……. in human sexual behaviour, is the practice of casual sex with multiple sexual partners.
– What is it that draws individuals, in a relationship, to experiment with others outside their own bedroom?
– Why are they not able to talk to their partners about it and keeping it a secret?
– When their partner does know, is that still acceptable?
These were the 3 main questions that came into my mind after a recent session with a client. She told me in our 2nd session that she was sleeping with other people without her girlfriend knowing about it. When she paused, it felt as though she wanted to shock me or see if I would judge her for it. I stayed neutral and didn’t offer her a response, to which she continued to tell me how wonderful and excited she felt on her way to her encounters. I asked her how she felt afterwards on her way back home and she became silent.
Promiscuity happens in any form of relationships, gay, straight, bi but it is most associated with gay relationships. It is seen as something that the gay community does – be unfaithful or have multiple sexual partners (If you have to believe the newspapers, articles and judgmental people you speak to who stereotype the gay community). I find sometimes that both words, gay and promiscuous, come hand in hand and one doesn’t go without the other. Perhaps the gay community are more open minded, vocal and accepting about this? Okay rant over, coming back to the questions I asked myself.
1) What is it that draws individuals, in a relationship, to experiment with others outside their own bedroom?
I guess everyone has their own story, reasoning and justifiable explanation as to what it is that draws them to promiscuity. On reflection one possibility is that they could be unhappy with their partner’s sexual performance or attention they get or lack from their partner. Another factor could be that they struggle with abandonment issues and would rather cheat first than be cheated on or abandoned by their partners. This ‘control’ could make them feel like they have the upperhand, even though deep down, all they are doing is reinforcing their own, often subconscious, self-belief by abandoning themselves. Or simply they just enjoy having sex with different people?
This could draw them to other peoples’ bedrooms to have their needs met. Others might be self-conscious and or insecure about their own bodies. They would get a positive stroke from others when they are seen as attractive or as sexual human beings, which in turn releases sexual endorphins. Their own shadow of insecurity takes over the ‘adult’ thinking and forgets about the risks involved which leads them down the path of adultery. They could be in the most perfect relationship but would place that at risk. Their partners could find out or they could infect them and others with a sexual transmittable disease (STD). This can still happen when being safe and with the use of a condom, for example. Worst case scenario would be if you would spread HIV or one of the other tough to beat or untreatable illnesses. (For more info check out this website www.gmfa.org.uk).
Being insecure about yourself or when feeling insecure whilst being with your partner, could cause great distress. Perhaps there are different options you could consider rather than searching for the constant stroke. Talking about it can help, either to each other, so you can help one another or friends and family. Alternatively you can seek external help and a counsellor or therapist might be helpful.
2) Why are they not able to talk to their partners about it and keeping it a secret?
If this is something that has been on your mind recently and you find yourself racked with guilt, perhaps ask yourself how you would feel if your partner did this without your knowledge. If this is a problem area to talk about with your partner, you could consider what the difficulties would be and the possible responses you could get. That way you are prepared in any scenario and would have worked it through in your head beforehand. Perhaps even try role-play with your best friend. In most cases there is a large element of shame within ourselves what we fear to face. What is that fear and shame, how and why is this stopping us from thinking clearly and making ‘adult’ decisions? When you are able to face your shame you are getting closer to the real self within you. It is not always easy to look at yourself and analyse what is going on within you. It is much easier to ignore this and hide behind the shame, however it is important that you start looking at it, paying it attention and listen to what your body and mind are trying to tell you. This way you will get closer to your inner you and start understanding what could possibly be happening with you.
It would of course be the best course of action if you would discuss the possibilities of having an open relationship before you step into anybody else’s bed. Unfortunately our hormones take over at times and don’t leave enough space for thinking things through before acting.
3) When their partner does know is that still acceptable?
The law doesn’t stipulate that you cannot be promiscuous even when you have your partner’s consent. My opinion is that if two adults make an agreement to have an open relationship, it is very similar and comparable to agreeing on which friends you see separately from each other. This will only work as long as it truly stays an open relationship whereby both partners commit to the boundaries they agree to, this requires great trust within the relationship. Then there is of course the option to bring a 3rd into your own bedroom! But that is a whole different story.
Coming back to my client – Asking her how she felt afterwards on her way back home, made her think and reflect on her feelings. She was then able to explore why she was doing all of this. She started to look at herself from a different angle and she saw what she was doing and how she was hurting the person she loved most. It took us quite some time to work through her insecurities and the shame that she had built up around her.
The ultimate question would still be, what is it that draws us to other people, what are we trying to run away from, hide behind or cover up? Are you unhappy with your partner? Or can the answers be found within ourselves? Are you able to see a pattern in your life or realise that an event early on in your childhood has formed your insecurities?
I have witnessed too many relationships break up because of insecurity and self-doubt. It can be prevented if you talk about it. There are many ways and people out there that are there to help you. If you feel that you can’t talk to family or friends then professional help is always an option. This way you don’t have to hide anything and you can be true to yourself without having to take too many risks.
Be true to yourself and others.