I often use the term “restrictive sexuality” when referring to monogamy. This is deliberate.

I’ve been told I’m being mean, judgmental, negative, and a variety of other things when I use the term “restrictive sexuality.” This amuses me, of course.

I look at how different people differentiate themselves from others and a lot of what I see all appears to be about the same thing — the rules under which one may or may not engage in adult relationships.

Different cliques have different rules, but essentially, it’s all rules.

Even the folks who claim to “monogamy” have certain rules on how to do this (often these involve certain specific time-lengths of guilt, certain forms of “confession” and other social games).

So, are the rules “good” or “bad”? I can’t q-u-i-t-e bring myself to just declare “If everyone involved is happy, it’s fine” because, well (as my friend Franklin’s pointed out), Stockholm Syndrome. But that kind of abusive behavior is an outlier. Obviously, I’m not talking about abusive situations, or coercive situations. So, in general, does it matter? If everyone involved is happy, does it matter the rules under which they operate.

The relaxed live-and-let-live part of me wants to say “Sure! Everybody’s got freedom, man!”

But there’s another part of me that looks past the specific group of people I’m talking about. There’s a part of me that looks at a society where people still on occasion suggest that infidelity is a just cause for murder. I’m still looking at a society where women are seen as the property and decorative baubles of men, and where men are seen by women as machines that squirt cash and status when properly massaged. I’m looking at a society that hears the notion of “It’s okay to love someone” and starts worrying about whether or not their plumbing is correct or whether or not the overall genital-count is correct. Often, this fear manifests as “But aren’t you afraid you’ll be rejected by your friends? By your loved ones?”

The part of me that sees all that says “Yes, in fact, it does matter under which rules they operate.”

Because there’s no end of unhappiness associated with this kind of model, and maybe this couple or that group are happy with it, and god bless ‘em if they are, but the question no one is asking is “How many failure results indicate a system failure?” How many divorces, how many regretted lives, how many people hurt or even killed as a result of the society-wide notion that people, basically, are things? History is filled with this kind of pain. Our greatest literature, our greatest poetry, our music, our movies, our fortune cookies, our comic strips, our puppet shows, our soap operas, and more, are all filled with examples.

I’m not going to say that I know where that line is, but I’m pretty sure there must be a line somewhere, and when (to bandy about a statistic I have not researched) more than half of all marriages end unhappily, I think it’s worth asking about that line.

I think there is a systemic glitch in how we view relationships (and that’s me being diplomatic, by the way).

I think a big part of that comes from people treating each other as if they were things instead of people. Prizes, catches, conquests, achievements, etc. Things to control. Things to “lock down.”

So, I’m tired of pretending that’s normal. I think it’s pretty messed up. I think if we’re going to make strides and change the world to be a place where people treat each other as people instead of things, then we need to start from the very basement, from the foundations.

We need to change how we think.

And we think in language.

So, I’m not going to refer to “non-monogamy” and “monogamy.” It’s all a variation on restrictions. Some more than others.

I’m going to refer to “restrictive sexuality.” So the unasked questions “What are your restrictions?” are no longer assumed or glossed over. They exist, and they have an effect. I’m not seeing a lot of evidence it’s necessarily a great effect.

And if people get fussy about that, well, that’s too bad. They can claim it’s un-nonrestricted and see how far they get.

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