“Life is short… have an affair.” That’s the slogan for Ashley Madison, the internet platform that encourages people in relationships to cheat. A recent hack of Ashley Madison’s database has left many members fear exposure to their partners, colleagues, and if they’re noteable, the world. It’s a really big deal to these people. The thing is, it doesn’t need to be.
I hate playing the gay card, but I’m going to. Maybe it’s time straight folks take a look at their jacked patriarchal idea of monogamy and ask, “What if we just communicated more honestly about our sexual needs and wants?” Boom, mind blown!
Before I break it down, let me just say that I’m about to layout some big time generalizations. I know, I know, you’re probably like, “Well that’s not me.” Kudos to you then. Stop reading. Everyone else, read on.
Why do people cheat? For lots of reasons. It could be because they aren’t satisfied with the relationship they’re in, or maybe they just aren’t sexually satisfied, or maybe they want to try something new, or maybe they like the thrill of it, or maybe they’re just a d-bag; whatever the case may be, part of cheating is not telling your partner about it. There’s a level of guilt associated with the reasons why one looks to cheat. A vicious cycle begins, people cry, families are broken up, TV movies are made, Presidents are impeached…
Now imagine, if you will, that you’re not forced into the traditional idea of monogamy. Maybe you can commit to one person while still seeking fun on the side, and your partner is fully aware of it (and possibly joins in). What if you and your partner openly communicated what you want from a relationship, and then like do it? Imagine being able to emotionally separate sex from commitment, and not feeling guilty about it? Here’s where it might be a good time to look to your gay friends.
First off, yes, you’re right, there are plenty of gay people in monogamous relationships and always have been. But, the very fact that for years gay sexuality was viewed as devious allowed us to think of sex and relationships as two distinctly unique variables, and not one in the same. The sex we have doesn’t define who we are as a gay person, our soul defines our sexuality, sex is merely the byproduct – and a damn fun one at that. There’s a reason why the gay liberation movement of the 60’s and 70’s coincided with the sexual revolution, people were awakening to the possibility of everything. Along the way many heterosexual couples conformed to patrilocal views of monogamy, while lots of gay folk were forced to think about relationships in unique ways: a partner was a partner, while sex was sex, neither of which were societally forced to be mutually exclusive.
I know many gay couples that are in “open” relationships. I’ve hooked up with a number of men in “open” relationships. They’re able to do this because they communicate with one another, they’re honest, and they don’t have to go to poorly built websites like Ashley Madison to find someone to cheat with. When you take the shame away from sex and your own sexual desires, then you start thinking about it differently. At one point or another, every gay person has felt shame over being gay, over possibly being a deviant. Getting over that shame allowed us to think about sex in a liberated way. You can do whatever you want, as long as you’re honest with the people you care for.
When the Supreme Court legalized marriage nationwide, I wondered how same-sex marriage would impact the “set in stone” ideals that historically come with marriage: for better or worse, til death do you part, yadda yadda yadda. A commitment is serious and beautiful, but does it need to be a sexual life enslavement? No.
The real shocker with the Ashley Madison data hack shouldn’t be the names released, it should be that a website needed for cheating was ever needed in the first place. Embrace your sexuality and sexual desires, communicate them with your partner, come to a decision that’s right for you both, and have fun. Ashley Madison’s slogan should really be, “Life is short… so get to living.”