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Despite my bitterness and cold persona, I am a hopeless romantic. I used to fantasize (and the word is used deliberately) about finding someone and building a loving, monogamous relationship that would outlast at least one of us. A love so strong that it echoes beyond our meager existence.
I still want that. Given, I’ve never had a relationship for more than about 8 months, so I can’t comment on whether monogamy is viable at all. When I like someone romantically, I am not programmed to even look at other people. This surprises many (if I could get paid for every time people have reacted “Really? I didn’t think you were the settling down type”), due to my free time proclivities, which I think is a judgement in itself that people should be wary to make.
But the point I want to make here is that, despite me wanting and believing I am a monogamous creature, as the years have passed and I have matured like a good wine, I’ve become increasingly open to the idea of not being monogamous. Or perhaps better put, I have become increasingly not bothered with not being monogamous. I don’t actively want an open or polyamorous relationship, I just don’t care if it is.
Even more importantly, I have become increasingly content with the idea of being single, of not being in any romantic relationship at all. People might want to attribute this with the freedom of being single (and sleeping around, if we’re to be honest about what they think), and it really has nothing to do with that. I just don’t feel like I need to be with someone.
The “love” malaise
As a society we are obsessed with (monogamous) relationships. We fetishize them and use them as a mark of achievement, the ones that haven’t made the cut being pitied or strange.
Even within the LGBT+ community, where we are supposedly unshackled by societies influence, there is so much heteronormativity that you often see the same disdain for alternative romantic structures that I have from my less exposed, cis-gendered straight friends.
Let’s first start with accepting that we are all different. Some people choose to be monogamous, some people choose to have open relationships, and some people choose to be single. None of these choices are inherently good or bad, and any judgement passed on them reflects more on the person doing so that anything else.
Yet that being said, that does not mean we should not question or discuss specific relationships, or the benefits and sacrifices that they bring, or our view and perception of what we want, and why we want it.
Why do I want to be monogamous? I started asking myself that question in rather unfortunate events. When people I dated would flirt with others in public, or when past boyfriends had cheated on me. Whenever something like that would happen, I would feel bad. Incredibly bad. Initially, I didn’t understand why I felt bad. Sure, there was a certain loss of trust, but that same bad feeling would happen when guys that I liked and was seeing but not yet clearly monogamous would flirt around.
So I decided to “dig” into my feeling. Find out the source of it. I realised that perhaps most of it came from a feeling of insecurity. That if he flirts with someone else, sleeps with someone else, I will be cast aside. Part of my (and I believe many others) need for monogamy was simply that I feared losing the people I loved. It was selfish (in a bad, destructive kind of way), but luckily that feeling has slowly died down as I have accepted it wasn’t appropriate or a good way of thinking.
I’ve had some amazing conversations on the topic of monogamy with people in open relationships or married couples that aren’t. The more I have thought about it, the less does monogamy make sense (beyond, perhaps, family rearing and even there I have doubts).
It goes deeper, however, than just monogamy. I have seen numerous relationships where there was such effort put into “making it work”, and it baffles me. Looking at friendships, some of my best friendships have never needed me to “make them work”, they just do. Sure, there are occasional rough patches, but never do I question whether I should be friends. So why are romances different? They shouldn’t be.
They seem different because we have made them feel different throughout the ages. We have made them one of the primary goals of life (think of the numerous times family members have asked you when you will find a boy/girl). Instead of a source of joy, they have become a job. A source of stress and anxiety. We’ve layered so many pointless issues on them that they get in the way.