An article titled "Lindsey & Tiger: Why Strong Women Date Weak Men" is getting a lot of play this week. But I think it's missing the point.
I don't think Tiger Woods is a "scummy guy." And I don't think Lindsey Vonn is failing to slalom around any red flags. I don't think there has to be anything wrong with her and I'm not convinced that there's anything fundamentally wrong with him.
I also don't believe he's "weak man." In fact, many are arguing these days that he's anything but. He just won the Bay Hill Classic this weekend. He's in a new relationship. Some might even argue he's "back." I don't know that anyone had any real doubts that he would make a strong reappearance on the golf scene.
And did anyone really think for a minute that Woods would never date again or that only some self-loathing gold digger would have any interest in him? If so, that's short-sighted, to say the least. Woods, like all of us, is more than the sum of his parts. And he is certainly more than his infidelities.
Yes, there were many of those infidelities. And, yes, they were horribly hurtful to his beautiful wife and children. But they were still just one part of him. Not all of him. So, of course he would fall in love again and, of course, someone would fall in love with him.
If we all stayed away from people who made mistakes, all of us -- I mean all of us -- would be alone. Vonn is not crazy for embarking on a relationship with Woods. The question is whether she is prepared to negotiate a relationship that will work for both of them. When the Tiger Woods scandal first broke, I wrote a piece for Newsweek how unsurprising I found the affairs because the behavior fit right in with his lifestyle and personality.
I had no doubt that one day he'd be back in a high-profile relationship. My only hope was that it would be with someone secure enough and self-aware enough to know what exactly she was getting into and she might go into the relationships prepared to work together with him consciously and proactively to make it work.
What could that mean? Well, it might mean that monogamy is not part of their deal. Now, before you go bouncing off the walls in outrage, hear me out. Many people are not in monogamous relationships and we all know that's the case. Some of them have "don't ask, don't tell" arrangements; others are involved in flat-out lying; and at least some percentage have agreed on this arrangement because it works with instead of against our biology.
Monogamy may not be part of our natural state of being. (Read Sex at Dawn if you want clarification.) That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with choosing monogamy. But what that does mean is that choosing non-monogamy is an equally valid choice.
Here's the thing. People are already choosing non-monogamy. But they are doing it dishonestly and hurting their partners as a result. We are a country organized in pairs and heterosexual "monogamous" marriage rules the day on paper. To my mind, it's time to get real. It's time to organize our relationships in a manner that suits our reality, not our religious-driven fantasy.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no one out there to "complete you." If you want a fabulous relationship, you have to already be complete. You also have to be ready to be honest about who you really are and what you really want. Making that decision for yourself is about being an evolved human being. It's about forgetting what Disney and the religious right is pushing and doing what you know works for you and those with whom you are involved.
Tiger Woods isn't a bad guy. He did a bad thing. But the bad thing he did was not so much sleeping with other women. It was not negotiating with his wife that he wanted that arrangement. He cheated on her and that's not acceptable. But non-monogamy is something we have to start discussing if we ever want to improve our national marriage stats and decrease our rates of affairs.
Nearly every TV show, every movie, every book, has jokes about the "old ball and chain" or about getting a "hall pass" or about the misery of being "stuck" in a marriage. All of that joking and moaning is based in the fact that when we get involved in relationships, particularly when we get married, we don't think that there might be another way to do things.
There is. Your own way.
You choose the way you eat, pray, parent, work, exercise, medicate, everything. Except for relationships. When it comes to that, as a country, we sanction only heterosexual, monogamous marriage and that's crazy. That is certifiably crazy. We are not all the same. We do not all live the same. Why and how would we all have the same exact style of relationship?
Lindsey Vonn is not a dumb girl. At least not as far as I can tell. She has a right not to be judged for her choice to date Woods. We have got to lay off the judging. We don't really know what's going on in other people's bedrooms and we shouldn't know. I'd like to think that maybe Woods has met his match in Vonn. That maybe she's strong enough to really accept who he is.
If this celeb union is supposed to be some sort of teachable moment, I hope that it's not just about avoiding "scummy men" and is instead about like this:
1. Infidelity is not nice. But it is not unforgivable.
2. People are not their mistakes.
3. No one really knows the whole story behind someone else's relationship.
4. Being with someone who cheated does not make you a cheater or an idiot or a doormat
or a starry-eyed dreamer. It makes you human.
5. It's time to rethink our moratorium against non-monogamy.
I just hope for both Woods' and Vonn's sakes that they really talk about who they are and what they want. People can change but they can't escape their nature. And both of them, like all of us, deserve to be in happy, healthy relationships of our own design.
In the name of full disclosure, Cristina Goyanes, who wrote "Lindsey & Tiger: Why Strong Women Date Weak Men" is a respected colleague and friend.