Deepak Kashyap is a counselling psychologist and a certified life-skills trainer with a private practice in Mumbai, India. He is a published columnist in national newspapers and magazines, writing about issues related to sex, mental health, relationships, and emotional disturbances. He also performs the role of counseling psychologist for several television chat shows and reality shows, having appeared on various national and international news channels, talk shows, and debates on television as well as on radio and in newspapers, discussing mental health and LGBT issues. Deepak holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English (honors) and Psychology from University of Pune, India, and a Master’s Degree in the Psychology of Education from the University of Bristol, UK. He has been formally trained in REBT and CBT intensive psychotherapy programs from Albert Ellis Institute, New York, USA.
Why do you think infidelity did not matter earlier as much as it does now?
See, it is because of feminism. Instead of giving women the same right to sleep with other men or whoever they choose to, it took away that right from men to sleep with other women, in order to make things equal. Feminism imposed monogamy as the higher model to follow. Monogamy became moral, not just practical.
Monogamy is practical. It takes so much more energy to maintain multiple lovers.
But the fact is, humans are the only species that can simultaneously be in love with two or more people genuinely.
You believe that it is possible?
I don’t just believe it, I know it. Even dolphins mate for life, but with multiple partners. If you want to understand infidelity, you have to understand the history of monogamy. Historically, humans started getting married, became monogamous only when they started growing food and owning property. Even today, if you study nomadic tribes, they don’t have marriages the way we do. They have multiple wives, one woman having more than one husband, one wife with brothers sharing her, that is, she is a wife to all of them. So now, in our context, if I have property, I need to make sure it goes to my son only, so my wife will sleep only with me.
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To a great extent, monogamy was driven by the issue of property. So, I am your pati, your owner. You will put some marks on your body, and you will take my last name. You are my property. This is true about almost all cultures. When we started owning property, we started owning people. Slavery started around the same time.
Marriage, in its initial stages, was just like slavery. The Judeo-Christian thought of one man and one woman also bolstered the argument for monogamy. So, the idea of forcing another human being, against their will and the use of their body, is old, but quite new, considering how long we have been on this planet.
So now, women started demanding rights, we are not just property, we want to vote. The vote gives you the power to decide your future and have a say in what policies get made, at least in theory. And then, women got relative control over their bodies through the contraceptive pill and other menstrual aids. I can have sex with anyone without others necessarily getting to know about it. In retaliation, came the thought that the church, the temple, the mosque owns your body. You don’t own it. That’s why there is a problem of giving rights to gay people, no? But straight people have changed the idea of marriage over the past hundred years. Because marriage, in a civilized society, in theory, no longer means that you own the woman. She can divorce you. Now a marriage is a contract between two politically autonomous individuals.
Related reading: Our relationships are as complicated as our coffees these days!
When morality is imposed on a concept, it increases its complexities many folds. Imagine, you are marrying a man, and you say to him, tum saat janam tak mere saath rahoge, and is janam toh definitely. You are extracting commitmentfrom someone and you know that it may be possible that they can’t keep their promise or that it is rather impossible to keep it. So it is a tool of religion to give an unattainable ideal, so that you fall all the time, and then you feel guilty, and it’s easy to control guilty people.
So, why the need for being faithful now?
This need was always there, only the expression has changed. Romance, is like any other emotion. It gives you the illusion of certainty. Like, if I am angry with you, I am certain you have done something wrong. If I am in love with you, I am certain that I can be monogamous for the rest of my life. So human beings don’t always know the promises they are making. But that doesn’t mean that they are liars, or they are weak, they are just ambitious. And when someone breaks a vow, it is important how it is being interpreted. Is it a personal attack, or frailties of human nature?
According to the National AIDS Organization, 80% of gay men are married to women.
So the woman keeps thinking, am I not pretty enough? Why is he not touching me? She keeps taking it personally. The reason that you take everything personally is, because very few people come as close to you, as your lover. He knows your dreams, fears, hopes; he knows where you are vulnerable. So in his human capacity if he disappoints you a little, he is more likely to sadden you than the outer ring of the circle.
But that is the idea, that we take someone in the center of our lives, which is the ecstasy of romance. Because, as someone wise said, we are so scared of death, that love is the only romantic solution to the misery of death. It seems to be the only way I can live longer than my flesh, and also through my children. We are so terrified of dying and being meaningless; we want that at least one person, who thinks that we are indispensable.