I'm A Smart Woman And I'm Not Fulfilled By Traditional Monogamy

Photo: Courtesy of the author
Love, Sex

Traditional monogamy just isn't working for me.

I'm a woman and I'm not fulfilled by traditional monogamy. Actually, let me be clearer: I'm a woman and I hate traditional monogamy.

Unpopular opinion alert: having sex with only one person, while simultaneously expecting that person to provide everything else you need in life (partnership, friendship, love, support), strikes me as more than a little idiotic.

Picture this: you're in a committed relationship with someone that you love and care about. Your family likes your partner, your friends like him, and you feel immensely connected and happy.

At the same time, you believe in maintaining your independence, so you still have separate lives outside of each other. He still sees his friends a lot and has a few activities that he loves to do without you. It just so happens that you hate the music he listens to, so he and his friends will often go see his favorite bands play, while you're happily excused from having to go.

You also see your own friends very frequently and have your own solo activities. For example, you're a vegan and your guy just can't seem to give up meat. So, you take vegan cooking classes with your friends, go out to eat at vegan restaurants with other vegans you know, and sometimes stop at the vegan cupcake shop down the block to grab a delicious cupcake on your way home from work, alone.

So far, so good. This is what we "expect" out of a healthy relationship: a substantial amount of connection between the partners, but with a healthy helping of independent identity. No one would seriously argue that it's unhealthy for your guy to have his own friends and go see bands play without you, or for you to eat your delicious vegan cupcake alone, whenever you want.

Now, picture this: the band that your guy is going to see without you is instead a really hot brunette he met at a bar, and the cupcake you're eating is instead a gorgeous fireman-type that you're definitely going to enjoy, alone.

Is your visceral response disgust? Anger? Revulsion? If so, why?

We think it's perfectly acceptable for our partner to enjoy experiences without us... to a certain point. We think it's healthy for our partner to live life without us... to a certain point. And we think it's necessary for our partner to do what makes them happy... to a certain point.

I, frankly, think that point is bullsh*t.

I wasn't always this way. At 26, I got married to a man nine years my senior and we were in a monogamous marriage. The marriage ended for reasons other than monogamy, but for me, looking back, I realized that it would have crumbled under the weight of my own suffocation eventually. I then had one more monogamous relationship after my divorce and realized more fully that it wasn't for me.

Since then, while I've embraced my desire for non-monogamy, I wouldn't exactly say that it's been swimming in easy waters. Along with our own mental hang-ups about our partner enjoying a sexual experience without us (regardless of gender), we also have gender-based hang-ups on who is supposed to want what out of a relationship.

Men are "supposed" to be the ones chasing after sex, salivating over the attractive blonde in a skirt and generally wanting it more. Women, on the other hand, are "supposed" to be happy with monogamy, a husband that comes home to them, and a lifelong relationship.

As a woman, when I discuss my desire for non-monogamy with almost anyone, the response I'm met with is: "Oh, that will change when you find the right man." It's as though we believe, in so many ways, that women aren't capable of having their own carefully crafted thoughts and opinions on sensitive topics: monogamy, children, marriage.

It's actually perfectly possible to be a woman that doesn't want any of the things women are "supposed" to want and be a reasonable, intelligent individual, too.

So I began to introduce non-monogamy into my relationships with a "take it or leave it" attitude. Since then, I've mostly found that the men I'm with initially think my aversion to monogamy is an incredible gift they've received: "I get to be with her and still have sex with other girls? Sweet!" Then, however, the reality sets in: "Wait... she actually wants to have sex with more people than me, and she's doing it. I didn't think this through all the way." They also expect jealousy: "OK, now I'm going out with someone else, she'll definitely care. Hold on, she doesn't care... what?!"

Even in my own relationships with smart, evolved men, some of that old traditional thinking still creeps in, it seems, and I end up finding out they just aren't right for me.

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I clearly haven't figured out all the ins and outs of how I want my relationships to look, nor have I figured out if I even need to figure it out, but luckily, I have got one solid fact down: the monogamous life just isn't the life for me.