As you read, picture a very handsome author. In other words, for the sake of this article, I am a young Richard Yates, or maybe a Sebastian Theroux. I’m sure that guy has some of his uncle’s writing genes.
So, just the other morning I watched Garbine Muguruza defeat Venus Williams at the French Open. And Garbine, how attractive she was, like a young Jennifer Capriati. And a few days before that, I watched Venus play Alizé Lim, a Frenchwoman who may as well be a model. And these are just two players who happened to play the same opponent in two consecutive matches, which made me wonder, how many more who are just as attractive yet I have no idea of their existence play this sport. Then I thought, what of other sports? Volleyball and track and swimming and soccer and softball and the snow ones you only hear about when the Olympics come around, how many more who are just as beautiful and I don’t know about play those sports? Then, what of everyone else who does everything else in the world? And after that, the people a few years from now who will replace those people? The numbers I began to collect, they could have staggered a Mormon.
Before they stack any higher, take a step back and examine what it’s like to choose monogamy. What is it like, really, to enter in an arrangement, whether by a government contract or a verbal understanding where neither you nor your partner can be with anyone else until you die, and, in some relationships, be discouraged from even looking at another person with interest. Now ask yourself, is that normal?
Personally, I have never cheated on anyone, mostly because I hadn’t been in a real relationship until recently. Though even if I had been a monogamous person who switched partners every few years, I don’t think I have the right constitution for cheating. I don’t want to know what it’s like to see the one I love arrive at the knowledge that the one they love has secretly been with someone else.
I think we all want to avoid that. Yet we all still find people attractive, so many of us will either still cheat anyway and try to get away with it, or, the other option, we become polyamorous. An agreed upon arrangement where having sex with someone who is not your significant other is condoned. And though I’ve known a few who have attempted this, their “attempts” have not allayed my doubts about the system. It seemed, at least in the cases I knew, that the man bullied his wife into believing having sex with other people was the only sophisticated way to live. In one case, when the man did actually go through with it, and after his wife found out about it, they divorced. For a few months they stayed together, yes, but that was the last sputters of love disguised as hookups.
This is beginning to sound like a defense for monogamy, not for the possibility of multiple loves in a lifetime, which I believe is real. Undoubtedly, it is unnatural to hide your attraction to other beings within your species.
Still, joining a swinger’s club can’t be the answer. It just can’t be. I don’t want to use a lot of lotion, get a hot tub and a pet snake, and move to Seattle. I kid (kind of) I lived in the Pacific Northwest, but you get the idea, polyamory is practiced by a niche quadrant of the population.
But what if The New York Times did an article on “The New Polyamory” in a place like Brooklyn? And it focused on the 20 and 30somethings who rode their bikes to start-ups and wrote chapbooks in their spare time and wore expensive underwear and had their eyebrows threaded and their bangs and manbuns were always in place, would our attitude change? Is monogamy just outdated and puritanical and we need a new young generation to reject for it to come into the mainstream? Is it simply jealousy keeping us from getting to know other people? Do I sound like Carrie Bradshaw right now?
I do, I’m sure. But even if I were her, I wouldn’t have any answers. And neither would anyone else. Everyone keeps getting married, going through the same rituals, because it’s what we’ve always done. It’s the best system if you want to start a family. Also we do this because there’s going to come a time when we’re not as attractive as we once were. And when that time comes we don’t want to be the person still trying to make it work with multiple others when we couldn’t make it work with one. So maybe the only reason people want polyamory is because they’re dissatisfied with the partner they have, that they’re really not that in love/lust with the person they managed to attract. It was the best they could do, and polyamory gives them a chance to be with other people. Or maybe not, maybe the people who do it have it all figured out. After all, the ones on the fringes on the society come up with good stuff. The polyamorous, in this case, feel free to unshackle themselves from draconian laws forbidding natural desires. They realize those laws are bounded in fear of retribution from a deity who used them as control. And think, that deity came to power at a time when you were married at 13 and died at 30.
I’m babbling, I’m sorry, here’s what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say that if you’re lucky enough to meet someone good hearted and interesting and smart you should cherish that person and never let go because who knows if you will meet another as good.
But also know there are thousands, maybe millions, of people who might know you better. And no, that won’t help you sleep at night, though I don’t believe the entirety of everything cares how well-rested you are.