Have you every wondered why you should stay in a relationship with just one person? Or why the options are either to play the field and date or “settle down” and be monogamous with one human being on this planet? There are billions of people in this world and so many potential connections to make - it can easily make you question why we are brought up thinking that we have to be with just one at a time. If you’ve been in a long term relationship and found that monogamy has been a hard thing to stick to, you’re one of many.
It’s an essential human experience to be attracted to more than one person, and if you’ve promised to be faithful to one person alone, this can bring trouble. Whether you’ve been cheated on, felt insecure, jealous or just found yourself wondering why you’re limiting yourself - you’ll be happy to know you’re not alone. While society as a whole favours monogamy, there are always people on the fringes who are challenging the status quo and trying new things like open relationships or polyamorous relationships. If these terms are new to you, it’s probably because like most of us, you live in a community where you’re expected to date, go steady and settle down with one person. If one person betrays the commitment by cheating, then the trust of the relationship can be irreparably broken. Monogamy does not always work, and here are the top fifteen reasons why.
15 Humans weren’t designed to mate for life
Let’s go back to basics and look a the scientific and sociological facts of monogamy. Humans, like other mammals, worked out a system to reproduce and survive long before civilization existed. Expecting people to stay monogamous in this day and age is a very different experience when compared to being monogamous millions of years ago - when having one mate made survival a whole lot easier. Monogamy worked when we were hunter and gatherers because a family unit made sense for survival. Women gave birth and looked after the young, while men hunted and provided food. These traditional roles made it possible for humans to gradually progress and cultivate a more developed society than animals. But once society was established and the roles of men and women were no longer necessary for survival, biology took over once again and men (mostly) began to play around, throwing the whole system into question.
14 It encourages jealousy
Monogamy is predicated on the idea that you should only have feelings of attraction to one person at one time. It’s commonly accepted that it's wrong to be attracted to another person while you're in a relationship. It's believed that having those feelings can take away from the love and energy that you give to your partner, which isn’t fair for them. If our partner gives another person a little too much charisma, flirtation or attention, we see it as a threat to our relationship, feeling like it takes away from the attention they should be giving to us.
In this way, monogamy is all about insecurity - it encourages people to feel threatened by others and makes all interactions that seem too friendly suspect. Instead of being able to share and enjoy interactions of all kinds with different people we meet, we are encouraged to feel a sense of ownership over our partner. Additionally, we feel threatened and jealous if our significant other steps out of bounds by being too friendly with someone who we perceive as a threat. Not a fun way to be.
13 It sets people up to cheat
If there was no monogamy, there would be no cheating. Have you ever heard of or met anybody who is in an open relationship? The idea might be completely foreign to you - but if you decide to have an open relationship with your partner, it takes cheating out the equation. Instead of feeling threatened and jealous of people your partner finds themselves attracted to, open relationships acknowledge that these feelings are a part of life. Instead of turning every opportunity into a temptation to cheat, open relationships acknowledge that there are millions of people in this world and that having a fling or a connection with another person doesn’t take away from the love and intimacy you have with your partner. In fact - lots of people in open relationships feel that allowing their partner to have a free reign only makes them stronger. Molly Parker’s cute show Swingtown highlights what this lifestyle might be like for a couple.
12 It assumes you can only love one person at a time
Monogamy is something we are taught about since before we can remember. Whether your parents stayed together or got divorced, most of us always believed that we were only meant for one person. If that person didn’t work out, we’d find another one later down the track - certainly not at the same time. If people do find themselves falling for a second person while in a relationship, it seems to imply that they don’t love or care for their spouse. But is it possible that you can fall in love with a second person while still loving the first, and that one doesn’t take away from the other? Monogamy is a system that is founded on the idea that there is only a certain amount of love to go around - but if love is what makes the world go round - maybe there’s more than enough for everyone.
