurance!) In one part of that entry, I mentioned that I would expect unreserved honesty from my partner if he ever cheats on me. As I retrospectively review what I wrote, I think that I should have been more careful in specifying the kind of infidelity to which I was referring.

To be perfectly honest, in principle I would permit my partner to have sex with other females if I am consistently disappointing in bed. If, despite regular and diligent feedback from my partner, I still prove to be an embarrassingly hopeless failure when it comes to fulfilling his sexual needs, or if he has certain sexual fantasies that I adamantly refuse to indulge (e.g., my anus will never be open for business), or if my partner is simply very curious about sex in general, I would consent to let him fornicate with other females so that he can maximise his pleasure.

There are some inviolable conditions that must be observed though: 1) If our sexual activities continue unabated while he finds sex partners outside the relationship, I demand that he takes impeccable precautions in preventing the contraction of all sexually transmitted illnesses, lest he spreads those nasty diseases to me. One worry is that there is no entirely foolproof way of protecting oneself against STDs - just as some females are highly unlucky to get impregnated in spite of commendable efforts at contraception, some people do still end up with STDs despite always using condoms. Considering this, I would really appreciate it if my partner insists without exception that all his sex partners produce recent health reports certifying that they are totally disease-free. But, in general, I would consider this possibility to be so small that it does not justify imposing boundaries on my partner's behaviour. 2) My partner's promiscuity must never undermine the emotional strength of our relationship, and he must never get involved in anyone else beyond the physical level - i.e., I expect complete emotional loyalty. Once nascent love is evident between him and another woman, he should immediately make a choice between her and me, instead of denying me exclusive emotional devotion.

Allowing my partner to philander for the purposes of sexual gratification seems to be a dangerous slippery slope. Let's imagine that my partner is extremely adventurous in bed, and strongly desires to engage in all sorts of wild, kinky experiments with which I'm not exactly comfortable. I agree to let him go to other females so that his most intoxicating erotic dreams can become reality, while the two of us stick to less eccentric sexual routines. Other women and I complement one another very neatly when it comes to satisfying my partner's sexual cravings; so why can't I consent to a polyamorous relationship, so that my partner's emotional needs can perhaps be better served as well?

My answer to this is that I strongly believe that emotional faithfulness is essential to the long-term maintenance of a healthy, loving romantic relationship, while sexual fidelity is not. (Yes, I think sex and love are completely detachable from each other.) I do not consider polyamorous to be abhorrent (actually, I do not think that any form of exercise that involves only consenting adults is immoral at all - which is precisely why I think Armin Meiwes should not have been sentenced to imprisonment), but I just do not believe that it would work successfully for me. I understand my own emotional needs and construction too well to ever become involved in an emotionally open relationship, and anyone who desires such a relationship will not find any sort of fulfilment with me either.

I admit that this is because I have a very particular notion of love that is wholly incompatible with polyamory. I believe that a person who can simultaneously harbour romantic feelings for multiple individuals is simply depriving all of his partners of the most immense depth of love of which the human heart is capable, and I want nothing but the most unadulterated, devoted, heartfelt affection. If my partner constantly seeks new romantic partners to fulfill his hitherto neglected emotional voids, then it is a glaring sign that there is an unbridgeable chasm between us. I truly believe that love is about compromise, accommodation and acceptance (I sincerely apologise for sounding like Switzerland right now). In relationships, there is the sobering reminder of our humble humanity - of our numerous imperfections, of our shameful limitations - as couples go through tiring quarrels (and, hopefully, sweet reconciliation thereafter), but these painful obstacles and vexatious frustrations teach you to recognise that your partner is your equal, that he/she is also flawed and vulnerable, and that if he/she can remain unwavering in his/her commitment despite all your fallibility and your disagreeable shortcomings, then he/she deserves your greatest reciprocation, instead of your weakness. It is just too terribly convenient and cowardly to search for new partners whenever woes arise, instead of learning to appreciate the ways in which your partner express his/her affection - which may not conform to your expectations all the time, but different people show their love differently - and trying your best to tide the storms (which are inevitable in relationships).

If your reaction to relationship problems is to drift from one body to another in search of emotional comfort, then you are basically conveying to me that you are not ready to invest everything in any one person, and that you are unequipped with the necessary disposition to provide the love for which I yearn. Straying emotionally is not the solution to relationship troubles. In fact, I believe that emotional unfaithfulness is the anathema of romantic relationships. So if you want to cheat, please have enough decency to inform me.

(P.S.: I know many people associate sexual fidelity with emotional steadfastness - there is a reason why the phrase 'making love' is so commonly used after all - so I would not demand that my partner, either present or future, allow me to sleep around in the event that I think his skills leave very much to be desired. Relationships are about taking and giving, and this is an issue that I'm not too stubborn about.)

3 kommentarer:

Anonym sagde ...

"my anus will never be open for business" - hahaha, that's hilarious!

let me know if your current relationship fails... i'd like to have you as my girlfriend. i don't like anal sex either, so now we know we have something in common.

takchek sagde ...

Not that many people can decouple emotional from physical infidelity.

Miao sagde ...

I agree - hence my postscript. :)