Peter Kane – Relationship Theorist and author "The Monogamy Challenge"

What Inspires Us to Be Monogamous?

Monogamy may be easy for some, but it is not easy for many. Many of us feel hurt when monogamy is challenging for our partner.  It is understandable that we can be devastated if our partner makes love with someone else. All sides of this issue can be very sensitive and as a result partners barely address the issue of monogamy and their attractions to others.

Ask yourself, how often do I meet someone that I could imagine having a romantic relationship with? When I do meet someone whom I am attracted to sexually, how do I deal with it? One basic problem in heterosexual relationships is that men may be more apt to have attractions to other people than women do. This can leave the women they are in partnerships with hurt and confused. The fear of hurting the people we love has contributed to our not admitting or dealing with attractions and has only exacerbated the problem. Our primary relationships can be supported if we admit our non-monogamous feelings and gently bring them out into the open where we will be better able to resolve them. Suppression also only makes the feelings stronger. Remembering that there is a difference between feelings and actions helps us resolve our non-monogamous feelings, and thus choose monogamy, if that is our choice.

What inspires us to be monogamous? And, if we choose to be in a monogamous relationship, how do we maintain that commitment and resist temptation?

The original title of my book was “Chronicles of a Monogamous Man.” I used my story (and still did in the final version of the book) to describe how I maintained a monogamous relationship, even when my wife of 17 years and I were making love infrequently. I could not really tell you if I tend to have more or less non-monogamous feelings than the average man. Monogamy has never been entirely easy for me but I have always been monogamous when I had a primary relationship. In my book, “The Monogamy Challenge”, I share many details about how I worked through attractions without acting on them. I also share several models for what goes wrong and how to instead keep intimate relationships thriving.

Monogamy is also inspired by commitment. I would not want to hurt the women or the people I love. No matter what shortcomings a relationship had, I would not want to hurt my partner, or in the case of my marriage my partner and my children. Love and care are inspiring. There are many deeper layers to a monogamous commitment, but this is an important place to start.

If your partner has had an affair, facing the lack of care is an important first step because feeling you deserve the love and care you need will help you re-create a monogamous relationship. There will be many things to work on.  One of these things is how you participated in a relationship that has resulted in infidelity?  You will also need to be strong in deserving or inspiring care. Being clear that you deserve monogamy creates a platform for you and your partner to explore how you lost that inspiration. This might be scary because your partner may face that they have lost that inspiration and together you might accept that you need to separate. There can be a lot of issues that need to be addressed here, but I definitely believe this would be better than patching a sinking ship or settling for crumbs.

My second basic inspiration for maintaining monogamy has been because it would hurt me very much if my partner were not monogamous. This is an aspect of integrity. I have been monogamous because I would not want to be a hypocrite. This may sound like an aspect of co-dependence or something I call “need/obligate” but it is also part of love. Monogamy is like any other choice in life, we make informed decisions as to what is best for us. What is more difficult about sexuality compared to other areas of our lives, is that our sexuality is motivated by even deeper and more powerful desires. There are many issues that go into our attractions to others and we need help in identifying and resolving our non-monogamous feelings.

It is likely that we are anthropologically driven to fertilize the herd, to nest with a more powerful man, or to move on when our children do not require as much protection as when they were little. It can be helpful to sympathize with ourselves that we are facing strong forces as we work at maintaining a monogamous relationship; but we are also facing powerful forces within this lifetime. We may be subconsciously repeating our parent’s patterns because we have an emotional need to understand them, or because they imprinted our subconscious with expectations or beliefs. We may be repeating our parents infidelity patterns by having affairs or by being with a partner who does. A lack of sexuality or intimacy that leads to infidelity may also be something we inherited from our parents.

Other wounds or shame we carry from our birth or family experience may drive us to have affairs as a means of proving that we are wanted and good enough as a man or woman. Sometimes in an effort to prove we are a good thing, and we do not hurt people, we continue and try to prove we are good to one person too many, and as a result we hurt our partner. Sometimes we are filling our lack by collecting notches on our belt or purse, or filling a jar of hearts.

We can be driven to connect sexually with a new partner because we crave something our relationship is lacking. Our partnerships will tend to have a primary culture or personality, and once we have that we then may desire something we don’t have. We may have a ‘responsible relationship’ and be drawn to a free spirit or we may have financial stress and be drawn to someone we perceive to be more financially secure.

Regardless of the depth of these drives and the work we need to do to resolve them, we will also benefit from incorporating the strength of love, devotion and inspiration. No matter how strong or deep the loss of intimacy is in a relationship, we can still reclaim or remember the love. We can walk in the door and see our partner as our beloved.

I was discussing my book with a female friend who quoted Chris Rock as saying that, “we are as loyal as our options.” To this I responded: “that’s true, but one of our options is to have and sustain, a deep, intimate, and committed partnership.” Now that is inspiring!  And to that end, may we be equally inspired to give our partners the various things that they need, including monogamy.

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Peter Kane - Counselor • Coach • Relationship Theorist
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