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    More on Gay Male Monogamy

    By Tom Moon, MFT–

    From a Reader: I read what you wrote in your last column (August 9) about young gay men preferring monogamy, and all I can say is that, based on my recent experience, you sure could have fooled me. I wanted to introduce my new partner Gabriel to my friends, so I took him to an event where they were all present. Gabe is a super hot guy, and maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised at what happened, but the minute we walked in, they were all over him. Even though I kept introducing him as my other half it didn’t seem to matter. They were pawing him, making sexual comments and flirting with him as if I weren’t even there. And then, as we were leaving, one of them pulled out his phone and asked him, “Can I get your number?” I was so shocked that I didn’t say a word, but I’m proud of how Gabe handled it. He took my hand and asked him, “This man is your friend, right?” When the guy said yes, he said, “So why are you coming on to his boyfriend right in front of him?” Without waiting for an answer, he led us out the door. By the time we got home, I was boiling. I was also kicking myself for wimping out. I guess I didn’t speak up because I didn’t want to come off like a jealous, possessive boyfriend. But Gabriel and I are going to get married, and all of my friends know it. Gabe got over it pretty quick. He said, “Gay guys are dogs. What do you expect?” But I’m still upset. My question is, should I talk to my friends about this, or should I just forget about it?

    Answer: There’s no question about it—you have to tell your friends how you feel about their behavior. You won’t feel good about yourself until you do; and if you say nothing, they’ll think you were fine with it, and it will continue. It is appropriate for you to expect your friends to honor someone who is precious to you, and to respect your boundaries. It’s a cynical capitulation to shrug the whole incident off with the cliché that gay men are dogs.

    Your friends are human beings, and they should be capable of treating you and Gabriel—and themselves—with dignity and ordinary human respect. I suggest that you wait until your anger has subsided, and then find a time when you feel able to treat them with the same dignity and respect that you want from them. Be firm about your boundaries, but avoid hostility and judgments.

    That said, this incident highlights a mitigating factor, which might temper your indignation. It is that the gay male community is still evolving in its attitudes and customs about relationships. The option of marriage, for instance, is still something relatively new. If monogamous commitments are more common than they once were, monogamy as such is by no means a universally shared value. At this time in our history, collisions of differing assumptions about what it means to be a couple, and how we are supposed to treat the couples in our lives, are inevitable.

    Gay couples can’t assume that everyone in the community is on the same page about what constitutes appropriate boundaries. Many guys believe, for instance, that anyone they see in a gay bar is fair game, even if they are obviously a couple—and some couples are fine with that. That’s why it will be important, going forward, for you and Gabriel to be prepared to make it clear what your boundaries are.

    I should also add that, in supporting your right to monogamy, I’m not suggesting that monogamy is superior or more preferable than non-monogamy for everyone. One of the things that we of all people should understand is that variety is the spice of life. Over the years I’ve seen couples thrive in both open and monogamous relationships, and the passionate debates about which way is “better” have always struck me as foolish. There can never be a one-size-fits-all standard for how to conduct our sex and love lives. But one core value on which we all ought to be able to agree is that diversity should be respected and honored.

    Tom Moon is a psychotherapist in San Francisco. For more information, please visit his website http://tommoon.net/