Limiting Sexual Options and Choice

Is committing to one partner for a lifetime realistic?

Issue #47

By Vivienne Arkell

For most of my life I didn’t think about sexual options. The messages about sex early in life sank really deep: don’t masturbate, don’t be slutty or easy, and save your virginity. Everyone’s primary goal was to get married, settle down and have sex. But did we ever give any thought to the fact that we were also agreeing to limit our sexual knowledge and pleasure to one person exclusively for the rest of our life?

Granted, there are some pretty cool things about have one partner locked down. It’s comforting to think that you’ll get a jealousy-free ticket to security, unlimited sex, connection, and emotional support. But can we truly get all of this from one person?

Monogamy can be great. The same house is great for twenty years. But isn’t exclusivity like always having the same meal, seeing the same film, same entertainment? Why do we share most of our daily experiences with many, but save the most amazing adventure in life – sex – to enjoy with only one person?

We may hold back because many of us have assumed it was wrong to have deep sexual and loving feelings for more than one person. We still follow cultural values imposed by society where old rules and traditions can limit us. Yet think about modern freedoms. Do you pass judgement on others who are a different race, religion, homosexual, or sexually unrestrained? Do you believe we would be better humans if we were able to be monogamous? Interestingly, many still hold prejudice against the people and concepts involved in non-monogamy.

A while back, I saw a great analogy about choice, using a menu to select relationship options. The author opined that the reason a value menu (and monogamy) works so well over the à la carte menu, is that we don’t get confused with all the options! According to traditional models, meal A as in the girlfriend or boyfriend choice, provides emotional support, hugs, companionship, etc. Option B, the platonic friend choice, would involve much of the same but with one limit of course. The benefit of sex was available only with version A – the designated intimate partner meal. By choosing sexual exclusivity you might endure boredom and temptation, but also wouldn’t get overwhelmed with a long list of lifetime choices.

As of yet, there are no culturally approved scripts or menus such as this for open sexual relationships. There are so many kinds of love and benefits à la carte that options and choices can be overwhelming. That said, the rise of open sexual expression is confirming that our internal programming, involving even deep core values about love, intimacy, and sex, can be rewritten. Staying open to freedom, personal rights and women’s options are all key pieces of female empowerment.

Consider the benefits of sharing yourself and your body, accepting that we all can chose to express sensual feelings and love in different ways. Whether you are monogamous or not, respect the individual à la carte needs of your body and your relationships. Simply put, you are the only one who should have control of your body and choices regarding sensual pleasure and relationships.


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