Friday, October 20th 2017

Arnold Schwarzenegger and the unbearable lateness of monogamy

An up-close and personal account of infidelity from a Soul’s Code contributor goes deeper than the public contritions of governors, celebrities and other cheaters

BY CASSANDRA KELLY — Sometimes, to amuse myself, I think about the parallels between my life and the lives of those that our society has deemed “famous” or “stars.” For instance, I grew up in poverty — so did Gloria Estefan.  I’m a pilates lover and so is Jen Anniston.

And so this is how Arnold surfaced into my consciousness.  His recent declaration of infidelity, which produced a child with his ex-housekeeper, blew peoples’ minds — except for those who believe everything they read in the National Enquirer and an explosive expose in the L.A Times detailing a history of sexual harassment that Schwarzenegger’s proxies attacked in the final days of his election to become California’s governor.

It seems that Arnold and I both shared parallel secrets. In public: monogamous. Behind the scenes, not so much

To date, similar to Arnold, I’ve been living a life of non-responsible, non-monogamy (the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” routine which so many people embrace).  However, if I had the guts, I would probably be living a life of responsible non-monogamy.

Yet it would be a huge gamble to give up the safety-net of a committed relationship and throw myself into a sea of unknown forces. Like many, I’m not brave enough to do that.

coupleIs this a problem? Well, it wouldn’t be if I had maintained singleton status throughout my life.  But I haven’t.

I’ve had three major long-term relationships, and have cheated (such an ugly, yet accurate, word) on all of my significant others . . . starting with my first boyfriend at age 15.

The history of my discontent

With Boyfriend 1 (BF1) the infidelity was with his cousin— in a horse stable, of all places.  Come to think of it, this is probably the genesis of where my leather fetish started :)

These activities were just minor “fooling around” really . . . not the full Monty of intercourse.  I waited until I arrived at college before I unleashed a full non-monogamous onslaught, but only after BF1 had tried to break up with me a few times, so I guess I felt justified in my actions.

Sort of a ‘you hurt me, I’ll hurt you scenario’.

With my next major relationship, I was monogamous with Boyfriend 2 for a few years, until he told me that HE had been unfaithful. This was incredibly upsetting, and perhaps was what later gave me a sense of carte blanche to start an affair with one of our married friends.

bed1On to Major Relationship # 3, my current and longest-term relationship. Nope, still not monogamous . . . and although we went through some tough periods where I thought he might have had an affair, I got over that and moved on. Well, I moved on . . . into the arms of another person for two year long, messy affair that ended badly.  Did I learn my lesson?  Time will tell!

So what’s the deal here? Am I some kind of freak of nature? Am I trying to have my cake and eat it too, like our friend Arnold?

Or is the fact that I have tried to fit my personality and taste for variety into a monogamous way of life not realistic for me, and in fact, for many other people?

Let’s talk about. . . responsible non-monogamy

Recently I’ve uncovered an idea and a lifestyle called responsible non-monogamy which has opened my eyes to a few home truths.

What I’m currently contemplating is if we, as a society, should use the word “relationship” when trying to define the interactions between husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, girlfriend and girlfriend and boyfriend and boyfriend. As Eckhart Tolle’s companion explains in a piece featured on Souls Code, just using the loaded words “in a relationship” sets up a whole dynamic of unhealthy expectations.

Have you tried a responsible or a non-responsible, non-monogamous lifestyle?  Have you tried to interact with partners outside of the definition of “relationships?” Feel free to share your positive and negative experiences via the comments section.

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18 Comments on “Arnold Schwarzenegger and the unbearable lateness of monogamy”

  1. Cassandra, it's very good that you recognize this in yourself, not everyone is built to be faithful to, and share their life with, one person. But you really need to give yourself a shake. If you can't be faithful, don't want to be faithful, don't feel capable of being faithful, then stop lying to the men you choose. And stop picking men who are looking for a long-term, faithful relationship.

    How you live your own life is totally up to you. But when you deceive others, you do harm. If you live an honest life, you'll feel much better. IMHO.

  2. Relationships, especially sexual relationships are very complicated and predominantly unconscious. Apart from the personal questions of monogamy - Is it essential?, Is it even possible? - the most important question, I think, is what is this relationship doing. When I give "pre-marital" counseling to couples, I begin by telling them that they are perfectly mismatched. They have unconsciously chosen each other because they know that the other will push their buttons. And the only way we get to examine our buttons is by having them pushed. So the purpose of a relationship is to give ourself the opportunity to examine our own buttons in the presence of another, with the intention of working on our self, growing in conscious awareness. So no matter what is going on in a relationship, the intention to look within makes the relationship valuable. (Obviously there are other benefits. I'm talking from a very particular perspective.)

    So rather than judging yourself (or someone else) by the externals of a relationship, the important, and deeply personal question is "What am I doing in this relationship?" Am I working, growing, challenging myself? Or am I simply playing out and repeating unconscious material without doing the work the experience is intended to stimulate. And a healthy relationship can be simply one in which both parties are willing to do that inner work.

