By George Streeter, Relationship Coach
This is part of a letter to a person I consider a close friend. Her struggle with the idea of giving up her freedom (to act on her own desires unchecked) to follow a stronger desire for “deeper love and intimacy” in relationship, she has been the catalyst for me to write this article.
I am a relationship coach, so I see the benefit in any number of relationship styles, from conscious single-hood to poly marital arrangements, I can see the pros and cons for every relationship option. Just remember, no matter what your preferences are every relationship style has its own set of limitations.
Every relationship structure has its pros and cons. No matter what relationship structure you choose there is always a certain amount of hand wringing and gut wrenching that is necessary for love and acceptance to exist between two people. We are not born with the ability to see and accept all of our partners flaws and short comings. We learn to do this through the struggle of the relationship. It seems that no matter how loving, romantic, and drama- less the union is, at some point, for the relationship to become a “romance of a life time” it has to take each participant through the crucible. The crucible is the “fire” needed to heat ones system up so hot that your individual quirks and selfishness can surface and be melted away. The crucible makes you lovable under the pressure of relating.
Often a fascination with finding just the right person, who has just the right background and education, with just the right interests and hobbies becomes an effort to dampen the fire of the crucible so that you won’t have the differences that causes personalities to grow. Our Mr. and Ms Right syndrome (our rigid preferences) are just a way to cool the fire of the crucible so that no growth or change is possible within the relationship. This we euphemistically term as a relationship with no passion.
So with growth as the guide, I want to take a moment to share some positive thoughts on the topic of monogamy.
To make monogamy work, seek to understand the limitations of monogamy and get in loving agreement with your own motivations for desiring those particular limitations in your life. In other words, every relationship model has a few fatal flaws and the idea is to pick the poison that offers you the greatest opportunity for sustainable survival.
What is the poison of Monogamy? In every relationship structure you are making a deal with the devil when you enter it, so make sure you are not promising your first-born. To enter into monogamy successfully know what you are giving up and know for how long you are giving it up for. This will keep you from waking up one day and going to the grocery store and never coming back home again.
The most apparent thing one trades when choosing monogamy is sex with others, however, there are other things people barter with when choosing monogamy. Here is a short list: financial autonomy, scheduling freedom (coming and going without checking in), dating freedom (platonic or otherwise), flirting ( following attractions impulses), thought autonomy (who you think about), spacial freedom (what you do with your time and where you spend it).
Understand that sometimes the demands of monogamy changes where you live, how you live, where you work and with whom you socialize. You consciously or unconsciously, trade these little freedoms as you build a partnership of committed love.
Now that you are clear on the type of poison a monogamy relationship can be for you, here are some of the benefits that are most often associated with pair bonding in monogamy.
Monogamy allows for deep, deep connection with a single person.
Unlike open relationships there are just a few main characters in your relationship. Typically there is your partner, you, your work, his/her work and the kids to think, talk and worry about. Sure there are social concerns, and extended family but these concerns often revolve around work and family. Monogamy as a structure is optimal for getting to know one another on a deep level. The distraction of other relationships are not present and so there is a natural tendency to focus on one another.
This implies of course that you both are still working on your own personal growth. Monogamy, more than any other relationship structure demands continued self exploration from each partner. Without it monogamy can get boring real fast. And no matter how many social events, dinner’s out or family vacations you have, you still end up looking each other in the face without knowing what to say to one another.
Monogamy allows you to be completely uninhibited sexually.
Connected uninhibited sex is available in monogamy provided you are able to connect on a deep level ( i.e. continue your own personal growth journey so you have something deep to share).
Despite commonly held beliefs, being in a more open relationship model, means that you must take more thought and care for all of the physical and emotional needs of your partners. This type of care by its nature is more responsible and less uninhibited. Important note: cheating or being deceptive with your liaisons is also by nature less uninhibited.
The uninhibited nature of sex is the main reason why women shelve their desires for variety to have a single partner who can be adequate in bed. The idea is that one man will learn all of her spots and she can safely surrender to him. Interestingly, most of the reasons given for monogamy are for the feeling of safety and security and not the potential for erotic growth that is present with a single partner.
Most are unaware of sexual growth as a motivation and instead focus on ethical, moral or health concerns as the deeper motivation. Deep down she knows that her own sex is like a minefield and is unknown territory even to herself. So the navigation of her own sex feels safer with a single known person… her man.
Monogamy offers the best possible opportunity to curb the distracting force of desire.
Desires can distract us from friends, family and financial concerns. Passionate relationships feel good, they often feel better than working or focussing on the concerns we have around our day-to-day life. Which would you rather do? have a hot make out at lunch or read the company email? Our desires can distract us, whether it is within our imagination or in our reality, desires pull us out of our habitual patterns of being and offer us an opportunity to lose ourselves. However, it is this lost feeling that makes us feel so threatened by our own desires and the desires of others.
Monogamy is a natural buffer between our spiritual selves and our desires. The relationship/or partner curbs our urges and impulses. This does not mean that we act like wild dogs when we are in open relationships, but the natural delay of desire in an open relationship is replaced with the natural death of desire that is required in successful monogamy. Don’t believe that? Then ask yourself is it ok for your partner to fantasize about your best friend on their lunch break? That type of infidelity is typically a no- no in a closed relationship.
Being disciplined in our imagination and thoughts has a benefit. A person who has restricted his imagination is less free in his thoughts but finds himself more free in his actions. Killing desire frees the mind to think about the concerns of a relationship or of the state of the body and finances.
To a distracted personality, the discipline of monogamy can be like a god-send, and act as a sure-fire way to cultivate new hobbies, interests and skills.
The point here is to enter into and out of relationships with an understanding of who you are and what you want. And to accept and make room for the obvious pit falls of any relationship structure you choose. Just make sure you have an open, honest dialogue to agree on what that your relationship looks like.