News.com.au's readers' issues reporter Matt Young

Matt Young talks “monogamish”

THERE are two types of people in this world: the ones who attract relationships, and the ones who don’t.

I happen to fit in the latter category, as I jokingly said to a friend recently on the fifth anniversary of my own bachelordom.

“You know why?” he asked in response.

“Because guys view you as a mistress. You’re not wife material.”

Um, what?

Initially brushing off my friend’s theory, it came crashing back at me like a comedown at Mardi Gras when a few days later a “buddy” told me that he had met someone, and to continue our relationship we needed to keep things “discreet”.

It’s a common perception that homosexual men are far more frivolous than their heterosexual counterparts and while I declined my now ex-buddy’s offer, my own sexual history flashed before my eyes and in that enlightening moment I wondered if perhaps, just perhaps, my friend might be right.

In fact, one study has shown that gay relationships are more successful if they’re “monogamish” – a phrase coined by gay author Dan Savage that refers to gay relationships which are mostly monogamous, but with a bit of “wriggle room”.

The study of 800 men by New York’s Centre for HIV Educational Studies and Training showed some surprising stats. Around 40 per cent of respondents said they were partnered, with 42 per cent of those claiming to be in open or “monogamish” relationships.

“The diversity in types of non-monogamous relationships was interesting and something that hasn’t been explored very much in research studies,” said Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, who headed the study.

“Typically gay men have been categorized as monogamous or not – and our data shows that it is not as black and white.”

The men in these types of relationships showed lower depression rates in comparison to their single counterparts and a higher rate of life satisfaction than those in closed relationships.

“Often people may assume that… non- monogamous relationships are inherently ‘less healthy’ in some way,” researcher Dr. Tyrel Starks said.

But apparently, they’re not. So are we onto something here? Have we broken the circle of life? And if we have, why do I feel like a sucker (and not in a good way)?

Is my choice of bad relationships and bad boys to blame for the label?

I remember when I was younger I used to say such things like ‘I’ll never have a threesome”, and “I’ll never have sex before I know my relationship is legit,” but the harsh reality is that relationships don’t work that way in the gay world. We’re complicated individuals, driven by sex, materialism and our dicks.

Does that make me want to be someone’s mistress? Hell no.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple’s bedtime fantasies and the one thing I’ve learned is that they’re never forever.

I want forever.

I almost feel like it’s just become okay to sleep around. But after years of revolving doors and several partners, I can’t help but wonder if my brain has normalised my behaviour into something that I believe is acceptable to my partner’s – and the community. And on the flip side, have my partners become so normalised they think it’s okay to keep me as a tasty side?

The answer came from an unlikely source – Siri.

Without even discussing the topic with another friend of mine, I received a text message a few days after the “mistress” fiasco that set me on the right path.

“Weirdest Siri experience yet”, the text said, with a picture alongside what looked to be a frustrating discussion with Apple’s virtual personal assistant.

“Do you want me to remember that Young, Matt is your wife?”

Just like that, out of the blue.

If that’s not the universe telling me something, I don’t know what is.

There’s still hope. There’s still forever.

Matt Young is a journalist for news.com.au where he is often seen reporting on LGBTI issues to a national, mainstream audience. He tweets under @mattyoung

Thinking of becoming “monogamish”? Gay men’s counsellor Gerry North has some tips for you here.

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