Relationships are complicated entities that are well worth the experience. There’s no doubt that interactions between us conjure up chemical impulses that make us feel good, bad and everything in between. And yes it’s true, sometimes people prefer to share those impulses with more than one person.
We’ve been taught that monogamy is pretty cut and dry; you fall in love and spend every day working to create a life with another person. Generationally, society has reinforced the ideal that only two people belong in a relationship—that is the norm. Today, the term monogamy is changing to include more liberating lifestyles.
Psychology Today highlights the differences between consensual monogamy and consensual non-monogamy in this article. Consensual monogamy is a traditional relationship and it requires a high level of commitment to cultivate. You essentially are putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping for the best. The biggest downside of monogamy is that people aren’t willing to fully commit and eventually end up cheating or seeking satisfaction elsewhere. Some people believe that it is against our nature to be with only one person and that in order to fulfill biological desires we must ‘spread our seeds’. With fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce these days, people are beginning to wonder if monogamy is all its chalked up to be.
While “sleeping around” and “casually dating” are fairly normal in today’s dating world, open relationships and polyamory remain controversial to be sure and are still hard for most of society to accept—though millennials are catching on pretty quickly. Research shows that around 50 percent of gay male couples manage open relationships successfully. On the other hand, heterosexual couples that have “assumed” monogamy can find their lives torn apart because of affairs and cheating. Only rarely do these couples talk openly about their sex lives before the infidelity.
Consensual non-monogamy piggy backs on the idea that we are meant to experience more than one person at a time. Open relationships require a ridiculous amount of communication because it takes a divided effort to maintain this type of relationship. Things become more complicated when people enter the relationship so keeping everything in line requires much forethought. At some point, spreading yourself too thin may be an issue because they’re only so many hours in a day. Building up relationships with different people requires an incredible amount of time and effort.
Whether engaging in a single relationship, open relationship or polyamory the end goal is to share emotional and intimate connections with another being. Basically, we enter into these contracts with one another and hope to reach certain peaks but people don’t necessarily have the right conversations ahead of time. In order for any relationship to work, you really must know the other person: what they are looking for and what they are willing to do.
The biggest problems in relationships sprout from the eventual breakdown in the emotional connection which leads to the lack of intimacy. People begin searching to fulfill their needs because feeding those chemical impulses is just part of our make up. Regardless of the type of relationship you are in, it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to prevent this from happening.
No matter which way you cut it, a relationship is the bread and butter of life. How you get there is entirely up to you. Learning the way you want to love and be loved is just a part of the process of figuring out who you are. In doing so, you give your partner(s) the best chance at creating an ideal experience that benefits the both of you without wasted time and hurt feelings.