I was sitting here watching the Science Channel and reading an e-book by Ian Douglas (“Semper Mars”) and, for some reason, I started thinking about relationships, like, how many relationship states there are. I thought about it for a moment or two, and came up with these:
- Shacking up/Cohabitation
- Married/Civil Union
- Open relationships/Swinging
My initial thought, after jotting these down, was, “Wow, that many…” Then I thought, “Okay, so now that you went through all of that to write them down, what about them?” Good question, huh? When we think about relationships, we almost always think of them in terms of monogamy – one man, one woman.
Even when dating, a state where people are considered to be free agents and, thus, able to date more than one person, most people don’t find dating more than one person at a time an easy thing to do and even when they can, well, sometimes it’s frowned upon because of the rules of monogamy as well as a sort of unspoken “rule” that dating is the first step in having a relationship, although, to fuck up something Freud said, if a cigar is just a cigar, then a date is just a date and there’s nothing else to it other than two people going out with each other for one night and that’s that.
States six through nine get away from the monogamy model for relationships and, because they do, are really frowned upon. Doesn’t mean they can’t be done because they are; whether they’re successful or not, well, that’s something else but what I noticed about states six through nine is that if they don’t work, it’s because people still carry the rules of monogamy with them.
I think my subconscious got to thinking about this because in another Ian Douglas book I finished reading yesterday afternoon, it made several references to monogamy and polyamory and, in the book, being a “monogie” was not only old school but not the preferred way to live and/or do the nasty for recreational purposes and those people ID’d as being “monogies” had to deal with a lot of shit about their choice to live in an outmoded relationship state.
There are good and bad things about these nine relationship states and it’s not the purpose of this blog to praise one more than any other but it did get me to wondering that if monogamy fell by the wayside, well, what’s left? And, yup, in order to determine what’s left, one must identify what’s up with this to begin with.
Nine states. Five of them deeply rooted in monogamy, four of them not, and all of them capable of interacting with each other. Yeah, sounds extreme and all that but, yeah, they can even though you’d think they’re not supposed to.
Okay, so, humans are social animals in that we need to interact with each other for various and obvious reasons – everyone should know these things and, yep, relationship states are part of that interaction. You can either be by yourself or be with someone and, sure, more than one someone despite what the rules of society mandate. I am not, at this point, trying to qualify or quantify this stuff – I’m really stating the obvious here… because a lot of us tend to overlook that which is obvious.
I know, from talking to many people over the years, that people do wonder if monogamy is the only way to have a relationship and, no, clearly, it isn’t but the other things are difficult for people to embrace because “one man, one woman” literally gets pounded into us as the only way to have a relationship. Attempts at those other ways fail more often than not because, again, the rules of monogamy are dragged along into the mix, which is why I say, when talking about these things, that in order to do them, you have to unlearn everything you’ve learned about having a relationship.
Not everyone can do that and because of the failure rate, not everyone is willing to do this, either… but the question remains – what else is there other than one man, one woman? Is it a good thing? Bad? I’ve seen blogs on WordPress that question whether monogamy can survive as a solitary state when, due to economic downturns, the more people you have working at an issue, the better the chances of success are.
What I find interesting is that monogamy, as well as the other non-traditional states, are seen as aberrational behavior; those who firmly believe that monogamy is the only way to live say that not being monogamous in a relationship is the aberration; those who favor anything other than monogamy says, well, monogamy sucks. Both sides of this issue have their good points as well as their not-so-good ones and, again, this isn’t an attempt to qualify or quantify either side – just pointing out that they do exist.
Sometimes I think this is a thing of what you believe versus what you know when it comes to this. Fellow blogger John likes to point out the high divorce rate in this country – and it’s the highest rate in the world, just like there are a lot of reasons why this is; in other blogs, you can read how the authors feel about cheating and the ever-present question as to why people cheat and how those who do are seen as greedy and a lot of other things that would get one’s mouth washed out with Lava soap.
If you’re an observer of such things, you see this, see what people are saying about this and, well, if the non-monogamous states are deemed as being not doable, monogamy doesn’t seem to be faring all that well either on the whole. If you choose to dispute this, I’ll point you back to the fact that we do have the highest divorce rate on the planet and this states, quite clearly, there’s trouble in Monogamy City and of differing kinds.
One of my favorite genres to read is science fiction and I often marvel at how the authors of such works see the future, especially where relationships are concerned. Depending on what you’re reading, monogamy continues to exist; marriages are done as contracted agreements that can be renewed or not; there are marriage contracts involving multiple partners, polyandry, polygyny, and just “plain” polyamory.
In some works, sex is seen not only as a necessity for the perpetuation of the species but as a form of “no strings” recreation and marital status doesn’t play into it (yeah, right)… but even in these imagined futures, everything from being single to polygyny has its good points and bad points. Granted, it’s all a figment of the author’s imagination… or, in this context, could science fiction become science fact and, yeah, that does happen whether you care to believe it or not?
Ah, man… this is such a complicated topic of discussion! There are pros and cons for each of the nine states I’ve identified and, well, in any of them, your result will sure as hell vary and, uh-huh, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find the relationship state that works for you and whoever’s in the relationship with you.
- is monogamy best? is polyamory wrong? (jrfibonacci.wordpress.com)
- Redefining Marriage in America: The Unopen Yet Flexible Marriage (psychologytoday.com)
- A Marriage Ruined by Monogamy (bigthink.com)
- Why Men Gave Up Polygamy (psychologytoday.com)
- Can infidelity save a marriage? (fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com)
- Monogamy is our default? (sharingsecretsoftheuniverse.wordpress.com)
- Stigma of Singlehood (mothersugar.wordpress.com)