Saturday, September 3, 2011

Monogamy, Nonmonogamy, and Commitment

From an independent University of Georgia student newspaper comes Tess Johnson’s “Great Sexpectations: Fighting the Terrors of Monogamy.”

She notes her lack of commitments.

Like most people around me, I have trouble committing. It probably comes as no surprise that I find the concept of monogamy scary. And I’m not alone.

Just for the record, some nonmonogamous people do not find monogamy scary at all. It just isn’t for them.

It’s mixed messages about fulfillment that have us on edge. We live in a bizarre society where monogamous relationships are expected, yet instant gratification reigns supreme. In nearly every aspect of our lives, we are invited to shop around, test-drive and send it back if we change our minds. Just look at the rate of divorce. “Settle down with one person,” we’re told, “but if you don’t like your burger, you can just get another one next door.”

Human beings are not inanimate objects or food to be consumed. Well, in most places anyway. We don’t buy and own other human beings. Again, in most places anyway.

She goes on to liken casual sex to a night club, and love to breakfast (and eating the same cereal every morning).

And, in love as in breakfast, choices equal refreshment. But even options can become tiring. Perhaps when all is said and done, it’s all about finding the perfect food — one to eat for breakfast every day; one that never gets boring.

Something can be stable or routine without being boring most of the time. Excitement can be good, new and different can be good, but they can also be bad. There’s a lot of excitement around a heart attack, for example.

As for our sexual satisfaction, the key to contentment is movement. We’re going to visit some dumb dance clubs for a while. But we’ll find classier clubs when we’re ready. And maybe each of us will find a partner we prefer above all the others – one who shares our perfect tempo. We just have to keep on dancing.

The needs some people have will change as they mature, but some people will always need monogamy, and others will always need independence, and others will always need polyamory.

Johnson’s column got a responding letter from Jennifer Leyting

Tess Johnson, if you have issues with commitment then there is nothing that any relationship style is going to be able to do to help that whether it be monogamy, polyamory, polyfidelity, polygamy, open relationships or living as a hermit.

Very good point. Polyamory, for example, is not a lack of commitment. It is often MORE commitment.

If what you were trying to communicate through your article (“Fighting terrors of monogamy,” Aug. 26) was that the full and total commitment of you and one other person forever-and-ever-amen type monogamy is what you have an issue with, then there are alternative options — many options actually.

Yes there are.

As long as the one night stands, the hook-ups, and extra-marital action are kept secret, excused by drunkenness, and basically swept under the rug never to be spoken of again, then we’re all still being faithful to our monogamous commitments, right?

Ladies and gentlemen there are better options that are open and honest. If you are just looking for your prince/princess charming and monogamy is what you like, then that’s fabulous. Go for it.

For those that are looking for something else, you would be surprised how many people right now are living happy, healthy, open nonmonogamous lifestyles. If I’ve peaked your curiosity, there are resources out there. Some books for further reading: “The Polyamory Handbook”, “The Ethical Slut” and “The Mythic of Monogamy.”

Thank you, Ms. Leyting, for getting the word out.
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