    Even experiences of "cheating" or "being cheated" can give material for that inner exploration. Remember, we are not simply talking social, tribal, or even moral levels here, but spiritual in which there is always a deeper purpose in what seems to be going on for both people.

  3. How important is truth in a relationaship, Father David?

  4. I'll let the great Jungian academic and researcher, Texas-based James Hollis, speak for me on this one. Here's an excerpt from his 155-page essay, "The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other":

    Just as a tiny square of celluloid can project prehistoric monsters onto a distant screen, so the rush of eros energy can, filtered by the idiosyncratic history of the individual, fill even the heavens with its psychic portrait.

    . . . If there is a central law of the psyche, it is that what is unconscious will be projected. This is why Jung observed that 'when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate.'

    All relationships, *all* relationships, begin in projection . . . Only the presence of an invisible complex, like a mine towards which the ship hurries, could account for so much urgent energy.

    . . . It is truly frightening to realize how little one is conscious in the formation of intimate relationship, how powerful is our programmed desire for what we have known. What is known is what is sought, even if what is known is wounding.

  5. Truth is highly important. But what truth? Fidelity has great value, but as I tried to describe briefly above, a relationship is not just about being faithful to each other. It is about confronting the deep unconscious issues that we all carry and can usually only see when they start playing out in the relationship. The deepest level of truth that is important is being true to yourself, by that I mean here not lying to yourself but facing yourself. Hopefully if both people are committed to that truth, that work, then they can develop deep truthfulness to each other as the nurture the environment of mutual growth.

    I appreciate your thoughts here. But I am trying to look at a deeper aspect of relationships. Ultimately, I would say the primary purpose of relationships isn't the mutual love of the couple but each of their participation in the evolution of consciousness on the planet. That only happens when we face our inner complexes and unravel them. Too many couples stay together, remain faithful and honest (in an external sense) and never grow. Instead they seem to have a mutual pact never to challenge each other too much to force them to look within.

    I am not condoning unfaithfulness, cheating or any such behavior. Rather I am trying to point to the mystery of human relationships that goes much deeper than social, tribal or cultural mores.

  6. This is part of my comment that I just wrote under the John Edwards article by David Rickey, and it applies to Cassandra's dilemma as well . . .

    Is it pure naivety when people commit totally to each other in a marriage ceremony? Is it pure blindness that couples still believe in the concept of one lasting love?

    Many spiritual scriptures point out that as long as one is relying on the personality, the ego, the small ‘S’ self as the source of attraction in a relationship — the relationship is limited.

    In these days a new paradigm is evoloving, and we all are learning how to build 'relationship' upon the aspect of ourselves which is infinite, unconditioned — and is love.

    The leading social figures of today cannot lead the way; It is up to us. We are the initiator of the new emergent paradigm of relationship — relationship which is based on the big ‘S’ self, and the greater aspect of our being.

  7. "Have you tried a responsible or a non-responsible, non-monogamous lifestyle? (Sorry, I know there are a lotta nons here.) Have you tried to interact with partners outside of the definition of “relationships?” "

    Yes I have. I had one episode of drunken "cheating" when I was 20 and decided I didn't want to do that again. I never told him, we later married and eventually divorced 18 years later.

    Since my divorce, I have been polyamorous. About 50% of my close friends are polyamorous or non-monogamous. All of our relationships are based on truth...not because telling a lie is "wrong." Rather, it's simply that truth is the only way I can be in integrity with myself. Being in integrity with myself is the way to my inner peace and happiness. Selfish hedonists like me want to be happy, ergo I tell the truth.

    The couples I know who practice conscious polyamory are the most highly functioning couples I know. Their level of intimacy far surpasses any I have seen in any monogamous relationship. Why? Because they must constantly tell the truth to themselves and their partners in order to maintain the relationship.

    It's scary...jealousies are huge and wonderful vehicles to find those places of growth:

    Will s/he leave me? If so, what does that mean about me if my partner is attracted to another? Am I good enough to still be wanted? What does it mean about my future ability to feel safe enough to open my heart? How will I be able to trust? Can I continue to extend love in the middle of pain? Or do I react and need to make the outer world fit my needs to find inner peace and still love my partner for choosing someone who isn't me? Can my ego withstand not being the center of his/her world? What happens when I let go of controlling my lover and allow him/her to be all she is?...etc.

    Juicy stuff.

    ...and which are all reflections of spiritual questions we ask ourselves in relation to life and God, yes?

    Polyamory is NOT easy. People often point to it being an "out." That has not been my experience at all. Done consciously, I've found it to be one of the most powerful vehicles for growth of the highest order. What better way to play than to put us in the fire? Again...with the qualifiers of consciousness. Because just as any vehicle, non-monogamy of any flavor can also be the supreme vehicle for un- .