11 It traps people into unhealthy relationships
Two by two by two by two. From the dawn of time we think in pairs and learn that if you’re single, you should be looking for another person to become a pair with. As a society we are so focused on pairing up, that we’ve created a billion dollar dating industries trying to pair up every human on the planet. From a young age we are conditioned to think that being alone is something that nobody should want to be. As a result we end up staying in an unhealthy relationship, rather than breaking it off and face being single.
Even worse, sometimes monogamy can be used as a threat. A common example is if your partner is limiting your social life or the things that you want to do by claiming you’re not giving them enough attention. If you’re not doing the things that make you happy or pursuing the career you want because you feel tied to a partner, monogamy is not working for you.
10 It isolates people from social communities
Do you ever notice how once your friends get a boyfriend, they disappear from your social radar completely for at least the next six months? Cocooning with a new partner can be a great experience, but monogamy definitely encourages two people isolating themselves from the rest of the social group. You might find this fun for a while, but very often this can go wrong when you realize that you’re completely out of touch with your friends. You might find it hard to go out anywhere without bringing your partner along because you’ve become completely enmeshed, and your friends will secretly be groaning when you appear partner-in-tow to everything.
Codependency is a bad result of monogamy, where you lack the confidence to do things as an individual because you’ve become a unit - in an unhealthy way. If this sounds like you, get in touch with some friends - you don’t want to become an isolated couple.
9 It’s an outdated model
Meshing monogamy with hook-up culture is a tough gig. One of the amazing things that Sex and the City did in the 90s was introducing the idea that it wasn’t just men who could have a lot of sex for fun, but women could too. While this is pretty commonly accepted now, in the scheme of things it’s actually a pretty new idea. We’re in a new era of relationship where we have the technology to easily get in touch with people who have similar interests. We can travel like never before and get out of the communities and places we grew up in. We can have holiday flings, go on Tinder for dates and hookup’s - and yet we can still look for the fairytale happily ever after. We are stuck in a Twilight Zone of the old and the new - we want fun and hookups and we want "the one". Maybe it’s time to accept that monogamy and the new millennium are like chalk and cheese.
8 Men who cheat are treated differently to women who cheat
The idea of having one partner, getting married and having a happily ever after is an idea marketed to women because, decades ago it helped women feel content. Having kids and staying at home while men had careers was the norm, and those men having the opportunity to go out and fool around was too. These days women have so much more agency - but the old monogamous idea still hangs on despite the reasons being well over. If you look at the way that women are treated if they cheat compared to men, the
If you look at the way that women are treated if they cheat compared to men, the age-old stereotype hasn’t really gone away. Think Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and who was hated on the most. While it’s still accepted that men will stray from time to time, if a woman is caught having the affair, the slut-shaming is rampant. A perfect example is how Prince Charles got away with his affair with Camilia for years, while Princess Diana’s love affair with James Hewitt caused a scandal. Monogamy is absolutely not and even playing field.
7 It stops people exploring their options
One of the reasons monogamy just doesn’t work is that there too many choices in the world. We are still brought up with the idea that marrying our high school sweetheart is the ideal scenario. But if you’ve found a beautiful soul who you’re madly in love it, monogamy means that very often you will be faced with the choice of limiting your options and settling down early. On the contrary, it could mean breaking off with someone you love to go and explore the world and try new things.
Social expectations and monogamy make it really hard to have a relationship where two people can explore their options while staying together. If you’re lucky enough to have survived a turbulent long term relationship, where you’ve been able to see other people, you’re negotiating monogamy like a pro. If you’re sticking to the monogamy guns though, chances are you're limiting yourself.
6 It equates possession with love
Owning a person doesn’t mean loving them. If you find yourself being so possessive over your partner that you can’t stand to see them go out and talk to attractive women, or be without you for an extended period, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. While your partner might be a prize, trust is essential to any relationship, and if you can’t trust that your partner loves you and allow them to enjoy themselves, monogamy might not be the right fit for you. Try to think about love like a muscle - the more you use it, the bigger it gets. If you think about love like currency in a wallet, you’ll be forever panicking that the love your partner has for you might be spent on someone else, and that when he gets to you, he’ll have run out. Nobody wants to live life like that.
