A friend and I were talking yesterday about monogamy and open relationships. We were able to cut the conversation short when we both realized that we had very different viewpoints on the subject. But, as she always does, she left me thinking. Essentially, my opinion was that if you do not naturally want to be monogamous to your significant other, then you are not with the right person. Her side was that no one person can fulfill all the needs of another. I did agree with this point, however, I consider that statement to be limited to things other than intimacy such as friendships and other forms of platonic relationships. Interestingly, I have actually been on both sides of this debate. In my first marriage, an open relationship may have been the perfect solution for what I was lacking from my husband. Now, in my second marriage, I am a much firmer believer in monogamy...I think...
At one point in time, not too long ago, three-quarters of all human societies were polygamous. Countries such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East still practice polygamy. And what about polyamory? According to Wikipedia, the definition of polyamory is : "the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved." So essentially, both polygamy and polyamory involve having more than one lover, assuming by consent. I am of the general belief that if everyone involved agrees, and nobody is getting hurt, then anything goes. I am not here to judge. However, I do wonder, then what is the point of being in an exclusive relationship? If one wants several lovers, why not just be single? I believe that love knows no color, race, sex, gender, or even age (as long as it's legal age, of course!). But I also believe that intimate love should stay between two people. After all, isn't that what makes it so special? I believe that we can have strong feelings for and love others while being in a committed relationship. But to share the depth, sensuality and intense closeness that two people share while making love is what sets that relationship apart from all others. I said in the previous paragraph that I have been on both sides of this debate, let's examine my two marriages:
In my first marriage, I received trust, stability, reliability and solidity from my husband. I did not receive much intimacy-- sexual or otherwise. He was quite closed off and even prudish by my standards. I, however, have always been a very sexual being. I love sex, I love intimacy, and when deprived of it, I came to find that I was left looking for it elsewhere. After four years of a marriage without intimacy, I decided that it was something that I could not live without. At that point, I didn't want to leave my husband. My needs for sex and intimacy seemed like a selfish reason to leave. We had two young children together and he was a wonderful father and provider. He was also my best friend. But as the years passed there was no denying that I felt like more and more of a sister to him than a wife. Over the course of those years with my first husband, I had toyed several times about the idea of having an open relationship. We would remain together as husband and wife, the kids wouldn't be disturbed by divorce, and we would maintain our relationship but would be free to seek intimacy outside the marriage. At the time, that seemed like the perfect solution for me. For him, not so much. I brought it up a few times, mostly in a joking fashion to test the waters, and he would immediately shut even the thought of the idea down. He saw it as cheating. And really, when I think about it, he wasn't the one missing or seeking intimacy so it would have been of no benefit to him. One thing is for sure: if an open relationship it to be established, both people in the relationship need to benefit from it.
I eventually left my first husband in search of "true love". Intimate love, sexual love, deep, passionate connecting love. I am happy to say that it didn't take me too long to find it, although he didn't come with all the bells and whistles that my first husband came with (read about my two marriages here for more). With my second husband, monogamy came naturally. I never had the desire to stray or even think about straying because I was 100% satisfied with the level and quality of intimacy. This was the complete opposite of how I felt with my first husband. It's funny because before I met hubby #2, I was convinced that serial monogamy was impossible for me. It simply just wasn't for me and I was dead set on that. But I also had never found an intimate, satisfying love with anyone before. Now that I had it, the thought of being monogamous wasn't even an issue, it was a given. Luckily, hubby #2 felt the same way. Monogamy worked for us.
Now I have a new found opinion of the sanctity of monogamy. And my question remains: is monogamy something that is not for everyone, or is it a state that can only be achieved through being with the right person? If two people committed to being with each other want more, are they wanting more because they aren't truly right for each other? Is an having an open relationship settling for less? If you could choose to have a monogamous relationship that was completely fulfilling and satisfying to the point of not wanting anybody else, or a relationship that allowed you to stray, allowed you that freedom, which would you pick? Should monogamy be the holy grail of committed relationships; something to be coveted and to strive for, or does it go against human nature?
I would absolutely love to get a conversation going here! I welcome comments from all walks of life, as I am very eager to hear your opinions on this topic. So please share! How do you feel about monogamy?