I spend a lot of time thinking about relationships. Maybe it’s because I’m always single and seem to have too much free time on my hands, but in any case, it’s one of those things that I think about when I have nothing better to do. I recently came across a TED talk by a lady named Esther Perel who spoke about ways to think through infidelity.
Somewhere between seeing the meme above and watching Perel’s talk, I started thinking about whether or not monogamy is really right for everyone. I get that the “monogamy or no monogamy” debate wasn’t the point of her talk, but this is how my mind works. It goes on tangents that aren’t necessarily related to the topic at hand.
On some level, I would bet that most people imagine that when they get married, they’ll sail off into the sunset of monogamous bliss, but in many cases that doesn’t happen. Think about it, the entire reason the Perel video exists is literally because she spends a good bit of her career dealing with people who faltered in their quest for what were intended to be monogamous relationships.
I don’t think I would be wrong to assume that when most of us think of relationships, we usually picture monogamous ones. I find that ironic because monogamy (particularly marital and sexual monogamy) only recently started becoming the norm for some human civilizations. In fact, monogamy of any sort is actually pretty rare among mating animals altogether (see here). Hence, infidelity and all the various turmoils that it wreaks on a person and the lives of those most closely involved in the relationship (typically the significant other and maybe the children) might be a novel concept as well.
I haven’t gone looking for evidence of this yet, but I would speculate that infidelity is a concept that is possibly more common in societies that endorse some form of monogamy as their cultural norm. Given that monogamy is relatively uncommon globally, and can have some serious potential downsides if it fails, it makes me wonder if monogamy is a realistic goal for everyone.
On a certain level, true social and sexual monogamy seems like the holy grail. But when so many people fall short of that, sometimes willingly and habitually, my inner pessimist wonders if it’s all worth it. I’m sure that some of us have heard that statistic that around 50% of US marriages end in divorce, with infidelity being cited among the most common reasons for divorce. Even in Nigeria, where you can be polygamous if you really wanted to be, many people still opt for monogamy. Interestingly enough, they still fail at as well. According to a 2012 study by Durex (yes, that Durex), 62% of Nigerian women are cheating on their spouses.
To be fair, I’ve heard many valid arguments that their methodology might not have been perfect. Yet, when I tell people what the results were, they invariably ask about the men, with the expectation that their percentage will be even higher than that of the women! The study doesn’t specify what kind of relationships the women were already in, but it’s not inconceivable that some, perhaps many, were in supposedly monogamous marriages.
When we all pretty much assume that infidelity is going to be a forgone conclusion, it makes me wonder if monogamy is even worth it. Hell, it makes me wonder if marriage is worth it.
LOL. I’m being cynical as hell today and I don’t know why. It’s probably not a good idea to go around assuming that most couples who go down the aisle and say their vows to “forsake all others till death do us part” are lying through their teeth. I hope I’m wrong about that because that seems like it would be a seriously shitty way to go through the world. That said, I’m not entirely certain that monogamy is a realistic goal for everyone.
For the record, I’m not saying that you all should go out and start cheating on your spouses and significant others. And I’m definitely not saying that it’s something that I would do. This is purely a thought experiment on my end, and a very bad one at that. I imagine that when I get to that stage in my life I will aspire to have a faithful monogamous relationship, but that’s definitely a long ways away for me so maybe I shouldn’t waste so much time thinking about this stuff.
What do you guys think? Is monogamy something that you will aspire to? Do you think it’s a crazy and unrealistic relationship goal? I want answers, people, help me out here!!