Whenever I scroll through social media, YouTube or my news feed, there are endless articles and videos about open relationships and polyamory. Even on dating apps, I’ve come across many profiles of guys or joint couple profiles openly stating that they are non-monogamous and in open relationships. Whilst I consider myself to be a liberal and enlightened person, non-monogamy is something that I can’t come to grips with or accept. I understand that the rise of non-monogamous relationships is not a new concept. Non-monogamy goes far back to Palaeolithic times (the caveman era) and continues into the biblical era where the most famous patriarchs such as Abraham had more than one wife.
Overtime, polygamy became outlawed and marriage evolved to being strictly between two people (with the exception of certain cultures that always have and still continue to practice polygamy). However, that didn’t necessarily mean that people were faithful. It was common and normal for men to have mistresses in addition to their marriage, however this was a grossly unfair double standard as women who were unfaithful were harshly punished and cast out from society. As a result of the feminist revolution, women no longer face harsh consequences if they are unfaithful and modern non-monogamy means that both men and women can be equally unfaithful.
However, it is still a widely accepted fact that more men than women cheat and open relationships, polygamy and non-monogamy are more commonly instigated by men. Whilst I believe in freedom of choice, I fear that non-monogamous relationships are being heavily promoted and normalised in society. As a result, people have stopped believing in traditional relationships and see it as a green light to cheat with no consequences. Whilst I do think that non-monogamy works for a small percentage of the population, it does not work for the majority.
There are many arguments that human beings are not naturally monogamous especially men. I’m so sick of the “it’s in a man’s genes and biology to cheat” argument. By blaming people’s biology and genes, it’s making excuses for bad behaviour and taking away personal responsibility. It also implies that people have no control over their behaviour, which is ridiculous. This argument might have been valid in caveman times, but not in the 21st century where the majority of human beings have majorly evolved and are educated and enlightened. I’m sorry but I don’t buy it.
People have control over their actions and in addition morality and empathy enable human being to understand consequences of their behaviour. Yes we all have our id (Sigmund Freud came up with the concept of three aspects of personality: the id, ego and superego) which represents instincts and desires, but we don’t have to act on them especially as we are aware of the consequences if we do (the ego). For example imagine if you really really hate someone so much you wish you could kill them (your id). Your ego knows that if you kill them, you’ll spend life in prison and perhaps from a super ego perspective, you rationalise that you wouldn’t want to hurt or cause pain to somebody no matter what a terrible person they are and that violence and killing doesn’t solve anything.
Being unfaithful is no different. Of course it’s not as extreme as killing someone, but people still get hurt. We’re taught in society to control certain aspects of our darkest thoughts and desires such as committing crimes, but not when it comes to other areas. The modern selfish and self-absorbed generation believes that as long as they’re not harming somebody physically, it’s ok to do what they want. Self-control, discipline and morality are no longer traits that people find admirable. If you practice self-control and discipline, you’re boring and should just let go and do what you want all the time, and if you have morals, you’re just a sad freak “brainwashed by religion.”
Non-monogamy is selfish and hurtful and is rarely mutually beneficial for both partners or the people involved. Usually it’s the desire of one partner and the other agrees because they don’t want to lose their partner. Jealousy is a powerful and very natural human emotion- far more natural than human beings’ so-called inbuilt drive towards non-monogamy. If non-monogamy was so natural, jealousy wouldn’t be an issue. The fact is, that the majority of people don’t want to share their partner with anybody. The most selfish and despicable are the people who think it’s ok to be unfaithful themselves, but that it’s completely unacceptable for their partners to be unfaithful. It’s also illogical and egotistical to participate in a behaviour that would deeply hurt and offend you if it was done to you.
There’s the whole “it’s just sex” argument. It’s never just about sex. People only say that to justify their behaviour and make it seem inconsequential. It also takes away responsibility. It’s the same as justifying other bad choices such as stealing. It’s like saying it’s ok, I only stole something worth less than a dollar. It doesn’t matter whether it’s worth thousands of dollars or nothing; it’s still stealing and there’s no justifying it. Non-monogamy is a method used to justify cheating and make it acceptable and open instead of having to hide it. Just because you’re telling your partner that you’re having sex with someone else doesn’t make it ok.
