Is our ‘one mate for life’ rule making us subconsciously unhappy?

Each year brings forth heaps of people who commit adultery – leaving a reasonable amount of heartbreak and fat cheques for the divorce lawyers. Not only does this create unsettled hearts, but it also leaves plenty of people wondering why we keep getting it ‘wrong’.

This could be the best time to think about the nature of the rule created for relationships: monogamy

Why do humans choose to idealise monogamy, even when most people aren’t monogamous?

Humans are arguably the most irrational thinkers on this planet. We allow ourselves to be taken in by the imaginary concepts of ideals and patterns.

A common contemporary argument against monogamy is that it makes liars of us all. The Monogamy Gap, for example, argues that in a culture which values sexual exclusivity, men are “forced” to make promises of fidelity that they know they will, at some point, prove incapable of keeping; that perhaps if we would all be fully open about our sexual desires, it would help humans deal better with the consequences of infidelity.

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The Monogamy Gap argues that in a culture which values sexual exclusivity, men are “forced” to make promises of fidelity that they know they will, at some point, prove incapable of keeping.

But how possible is this level of honesty?

Most people are afraid to admit they have fantasies about, and feel attracted to, people other than their partner. They avoid being open about it because it goes against society’s view of monogamy. It contradicts what we are taught about marriage, sex and falling in love.

Another popular misconception is that infidelity is predominantly something practised by men.

This isn’t the case. Especially because it happens in same-sex relationships as well as with women in heterosexual relationships. Rather, it is more about who the particular person is, how they relate to and deal with their feelings, their emotions, their sexuality and to other people.

Over the years, there has been clear social-sexual progress

We’ve been able to see many of the world’s sexual taboos fall away, many due to social advancements and Internet accessibility.

Today’s youth take a much more sex-positive view of what comes naturally. They have removed the fear and misconceptions of masturbation.

One would think that this ongoing progress would lead to openness about desires and relationship norms. However, our culture has yet to alleviate the sexual taboo of engaging in – or admitting to wanting – sex with someone other than your monogamous partner. Monogamy is viewed so highly, it remains compulsory in our relationships.

In all honesty, the biggest issue here is societal norms

Society has sculpted the ‘wrongs’ and ‘rights’, and when something defies or even challenges the norm, it is deemed ‘unacceptable’.

Despite it being culturally esteemed, there are faults with the practice of monogamy today, problems covered by a culture that is unwilling to seek and to ask critical questions about it.

Humans enter into romantic/sexual relationships, and are taught that monogamy is capable of providing them with a lifetime of sexual fulfillment, and that if they truly love their partners they would not desire others.

Humans enter into romantic/sexual relationships, and are taught that monogamy is capable of providing them with a lifetime of sexual fulfillment, and that if they truly love their partners they would not desire others

This, we are told, is because monogamy is healthy, moral and ‘natural’.

Anyone deviating from, or challenging this norm, is stigmatised. If this is the case, how will we ever reach a point where transparency and honesty is the norm?

Will we ever feel emancipated enough to share our desires and fantasies with our partners without the fear of making them feel inadequate? Can we reach a point where no one is judged for considering other types of relationship models?

Essentially, there is no one-size-fits-all about relationships

This is why transparency would enable the people involved to work it out together, on their own terms, without the fear of people who are looking at it from the outside criticizing it as ‘wrong’ or ‘unhealthy’ in some way.

For some people that means monogamy. For others it means some kind of polyamory. It is your relationship and your life. Find what works for you – and truly embrace that.

Editor’s note: While All4Women publishes articles by a variety of contributors to share different viewpoints with our readers, the views expressed in these articles are the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of our editors or the publication as a whole.