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Monogamy
by Simon Sheppard - SGN Contributing Writer

"Gay men have a reputation for fucking around," says one idealistic guy in his mid-20s. "But my partner and I have been faithful to each other for over five years, and we both love it. Sure, some of our friends are skeptical, but we manage to make it work."

It can sometimes seem that there's a pitched battle in the Queer community between men who put down promiscuity and guys who proudly identify as sex pigs. Says a fellow from the slutty side of the fence, "Sure, monogamy might seem like a nice ideal. But in reality? From what I can see, it rarely works over the long haul."

Other guys would beg to differ. Many men - especially younger ones - view open relationships with suspicion and disdain. Sometimes, though, the considerations are more practical. Says our mid-20s monogamist, "One of the nice things about fidelity is that it simplifies matters. We're still attracted to other guys, of course. But not giving in to - well, let's call it 'lust' - reduces the risk of everything from jealousy to venereal disease. And by restricting our outlets, I know that when I'm horny, he'll be ready, too."

It may not be easy for two men in love to maintain monogamy. As our monogamist proclaims, "Fidelity's not for the faint-hearted." Nature seems to have hardwired guys with an itch to mess around. Urban Gay communities are full of tumescent temptations. And - let's face it - after having sex with the same guy for years, boredom can set in. But monogamy need not equal monotony. Being finely tuned to a steady partner's responses can make things go better in bed, and trusting your partner can lay the groundwork for edgy sexual exploration. Still, the urge for variety is strong.

Says one fellow in a decades-long partnership, "Though there are tricks to keeping the sexual flame alive, it's almost certain to burn less hot with time. You either accept that fact and go on from there, or live a sex life of frustration. Or you can do what my mate and I did, and decide on what we call 'modified monogamy.'"

Such almost-monogamous relationships aren't thoroughly open, but abide by mutually agreed-upon rules. Beyond good old "don't ask, don't tell," there's the once-only decree, the not-in-our-bed agreement, and the only-on-business-trips escape clause. Our guy in a decades-long relationship relates, "In our case, we decided to only have sex with other men in three-ways. That added welcome variety, but unfortunately led to jealousies when the third was more interested in one of us than the other. So now we have occasional one-on-one flings, and just trust that they're not big threats. After all, our messing around on the side doesn't mean we love each other any less."

It's not only long-timers who face challenges. One young guy just starting his first steady relationship says, "I really love my hubby, and I'd like him to be my one and only. But he has a terrible self-image, and is just not into sex that much. Since I'm always horny, if I intend to stay with him, we're either going to have to give up monogamy, or I'm going to end up jacking off three times a day."

Not everyone approves of such compromises, though. "Some Gay guys can be such spoiled brats," our faithful mid-20s man says. "It may be a trade-off, but I'll gladly sacrifice the transitory thrills of tricking for the rewards of focusing in on one special fellow, and him alone. I can't imagine wanting anyone else as much as I desire the man I love."

Ultimately, there's no simple answer to the monogamy question. Is the one-dick decree a heterosexual invention that's ill-suited to male/male relationships? Or is it a sign of deep and abiding love? Maybe both, depending. Circumstances change; child-rearing enters the picture, guys get older, emotions evolve. If fidelity is what both men want in their heart of hearts, it's more likely to work out than if monogamy is prompted by jealousy or fear - or if one partner is guilt-tripped into it by the other. And, should one fellow slip up and screw around, forgiveness is more constructive than anger and reproach.

The basis of the Gay movement, after all, is that a one-size-fits-all model doesn't work when it comes to sex and love. So whether you forsake all others, or fuck around on the side, be nice to each other, be honest, and don't bring home crabs.

Simon Sheppard is the editor of Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica, and the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at SexTalk@qsyndicate.com. Visit Simon at www.simonsheppard.com.

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