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The Latest Hollywood Trend? High Fidelity : Relationships: An epidemic of monogamy is loose in the land and Tinseltown is leading the way. Is it true love? Safe sex? No, it's just that Warren Beatty's getting so old.

October 17, 1994|BARBARA T. ROESSNER | THE HARTFORD COURANT

The shocking truth is out. Warren Beatty, that human monument to perpetual promiscuity, has acknowledged to the world and Connie Chung (and Vanity Fair, and USA Today, and a dozen other media outlets) that he is monogamous.

And surprise, surprise, according to an exhaustive new study by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, so are the great majority of the rest of us married mortals. Seventy-five percent of married men say they're sexually faithful to their spouses, as do 85% of married women.

In short, an epidemic of marital fidelity is loose in the land, all the way from Hollywood (fantasy) to Hoboken (reality). What gives?

The most obvious explanation is that there has always been a huge gap between Hollywood and Hoboken, N.J., but social researchers just never bothered to identify it before.

In fact, all the big sex surveys over the past several decades (by Masters & Johnson, and Shere Hite, for example) have based their findings on people who sought to be guinea pigs. This latest survey is the first to use a random sample of average folks who might not consider their sex lives interesting enough to volunteer them for analysis.

It may also have something to do with the current 50% divorce rate. These days, if a husband and wife aren't happy, they split up rather than stay together and play around on the side. The married couples who are still married may actually lust to remain hitched.

Or it may be, as various sociologists contend, that some kind of post-sexual-revolution backlash is under way, spurred by a widespread fear of AIDS.

But Warren may provide the best explanation. Warren and his liver spots. Warren and his bloated physique. Warren and his 57 years. The most striking thing about the Connie Chung interview was Warren's visible aging. No wonder he's settled down. He looks like hell now. He looks even worse when juxtaposed with his lithe, creamy-skinned, 36-year-old wife with the little-girl mouth and the pixie hairdo. One can only conclude that even men have their biological clocks, and Warren heard his ticking.

As he told an interviewer for USA Today: Family "keeps you from spinning out narcissistically into space." In other words, even Warren, who just had his second child with Annette Bening, felt the need to connect.

They say fidelity does not come naturally to the human species. Well, maybe not--unless and until the species instinctively fears it may die out.

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