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I think we’ve all heard the fabled belief that we as humans aren’t meant to be monogamous – that it’s unnatural and goes against our biological instincts. I don’t know if it’s true or not because I’m not a scientist and you probably aren’t either. My point is that even if it is true, the people who say this are still full of crap. It’s a convenient cop-out. No one’s saying it’s easy, but there are more than enough people who can keep their lower brain in control in their relationship to prove it’s a reasonable proposition.

I’ve been in a relationship for long enough that most people to assume an engagement is long due and I have yet to stray even once. I consider this quite an accomplishment so far yet one I doubted was possible in the beginning, especially considering I live in New York City where temptation never sleeps. I travel quite a lot as well. I did well for myself in college and even after, always preferring to loosely date a few girls rather than ever feel the need to commit. It worked well – I never had to break-up with anyone, I just had to stop calling. For all intents and purposes, I fit the description of someone who most certainly would cheat. I’m not here to rub it in your face so much as to say it’s possible.  Once you get married you’re on your own and I can’t help you. For all I know I could blow it the first year of my own marriage.

There really aren’t comprehensive statistics available on how often people in relationships cheat. What constitutes cheating and who is cheating on the cheating questionnaire are always up in the air. The most consistent numbers I found showed 23% of men cheat on their partners while an increasing 19% of women do the same. Presuming that’s true, if the number of people who have been tempted to cheat were isolated, the ones who have cheated would be well higher. What do we think this number would be if it were taken only of males in their 20s living in cities, which would remove the population of people who are less likely to be able to cheat due to age (maturity) or lesser available temptations?

Esquire put up an interesting article written by a married serial cheater, laying out the lifestyle and even the rules of cheating. (ie. Never say the word love, don’t go too young, she must have just as much to risk as you, etc) For me, it’s scary to think this might be my destiny.  Perhaps it is, but I’m going to fight it.

If you absolutely, positively can’t stay monogamous within a few years it’s safe to say either your girlfriend probably isn’t the one or you have little willpower. Maybe a bit more maturing, or perhaps you’re just not ready to commit. That’s fine. I recognize I have long way to go (eternity!) if mine is the one but I’ve made it this far and here’s how:

1. Think week to week

Monogamy is a mental challenge. It’s easy to psyche yourself out and think “This is the last person I’ll ever be with.” That can be intimidating, especially the first few months if things are going well. It’s a difficult outlook to work with though. When going out, decide to yourself in advance that you won’t be cheating tonight or this weekend or this week. Repeat cycle. No need to turn an short sprint into a grueling marathon.

2. Understand the inflicted hurt

I always think about how my girlfriend would react if she found out. It would rip her little heart out. Just the thought of that alone pains me and if your relationship is worthwhile it should for you to. Remind yourself of this during every temptation. Because…

3. She’ll find out

They usually do. You’ll leave your email open, she’ll read your texts, or you’ll get ratted on. Even if she never finds out she’s going to be suspicious because you’re not nearly as slick as you think you are. Guilt will seep through your pores and her suspicion alone will stress the relationship and hurt the trust. You may think just once but…

4. It’s rarely just one time

Doing it once is like breaking the seal while drinking – it’s a gateway experience to the 2nd, 3rd and 15th time. It won’t be just once. Even if it is – then why bother?

5. It won’t even be good

You have this image in you’re head being with another woman will be amazing. Some girl out of a magazine will hit on you or you’ll walk into the copy room and the office bombshell will be naked waiting for you. Unlikely. It will probably be drunken, awkward, and forgettable. Excitement may get the best of you or her breathe will smell like a foot. The only thing left remaining from the experience will be guilt that doesn’t go away and paranoia that this is coming back to you.

6. Avoid the situation

This is one of the most important rules. We men like to test our limits, see if we’ve still got it. Thats fine, but know the line. Flirting shouldn’t turn into hitting on her. Here’s the truth; if you used to have it, you probably have 75% of it now at best, (Did you put on weight? Make it 50%) and if you never had it you definitely don’t have it now. Avoid the situations where you can be put in that position. A girl asks you to come back to her place? Just don’t. Your crush or ex wants to grab drinks? Nope. Find an excuse. Talking to exes should be completely avoided if conversations go beyond the friendship zone. Besides, there’s a reason she’s your ex.

7. “Alone” Time

I say alone time with a wink of course. Most of you don’t actually need to be told this, but this isn’t me talking, it’s Sex Therapist Dr. Louanne Cole: “It’s appropriate, and a valid option in a relationship, when one’s partner is unavailable due to physical separation, fatigue, recovery from childbirth, or illness. It also helps balance discrepancies in frequency desires.” Doctor’s orders.

8. Understand It’s Not Impossible

As the saying goes, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

At the end of the day monogamy has a lot to do with being your own comfort level and confidence. Men often feel the need to ‘conquer’ women – it’s an ego boost to put another notch on the board. There’s a power trip about having been able to pull the bartender or hottest girl in the club. Learn to be comfortable with knowing you could have rather than you did.

I’m looking forward to a lively conversation in the comments section.

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