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?

Heating and air conditioning. TC mark

image – kayugee

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    We should cheat on each other.

  • http://www.upbsel.blogspot.com Alice May Connolly

    Babies have to grow on me too. Love those lil guys.

  • Sandy

    perfect

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    Great article! The line in Juno that got me was when Juno told the Jason Bateman character to grow up–when he was kind of growing down. His choice to leave his wife and not be a father made me cry because I could see both sides of the situation. And my girlfriend kind of looked at me as I hid my tears. Loved how you're stumped!

  • http://www.sjbain.com/ SJBain

    Brilliant Post!

  • Sam

    Great post.  You really hit it.

  • Katgeorge

    Brilliant.

  • priyanka

    my god your brain is so beautiful.

  • aaaaaa

    “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.” 

    This makes me never want to be in a relationship again. This depresses me so bad to think about for some reason, I don't want to be that boring safe side of the grass. Fuck that.

    • http://twitter.com/alymontero Aly

      I'm sorry you feel that way.. Trust me, on the outside looking in i'd say “To hell with that, i'm staying uninvolved” too. I'm nearing the 4 year mark (allllll of college) of my current relationship though, and I think being aware that as we continue on it's not always going to be flawless and exciting (this is not to say it's not often this way!) is necessary to making it work. It may be an unsettling thought, but at the end of the day I wouldn't trade my boyfriend-or relationship- for the world. I actually wrote this article based off both our questions we hope to have some answers to before we would consider getting married.

  • shammy

    babies have to grow in* you

  • David St Bernard

    “All The Young Monogamists” – Steven Page (former frontman to the Barenaked Ladies)

    one can have multiple friends – and there's jealousy among friends too, mind you – then there's a way to have multiple partners.

  • Pfft

    if you were actually in love and not just trying to be in love you wouldn't want to be with someone else. that's the entire problem with your story!

    • Healerofhecate

      good for you that you've never even been tempted! I have been friends with my husband for half my life, but didn't get “involved” with him till my late 20's, because I didn't want to miss out on anything. We've been married almost 7 years, and while I have not cheated, there have been a few men who have turned my head. I stayed faithful because hurting my husband hurts me, and I was able to rationally control my puswoi.

  • a.masquerade.lullaby

    I thought such a situation would've fallen under the whole “shit that words absolutely just cannot express” category. But man, you just absolutely nailed it. From the romance to the jealous archetype, it was spot on.

  • Healerofhecate

    good for you that you've never even been tempted! I have been friends with my husband for half my life, but didn't get “involved” with him till my late 20's, because I didn't want to miss out on anything. We've been married almost 7 years, and while I have not cheated, there have been a few men who have turned my head. I stayed faithful because hurting my husband hurts me, and I was able to rationally control my puswoi.

  • vincentgalbo

    Sure, I can say I've been tempted from time to time. That's impossible to avoid. What's important is that I care enough about the person I'm in a relationship to not let them down. They mean more to me than the grass on the other side.

  • Eric

    I love that you think that “empowered feminists” can't be in love forever, or don't want to love and be loved.

    This reads like an opinion piece in a high school newspaper.

    • Suzannaq_511

      I think it's more that she feels to have this overwhelming desire to be a good woman/wife/lover is not something that strong females are supposed to aspire to primarily.   Also, high school girls have valid, developing opinions, too..  I wonder if you meant that as criticism or just an honest appraisal.

  • moi

    I like this, good job!

  • Suzannaq_511

    Aw, I forget what his purpose in life was…  i love that movie btw.

  • Jordan

    I liked this.  It ebbed and flowed from knowing what you want and feel and doubting everything.  Pessimism and optimism.
    “Why can’t we all just be so self-actualizing and accept that these things are going to happen?”  If These Things are situations where you're at a bar and completely randomly you happen to be sitting next to or talking a cute girl/guy and hey they're pretty attractive, then yes.  If These Things are taking that person home and banging them, then no, we need not accept These Things.  And by 'accept' I mean not hold people to better standards.

  • http://www.patricks40khobby.com Patrick

    Have you ever looked into polyamory? It doesn't work so well with jealousy but it is a viable alternative to monogamy and you can still be in love forever with one or more people and still have the freedom to explore other people.

  • kharlamovaa

    Just as a side note, I'm pretty sure there's nothing wrong from a feminist perspective to make your life's purpose loving someone and being loved back. Feminists aren't angry lesbos that hate men, love and butterflies.

  • Deb

    excellent post, Aly!

    • http://twitter.com/alymontero Aly

      Thanks a lot Deb!

  • Sugalips631

    At first I truly loved where your article was going. But, I must say…I am overwhelmingly disappointed. It’s okay to be intrigued, but be intrigued AND be cognizant of your lover’s feelings. Because odds are, you will lose him/her if you stray..even just a little bit. 

    It is far more rewarding to be loyal than it is to give in to life’s “intriguing” moments. They are fleeting.

  • Sugalips631

    At first I truly loved where your article was going. But, I must say…I am overwhelmingly disappointed. It’s okay to be intrigued, but be intrigued AND be cognizant of your lover’s feelings. Because odds are, you will lose him/her if you stray..even just a little bit. 

    It is far more rewarding to be loyal than it is to give in to life’s “intriguing” moments. They are fleeting.

  • Sugalips631

    At first I truly loved where your article was going. But, I must say…I am overwhelmingly disappointed. It’s okay to be intrigued, but be intrigued AND be cognizant of your lover’s feelings. Because odds are, you will lose him/her if you stray..even just a little bit. 

    It is far more rewarding to be loyal than it is to give in to life’s “intriguing” moments. They are fleeting.

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