Miley Cyrus is Right: Marriage Doesn’t Stop Your Attraction to Others

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

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Miley Cyrus married Liam Hemsworth last December and the newlywed has a few thoughts about marriage, which in this month’s Elle magazine. Her biggest reveal is a refreshingly honest one — she may have a husband but she’s still attracted to other people, women in particular.

I’m in a hetero relationship, but I still am very sexually attracted to women. People become vegetarian for health reasons, but bacon is still fucking good, and I know that. I made a partner decision. This is the person I feel has my back the most. I definitely don’t fit into a stereotypical wife role. I don’t even like that word.”

Whether you like the 26-year-old as an artist or as a person or not, her in-your-face admission that sexual desire for others doesn’t necessarily end once you fall in love with someone or tie the knot is an important and real discussion. Because she’s not the only person who has to grapple with that in a world that expects (demands?) sexual fidelity — and often fails — in romantic relationships.

A personal and societal problem

Our inability to talk honestly about our attractions and desire creates all sorts of problems for us on a personal level with our romantic partner and on a societal level because we haven’t created a space to talk about a shared experience that accompanies almost all (I’d actually say all) monogamous romantic relationships.

In truth, most of us will be attracted to others — for some of us, many others — even though we love our partner/spouse and don’t want to lose them.

The question is, what will we do with that attraction?

There is no right or wrong answer although many might say acting on it is not the right answer. Others, like , would say it if you did act on it, it wouldn’t necessarily destroy your relationship and could actually save and improve it.

So, will you talk honestly and openly with your partner about that?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer; you’ll have to decide if you will or not, why you’re sharing it with your partner or not and whether you want your partner to share their attractions with you or not.

What the research says

It’s not always easy, of course. Some people just can’t handle seeing their partner look at someone else lustily or talking to an attractive man or woman at a party. Then comes the jealousy and fighting.

Does it matter? Yes! Recent indicates that if you’re attracted to someone else, you’re more likely to get angry at your partner and act more negatively toward them because — and this is interesting — you’re projecting your attraction to others onto your partner and mistakenly assuming your partner is similarly attracted to someone else (even if they’re not).

Ah, humans — we are so beautifully complicated!

So rather than get caught up in that mishegas, maybe we should be like Miley — choose a partner who has your back (and to whom you’ll do likewise) and acknowledge that both of you will inevitably be attracted to others at some point and talk about openly and honestly when it occurs. A relationship that can do that is a strong, trusting partnership.

Of course, the chorus of one of Miley’s new songs, “Never Be Me,” might indicate something else is going on in her marriage- “If you’re looking for faithful, that’ll never be me. If you’re looking for stable, that’ll never be me. If you’re looking for someone that’ll be all that you need, that’s never going to be me.”

I agree with her on that last sentence — we really can’t be someone’s “all,” and that’s a good thing. The other lyrics? Well, you might want to think about them before you decide to go full Miley …

Want to have a monogamish marriage? (You might!) Then read (Seal Press). You can support your local indie bookstore (please do) or order it on .

Originally published at

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Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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