The Love Goddess: Are We Too Far Gone for Monogamy?

The impact of women’s sexual histories on lifelong fidelity …

Editor’s Note: Who is the wisest of them all? Who is more dedicated to your pleasure than anyone on earth? Who can help you when you’re going online for the first time to find love; or when your lover’s children hate you; or when you want to strangle your husband? Why, the Love Goddess, of course. She promises nothing less than celestial wisdom, heavenly sex, divine dating. Read on …

I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t feel passionately about all the adultery going on around us, be it David Letterman’s or Bernie Madoff’s. I hate many aspects of the same old dramas — but I no longer see them as the powerful taking advantage of the not-so-powerful and the pious being hideously hypocritical. I don’t see victims in some of these liaisons the way I might once have.

Perhaps the wives of these adulterous men in the news aren’t having affairs, but trust me, many other wives are. While most married with the idea of being faithful, let me ask you this: What can the notion of lifelong monogamy possibly mean to a young woman who has had 50 lovers at the time she marries? (If you’re wincing at that figure, don’t; it’s a modest one, given that a girl is statistically likely to start having sex at the age of 15 and not marry until she’s 27. Which gives her 13 years during which she is trying out different kinds of lovers, at a rate of roughly four lovers a year, unless she has an ongoing exclusive relationship for a few of those years.) Some earth girls I’ve spoken with have counted 100 lovers before they married. (Most goddesses? Well, they’ve simply lost count.) 

The impact of premarital sex on marital fidelity in all the research I’ve seen is simple: A woman, just like a man, is more likely to have extramarital sex if she has had premarital sex. And she’s particularly likely to do so if she has had a wide variety of lovers rather than following a pattern of serial monogamy. You tend to do what you have always done; it’s hard — with sex as with drinking coffee — to break the habit.   

Women over, say, 45, simply can’t understand what words like “permanence” and “sexual fidelity” mean to a young woman of 24. Why? Because that young woman can only define those words in her imagination. They’re an ideal. She may never even have witnessed them among the adults she knows, let alone lived them. And this same young woman can’t imagine precisely how restrictive marriage is going to be, because unlike women before her, she has never lived in such a restricted way.

I’m happily married. I’m not saying marriage is a bad idea. And I’m not suggesting that marriage cease to be a binding, sexually exclusive contract. I’m not saying we won’t go on being shocked at the infidelity around us. But I am saying this: Fidelity in marriage today is hugely difficult for our sexually sophisticated young women and men. And we make a mistake perpetuating the myth that marriage is the last stop in a long, young life of unheard-of-before sexual activity. We could begin to help couples who opt to become faithful dig deeply into their sexual habits. We could begin to help them deal with the difficulty implicit in breaking their habits. We could help them negotiate for themselves the thorny issues of the words we hold so dear — “permanence” and “fidelity.” 

And we can stop thinking of all women who sleep with powerful men as unwitting victims. They may have entered the relationship as casually as the men did.

Like all savvy goddesses, the Love Goddess has her own site, which you can visit by clicking here.

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