Gay Men, Monogamy & Myth: Is It Possible?
The question of whether men are capable of sustaining a monogamous relationship is age-old, especially in light of the Arnold Swarzenegger’s "love child" drama. The media is presently having a field day reporting the daily highlights of Arnold’s tryst as they did previously with the love affairs made public of Tiger Woods and John Edwards.
The fall from heights of fame and posterity for these sports, political and media figures makes for sensational news stories, but they are also indicative of our male species and their difficulties in sustaining a life-long, committed relationship with just one person. This may be especially true for many gay men, even if they confess to be desirous of a long-term committed relationship with another man.
In interviews with gay men for my planned book, "The Gay Communication Game," many confessed of having enjoyed relationships lasting of several years but, that monogamy was difficult for either themselves or their partners to sustain. To rebut that point, I do personally know of many gay male relationships that have lasted for years, several with no reported incidents of infidelity but, they have been rare and few.
In recent statistics comparing gay male long-term relationships to committed heterosexual married partners from 2002 to 2004, there was a significant difference between those confessing of infidelities during their relationships in comparing the numbers between the two groups: 75 percent for heterosexual males as compared to 4.5 percent for gay males.
That shows that gay couples were less able to sustain a monogamous, committed relationship when compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
In the book "The Gay Male Couple," evidence supported the claim that with long-term committed gay male relationships lasting longer than five years, there were some provisions incorporated into their relationships to include outside sexual activity.
This fact was further in evidence in a televised interview for my Web show, "Talk it Out with Dr. Vince," where my guest publically confessed being unable to come to terms with how he and his partnered defined monogamy, including "three way trysts" as being acceptable in their relationship.
In a recent interview, Kim Williams, a friend who has enjoyed a long-term committed relationship with her husband of 15 years and father of her child, explained that many men without a clear task such as work or activities with creative focus are more likely to find personal validation through sexual affairs outside of the relationship. Without those creative and life-affirming outlets, they are more likely to cheat in order to feel a sense of personal validation.
The textbooks I use to teach my Oral Communication classes clearly state that men are more task focused in comparison to women who are more relationally focused. What does that mean? That women seek an emotional connection to their romantic partner while men are more focused on task and achieving goals such as financial success, physical prowess and sexual gratification.
Statistics also substantiate that men do desire and appreciate long-term loving relationships. But they are also more impressed with achieving task goals in comparison to women’s desires for a strong relational connection and emotional security.
Ultimately, it is up to the partners in a gay male relationship to come up with their own rules as to how they want their relationship to work. But with all this talk of passing laws concerning gay marriage, it is important for all parties to discuss the rules early on in order to prevent further complications that could lead to divorce and additional financial and emotional upheaval.
Dr. Vince Pellegrino has PhDs in educational theater and drama therapy from New York University and is a board-certified psychotherapist in New York City and Connecticut. He teaches communications at Hofstra University. He is currently working on a book, Gay Communication Game, about "Gayspeak"; an interactive TV program featuring real-time therapy sessions is in development. Go to his website for more information.