chapter  9
20 Pages

A Different Affair? Openness and Nonmonogamy in Same Sex Relationships

WithBrian Heaphy, Catherine Donovan, Jeffrey Weeks

Monogamy remains highly salient as a marker of commitment and stability in contemporary constructions of heterosexual partnerships, where nonmonogamy is equated with infidelity. In contrast, much of the existing research suggests that sexual nonexclusivity is commonly acknowledged in same sex relationships and often normalized in gay male partnerships. It has been argued that the prevalence of "open" same sex relationships can be understood in terms of an "erotic ethics" that exists amongst lesbians and gay men, one that emphasizes sexual freedom and separates sex from the conventional meanings it is afforded in heterosexual relationships. Such an ethics allows for a negotiable relation between sexual and emotional commitments in nonheterosexual partnerships. It is therefore likely that meanings attached to "affairs" can vary significantly across heterosexual and nonheterosexual cultures. The degree to which creativity is central to lesbian and gay experience is widely noted in the literature on nonheterosexual lifestyles, and is a recurring theme in lesbian and gay coming out stories.