Is Monogamy An Illusion In Modern Relationships? (Part 1 Of 3)

Traditionally, monogamy has always been considered the norm or the standard for all relationships. It has also been placed on a pedestal for the longest time which sprung the idea of ‘one person for life’. Whilst monogamy is seemingly the most socially acceptable way to relationships, is it really meant for everyone?… Or is it just another social construct? Questioning the idea of monogamy then challenges the whole idea of how we understand and perceive love too. So are we conditioned to believe that love can only exist between two people?… Or is it possible to love multiple people simultaneously? Well, keep an open mind and you just might learn a thing or two from this article.

A newly married couple holding a bouquet of flowers together.
The end goal in monogamy is to celebrate the holy matrimony of joining hands in marriage. But the idea of marriage doesn’t always appeal to everyone.
Photo by Trung Nguyen from Pexels

What Does Love Mean To Me?

The age-old question: What does it mean to love and be loved? Well, what would I know about love? Since I’m unable to speak deeply about my experiences, I’ll make up for it with the in-depth research my group and I conducted in our final year of university. I guess you could consider me a major in communications with a minor in relationships (*wink*!). It’s funny to reflect how I saw love as more of a person rather than a feeling. And due to my personification of the idea of love, I grew an attachment to looking for ‘love’ in the wrong people. That’s about me, maybe it’s time for you to reflect on how you view love.

You know how sometimes the word ‘love’ isn’t enough to explain your affection towards someone? Well, the Greeks came up with eight types of love (clearly this is where the English language fails us). Each represents the variants of love that are distinctively different from one another. Check it out here! Either way, love is love. It’s a warm feeling to experience only if and when you choose to be vulnerable at the hands of love.

A New Era Of Relationships

Nowadays, other types of relationships co-exist alongside monogamous relationships. It’s a start of a brand new era. A more liberating one where the slightly more unconventional finds its way to become a norm too. Honestly, I wasn’t aware there were other types of relationships other than monogamy. So you can gauge how times have changed. I recall reading romance novels that always had ideals of finding Prince Charming and riding off into happily ever after. Well, it turns out finding true love isn’t as easy as an accidental bump around the blind corner. Neither is finding your soulmate. I mean, what really is a soulmate?

A prince & princess holding hands on a bridge. The classic fairytale ending for monogamy.
The idea of finding a fairytale Prince Charming or seeking happily ever after is the main narrative that’s often pushed out by monogamous relationships.
Photo by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

I’ve only been in monogamous relationships but the idea of marriage and monogamy is a nicely decorated gift box… that’s empty. I noticed most people invest in the idea of marriage because they crave that sense of security. Or it’s just the whole extravagance of weddings that appeals to them since it’s a one-off occasion. As if an exchange of vows will stop infidelity from happening. No offence, but infidelity does occur more in marriages. There’s the saying: what happens behind closed doors remains behind closed doors. Getting a divorce in itself displays a power struggle between male and female. In terms of financial effects, custody over children (if any) and divorce settlement can be messy affairs. Not to mention also, the sense of shame and failure of the failed marriage. If you think marriage is just symbolic, think again. Now, let’s explore the whole idea of an open relationship.

Monogamy: One Person For Life

Admit it, humans naturally enjoy exclusivity. We enjoy the benefits that come with being exclusive because it makes us feel special. Similar to monogamy, we have this obsession with monogamy thinking it means exclusivity, a sense of security and unconditional love. To the romantics, I’m sure the clichés to our fairytales involve the idea of a ‘forever love’ and calling someone your ‘everything’. That was me until I realised reality isn’t that simple. There’s a lot more to relationships than just loving someone and wanting them to be happy. Doesn’t that seem like an immense amount of pressure to place on a person to be literally your everything? With that said, let’s debunk the idea that we as humans weren’t made to love just one person. Love is everywhere, not just in people so I do believe that our hearts were made to love freely.

Monogamy has always been the norm but no longer. 

A four by four rectangle made of heart-shaped chewable candies.
Growing up, there was this idea that hung over me that love could only exist between two people. That was the acceptable equation and nothing else.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

I remember having a conversation about open relationships with a friend and he had his reservations about it. Some might argue that the idea of monogamy and the idea of one person for life is restrictive. I do agree to an extent but my friend begged to differ. You may be surprised, but the policing about women’s sexuality has probably conditioned us to have a ‘natural’ feminine desire to seek monogamy. Why? Because historically (and presently), it’s excusable for men to cheat, and almost made to believe it’s only ‘natural’. Hence why women’s ideals gravitate towards a fairytale ending. It’s all merely social conformity. Also remaining monogamous still won’t keep away infidelity, just saying.

Monogamy Vs. Open Relationships

Open relationships belong to a bigger branch under consensual non-monogamous relationships. This means that one or both partners can pursue sex, and sometimes emotional attachments, with other people other than their primary partner. Open relationships have become more common these days, but they are still not as open as the name suggests. Especially not in Asian societies. Personally, I support the idea of open relationships and it doesn’t mean I’m anti-monogamy. I’m just pro-go with what feels right even if it’s not entirely socially acceptable. Everyone should live the way they choose to.

Monogamy isn't for everyone.

A couple sitting across each other.
Open relationships require loads of trust, honesty as well as respect. Setting boundaries, communicating about your needs and respecting said boundaries are crucial to allow such relationships to thrive.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

There’s a common misconception of those who seek open relationships. It’s that they’re just looking to break the plateau in their relationship or to rekindle a lost flame. Hate to burst your bubble but open relationships are much more wholesome than that. If you find it hard to communicate your needs in a monogamous relationship then an open relationship isn’t any easier. We’re talking boundaries, a lot of trust and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Being clear about boundaries and communicating both frequently and honestly is the key to maintaining such relationships.

Curiosity Didn’t Kill The Cat…

Align your choices to your own happiness. The ultimate goal is to find a relationship that brings out the best in you. Whilst of course, allowing you to grow and succeed. Your happiness over everyone else’s opinions. Do you really want to spend this one life losing your happiness over someone else’s discomfort or disapproval? Disclaimer, I’m not here to tell you what to do. It’s completely up to you to do what’s comfortable at your own pace. Wondering where you can listen more about this? Check out Episode Three of my university podcast project entitled Modern Relationships (scripted by yours truly on this topic *wink*).

Stay in your seats for the next episode of the series where we’ll be talking about infidelity. Whether it should be a dealbreaker… or just a morally wrong decision. Thoughts? Feel free to comment and check out the poll below for a sneak peak into infidelity! Looking for an article to tell you exactly why you should move on from your ex? Check it out here.

Are open relationships a disguise for people to cheat?
3 votes

About Kimberly WONG

Communications major, with a passion for reading, Kimberly (Kim for short) has a knack for learning new languages. Having worked in various industries helped her to further polish her linguistics skills too. Loves a healthy discussion about anything under the sun.

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