A good article on non-monogamy

Here’s something I’ve been meaning to share for a while – an article on non-monogamous relationships. I don’t want to add a whole lot of commentary on the subject right now; I’ll just point out a few of my favorite points, and then leave it to those interested to read the article.

I agree that it’s better for everyone to recognize monogamy as something to be consented to, not coerced into. I think for many people monogamy is the only relationship structure they’ve considered accepting, so they haven’t really chosen it. They’ve been “forced” into it, and this isn’t good because 1) some of these people may actually be happier in non-monogamous relationships, and 2) people who have been coerced into monogamy will never be very accepting of those (other couples) who want to choose something else.

The author makes a point about marriage that I heartily agree with, even in the context of monogamous relationships. “When we commit ourselves to someone for life, we often fail to fully take into account the degree to which we grow and change over periods of ten, twenty, or thirty years.” Yes, people change, sometimes in ways that render them incompatible. The universe does not guarantee that two humans who love each other deeply will continue loving each other for the decades of time that our now-long life spans afford us. That is why I do not think marriage as a promise of lifelong committment is a tenable concept.

The author makes another point about marriage – we have a cultural expectation that one person should be able to “fulfill us in all ways—romantically, sexually, intellectually, and otherwise—for the rest of our lives.” What reason is there to expect this, other than the fact that we’ve always been told to? It’s quite a tall order, and, empirically speaking, it’s false. Many “monogamous” people go outside their relationships/marriages to obtain fulfillment that they aren’t obtaining within. Wouldn’t we be better off considering that, for at least some couples, non-monogamy works better? It’s a valid point. I’m not saying that non-monogamy is for me, but it’s clear that it works for some, and I think such a choice should be respected.

The rest of the article is worth reading.

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2 Comments

Filed under Marriage, Relationships

2 responses to “A good article on non-monogamy

  1. The universe does not guarantee that two humans who love each other deeply will continue loving each other for the decades of time that our now-long life spans afford us. That is why I do not think marriage as a promise of lifelong committment is a tenable concept.

    Yeah, but any other thought process is not romantic!!!. Thinking about relationships in a detached logical manner is not romantic!!!

    Call me cynical, but I don’t think that most people think this indepthly about the relationships that they get into. They are just following their deep evolutionary directives and ending up wherever that potent cocktail of hormones leads them. Why would they? People don’t even think about the future by saving up to buy a car or house — in which there should be more logical detachment in decision making and less aversion to cold, cost-benefit analyses — how can we expect them to apply that to an inherently emotional decision like an intimite relationship? We can’t even get people to put down the Snickers bars…

    Though, one of my ex-girlfriends was open to a more open relationship. But that’s probably because she has a PhD in Economics.

    • I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of rational versus emotional. While I agree that some people decide to get married due to a very strong emotional attraction (and nothing else), it is society that makes people think that such marriages should be forever. It isn’t the result of hormones, I don’t think. It’s the fact that we’ve been taught that marriage should be a lifelong promise.

      It’s my view that that is something a person cannot reasonably promise, for the simple fact that people change. We acknowledge this fact when we are still in the dating phase – just because things are going well with my girlfriend of 3 months doesn’t mean that we should get engaged. We’re still getting to know each other, and trying to find out how compatible we are. In my view, marriage is a good idea after you’ve spent a lot of time getting to know someone. You’ve gotten past a lot of obstacles, you’ve seen a lot of the unforeseen things that can cause a breakup, and you’ve concluded that not only do I want this relationship now, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to want it, and it’s going to last, for a long time to come. It may not, and I do not promise that it will, but at this point I’m willing to enter into a closer union in the hopes that it will be something great.

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