Monogamy and I have a complicated history, like most of us.
When I was 22, I was living out-of-state. My dad had been my best friend for half a decade at that point, we had survived through some rough times together that are unimportant to this story, and we talked on the phone daily.
On the way to work one day, I asked him about how he was sleeping on the floor at home next to his and my mom’s bed. My younger sister had seen it and had asked about it. They had been married for 30 years. He told me his back had been bothering him. Sometimes he slept on the floor when his back was bothering him. So, that’s what I told my sister.
On the way to work the next day he told me the truth. My mom was cheating on him. At the time, I cried and cried and said, “Doesn’t she know if she does this it’s over forever and she ruins everything?”
He seemed hesitant to agree.
They worked through it over years of work and sometimes I still wonder if she talks to that guy (and I know he wonders too). They’ve been married for 40 years now. Over the next decade, I heard stories about how my mom was unfaithful many times the first few years they were married, as they married very young. This couple that was, and still is, everything to me. This couple that has been through more than most could ever dream. They have infidelity in their relationship past.
Going back a little, I had a seven-year relationship that was more like a roommate/best friend than a lover. We would have sex maybe once a year. We lived together five of those years. He was the one I had moved out of state for, away from family and friends, to be with while he went to college and had a steady job before he even graduated.
Every year, I hoped we would move back to my home state. I felt so misplaced, and every year that slipped away a little more. Two of the five years (the second and third) I came back home for the summer and had a fling. It was this fine line of cheating and not, since we were on a break both times. It was very Ross and Rachel.
The next two years, I was faithful and we worked through all of our issues, as my parents had. Near the end I did cheat, though, without a doubt, when I went off to Nashville for three weeks to help my best friend at the time to move in and met a musician I really clicked with. This was the beginning of the end of our relationship.
I met my ex-husband soon after that long-term relationship ended and I moved back home. I got pregnant almost immediately and we got married. He was not faithful through most of our short relationship.
I realized as it deteriorated and I saw myself living my worst nightmare that I never really had been happy in a relationship, and I had never been in love.
So, I did my research and I found out that monogamy is not natural and yada, yada. I decided so, anyway. I went into my next relationship with no expectations, no restrictions, no conditions. I let him live free, and I live free.
That said, I’ve changed my mind about monogamy, regardless of everything I just said.
Over the last two years of being with the person I’m currently seeing, I’ve fallen in love for the first time — purely and truly. I’ve written many articles about how we have been undefined (which I really don’t like the term anymore), or unconventional, or non-traditional.
About a year into the relationship, for lack of a better term — relationship only meaning the relation between two or more people — I dated someone else for a couple months. Someone I was attracted to on every level, got along with great, was a wonderful friend, treated me fantastically, and I felt nothing. I knew in another circumstance I would and could fall for this person and spend my life backpacking across the world with him, taking photos of the scenery and him of me, having adventures and a beautiful life. But that wasn’t this life. I cried in the bathroom every single night I spent with him. I knew he might be better for me, by my family’s standards, by the standards of others, but I couldn’t force it. So, we separated.
And, to the present, just after my divorce, I had been hooking up with someone ten years my junior, for fun. It was a solid agreement that we had. I remember sitting in a hotel shower with him smoking weed and talking for hours. To this day, he remembers everything I ever told him, down to my favorite song. He has been asking me for years to get back together, just to talk, “for old time’s sake”, and I always refused. I refused him for two years. I am currently jobless and get quite sad on Mondays. I couldn’t tell you why. Mondays start a new workweek that I’m not working. I get lonely. And, some would say, stupid. I said he could come over.
I immediately regretted my decision, but I went through with it. I drank whiskey while he sucked down bottles of water. He’s old enough to drink now, but he doesn’t enjoy whiskey. That was just the first of many times during the night that I realized how little we had in common. How rosy-colored our glasses were when thinking of our time we had spent together when I was his Mrs. Robinson and he was my flawless rebound.
Men I used to date tend to do that with me, though. They remember me so fondly after they leave me. Interestingly enough, while with me they made me feel like shit.
After listening to me talk for an hour with a fake fire going on in the background that we found on Netflix, he started insisting that I owed him a back massage.
I immediately tensed up and it all went downhill from there. He tried to kiss me, and insisted that I wanted to, and I turned away many times. This is someone I know I have great chemistry with sexually. This is someone who I owed nothing to after that night. This is someone who wouldn’t be needing any kind of assurances or relationship, yet I still couldn’t do it.
When you don’t want to kiss someone, you don’t.
When you don’t want to sleep with someone, you don’t.
Regardless of circumstances. Of drinking, of loneliness. Of open relationships. Of chemistry, of history.
If you don’t want to, you don’t.
And that’s when I changed my mind about monogamy.
I’m faithful to a man who I owe nothing to. I am faithful to a man who I don’t have to be faithful to. I am faithful to a man who doesn’t have to be faithful to me.
Why? Because I want to be. Because I don’t want anyone but him. Not because I’m sacrificing anything. Not for him. But because he’s all I want.
I know monogamy is possible, and can be natural, now.
And it’s not for lack of trying.
It’s an inescapable truth.