Okay, I’m going to try veerrrry hard and restrain my Schadenfreude here while I share some very sad news with you:
Holly Hill believed so strongly that humans are not built to be faithful that she appeared on television and wrote books advocating open relationships.
The Australian author claimed that the only healthy way to have a modern relationship was to allow your partner to have sex with other people, and do the same yourself.
But after insisting that allowing her boyfriend to cheat three nights a week kept them strong, she now admits it destroyed them.
Ms Hill became an ‘anti monogamist’ after an ill-fated fling with a married man in 2006. John* never intended to leave his wife, she revealed, but wanted to sleep with somebody else.
After a painful break-up, Ms Hill was determined to use her psychology degree from the University of Southern Queensland to find out why.
She came to the conclusion that men were hardwired to need sex from more than one person, and that humans were not made to have exclusive relationships.
“Need”? Or just want? Sure makes it sound like those poor dear men are just slaves to their hormones, eh? Instead of what I suspect was really the case: that “John” was just your standard rich cad, who wanted to have his cake and eat it too, reasoning that since he could afford more than one slice, he’d be a fool not to buy seconds. Never mind who it ultimately hurt.
Ms Hill shared that view with anyone who would listen, and shocked and angered many commentators as she expounded her theories on CNN and Larry King.
She wrote a novel, Sugarbabe, about her year-long adventures with older men, and another called Toyboy.
A novel? It was nonfiction, or so I heard. But it might as well have been fiction, considering the hogwash it expounded.
But now her dogmatic opinion has completely changed, she told Grazia magazine in an interview.
Ms Hill and her ex-boyfriend, Phil*, drew up a contract to determine how they would operate.
They vetoed anything they felt would make them jealous – in Ms Hill’s case, her partner taking other women on romantic weekends away or buying them gifts.
Yep, that sure sounds like a fine, open, modern, feminist relationship right there. Right off the bat, jealousy entered into the picture and threw everything off kilter, forcing them to close off certain areas as no-go zones. Other women were to be relegated to second-class status. Just like old-fashioned mistresses, who only get to see their men “on the side”, but not for major holidays, and not to travel openly with them. (I’m sorry, there’s that word open again!)
She told CNN in 2010: ‘One of the main things that I have learned is that a woman that negotiates infidelity with her partner is far more powerful than a woman who is sitting home wondering why he’s late from the office Christmas party.
‘It’s better to walk the dog on a leash than let it escape through an unseen hole in the back fence.’
Because all men are dogs, right? And we all know that those poor dogs are just hard-wired to hump every bitch in heat that they can find. (At least, until their humans take them to the vet for that little operation. And yes, I am being totally sarcastic here.)
But rather than eliminating jealousy, Ms Hill became completely paranoid, shedding two stone in weight and obsessively comparing herself to the other women Phil was seeing.
She said: ‘I was staggered by the effect our infidelity was having on me. I’d committed myself to the belief that monogamy was outdated and to have to even consider I was wrong was incredibly tough.’
Her boyfriend, who had previously enjoyed watching her flirt with other men at parties, now said he felt emasculated by the situation – and last summer they split.
‘I was devastated,’ said Ms Hill. ‘When it was just the two of us our relationship was incredible. But we’d ruined it by being “unfaithful” – ironically, the one thing I thought would save our relationship.’
The two are still friends and Phil is now seeing a woman who insists on monogamy – something Phil says has actually restored his confidence.
Ms Hill, too, is dating somebody new, and is feeling optimistic about doing things very differently.
‘Finally,’ she says, ‘I feel like I can see a happy relationship with one man.’
I have to say, all sarcasm and Schadenfreude aside, I’m truly sorry that she got hurt. And Phil, too. And I’m really, truly glad that both are in happier relationships now. But how ironic that they both found out the hard way that monogamy IS better than “negotiated” infidelity, after all!
Regular readers may recall that I panned the whole concept that Holly Hill expounded, not so long ago. Back then she was calling it “naughty feminism”. I pointed out that it was nothing more than patriarchal conformity in disguise — call it Enlightened Sexism, if you will — and that it was neither naughty nor liberating for women. Also that it was elitist: when’s the last time you saw a working-class woman “negotiate” her husband’s man-whoring, and help him pick his mistress, and sit down all nicely and civilly with the Other Woman over coffee to work out the terms of that relationship? There isn’t much to sugar-coat THAT reality when you live near the bottom of the 99%, is there?
In fact, a working-class wife (and her kids) can only suffer when her husband divides his already meagre time and money with another woman. And this situation so terrifies working-class women that many of them are now refusing to marry at all, and are even taking desperate measures to stave off childbearing. And no wonder: what’s the use of tying yourself down to a man who’s not going to stick around and be of help raising those kids that he had no problem siring (in accordance with all that doggy biological hard-wiring, no doubt)?
So it’s little wonder, then, that while faithfulness has declined slightly as a factor in a happy marriage, it’s still overwhelmingly popular. In fact, according to the Pew, it’s the #1 factor, with 93% of the Pew’s survey respondents agreeing that it is crucial. And this in spite of the supposed trend toward “open” marriages. Go figure!
It used to be, when I was a very little kid, that Open Marriage was first floated as a “mature”, “progressive” response to cheating, and that marriage was bourgeois anyway, and that if everybody could lose their hang-ups (fidelity first and foremost among them), then everyone would be liberated, fulfilled, and happy. Well, that experiment was tried, and pronounced an Epic Fail, long ago. Jealousy, it turns out, is just as hard-wired into all of us as is the urge to cheat. Truly non-monogamous, jealousy-free people are actually quite uncommon (although I wouldn’t deny that some do exist; they are just the exceptions that prove the rule). Most of us prefer exclusivity, and not just by default, either. As foolish as it seems, we dare to dream of The One, and we still aim for that, no matter who tells us to be “realistic”! And just look at all the “open” relationships that turn out to be really open only on one side, and then, only until the cheated-on partner has finally had enough. Even college students are finding it an immature, inadequate “solution” to the “problem” of exclusivity. As for that “bourgeois” canard, it turns out that only the bourgiest of bourgeois could afford to boink around all that much, and that it hasn’t made them any happier! (Just look at the faces of the spouses in any high-profile divorce case, if you don’t believe me. Or the agony column of any old rag.)
What a pity, then, that Holly Hill couldn’t have dug up all that old research and learned from it. Or just logged onto the internet and looked around a bit more, instead of doing things the hard way, and hurting herself and her former boyfriend. But now, at least, she knows. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll write a book about it.