Do Married Gay Men Care About Infidelity?

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About Dennis Milam Bensie

Dennis Milam Bensie grew up in Robinson, Illinois where his interest in the arts began in high school participating in various community theatre productions. Bensie’s first book, Shorn: Toys to Men was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award, sponsored by the American Library Association. It was also a pick in the International gay magazine The Advocate as “One of the Best Overlooked Books of 2011″. The author’s short stories have been published by Bay Laurel, Everyday Fiction, and This Zine Will Change Your Life and his essays have been seen in The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. One Gay American is his second book with Coffeetown Press, which was chosen as a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Indie Excellence Book Awards. He was a presenter at the 2013 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans and at the Montana Gay Pride Festival. Dennis lives in Seattle with his three dogs.

Comments

  1. My husband and I also saw a huge change in expectations for gay men, from when we were kids until now, and it’s affected what we expected from ourselves. Ideally, I hope that opening up standards will mean that someday, straight people who want bath house sex can have it, too, as well as gay families can marry and have children. It took us a while to work up to believing in marriage for ourselves. We’re polyamorous, but not because we have uncontainable sex drives. We both believe that multiple relationships make us more faceted, better fed, versions of what we’re capable of.

  2. OirishM says:

    Ok, I guess I can’t phrase this in a tactful way, but here goes.

    This is the second article I’ve read recently that talks about non-monogamous relationships where the advice basically boils down to “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

    To me that makes it sound like there are still underlying issues with the thought of each other being with someone else. If you have to effectively be in denial about what’s happening, isn’t that a problem?

    • I don’t advocate a DADT policy of sex outside the relationship. I present it in the article as an observation of my friends Eric and Paul; it appeared to work for them on some level. The interesting thing is they started this “rule’ back in the early 2000 when we still had DADT in the USA military.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Once again another big problem with the article title, and I know that’s probably not the author’s fault.

    “Infidelity” means that someone is breaking the rules or breaking a promise. It’s only cheating or infidelity if someone is going against what he/she agreed to. If spouses agree to an open marriage or agree that other partners are a possibility, then it is not infidelity. You could say it’s not exclusive or say that it’s not monogamous, but that’s not automatically the same thing as infidelity. I can’t say someone is cheating unless I know what vows he took.

    My radical hypothesis: gay men are no more or less likely to be naturally monogamous than anyone else. Gay men, however, have been able to look at monogamous marriage from the outside and have been forced to confront society’s assumptions about sex a lot more than straight men have. Maybe, just maybe, gay men have a better perspective on what monogamy is really like as a possibility. They didn’t have as much pressure to pretend about how wonderful and natural monogamy is. Perhaps non-monogamous gay men are simply what straight men would be like if our society had a more realistic view about monogamy…..

    • I agree with you that “gay men are no more or less likely to be naturally monogamous” than are heterosexuals. But – and in my experience it’s a big but – if you are already, for whatever reason, placed in a situation where you’re outside social norms, and maybe even where what you’re doing is considered perverted, you’re maybe more likely to let go also of other social norms. In other words, if society is telling you “you can’t have a normal relationship ever with a same sex partner”, the pressure to conform with respect to monogamy (and other things) is a lot less pronounced.

  4. I hope I redeem myself near the end when I say “cheating and swinging” are two very different things. Absolutely no disrespect to my editor, but I originally titled the article “Is That Extra Marital Blow Job Worth Getting A Divorce Over?” Probably too much, huh?

  5. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I’m a het who likes being married. During most of my current marriage I’ve been faithful, but it always has a sort of strained quality to it because I believe that I’m poly in the same sense gay people are gay. I use DADT, having tried open polyamory in marriage #1– but I don’t like the way the outside relationships take center stage in the primary relationship. I’m getting a little old for hi-jinks, having just had my 68th birthday. Most of my outside liaisons have been with women I’ve known for years before anything happens. I don’t like the bathhouse idea for me because I like having a relationship too. This arrangement is most workable with women friends I don’t see all that often.

  6. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    James Salter’s books often reveal the world from a het “secretly-poly” point of view for those of us who point in this direction. He had a nice interview on NPR this afternoon. If you want something morally uplifting, Salter is probably not where to go…but he describes a fifties and sixties that is deeper than, say, Madmen.

  7. David May says:

    What we learned in the 1980w while teaching gay men to play safely was that men would not change the sort of sex they had had before, but could usually be persuaded to be safer. So men who liked quickies continued to have quickies; those that preferred serial monogamy continued to be so; and the men (like me) that celebrated sex at every opportunity learned to do it in a way that would, we hoped, prevent the spread of the virus.
    Similarly, gay couples find their own way, often changing their arrangement over the years to suit their changing needs. I know monogamous and non-monogamous couples and see now relationship between their sexual arrangements and the longevity of their relationships. What I observe as problematic is rigidity. Couples that can’t morph their agreed arrangements to meet their changing needs inevitably break up.
    It is foolish to say that all men are or are not monogamous by nature. Different men have different needs. All men, and indeed not even all gay men, can be painted with the same brush. Gay couples may have the advantage of both being men and so might more easily find a common ground than straight couples would (or so one would guess.)

  8. My take on this is that, no matter your sexual orientation, there’s a lot of power in defining your own relationship. It’s just so much more satisfactory to sit down to sit down with your partner (or partners) and talk over exactly what kind of relationship *you* want, and then go do it, even if it’s unlike what everyone else is doing, I’d pick that approach every day over going one-stop shopping at the local church. The one-size-fits-all model of relationships was never attractive.

    Happily, this change has been going on for years. “Relationship”, “marriage”, and “family” come in so many versions now, and same-sex marriage is just another push in that direction.

    I’m not saying people should not be doing “traditional” relationships (whatever that means). By all means do that if that’s what you want. But I think it’s better for everyone if you chose how you want to do it – even if you want the traditional model.

    • If we can get past shame and be honest with our significant others about our wants, then this would be great. I prefer a monogamous, committed relationship — or as the author commented above, a “cookie-cutter relationship.” That is for me – what I’ve always wanted, and I’ve sought others with similar ideals about it. And that has worked wonderfully for me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] and sex lives get lost in the hypersexualized and glamorized gay culture. That we even have to ask if gay men care about infidelity suggests our misunderstanding of gay men as a whole. But as couples, do we then acquiesce to the [...]

  2. […] of gay men and their relationships, it appears that much is written about wandering eyes or open relationships. It would make it seem that non-monogamy is the norm. But more attention is given to these open […]

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