Traditional marriage is collapsing: divorce rates are steadily rising and increasingly more people are opting not to get married. People who choose monogamy tend to do so because it is expected of them by society, rather than out of choice. We are told that when we become adults, we will find our life partner and live happily ever after, but this fairy tale clearly falls short of reality. It is no coincidence that many people in an apparently monogamous relationship often end up cheating. Having said this, many people still choose to be monogamous, and although they are aware that finding someone who perfectly completes us is unrealistic, they ‘accept’ monogamy and its shortcomings.
According to the author, however, there are alternatives to these two options, and they all revolve around open relationships. The reality is that no one individual can fulfil all our desires and expectations, and demanding too much from one person increases tension and stress in the relationship. Openness in relationships allows us to discuss our needs and helps us cope with our feelings of inadequacy, while enabling us to create connections that are built on honesty instead of possession.
One of the most damaging misconceptions about monogamous relationships is that, once we choose our life partner, we will never want anyone else, because they will satisfy all our sexual desires. When we get married, though, we do not suddenly stop being attracted to other people, and that one person cannot always satisfy all our needs. What’s more, our sexual preferences will inevitably change over time. When a person starts to realise that they are attracted to people outside their relationship, more often than not they feel guilty, so they either bury those feelings, or end up cheating on their partner. Cheating is extremely common, and according to a 2007 survey, half of the 70,000 respondents confessed to having cheated in their relationship. Cheating jeopardises our relationship just as much as failing to share our emotions with our partner.
Luckily, there is another way: we have to be honest with ourselves and our partner, recognising that one person cannot fulfil all our desires, and that we will inevitably be attracted to other people. Acknowledging this gives us two options: we can either consciously choose to be monogamous and have more reasonable standards for our own marriage, or we can discuss opening the relationship up to other people.