If it were “just about sex”, millions and billions of people wouldn’t despair and feel heartbroken and worthless about being cheated on. Sex isn’t one simple and single action like turning on and off a light- sex is a process. Usually it’s about choosing a person, one that you feel attraction to, wooing them, trying to persuade them to sleep with you, doing foreplay and talking. Sex is all about communication- it requires the response of another person. A person with feelings and desires. Saying that “it’s just sex” is disrespectful to the other person and in a way dehumanising them and making them seem like a robot. People do get attached when they have sex (especially more than once with the same person) and even if it’s casual sex, sex brings up all kinds of emotions and feelings whether negative or positive.
Sex is a big deal in any relationship or marriage. Infidelity is so hurtful because sex is something that bonds and unites people. It’s what makes them feel special, desired and bonded. Intimacy is what separates a relationship from a friendship. Infidelity and open relationships cheapen that bond between you. It’s no longer meaningful or special because it’s being passed around. Those special things your partner said and did with you, they’re saying and doing with someone else. It’s like promising to keep a big secret, but then telling everyone about it- something that someone confided in you because they felt a connection with you and broke down their barriers to entrust you with only to break that trust and confidence they placed in you.
If people want non-monogamy, why do they bother with relationships? If one person isn’t enough, why have a relationship especially if you’re investing so much time into chasing other people to sleep with? Non-monogamy means less investment and less time in a relationship. How can their partner be the focus if they’ve got sex with other people and/or other romantic relationships on their mind? Finding people to sleep with, having sex and keeping up with other relationships is time consuming. Why not spend that time trying to increase the intimacy and connection with their partner or spend time maintaining other meaningful relationships such as with friends and family?
Non-monogamy is an evil of patriarchy. I worry that women who agree to engage in non-monogamous relationships do so in order to compete with men or as I mentioned to please and keep their man. I see so many videos on the popular YouTube channel, Love Don’t Judge (a series about couples who are in unconventional relationships ranging from big age differences, disabilities and polygamy etc), featuring polyamorous and open relationships. A common theme I find in these videos is that it’s almost always the men who push to have a non-monogamous relationship. The women go along with it. They claim that they are happy, but you wonder whether that’s what they’re trying to convince themselves. Of the videos featuring polyamorous couples, it’s almost always the men who have multiple wives and girlfriends, not the women having multiple husbands and boyfriends.
Before people will lob back the argument that men are hardwired for non-monogamy, I think it’s more likely because they’re being enabled by society and their partner/s. It’s behavioural not biological. If you allow and enable people to get away with certain behaviour, of course they’re going to do it. If you allow a child to get away with bad behaviour all the time, of course they’re going to keep pushing boundaries and behaving badly. Unfortunately many women have been taught by patriarchy to see infidelity as normal and “part of being a man.” They may be upset by infidelity or their husband or boyfriend bringing other women into the relationship, but they learn to accept it even though it may kill them inside. Many women try to rationalise it with the “it’s just sex” argument because that’s what patriarchy has taught them.
The men in these videos are like the cat who got the cream. They proudly parade their harem who dote on them hand and foot. The man is worshipped and has all of his needs met. If one woman is too tired for sex, he can go to another, and of course they’ll always be a woman around to cook, clean and take care of him. Whilst these women may claim to be happy with this arrangement, nobody sees what goes on behind the cheery surface- the jealousy, the heartache and sacrifices. I find the rise of polyamorous relationships very regressive, primitive and patriarchal.
Non-monogamy also undervalues and discredits those people who are monogamous and have been in monogamous relationships for years and decades. People are perfectly capable of it and reap the benefits. You see old couples who have been married for decades and who are completely devoted to one another. Non-monogamy doesn’t equal devotion. It equals distance, selfishness and less time spent forming intimacy and a bond. Those men who gloat about being non-monogamous downplay those men who are capable of keeping it in their pants and staying faithful to their partners.
The most interesting and supporting fact is that the vast majority of open marriages fail- according to research, open marriages have a 92% failure rate. This just goes to show that non-monogamy doesn’t work for the vast majority, especially not in the long term. Also who is to say that all of the 8% are happy or successful? Many people stay in marriages for many reasons including stability for children or finances.
Even in light of these statistics, my fear is that relationships are becoming less meaningful and more disposable. More people are single than ever before and divorce rates are high. I believe that non-monogamy is not the sole problem, but one of many problems that contribute to lack of relationship formation and long-term success including selfish dating behaviours such as ghosting and bread crumbing, dating apps and unrealistic standards and expectations. We’re living in a society that has ever weakening values encouraged by woke egocentrism, superficial celebrity culture and selfish nihilism. I also fear that with behaviours such as non-monogamy becoming normalised, we will never overcome the patriarchal chains of past generations. I fear the society and humankind will keep on regressing instead of evolving.