Interview: Rosie Wilby

Rosie Wilby, Comedian, performer and writer, is approaching the launch of her first book; ‘Is Monogamy Dead’, which comes from 7 years of work, research and three theatre shows. We caught up with her to find out what to expect from her book.

AT: Thanks for speaking with us today Rosie. Your book is a result of three shows, and seven years of work. What inspired you to start making the first show The Science of Sex?

RW: So that was in 2009 / 2010. That show was very much a spoof lecture looking at love, sexuality and attraction, there was quite a big section on why are we gay or bisexual or heterosexual. For that show I met up with a scientist called Dr Qazi Rahman, I first saw him on TV in a documentary with John Barrowman who was investigating the reasons he may be gay. There’s a lot of debate around that thorny question of whether we’re born gay or not; nature versus nurture. I went along and did lots of tests, in memory and shape rotation and word recognition, and it’s fascinating that there are certain skills that gay men seem to have very similar results to straight women. And to some degree there’s a correlation between gay women and straight men. It’s so interesting how our brains might work differently. A lot of people worry that that information may be used in a negative way, but Dr Qazi Rahman believes it can be used in a really positive way to help gay people understand how our psychology works. So it was that, as well as the relationship I was in at the time, that features in the book. It eventually became the tragic break-up which I talk about in my show The Conscious Uncoupling. I didn’t know at the time, but that relationship was coming to an end, and that was a challenging relationship so there were some quite urgent questions that I was trying to understand the psychology of love, and how our emotions may not always guide us to the best paths.

AT: And your second show, Is Monogamy Dead, which lends itself to the title of the book, is an exploration of monogamy and what it means –

RW: Yes, the key part of that was a survey in which I asked ‘What counts as cheating?’ Which showed that monogamy isn’t purely about sex. I don’t believe monogamy is that simple, I think a lot of people define monogamy far more along emotional lines that sexual ones. Which was demonstrated through the survey about cheating and it wasn’t as black and white as we think. I’m keen to get across the idea of emotional monogamy or emotional non-monogamy. And of course we have lots of deep friendships and connections and people we love in many different ways.

AT: And then your final show, The Conscious Uncoupling looked at break ups?

RW: Yes, and the book goes beyond The Conscious Uncoupling, because that show was written early 2016, and the book was finished in the early part of this year where my love life has moved on a stage further and I’ve happily started a new relationship, which is really great. Although within the parameters of keeping a good relationship with my ex – which doubles back to look at monogamy and whether it’s just about sex, or if it’s about emotion too. Our friendship has had to be planned out quite carefully around my new relationship, there’s been discussion around it all, but as human beings we’re prone to insecurities, so it’s tricky and nothing is ever straightforward in negotiating a relationship and both people feeling secure in it. But we are having a great relationship. And obviously starting a relationship having a book out called ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’, which I was nervous about when I started dating again, because I wondered if people were going to think that I was swinging and going to sex parties; and I take my hat of to people that do that and are connected to their sexuality and are able to be that free about it. I actually went to some of those places, and I talk about it in the book, because I’m actually probably quite British, hung-up and reserved about it all and I think for me sex has to have such a strong emotional connection, and I felt if I didn’t want to be restricted by monogamy it wasn’t so much in a sexual sense.

AT: Do you feel like your own feelings have changed over the course of the 7 years? And of course though they may change again, do you feel as though you’ve come to a conclusion in this moment in time?

RW: Yes, absolutely. I think if you end up thinking and reading and talking and writing, and doing all of this activity – I’ve been on lots of panel discussions with people where I’ve been really challenged in my thinking. You can’t do all of that without going on a big journey and taking in lots of information. So I went from being incredibly monogamous, thinking one person could be everything, to thinking polyamory or non-monogamy would be a great idea , to a more informed version of monogamy – that takes on some of the values of being poly – which I found incredibly compassionate and open and honest – there are so many good principles – which are mostly about being honest. And in our secrecy around affairs, or flirting with other people or texting other people or fancying someone at work – we’ve lost that honesty. What I have realised though is that one person can’t do and be everything.

AT: Thank you so much for chatting to us today Rosie. We can’t wait to read it!

Catch Rosie's show The Conscious Uncoupling at Edinburgh. Book Tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rosie-wilby-the-conscious-uncoupling

And buy 'Is Monogamy Dead' from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iV4VoK

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