5 It’s unrealistic
Does a beautiful relationship of a year or twenty years need to be destroyed completely by one night of infidelity? If you’ve agreed on monogamy at all costs, then this constitutes cheating and can be devastating to a relationship. But let's think about this for a minute - is the devastating element more about the breaking of a promise rather than the breaking of trust? What if we acknowledged that that promise was unrealistic and that being human is a complicated experience involving many different interactions. What if we acknowledged that from time to time, that our partner might be attracted to another person - that this was a realistic part of life - and considered whether allowing each other the occasional hall pass might not be the end of the world? Think about this for a second; what if it’s monogamy, and not the other woman, that’s the enemy?
4 It encourages competition between women
You know the story. You and your girlfriend see a guy she says “I saw him first”. Before you actually become monogamous with somebody, there’s always an element of game playing. If you and a friend like the same guy, the idea that only one of you can have him - an idea that is tied into monogamy - means that you might be willing to lose a friend over a guy.
Think Regina George and Cady Herron fighting over Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls - monogamy can become less about love, and more about possession and winning a prize. It turns relationships into business transactions. So, the radical idea that if monogamy didn’t exist we might all get along a whole lot better is not such a shocking concept. If you don’t believe in monogamy, you might decide to become polyamorous. Polyamorous (poly for short) people might have a primary partner or date a few people at once, but they’re always open about it. They have to do a lot of communicating and talking about their feelings, but in social circles where poly is common, competition is drastically reduced.
3 It has to end with happily ever after or divorce
If your parents are still together, you’re probably one of the rare ones - and even if they did stay together, perhaps you wished they hadn’t. Your childhood experiences may have told you from a young age that monogamy doesn’t always work - whether one of your parents cheated on the other, or they stayed in a monogamous but in an unhappy relationship. Parents often stay in bad marriages for their children, or because they believe in the wedding vows that they made to one another. In this situation, a new model of thinking about relationships might have made you and your parents a whole lot happier growing up. If you’ve already had a marriage or relationship that didn’t work out, it can be easy to feel like you’ve failed, instead of acknowledging you were just two different people who needed to go their separate ways. Trying an open relationship can be an empowering thing for people who haven't had luck in relationships.
2 It encourages insecurity
If you’ve ever competed with a friend over a guy and then come out the loser, you’ll know how crushing it can be to your ego. So often in the dating game we consider getting the guy or girl akin to getting a prize, and if we lose, we blame ourselves. When we view people as prizes to compete for we diminish both our worth and theirs. Instead of thinking about the connection you did or didn’t have with the person, you might instead find yourself focusing on the reasons that person didn’t choose to date you. Whether it’s your go to insecurities - your acne, any extra flab you have, you’re high pitched laugh, that stupid thing you said - sometimes it can feel like the race to be accepted and loved becomes a nightmare of insecurities. If instead of trying to lock somebody down into a monogamous relationship with you, you focus on gaining as many new and enjoyable experiences with people instead, you might be a lot happier.
1 It’s all or nothing
If you’ve got a monogamous partner and you’ve ever tried to take a break or do something different than the status quo, you’ll know it can be a challenge. Poly people may have close friends who they consider lovers from time to time, or an ongoing secondary partner that they respect can only spend time with them at certain points. Monogamy feels so cut and dry because it is - and making the decision to be on or off with your partner can be gut wrenching. Friend’s with benefits can be an option that often leaves you feeling hurt because it fails to acknowledge the emotional side of the interaction, which is something that’s
Friend’s with benefits can be an option that often leaves you feeling hurt because it fails to acknowledge the emotional side of the interaction, which is something that’s prioritized in the polyamorous way of dating. If you’ve been frustrated that monogamy means you’ve got to either commit or walk away - maybe it’s time to think about new ways of doing relationships. After all - with some many people in the world, why limit yourself?