Commentary: A Million First Dates: How online romance is threatening monogamy

There has been a lot of talk about the recent article published in “The Atlantic”, entitled “A Million First Dates: How online romance is threatening monogamy“, by Dan Slater.

The article, like society itself, is rife with all kinds of erroneous, half-baked assumptions about monogamy, and relationships in general.

“Mate scarcity also plays an important role in people’s relationship decisions. ‘Look, if I lived in Iowa, I’d be married with four children by now,’ says Blatt, a 40‑something bachelor in Manhattan. ‘That’s just how it is.’” Thank you Mr. Blatt.

The premise is that online dating makes it so easy to meet compatible people, that singles are not as likely to settle down, and is therefore ruining monogamy. Yeesh.

The article revolves around the experiences of one 30-something guy, who states about a pretty young woman who leaves him after two years of living together:

“I’m about 95 percent certain that if I’d met Rachel offline, and if I’d never done online dating, I would’ve married her.”

Yeah. And if my grandmother had balls….

The article smacks of the “fast food is making me fat!” kind of thinking. If it weren’t for online dating, I’d have settled long ago. Well, any excuse will do.

There were those who never stopped playing the field long before online dating was invented. There are those who play the field long after they’ve been married. Yes, unbelievably this too used to happen long before online dating.

Let’s face it, monogamy is not all it’s cracked up to be. And it’s not for everyone. Not even married people. Many assume monogamy is a “natural” state, one to which everyone naturally gravitates – unless they have “issues”.

It took me 15 years of marriage to realize I am not the monogamous type. As strange as it may sound, non-monogamy and marriage are NOT mutually exclusive.

About 4 years ago I was ready to leave my wife. We have two kids, now aged 17 (son) and 16 (daughter). At the time, with nothing to lose, I came clean about my man2man philandering: I’d been “experimenting” with men behind my wife’s back for a few years. I finally accepted the fact that I’m bisexual, which is why I came clean.

I no longer wanted to live a double life, and I no longer wanted to go without man2man experiences.

After admitting as much, my wife didn’t leave me. Instead we made drastic changes to our relationship. We opened up our marriage, and began exploring sexually, together, and apart.

But even more importantly, we both re-evaluated our relationship together. From that point on we decided to stay together only because we wanted to, and only for as long as we enjoyed each other’s company.

Yes there was anger, hurt, and disappointment. But opening up and being honest in this kind of way also led us to new levels of intimacy. What we learned over the next few years was very counter-intuitive, and flies smack in the face of conventional wisdom about marriage, monogamy, and intimacy: sleeping with others served to remind us how much we enjoy sleeping with each other; opening our relationship released the pressure we felt from being contained in this tiny monogamous room together, and suddenly we no longer felt trapped; knowing that you can have sexual experiences feels so good the actual experience is quite often not needed; sleeping with others ADDED to our sex life together; seeing my wife with another man was hot (and vice versa), and made us want each other more – not less.

The need for life-long experimentation and sexual growth is vital for many people. Marriage must adapt to this: we live longer today, are healthier, and more open to sexual experiences. Either we continue to lie about our behaviour (of the 50% of marriages that don’t end in divorce, how many are content? And how many are truthful about their non-monogamy?), or we grow up and realize having sex with another is not the earth-shattering, life-altering, relationship-ending event we have made it out to be. In fact, if given the chance, it’s usually quite the opposite.


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