To Be Or Not To Be: The Monogamy Ramble

I remember watching the movie Juno in 2008 and being struck by the quote Jennifer Garner’s character says where she declares her purpose in life is to be a mother. It made me wonder what my purpose was. Mother definitely wasn’t it (babies have to grow on me.) Perhaps great friend or daughter could be, but truthfully another answer rang in the back of my mind. I have always been a girl consumed by her romantic relations. There are few titles I wear more proudly than “girlfriend” or “better half.” Despite developing what I consider to be a very realistic outlook on relationships, love, and marriage (that little voice that whispers: “the divorce rate is ever climbing…”) I don’t think I’ve ever been able to extinguish my very Charlotte Yorke-esque hope that two people can be in love forever. My purpose then, I have decided, is to be one of them. (Empowered feminists need not read on.)

Deriving much of my self worth from my ability to love, and more importantly—be loved, I have worked tirelessly trying to figure out what the recipe for this lifelong affinity is. Start with some respect, stir in some adoration, and don’t forget the great sex! However, the dynamics of a good relationship are not as much a mystery to me as the ingredient of monogamy. Indeed, monogamy (or lack thereof) has been ending relationships since its adoption. I have often wondered what the love-success rate would be if following your every desire was completely fair game. Sure, there would be instances where one person, during their reckless (inter?)course, would find love in someone else and end their current relationship anyway—but I think the majority of hook ups that take place outside “monogamous” relationships are not based on love at all. I can say (proudly) that I have had wonderful success in staying monogamous throughout my serious relationships, but I won’t say it has always been easy. There is just something about the grass on the other side…about someone who comes out of nowhere and is mysteriously intriguing, horribly taboo, or maybe even just mind-blowingly great to look at. I think we’re often swept up in a moment that feels so far away from the routine— excitingly new, different, or distracting from our current romantic gripes. But for most of my life, I was mistakenly convinced that only people who are unhappy are vulnerable to these occurrences.

So, what is someone to do who finds themselves in a “I want to have my cake and eat it too” situation? Well, my realistic side is telling me that more often than not, most people will try to sneak into the fridge and snag a piece of “cake,” convinced it can be pulled off with Mission Impossible-like precision. Logic goes out the window and you’ll think, “If I can just get one bite, I swear it will be out of my system and I can say goodbye to cake forever.” As it turns out, you never really do get tired of cake.

Why can’t we all just be so self-actualizing and accept that these things are going to happen? To accept that we, no matter how disciplined and in love with one person at any given moment, are going to encounter other people throughout our lives we might want to explore? How evolved! No lying—problem solved, right? Why not take it a step further and have a threesome? Make it a bonding experience.

Okay, so I’m getting a little snide. Truthfully, this is where I am stumped. While I’m aware cheating and love are not mutually exclusive, or even deceptive if you have done what I described above, I just can’t escape the hurt that discarding monogamy brings. Maybe I mean jealousy, but they go hand in hand don’t they? For me, loving you means I don’t want anyone else to have you. I don’t want anyone else to have even a semblance of the intimacy we share… to know about that oddly shaped freckle, to feel a drop of sweat, to feel any intensity together at all, even if I am the keeper of all your secrets, the shoulder you cry on, and the one you are so comfortable with that you’ve abandoned closing the bathroom door. The thought is maddening.

So what do we do?  I fear until I can solve this puzzle, find the missing ingredient—this purpose will never truly be realized. I suppose it wouldn’t be very fitting to give up though. Do you remember good ol’ Mac MacGuff’s life’s purpose from that same Juno scene?

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