Who is happier: the promiscuous lover, jumping from bed to bed with the frequency of a character from an ABC sitcom, or the monogamous person who only has sex with one partner?
I guess that depends what you mean by “happy.”
Believe it or not, scholars have actually researched “happiness,” specifically comparing the promiscuous to the monogamous. I talked about this a lot in my book Sex Matters.
That’s why this Psychology Today article particularly intrigued me. In this candid (and almost uncomfortable) article, Mark White, Ph.D., offers some honest insight into perceived “happiness.” He begins the article declaring, “it doesn’t take much to see that monogamy and promiscuity can each give a person happiness, albeit likely two different kinds”:
Promiscuity- thrill of the momen
Promiscuity, or “non-monogamy” as he calls it, brings “excitement of variety, the thrill of the unknown, and the pure physical bliss of sex, untethered by any emotional attachment or anxiety.”
Monogamy- longer lasting fulfillment
On the other hand, monogamy provides “a deeper, longer-lasting, and more fulfilling type of happiness that enhances any other aspects of one’s life.”
Which sounds better?
What if you didn’t have to choose?
Dr. White’s conclusion surprised me. In short, he suggested… why not get the best of both worlds and just have promiscuous thrill with your monogamous spouse? His exact words:
Of course, the ideal would be to find the more hedonic, animalistic pleasure with his or her spouse or partner instead of looking for it outside the marriage or relationship, and to a certain extent that can be done. (Psychology Today, 3/12/11)
As a person married to the same woman for close to 25 years, this made me almost stand up and cheer! I love when Biblical truth is revealed from the most unlikely sources.
So let’s look at three ways we can find animalistic pleasure with our spouses:
1) The “ideal” sex is good sex within a marriage. Note, not just sex within marriage, but good sex within marriage. Let’s be honest. Who wants boring sex? Dr. White seems to be endorsing kinky, wild, unrestrained, bed-breaking sex … all within the context of marriage. Even if you don’t agree with his wording, don’t disregard his insight. You can have hot sex in marriage.
Newsflash: It ain’t sin to have really passionate, uninhibited sex with your spouse, enjoying each other to the fullest! Hot sex doesn’t require sin! Good sex doesn’t flow from porn! Bed-breaking sex doesn’t necessitate multiple partners! God designed you with all the pleasure sensors you need, just the two of you.
2) The more you lust after others, the less likely it becomes that the person lying next to you will meet your needs. Dr. White says it plainly. If the thrill of sex comes to you from that variety of the unknown, then you might be disappointed with the same ol’ thing. That’s an uncomfortable fact to think about, but I think it brings up an interesting observation: people who “look around” will only be as happy as the next big conquest. In other words, their happiness is contingent on happenings to happen. If these happenings don’t happen … no happiness. It’s a sad existence. The grass ain’t greener next door; fertilize your own lawn.
3) Monogamous relationships run the risk of becoming boring only when we stop putting effort into them. Dr. White admits the “ideal” would be to have hot sex in marriage. Then why does marital sex get such a bad rap? This stigma doesn’t reveal a design flaw in monogamy; I think it reveals our inherent selfishness and laziness. Satan loves this. He loves it when spouses are no longer creative and romantic, because when married couples stop putting effort into meeting each other’s needs… affairs become appealing. And that’s too bad.
Long story short: look to one another and you’ll discover the most satisfying sex you could ever have is with the person you’re already married to.