    Blessings in your choices. My prayer for you is that you live life fully...whatever that means to you as there is no "right and wrong" of it all, just The Dance, all leading to opportunity for opening to our Spirits even more. It feels to me that the answers to your quesions are within the questions and the reflections of your life. Could it be that Life is gifting you with showing you who you are and how you want to be/do it?

  8. wow, pamm what an amazing response! you are one brave and truthful woman!

  9. I agree. Wow, Pamm! To enter into every encounter consciously seeking self-awareness as well as compassion and love of the other person is a wonderful journey. This ought to be the way we relate to everyone we encounter, not just our "amorous" encounters. It could even bring world peace if we only learned how to treat others as "thou" and not "it" (to paraphrase Martin Buber).

  10. Pamm, please write a book -- or take over this site!

    "It’s scary…jealousies are huge and wonderful vehicles to find those places of growth"

    And as you wrote, these plays in form we perform constitute A DANCE.

    Now I know why some people shy away from commenting on this site . . . some of the material is so intense. When we read this . . . we go inside :)

  11. Pamm, I really love your comments about truth. I think it's the 1st order of business - without truth at the core, everything becomes a falsehood.

    You go, girl :)

  12. thanks for all of the comments, they have led me to do a lot of reflection in the past few days. i think that i don't want to get emotionally close to the men in my life (or people in general) and that's why i always have two "relationships" going at the same time. i can never truly commit to one person this way.

    wow, i have a lot of internal work to do. i thank this site for allowing me to get my issues out there and to get feedback that otherwise i don't know where i would get (for free too :)

  13. And we are here for You, C

    Thank you for your openness and courage and trust.

  14. Pam, you did a great job introducing Polyamory. The keys are honesty, mutual respect and strong self-confidence. I believe that forced monogamy leads to cheating and/or disengagement. The urge to be sexually intimate with more than one person is natural. Polyamory is an alternative to serial monogamy, reducing or eliminating separation turmoil. True love never dies. Why should the relationship?

    There is a wealth of information available on-line to anyone with goggle.

  15. Just when you think you know love, there is more to learn. Love therefore is a desire to complete oneself in several dimensions of our personalities. There are times when it brings out the dark sides, but those are the times that one learns more about oneself and more about love.

    My only advice would be for her to evaluate what makes her choose to move outside an existing relationship and see if there are areas of development that will help her get around it.

  16. I have an alternative health practice that goes fairly deeply into the psychological aspects of health. Part of my practice is taking pulse and looking at palm lines and facial lines. Not from a fortune telling point of view, but from a health point of view.

    There are certain lines that suggest the person is less likely to be faithful. The lines are pretty accurate, and if you add in 3 or 4 other lines, for example, one that suggests the person gets negative with a partner, and you can be quite assured the person is inclined to cheat and likely has. Surprisingly, way more women have these lines than men. And, when I point these lines out they all sheepishly admit they have been unfaithful, and usually more than once.

    One day I saw 5 women. Four of them were having affairs. I don't know about the 5th, but she was 80, so I doubt it.

    I think monogamy is not only difficult, but probably isn't really happening in any meaningful sense.

    I have a gay friend who is in a committed relationship. I asked him if he and his partner were monogamous. "Oh, yes, for sure," he said, "Mainly, I mean, of course." That was an honest answer. I think most heterosexual couples are the same, only when something comes out it destroys everyone's life. My gay friend comes homes from a business trip and says, 'wow, guess what happened to me', and his partner gets it, and is more or less fine with it.

  17. I think there are several issues. First there is honesty. Cheating is never good. Rather than "cheat," open the relationship if the other person is amenable. If not, either be faithful to the relationship or gently move on. It seems that many people want to eat their cake and have it, too. The second issue is that it is very, very difficult to fight society. Non-monogamy subjects one to a variety of problems. There is the legal issue of polygamy or bigamy. There is the judgment of society that you are a "pervert." Then there is the judgment of your family and friends, many of whom will feel threatened by a non-monogamous lifestyle. Of course, there are the STD issues, but I assume you're bright enough to avoid most of them.
    Most importantly, though, there is the other person to consider. If we are not very, very careful, the other person in an theoretically committed relationship can be very wounded by being non-monogamous. It brings up so many primal fears and feelings of abandonment. If you want to be non-monogamous, don't try to hang on to a committed relationship and "cheat" at the same time. It sounds to me like you're looking at what YOU want, rather than what is good for everyone in the relationship. You want the security of a committed relationship and the freedom to roam. Somehow, I don't think that is going to be good karma in the long run.

  18. Thanks for your comments John. I agree that I have probably accumulated some bad karma along the way :( Hopefully my other actions and activities will cancel some of that out.

    I've been monogamous for 7 months now, which could be an all time record. I am very happy in my current relationship... maybe it has something to do with getting older, realizing no one (including myself is perfect), and to make the most of the time I have here on Earth and the people I choose to be around. I feel a wonderful sense of peace and this forum has helped me with that.

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