Earlier today, I stumbled across this article:

It seems like men have been doing this for as long as time itself, whether through the use of prostitutes, courtesans, geisha, or simply having mistresses. However, now it’s “therapy” for women?

Not sure I’m buying that. It’s way easy to work out your issues…physical, mental, emotional….with someone who isn’t your partner, is non-threatening to you, isn’t there to judge you, and has a selfish interest in making you feel better about yourself. However, the hard work is working on those issues with your partner in the context of a committed and loving relationship.

No doubt, when issues of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse occur, therapy is necessary. But therapy in the form of having sex with someone who isn’t your partner isn’t therapy, any more than working out your issues by getting drunk, doing drugs, or picking up strangers at a bar. If you’re not working on building your relationship by working through your shit within that relationship, the foundation of your relationship isn’t as strong as you think. “I used to be scared of sexual relationships, but now I’m married because my partner and I have a great sex life because I figured it out through great sex with a stranger” seems shallow and false on so many levels.

If that’s not true, if I’m wrong, why all the endless struggle to be a monogamous society, and why all the endless condemnation for the two-thirds of us that typically fall short of that goal? Why not accept “I’d be a better wife/husband if I could have occasional sex with someone who understood me better/nagged me less/made me feel more special/did crazier stuff in bed.” as a valid viewpoint for how relationships are conducted?

I absolutely believed that to be a valid viewpoint for a very long time….hence the polyamoury….and part of me still does. But it’s not to be confused with therapy, working on yourself, or addressing your issues between yourself and your partner.

In much the same way that buying a vibrator or watching porn isn’t a substitute for communicating with your partner about a less-than-ideal sex life, simply having sex with someone who’s good at having sex isn’t a substitute for working through issues, whether personal or relationship-oriented. The effects of rape, incest, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse are long-term and difficult to get over, and learning to have a healthy, loving relationship after those experiences can be difficult. Instead of teaching survivors how to trust intimacy, isn’t it a better idea to teach how to trust intimacy with your partner? And if said partner doesn’t have the patience or emotional depth to work on those issues, isn’t it better to teach finding a more compatible partner?

Part of the problem with psychiatric health and emotional healing nowadays is that everything is a form of therapy, and nearly everything is an addiction or a compulsive behavior. If taking an experienced and talented lover is therapy for sexual problems, I want to see the return of prescriptions for cocaine and opium for anxiety and depression. Maybe we’re just trying to make the treatments out there more enjoyable, and with less side effects than the little pills your doctor is liable to hand you for whatever ails you.