The Myth of Monogamy
If there are gay people, straight people, bi-sexual, transgender, and everything in between people, then perhaps there is such a thing as ‘non-monogamous’ people. I’m talking about people who aren’t generally suited to be with only one person. Or for that matter, with anyone at all.
Consider a relationship with two people, let’s call them Jane and John. Jane loves John so much, and he satisfies her every want and desire — except for this one desire which is very important to her. In fact, it’s so important that she’s contemplating leaving John just to have that need satisfied. She feels guilty, selfish, and terrible, because she loves John so much, with all her heart. But it’s just eating her up inside that John just can’t satisfy this small but ultimately deal breaking desire.
Now, enter Richard. Richard doesn’t really satisfy Jane at all, except for that one desire. But he fails to meet her needs in everything that John can provide. So should she leave John for Richard?
If she stayed with John, she would feel unsatisfied. If she went to Richard she would be unsatisfied. She can’t have both . . . or can she?
What if John said that he was okay with Jane going out with Richard on occasion? He was totally fine with it. In fact, he preferred Jane to go out with Richard, because then he’d get some much needed time alone, and have a happier wife because of it. Finally, she could spend time with Richard, and still stay married to John.
Now Jane is 100% satisfied, and their marriage is better for it. John’s happy. Jane’s happy. And Richard’s happy! Everybody’s happy. So what’s wrong with that?
Everything, say most people. Their swinger lifestyle won’t work, they say. It’s a doomed relationship. Someone will get jealous along the line and the whole thing will crash and burn.
It reminds me of a gay couple. Many people disapprove of gay marriage on the basis of moral grounds. Yet their love hurts no one. In a similar way, a polygamist’s love hurts no one, and society is much more likely to disapprove of that kind of a relationship than of a homosexual relationship.
But now let’s say that something terrible happens. Jane and John divorce. It just doesn’t work out. Someone gets jealous, or feels used. No matter how hard Jane, John, and Richard try, they just can’t seem to resolve their relationship and it falls apart. Then society would say, “Aha! I told you so. They crashed and burned.”
But if a monogamous couple falls apart, nobody lifts that as an example and says, “Aha! See! Monogamy doesn’t work!” When monogamous couples fail, they fail. And everyone chalks it up to the fact that relationships are just hard. Sometimes love is just hard.
60% of marriages now end in divorce, and so who’s to say that trying something creative is wrong. Maybe it would end up lowering the divorce rate, because more couples would stay together, rather than splitting up over small unmet ‘desires’. If adults do something consensual, which hurts no one, why should anyone else try to tell them they can’t?
And if that’s the case, then what’s so wrong with three person couples? Or four person couples? Or what about just one person.
I pretty happy as a single guy. I’ve always felt that I could just be single forever. But every time I say that, someone will object. “Oh, Joe. You’ll find the right girl someday.” But that’s the point. I don’t think I WANT to find the right girl. I’m terrified of it.
Girls are scary. Girls can change. People can change. Who’s to say that the person I marry won’t change into some horrible monster down the road? I could marry an atheist who turns into a religious fanatic. I could marry a sweet caring beautiful darling of a woman who turns into a needy, dependant, controlling shrew. And then I would be stuck in hell for the rest of my life.
Of course it’s true that the opposite could happen, that the girl I marry could become even more beautiful as the years go on. But that’s a gamble. It’s a big risk. Maybe I don’t want to risk my entire life on the whim of some girl. Maybe I want to remain happily single for the rest of my life, and fulfill 90% of my desires.
And in that sense, maybe I don’t really believe in the idea of marriage. What’s the point of marriage anyways? If it’s so easy to get divorced, why get married at all? To make it less easy to separate? You can get divorced by mail, so is that any more insurance that we’ll stay together?
Oh wait, I know what marriage is about. Unconditional love. But is that really such a great idea either? Here is a couple that says, no matter what, we will love each other and stay together. But that doesn’t sound healthy to me. What if she treats me bad? Yes, it’s a good thing to try and stay together. But . . . forever?
An unmarried couple needs to treat each other well. If I treat her poorly, she’ll leave me. And if she treats me poorly, then I can always leave. So we’re constantly trying to please each other. That means we’ll probably be happier, and we might even last longer.
Compare that to a marriage where we are stuck together through thick and thin, resentment and abuse, til death do us part. Love in this context creates a moral hazard. It says that because I’ll love you forever, you are allowed to hurt me, ignore me, and abuse me. It also says that I can treat you like crap, and you’re still supposed to love me no matter what. Many marriage vows say, “I promise to love you all the days of my life.”
I just wish they would add, “. . . as long as you love me too.”
So maybe I’ll just take a gamble to stay single for the rest of my life. Because I am a very happy guy. I’m a serious catch. I like who I am, and I don’t need anybody else to ‘make’ me happier. I’ve got all the free time I’d ever want. And I rarely get lonely.
But sometimes, I do get lonely. Sometimes I’ll get tired of sitting in my dark apartment with the window shades drawn, reading, or typing away by the light of a dimly lit laptop. Sometimes I get an itch to just be with someone. To feel someone. To hold someone’s hand or put my arm around them and take them out to a movie, and have a terrific date. Sometimes I want to have long conversations with a girl about life and the universe, and everything that makes being alive wonderful. And 90% of the time, I’m quite happy to be alone.
But then, tango dancing can always help with that last 10%.