I’ve convinced myself that I’m allergic to monogamy. The failed efforts and feelings of inadequacy it brings might as well be hives and a swollen tongue. You’d think this system that we’ve all been indoctrinated in since birth would flow easily for me but no, as always, I had to be an outlier. (You can call me an attention whore, it’s totally complimentary) I’ve made my peace with that, there won’t be any “you and I forever!” vows or white picket fence with 2.5 kids in the near or distant future. For years, I’ve been blissfully unattached, free to roam and mingle as I wish but on the rare occasion that I fathom the idea of a romantic relationship, particularly with monogamous people, I’m met with a slew of fuckery. It sounds like this:
“Would you try monogamy?”
“Isn’t that just cheating though?”
“You want your cake and to eat it too”
“If you want to sleep with other people, just be single!”
“You’re a commitaphobe.”
All of these ignorant, annoying statements have been thrown at me since I abandoned the notion of monogamy and I’m tired of it. I have thick skin thankfully so I never truly take it to heart but it does evoke some sadness in me that the same people who shame me for my relationship structures, will likely raise little humans to be equally bigoted douchebags about things that aren’t their damn business. Because not only is it plain rude but it’s misinformed. I mean if I had a dollar every time someone questioned my ability to commit, I’d have a small fortune.
There’s one positive to being victimized by compulsory monogamy warriors though and that’s how much time I put into studying relationships, attachment theory and human sexuality just to confirm I wasn’t defective. I’m a person of science so there was a curiousity as to why I felt this way about partnerships. For all intents and purposes, it should have stuck, if social learning theory has any weight to it, I should have been the poster child of monogamy. I had a two parent household with no infidelity, a religious grandmother who remained widowed after her husband’s death decades earlier, I had “conversative” (if that’s what you call misogynistic chauvinist who wouldn’t call themselves such) brothers who championed marriage for life, monogamy and were firm believers in the madonna/whore complex. You see? Poster child.
Maybe part of the reason the teachings didn’t stick is because it relied on me living in sexual shame or being cisgender & heterosexual (the best gag of all!) or caring about people’s perception of my relationships. Regardless of my hypothesizing, I didn’t turn out that way and so I’m here, writing a rant that I only hope will also contain some useful information about humanity’s obsession with single pairings and why it’s flawed. I’ll start with a hot take: Non- monogamous people are better at commitment than monogamous folks, there I said it and I won’t take it back. Perception always plays a huge role in our ability to judge something and non-monogamy has been villainized so long that people have stopped putting on their thinking caps and make egregious statements that don’t have any base in facts, ya know, the way ignorant people do. Y’all, my readers I mean, aren’t those people so we’re going to show them how it’s done. By definition, commitment means “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future”, that’s it. Don’t believe me? See exhibit A below.
See, the word commitment has been convoluted to mean many things, (forever, marriage, blind loyalty, etc.), when in reality it just means you’ve agreed to do something at some point. We commit to things all the time like our employment, our parents, ourselves if we practice good self-care and our partners; humans are social creatures so we’ve been making commitments since the beginning. It’s how we survived! So why is it a couple hundred thousand years later, we’ve decided commitment is exclusive to romantic relationships that include no more than two people? Make it make sense!
It seems we’re constantly having to redefine terms or remind people of their actual meaning. Commitments aren’t inherently romantic or sexual because they’re just agreements, the ones we make verbally or otherwise. That being said, commitment has become a term that brings about anxiety and hesitance among everyone, it’s the millennial’s boogeyman. The present state of dating coupled with hook up culture has aided in the single person’s ability to be exceedingly cautious in expressing expectations from the folks they’re sleeping with and that is one of the worst parts. At some point, communicating needs, wants, and desires became too intimate for the casual engagement like “stick your thumb in my butt and choke me, just don’t tell me your love language!” And that’s fair to some degree, I understand that people want to maintain some distance in flings that only feel temporary but it’s a disservice truly. Who said in order to have successful casual sex, you can never talk about what would make things better for each other?
