Some of my friends have asked me how did I end up in a “perfect” relationship? How did I manage to find someone in the not-so-vast swamplands that compose the gay dating scene, weeding out the incompatibles in such a neat and tidy fashion?
Others have chided me for being so serious when I’m still “so young.” Why am I talking about the future, weddings, marriage, kids when, oh, I am just 23 years young? For I still have so much life to experience, right? And some just outright question my desire for a monogamous relationship.
Both present interesting discussions and perhaps these are a part of two larger, separate issues that we can analyze beginning with the latter to pass the threshold to the former. So let’s first be totally clear and honest with ourselves.
Relationships are a choice. Monogamy is a choice.
Like so many other things in life (with the giant caveat that some people are afforded a greater variety of choices than others), we are able to choose with whom we associate, build connections, and develop intimate relationships. Monogamous relationships are also something that most of us have some agency over (i.e. unless you are being forced into marriage or something…).
And, as of late, it’s clear that human monogamy is more heavily scrutinized. Every so often, news network affiliates/buzzfeed/huffpost will run some human interest piece that spits out statistics left and right about the sorry state of monogamous relationships: “Divorce rates of all marriages at nearly 50%!” … “Average person to have [xxx] sex partners during lifetime!” Run a simple google search containing the words “monogamy” and “unnatural” and you’ll find plenty of op-eds, articles, and stories decrying the imposition of such a synthetic construct upon society.
But maybe the critics do have a point. Is monogamy as central to the core of human existence as its supporters purport it to be? According to my highly informal scan of the literature (read: Wikipedia), monogamy is clearly not the prevailing form of relationships among our animal friends, even with some of our closest simian brethren. Should we then live in life-long partnerships that betray the very nature of our own biology?
But on the flip-side of this debate, the longstanding status of monogamy as the prevailing form of human relationships in many societies must demonstrate some sort of worth. Surely there was some value beyond that of resource allocation or survival that made monogamy a worthwhile evolutionary choice, and now social choice, for humankind. Do there exist modern social benefits to monogamy that have transcended our visceral desire to just fuck as many people as we can?
I’m not sure about any answers to these questions, and I won’t try to pass off my interpretations of interpretations of science as bonafide evidence that swings the balance one way or the other. And, of course, I realize that, as a gaysian, I am upsetting “biology” more drastically than monogamy ever could (our intersectional identities indeed play a tremendous role in the type relationships we can create).
But the one thing I am certain about, and perhaps I can chalk it up to the romantic tendencies that have consumed my simple and easily-manipulated-by-social-constructs soul, is that monogamy is right for me.
I just feel it in the way I look at my boyfriend every night on Skype. I feel it every time I think back to when we first told each other that we loved each other. I feel it in the dreams that infiltrate my sleep, the march down the aisle, the lights strung up across the garden, and the hydrangea. All of the damn hydrangea that I could ever want in neat arrangements on every table beneath the white canopy.
I am, of course, exaggerating, but it is true that I’ve felt great happiness in the monogamous relationships that I have been in. On the hook-up/multiple partner side…not so much. And maybe it is because I personally find so much value in stability, security, and just knowing that there will be someone alongside me during this bumpy adventure known as life (or maybe because I am also a slightly possessive, prone to jealously, irrational human being).
But that isn’t to say that I don’t value my independence or that I think all relationships should turn into co-dependency. I, for one, love to recharge at a party of just me and my own thoughts, and I fully believe that monogamous relationships are strongest between individuals who lead strong, individual lives.
But let’s think of life as somewhat like trench warfare (an analogy not too far from reality for many of my grad school enrolled friends – we’ll get through this!!!). As we dodge bullets, traverse the treacherous lands, and fight for our dreams, passions, and survival, it’s nice knowing that there’s someone backing you up. That there’s someone there to catch you and care for you when you’re wounded. That there’s someone there to push you out of your comfort zone. That there’s someone there even just to exchange war stories. That there’s someone there looking out for your best interests. That there’s someone there willing to exchange his life for your own.
Monogamy can be all of that and oh so much more (i.e. you basically can have unlimited sex with someone you can consider a best friend – physical and mental stimulation for life, oh yeah). At this time of night and at this point in this entry, I am being entirely facetious, but I suppose the point is this.
Monogamy isn’t for everyone. But for me, it is the right choice at the moment. I’ve met an absolutely extraordinary person with whom I feel that I can be myself, put down my shields, and envision a future. If I’ve managed to find someone like that who also loves me back (regarding this entire process, please stay tuned to part deux), why the hell would I want to toss that all away in the name of sexploration?
It is but a personal choice, and, of course, I can’t say that I won’t encounter some of the things that plague many monogamous relationships (e.g. boredom, despair, sex life death). Eight months of monogamy, compared to the long journey that is life, is merely a snapshot of a human being’s existence. But, wow, what a beautiful and fulfilling snapshot it can be.
In the gay community, many people have chosen open relationships over monogamous relationships. This piece revolves around the idea that monogamy is a choice. Have you ever tried to have open relationships? What are the pros and cons?