It seems a week doesn’t go by when one of my friends isn’t in some kind of dating dilemma. If they’re in a relationship, they’re complaining about their partner. If they’re single, they’re complaining about not having a partner. While I try to be understanding and sympathetic to their problems (while chugging wine and mentally rolling my eyes), it makes me wonder: why are people so relationship-obsessed?
Obviously, we would all ideally like to find a compatible mate in life. Who doesn’t like feeling loved and being able to reciprocate that love? But doesn’t it kind of ruin the entire concept when you’re lowering your standards in order to just settle because you’re hopelessly longing for a relationship?
Practically from birth we’re taught that one of the necessities in life is to find a partner to commit to, one person to spend the rest of our lives with. This, however, is a completely unrealistic and foolish understanding of the way human beings function at their core. To quote psychologist Christopher Ryan, humans are, by nature, “a nonpossessive, gregarious” species, “[a form of] sexuality that was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago.” Put simply, humans are not inherently monogamous creatures. Rather, societal influences brought on by the rise of feudalism have taught us that we’re obligated to find one person to commit ourselves to—sexually, emotionally, and otherwise—for the rest of our lives. Just the thought seems logically improbable, yet it continues to be the ideal in our society, albeit a failing one.
The problems lies within the fact we’re essentially taught to treat other people as property. We always hear that part of relationships is sacrifice. That sacrifice means you’re actually surrendering a part of your own self in order to meet the desires of another person. Whether or not the return on investment is worth the renunciation of self is what’s key. You have to ask yourself, is giving up or changing part of yourself really worth that other person’s presence in your life?
Then, of course, there are the distinctions that must be made when talking about monogamy as it pertains to relationships. I’ve found that there are two types of monogamy: sexual monogamy and emotional monogamy. For me, emotional monogamy is easy; sexual monogamy, not so much. Sex and emotions are too often considered synonymous, when in fact they’re not entirely intertwined with each other. Is sex made better when there’s an emotional attachment? Generally, yes. Is it possible to have fabulous sex with no emotional attachment while still maintaining the emotional attachment to your partner? Most definitely. It’s interesting that we’ve been so heavily engrained with the belief that once we’re in a relationship, we’re obligated to that one person, though it defies all scientific and biological logic, that we no longer know how to tap into our most human instincts (read: non-monogamy). Instead, we use society’s roadmap to ignorantly guide us towards a nonviable and romanticized paragon that in reality only works out for an infinitesimal demographic.
This isn’t me espousing a certain type of lifestyle. Rather, it’s me pointing out the fact that monogamy as an ideology is a sham. Sexuality is as important a part of human life as love, and both should be equally as fluid. The larger picture, though, is that we have to stop thinking of ourselves as an entity when we’re in a relationship with another person and realize that we’re still individuals.