The irony for me rests in the knowledge that few people seem to understand they are committed to repelling commitment in these situationships. The commitment is already there, it just isn’t manifesting in the way they’ve internalized the meaning of the term. Remember, commitment is “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future” which is exactly what we do when we make people promise to keep things casual when we say “I just want to stay friends” or “we’re just kicking it”. There’s a pledge to forsake feelings, to maintain the boundaries we’ve set even when they no longer suit us which is why it’s so damn hard for people to loosen their grip on the expectations of commitment, they’ve already deluded themselves into thinking it’s something they don’t do.
Imagine thinking establishing boundaries and rules, terms of engagement and more, don’t require commitment. It’s the biggest commitment if you ask me! I like to think of commitments as things we honor because it benefits us or someone else that we want to please, not every commitment is pleasant but I think every commitment maintained speaks to the nature of someone’s character. With that being said, SOME COMMITMENTS NEED TO BE BROKEN! I know you’re probably alarmed at my yelling but I had to, tough love and all that shit. Everyone doesn’t deserve to have your word, vultures and people who need to work on themselves will never value your honor, the outstretched arm you extend solely because you said you would.
If we’re really going to get into why commitment is hard to conceptualize in its entirety for most monogamous folks, then we have to talk about attachment. At this point, it’s safe to say that 65% of people over 20 have read an article or taken in a quiz on their attachment style but in the event that you’re a straggler asking wtf I’m talking about, I’ll attempt to clarify. Attachment theory was “founded” by a psychoanalyst named John Bowlby, he hypothesized that the way our caregivers responded to our evolutionary mechanisms of trying to receive care, get our needs met, and maintain attention, greatly affects the emotional bonds we are/were able to form with people, particularly romantic/intimate partners in adulthood. In most cases, everyone falls into one of three “styles” of attachment.
- Anxious (Fearful/Preoccupied)
- Avoidant (Dismissive)
The secure attacher maintains healthy boundaries and relationships and tends to be comfortable whether they’re single or not, the anxious attacher has a propensity towards tumultuous romances and craves attention/love, think of someone looking to be “completed” by a partner, and the avoidant attacher is your hot and cold type, the emotional stonewaller that likes their independence too much to be with someone longterm or feel “tied down”.
Now that the little psych lesson is over, you’re probably thinking “the avoidant people don’t like commitment so they’re the polyamorous ones” and to that I say, no. The truth is, the more secure of an attacher you are or are becoming, the more open you are to less traditional relationship structures pending they meet whatever hopes or desires you need them too. Before I began dating, I was a notorious Dismissive Avoidant type, but being in various polyamorous relationships, (and receiving heaps of therapy), I grew to be a secure attacher. Is it possible that the reason non monogamy gets a bad rap is because it requires a lot more humility and personal growth/development than people are willing to commit to? See, commitment shows up again!
Non-monogamous people are the best at commitment because we know you need to commit to yourself first, whether that means going to therapy to work on inner child healing and attachment trauma or being very vocal about expectations to avoid disappointment, people who view their lives as the biggest commitment, are better “committers” to everyone else. Taking a look at our attachment styles don’t only come in handy with FWB’s or marriages. To achieve better work relationships, friendships, and familial relations, efforts to understand how we attach and whether we communicate that attachment in a healthy way is paramount. It’s so easy to fall into the daydream that the right place or person will fix the cracks in the mirror (thanks, Disney) but that’s simply not true. The onus is on the person carrying the cracked mirror first to identify which parts are repairable and how; the glue is useless if it never makes it to your hand.
I’ve briefly addressed before how dishonest I think we are about “dealbenders” as I affectionately call them and implored y’all to do better at maintaining your boundaries by knowing what you want. This time I’m asking something similar, be intentional about the commitments you make to yourself and others because *newsflash* you ARE making commitments, daily. Commit to being a better friend or more present person, commit to surrendering the tower you’ve built around yourself in fear and allow yourself some vulnerability. Commit to saying no to arrangements for the sake of not being alone or being liked. Commit to gratitude, for being here, for being able to do whatever it is you have and can do with your life. And if you are as fond of me as I am of you…
Commit to continuing to support me through the blog and other endeavors I have coming up soon *wink wink*
While you work on that, I’m gonna find me an epi-pen that works for monogamy because winter, is allergy season.