Loving and free part 1

MARRIAGE IN NUMBERS MARRIAGE IN NUMBERS

Loving and free part 1

With same sex and gay marriage now law, and the first weddings due to take place early year, Rosie Wilby wonders whether monogamy is all it’s cracked up to be

It struck me as a bittersweet irony that just as many of my friends were recently celebrating the passage of the same-sex marriage bill through the House of Lords, I was in the midst of writing a new comedy show called Is Monogamy Dead? debunking the romantic fairytale of “the one”.

Of course, I’d supported all of the equal marriage campaigns yet couldn’t help feeling that we were buying into something of a broken institution. Who cares about being left “on the shelf” when the shelf is stocked with tempting goodies? Heterosexual couples hadn’t exactly succeeded at this commitment lark. Divorce rates are up at about one every three minutes, while “cheating” dating sites soar in popularity.

Many opponents of same sex marriage or couplings warned that the next step might be multiple marriages. Would that be such a terrible thing? Why are humans so uncomfortable with the fact that we can’t really satisfy our every need with one other?

Traditionally, gay men have always been less monogamous than lesbians yet many stay emotionally faithful, albeit within a negotiated open relationship. In a recent interview on my radio show, my friend and fellow performer Nick Field could only think of one long-term couple he knew who didn’t have such as arrangement. While the male gay scene admittedly does teeter dangerously towards a super-saturated hyper-sexuality that feeds potential addiction, part of me finds this honesty refreshing. Most of us enjoy sex, not always with our partner.

In fact, a recent book by Daniel Bergner revealed that women crave sexual novelty just as much as men and perhaps get even more of a chemical high from it. After my show in Edinburgh, I had conversations with many heterosexual and bisexual women who had surprisingly one-sided agreements with husbands who allowed them to sleep with other partners but didn’t want to do so themselves. These women seemed particularly glowing, revelling in having both freedom and security. Which begs the question: why are lesbians, broadly speaking, so monogamous? A US study of nearly 7000 people found that in the year 2000, sexual activity outside a relationship was down to 8% among gay women and 59% among gay men with heterosexuals around 14% (intriguingly after much higher stats across the board in the swinging 70s).

MARRIAGE IN NUMBERS

MARRIAGE IN NUMBERS