The modern relevance of monogamy

The dating landscape has changed massively in the last few centuries, even more so in the last decade with the bombardment of online dating facilities now available at our fingertips. One must wonder whether the western notion of monogamy is still relevant in this era?

In the type of capitalist society we have at present, we are constantly chasing instant gratification, and multiple forms of satisfaction. Our lifestyle is governed by our system to a certain degree (although some people chose to reject it – massive respect to ya). We are programmed by our system to work, eat, sleep, and shop – very little else. We are a massively time poor society, and there seems to be a correlational curve whereby the richer one gets, the less time they have, until a certain level of wealth is reached and then you become time and money rich – this is the American Dream. We all know that is bull and the majority of us mugs will never get there.
So how does this all relate to monogamy? With our significant lack of time, it is markedly more difficult to find ‘the one’, the elusive one Disney teaches us we need to function as an adult. You know the one – shiny, perfect, funny, kind, but with a bit of an edge too of course. They are impossible to track down in the 30 minute gap you have between the gym and work, or work and dinner, dinner and Netflix, Netflix and sleep, etc. When we are looking for ‘the one’ we often skim search the majority of those around us – casting them aside if they have one small ‘flaw’ that doesn’t fit with our mental image of our ‘one’. Who is, at this stage, a completely hypothetical human being who may not even exist; or worse, they are already married.
So why do we still subscribe to this ancient notion of ‘the one’ when it brings us so much strife. It pressures us to looking for a needle in a haystack, when actually there are plenty of other needles around who may have a couple of the qualities you seek. Polyamory works on this premise. You start with a partner who also shares this way of thinking, agreeing to an ‘open’ relationship which does mean complete honesty and transparency at all times. You are each other’s number 1, but you accept that they are not the one. Therefore you are each free to explore, play, and peruse at your leisure; coming back to swap stories.
Polyamory is not (just) something for the sex addicts among us – although I can imagine it massively helps there too. But you can have one partner who makes you laugh, one who likes the same books and films, one that likes to snuggle, one that likes to sky dive, and then one or two who absolutely knock your socks off. The possibilities are endless. The key is the transparency, everyone knows that this is a non-committal relationship, just relax, have fun, and enjoy one another’s company in the here and now.
There is far too much pressure on us in society to forward plan, if you don’t have your life mapped out until your next big birthday you are ostracised. But ask anyone if their well-laid plans ever work out. Bet they don’t. Enjoy the now, and enjoy it with people that make you happy. To me it seems dangerous and dull to become dependent on one human being. There is a whole lot at risk there should it go tits up. If you have a. b. c. d. etc. you will always be partly satisfied which is better than never being fully satisfied.
Human beings run on desire, it is how we manage ourselves and how we move forth. Once a desire is satisfied – once the journey has been completed, we feel a lack of something, and so are pushed to find a new thing of interest to chase. This is why couples in long term monogamous relationships tend to go through phases of new things, like salsa, or scrabble. A new desire to fill the void left by the reality they have ‘caught’ their one, and are no longer aiming towards anything. Polyamory negates the need for this, because you are constantly looking for new people to fill your life with. Some may drop off, some may simply become friends, it’s ever evolving and changing which keeps you on your toes.
Our sexuality and our desire to be loved are our undercurrent as human beings. It is our rawest of desires, not lead by materialism like other drivers. With sex it is most definitely ‘the chase’ that is the most thrilling part, rather than the destination. So with the rise of materialism, individualism, and self-interest, it would make sense for us to evolve into a polyamorous culture and away from the accepted western social norm of monogamy.
We still very much see sex as a means of procreation, whereby it is most beneficial to retain one close partner (in an ideal world). But many cultures see sex for its fun, positivity, and fetish. With the current state of the planet, it may not be the worst thing for us to conceive of sex as something more than procreation. The planet could do with a few less people, and polyamory could help with that as babies would not be expected of you in that style of relationship (although poly-parenting is a thing). It is ok to break societal expectations, in fact, it makes you fucking awesome. We should be able to decide for ourselves what makes us happy, and what is healthy for us.
Sex is not an absolute, but a constant appetite that needs feeding to keep the adrenaline levels up. It’s not about greed, it’s about the challenge and the excitement of it all. Sex can also be extremely good for us physically and mentally so long as everyone involved is on the same page and remains that way. The guilt of desire has evaporated for the most part, we are expected to want more and more of most things; the system relies on it. So why not extend this concept to our human relationships?
I learnt recently at BiCon, a conference for bisexuals (who shock horror are more likely to be open to polyamory) that there are several types of polyamory. It is basically ethical non-monogamy. Most people practice serial monogamy, in which partners often overlap, somewhat less ethically. Many cheaters claim to cheat because they didn’t have a choice – once they realise there are alternative relationship formats they feel like the asses they are, and so stick it to the people doing it ethically out of ignorance and jealousy. There are poly-hierarchical, swinging, open-relationships, friends with benefits, don’t ask don’t tell, poly-fidelity, solo-poly, mono-poly, gender-monogamy, and more! A problem with monogamy is that there is usually the expectation of ‘love’ arriving at some point, but with polyamory, there is no such expectation.
The only problem with this theory, which someone at BiCon told me sounds like poly-evangelism, ya know, a bit preachy – is that with a busy a lifestyle, it can be hard to fit them all in! Pros have told me that scheduling and synced calendars are key, and I am a true believer that anything is possible if you are well organised enough!
I don’t actually know if polyamory is for me, but as a concept I am one hundred per cent behind it. That is all you have to be to identify as poly – open to it. You don’t have to have the multiple partners, same as being bi where you do not have to be with both genders at once.
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