It’s been a few weeks now since this years ‘Strictly Scandal’, but it’s left me with so many questions mulling around in my head.
If you’ve been under a rock – or you just don’t care for popular culture – Sean Walsh and his professional dance partner, were caught snogging on a pavement, both a little tipsy, out after dark. Ok, fine, everyone knows that connections are made on Strictly that go much further than a late-night training session and an intimate boogie. However, in this case, the accused both have partners, tucked up in bed waiting for them at home. Katya Jones, the Strictly professional, is married, and Walsh, the comedian, has a long-term girlfriend.
So, is it as scandalous as the viewing figures and newspaper reports would suggest?
Double the number of viewers tuned in the following Saturday to watch the scene unravel, and naturally in true BBC style, it was not addressed, apart from a small tip of the hat at the beginning of the show. But if we’re all so outraged about it, why are we still so intrigued? By watching we’re almost encouraging the behaviour, aren’t we?
With a swift apology from the guilty in the media, Jones’ husband, also a professional dancer, quickly followed suit and forgave his wife publicly. Walsh’s girlfriend, Rebecca Humphries had a different idea…
Obviously, this tweet tells one side of a story, the ins and outs of their relationship, Walsh’s character and how she has not been left a victim, but a free woman. From this tweet, it seems the kiss being made public was a blessing in disguise.
I can’t help but start thinking, is our society capable of monogamy and the ideal happily ever after that we have always strived for?
The introduction of social media in to our lives, seems to have brought fantasy to reality. The day dream of a raunchy affair, meeting someone in a dingy pub and going back to a motel, can now be arranged in a matter of minutes. ‘Sliding into DM’s’, keeping your tinder active or just getting someone’s number, is at the tip of our fingers. Temptation and desire is something to be celebrated, as we as individuals become increasingly sexually liberated. But what is the cost, broken hearts, empty promises and less people choosing to get married in the first place?
For decades, our traditional ideal has been a man and woman, married before having children, with the intent of growing old together. Well firstly, we’re living far longer than we ever have before, so happily ever after is becoming a much longer period of time to commit to. Of course, it is now legal for same-sex couples to tie the knot, leaning toward the idea that the number of marriages a year should be increasing. However, the Office for National Statistics states (went a bit University essay on you there but I don’t want you to think I’m making this shit up, I do tend to do some research,) that divorce rates are lower, because less people are choosing to get married at all. The ability to get divorced, without scrutiny or judgement, has potentially made marriage a less permanent decision, giving people a ‘get out clause’ when they do decide to follow their whims.
But perhaps it’s simply our ideal that is changing. Perhaps our ideal is exploration, the idea that we weren’t programmed to be with one person for our entire lives, and the idea that the grass really could be greener. Perhaps.
I feel that this is our main problem. We are constantly bombarded with images, videos and information about the ‘good life’. Ways in which our lives could be better, more fulfilled and far more exciting. ‘What if something better comes along’. So as a society, we have one foot in the world of desire, curiosity and eventually polyamory (as Louis Theroux so beautifully explored), and one foot still planted solidly in stability, family life and ultimately monogamy.
This straddling position is not realistic, you have to pick a side. Cheating doesn’t actually come in to either of these categories. It falls somewhere in the middle, cowardly and non-comital. ‘I’d quite like to sleep with that woman, but I don’t want to admit that I’d like to sleep with her, so I’ll just do it in secret and pretend that I didn’t sleep with her’.
I’ve been back and forth over this in my head, quite interested by the idea that maybe we aren’t innately programmed to be with one person. But when you watch the Theroux documentary, or you take time to consider what it would actually mean, the trust and self-confidence that it would take or the lack of jealousy that you would need; it seems impossible. Great on paper, flawed in practice.
I would love to live in a Tahitian Utopia, in which desire was the sole drive and sex was a currency for happiness and fulfilment. But the scenario seems to play out as though polyamory is the children play-fighting and monogamy is the mother, sternly saying ‘Someone’s going to get hurt, and it will end in tears’. It requires two obliging parties, that understand the risk and also believe whole heartedly that following their own intimate desires will feed their happiness. If both people in a relationship can’t say that, then you are just cheating, and misusing trust. Follow your sexual desires, but definitely not whilst you’re in a monogamous relationship.
I don’t think I could be polyamorous. No matter how much I like the idea. I’m far too jealous, (I’m an only child so I can’t share) and would rather be explorative whilst single, and focused mainly on my partner whilst in a relationship (with the acceptation of the odd day dream and Jane Austin novel.) But this isn’t to say that I whole heartedly believe in the monogamous model. There is something to be said for sexual desire and I would love to see a world in which we could speak openly and honestly about this. Perhaps then there would be no need for dirty motels and dingy bars. I appreciate the fact that sometimes relationships go through dry spells, and perhaps if we attempted to explore other avenues during that time, with complete honesty and openness, it may solve whatever problems were occurring at home. But then again, this may only sound good on paper. Would it all just end in tears? Maybe it will anyway so you may as well try?
Then of course there’s the hopeless romantic in me, the period drama enthusiast and the upholder of tradition. Of course, love and marriage is difficult, you’re building a life, nay an empire, with one other person. You have the opportunity to bring real little humans into the world, and you’re doing it all whilst sleeping in the same bed and sharing the same bathroom. Love is a perfect balance between comfort and compromise. Sometimes you have to compromise outside of your comfort zone for the one you love, in the safety and knowledge that they’ll do the same for you. When you put it like that, it’s hard to justify jeopardising that for your desire. I know so many couples that have been together for what may as well be forever and neither party would dream of turning fantasy in to reality, because actually their reality is pretty bloody good.
Walsh has definitely divided viewers. Many saying, ‘it was only a kiss’, whilst others proclaim it was ‘outrageous’. I personally don’t think following your instincts like that is evil, but hurting someone else in the process is undeniably unacceptable. I suppose you could argue that if you’re in a relationship and you act on your desires, the relationship clearly isn’t enough for you. Don’t get me wrong, I think despite being in a relationship it’s natural to fancy and desire other people, but it’s the acting on it that taints the trust, the love and the stability. Honesty is the key, and not getting drunk with people you’d quite like to snog, when you’ve got an oblivious partner holding up the empire at home.