I was sitting around talking with some single ladies the other night. The topic du jour was the very popular “What are we looking for in a relationship?” I listened to variations on a theme: “someone to spend the rest of my life with,” “a partner, lover, and best friend forever.” I took it in. I even nodded my head and shared their vision to an extent, but the pragmatist in me started to think that forever and ever with one person sounded a little bit naïve. Does anybody really know what forever with a person looks like until they’ve done it? Following that logic, how can I really speculate what I want with a person forever and ever? Especially one I haven’t even met? Maybe there’s a reason why so many relationships don’t survive because of infidelity and maybe that reason is simpler than we think. Maybe monogamy isn’t really working for many of us.
Of course, when I uttered the words aloud, “I’m not sold on monogamy,” my friends were shocked. They started saying stuff like, “There’s no way I could have an open relationship,” and “I’d be too jealous to do it any other way.” One of my friends replied with pity, “Oh honey, don’t sell yourself short. Someday you’ll meet a guy who wants to be with you and only you.” Granted, that’s probably true. But what happens if I don’t want to be with him and only him? Besides, this is not about guys and what they want, this is about me and what I may want. Or really, my future partnership and what we may want.
Then my friends started spitting out a bunch of examples of happily married, monogamous couples. Mostly they happened to be our parents who had all met in their late teens or early 20s and married young in the ’60s and ’70s. Different generation. Different time. There were a few examples of happy, monogamous couples who are peers of ours, but they don’t have 30+ years under their belts, so it’s hard to say yet if it worked for them.
I’m not surprised, nor do I think it’s abnormal, that my statement elicited that sort of response. The idea of monogamy has been ingrained in us since the moment we were born. Most of us were encouraged to grow up and seek out monogamous unions for the sake of procreation. Ya know, a big white wedding with Prince Charming waiting at the end of the aisle. I just can’t help feeling like it seems so antiquated. When one concept becomes the accepted concept, people try to conform to it.
Just look at all the recent cheating scandals. I’m personally so sick of hearing about it. I think five zillion cheating scandals in one year means it’s time for some cultural re-evaluation, a modern makeover. It’s time to look at the concept of monogamy and ask, “Is this really working for us, and if not, what are some other options?”
Before all the monogamy-loving people of the world get mad at me, let me clarify: I do think monogamy can work … and does for a lot of people. Hey, I fully intend to give it a shot if it seems right. I’m not saying that we should throw out monogamy altogether. I’m just wondering if we can expand our options. But can we please stop trying to fit a round peg into a square hole?
What do you think about monogamy? Share your thoughts in the comments.