Friday, 21 July 2017

To be or not to be? Why we never question monogamy.

It's been a while since I have written a rhetorical piece. And I have nothing in particular to write about now except a deep-seated awe for the process that is life.

With no conscious effort, in the aftermath of the breakup I had, I've been thinking long and hard about one thing in particular: monogamy.

To set the scene, coming out of a relationship makes one realise that it is literally impossible to have all your emotional, physical and spiritual needs met by one person. I look at the people in my life who are in monogamous long term relationships and while they work some of the time, there is inevitably something missing in the way of happiness and satisfaction that does not seem to be missing from the lives of the friends who have healthy single lives. These monogamous friends say that in order to make a relationship work, there has to be a lot in the way of compromise. Compromise on goals, careers, lifestyles, time, and space.

This is the thing though, I am not so sure that this needs to be the case.

From the time we are born, we are taught to aspire to having a single partner to spend the rest of our lives with. And so much of the time, this is purely an accident of timing. As illustrated in Master of None, the person you happen to be with in your mid-twenties ends up being the person you are socially expected to spend the rest of your life with. I don't know about to you, but to me, this seems like a heavy burden to place not only on a person, but on a relationship.

I don't want to pass judgment on anyone's relationship, but the thought of being with a single person for the rest of my life is suffocating. Extremely suffocating. There is so much beauty and connection to be explored in this world, and in this age of globalisation and increased connectivity it seems so limiting to choose a life path that forces you into turning to a single person for the majority of your needs.

Look, I am not saying that monogamy can't work. I am saying that it is unfair to expect monogamy of everyone. People are so varied in their preferences and their personalities, and just like we have different tastes in terms of other things in life, we may have different preferences in terms of what we expect from relationships.

The strange thing to me is how rarely it seems that monogamy is questioned in modern society. Yes, there is a growing community of polyamorous people but this is still so small and rare, and the territory is so unchartered that many people are afraid of it. What else perplexes me is that there are many people, especially neoliberals, who question every aspect of life, including purpose and the existence of God, yet somehow turn a blind eye to monogamy. These very people are serially monogamous themselves. And while they appear happy I wonder if they truly are.

I can only write from my own experience, and what I am writing here may not be universally true but  after much thought on the topic the only thing that makes sense to me is the line from Kanye and Jay Z's no church in the wild. Basically:

Love is cursed by monogamy. 

And I'll tell you why. It is because a society that imposes monogamy on it's members is one that ignores the varied needs of different types of personalities. I have a friend, a really good one, who has never had a serious romantic relationship. She is single, she is happy, her needs are met and she is thriving. She actually has no desire for the emotional intimacy of a relationship, and that is something that should be respected. Instead what we find is that society perceives her to be dejected and incomplete because she does not have a partner.

I'll use myself as another example here. I am a lover. I love human connection. And after having tried it a few times, monogamous relationships simply do not work for me. Because by their very nature they are limiting on the kind of intimate connections you can have with others. These connections need not only be sexual. They can be cerebral. They can be spiritual. But for some reason, monogamy dictates that you can not, SHOULD NOT, love another.

It makes no sense to me that the human heart is designed to love only a single "soul-mate".  I yearn for the day where we are able to honour connections with multiple people, lovers, friends. And have something beautiful with all of them. Logistically, the path for this to work is polyamory, and a lot of work is required in the way of managing people's feelings and setting ground rules. But as a good friend of mine said to me, for any relationship to work there needs to be an uncompromised level of respect and space.

To me this was profound. I also perceive the type of person that is open to such an arrangement to be a relatively emotionally evolved person. One for which petty jealousies are not a serious threat to their own internal happiness. A person who understands that if their a partner is connecting with another human it does not preclude them from their own special connection with someone else. Wouldn't it be a beautiful world, if we could all allow each other the space to connect so freely? If this were the norm?

So why then do we not question monogamy. I think there are two answers, the first is fear and the second is comfort. We are too afraid to upset the status quo and in the complexity that is this world existential angst is largely relieved by the notion of having "someone to share it with". Secondly, this is comfortable as it provides a cushion upon which the rest of one's life is rested. That is, with monogamy as the norm, and a joint path to navigate individuals bypass the harder task of trying to find meaning to a life that might not have one.

No comments:

Post a Comment