August 9, 2013

An Open Letter to Monogamy.

Dear Monogamy:

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but you aren’t very popular right now. You’ve become a bit of a scapegoat at the moment. Not only are there are a plethora of books and articles claiming that you are unnatural, blaming you for the high divorce rate and levels of marital dissatisfaction, but you just seem, well, so dull to many. Polyamory is the like that girl who spent the summer before freshman year in Europe and comes back with all that cool stuff that hasn’t yet made it here to the U.S. (Yeah, I know better than most that Polyamory is nothing new, but it seems that way to many.)

Still, Monogamy, I like you. You may not always be easy, but if I had to chose between you and Polyamory, I’d pick you-hands down. And Polyamory, since I mentioned you and will continue to mention you, please know I have nothing against you. I am not condemning those who go off with you. I believe there are people who are truly happy in polyamorous relationships. If it works for them, then good. The world could use more happiness. However, you’re just not the one for me. If you want to know why, then keep reading.

1. It’s a lot less complicated to be monogamous.

Wipe that smug look off your face, Monogamy. I am not saying you aren’t complicated. Goodness knows, you are, but simply put, I have found that the more people in any situation, the more problems.

Even people that are polygamous admit it takes a lot of time and effort to sort out the logistics. Some people are great at planning. Alas, I am not one of those people. On most days, I hardly have time to balance work, parenthood and one intimate relationship. I cannot image adding any more. Heck, some days I can barely find time to brush my hair, and I don’t even work outside the home full-time.

However, even if you have the time, the money and ground rules in place, there is still the problem of jealousy, which I will go more in depth on in #2.

2. The jealousy factor.

As one of those pseudo-intellectual types who hangs out with other pseudo-intellectual types, I can appreciate the arguments that jealousy may be a learned emotion. However, I do not have the time to devote to unlearning jealousy.

If it sounds like I am blaming time again, then I am partly guilty of that. Still, here’s another one: it’s not high on my list of priorities to get over jealousy.  If I had endless time, perhaps, but given the choice I’d rather learn how to be a better parent, how to be a better photographer, or even how to change the oil in my car. However, I don’t think the jealousy I feel if my partner is having sex with another person is necessarily a bad thing.

Ironically, I don’t consider myself a jealous person in general. I never objected to any man I was involved with devoting time to his friends whether they be male or female. Yet, I did draw the line at them having sex with other people if they were with me. Having them be honest with me, and tell me, did not lessen the hurt.

Call it unreasonable if you will, but I don’t see this part of my personality ever changing.

3. Break ups are easier when there are two people as opposed to more than two.

There is no question, breaking up tends to suck no matter what. At least with one, it is easier.

Also, even if your significant other was a jerk and your friends didn’t like them, they are far more likely to give you a shoulder to cry on.

In polyamorous arrangements, one is far more likely to be asked, “Well, what did you expect?” It may sound harsh, especially to someone in the throes of a break-up, but they have a point: opening up a relationship does increase the likely that one or both of you might partner off with someone else. I’ve known at least one situation where the couple vowed that, no matter what, they would stick together only to have the husband leave for another woman. I don’t doubt that when they made this vow they intended to keep it. However, human behavior is notoriously unpredictable which brings me to #4.

4. My own family history.

This probably is not a huge surprise to you, Monogamy, if you know anything about Asian culture, but polyamory went on in my father’s side of the family for many years. It was actually fairly normal amongst the upper-classes throughout Asia until the early 20th century. I had a great-great uncle who at one point had over five concubines and one wife. Anyone who thinks that this was a happy, harmonious group was gravely mistaken.

This was more Lord of the Flies than Utopia.

From the sound of it, the only one who was really happy was Great-Great-Uncle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if even he got frustrated over the endless bickering and back-stabbing. As he got older, the concubines got younger and younger. And lest anyone think these women were forced to be there or had no choice, that wasn’t the case from what I gleaned. Indeed, it seems they all wanted to be there at least in the beginning, and it was even a status symbol of sorts to be one of the concubines. Judging by one photo I saw, I don’t know what they saw in him, but I would guess the fact he had a lot of money and a high social status had a lot—if not everything—to do with it. In any event, it’s too long to go into here, the tales of drama between the wife, concubines and the various children born of this arrangement where the stuff of family legend.

I know that some fans of your rival will say this is hardly typical or fair and modern day polyamorous arrangements are not like this. This may be true. However, it is a true example of a polyamorous situation where it appeared that the participants thought that they knew what they were getting into and, as it turns out, did not. Sometimes things sound very good in theory, but in reality they don’t go quite the way anyone plans.

In closing, Monogamy, I am sticking with you. Your critics may say that neither I nor anyone can get all my needs met from one person and, in all fairness, they are right. That is why I have friends and other interests. I love my friends (female and male) with all my heart. I make it a point to spend time with them. Still, I draw the line at taking them as my lovers. Some may disagree, but I do not like to mix the two. (Of course, your spouse or partner can also be your friend, but sleeping with people tends to change the dynamics of a relationship.)

Saying that I am in a monogamous relationship is not the same as saying that I intend it to last forever. As much as I would, very few things last forever. I may indeed, at some point, move on to another monogamous relationship and be one of those “serial monogamists.” I am even open to the idea that some day I may change my mind about polyamory. However, for the time being, I seriously doubt it.

So, Monogamy, I am sticking with you and all your imperfections. As someone who is imperfect, you and I are probably well suited. You’re not the perfect fit, but you’re good enough. And I will gladly take that.



Like elephant love on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

Read 25 Comments and Reply

Read 25 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Kimberly Lo  |  Contribution: 55,675