Even though I was raised in a monogamous home my parents were very liberal minded. As baby boomers who found their financial success (and the freedoms that came with it) in the 1980's they enjoyed letting go. Nothing made my parents happier when the work week was done and their familial responsibilities were taken care of, than getting together with their friends to socialize and party in ways that mirrored what was going on in Studio 54.
Years later when I was older and talking with my parents about my struggles in my own relationships as I tried desperately to date my way toward, " I do" they shared with me some of their wisdom from their youth. Their participation in the sexual liberation experienced by many of their generation in 70's and 80's left a lasting impression.
My parents, now divorced, have different views on their personal experiences but more importantly I learned that there were lots of varying ways couples defined and expressed their relationships.
Monogamy isn't the only game in town, even though may be the most popular one.
For many of us (myself included) finding the one is a big deal. Socially, we are inundated with messages (in movies, media, literature, you name it) about finding the ideal mate we can ride off into the sunset with---living happily ever after. Millions of dollars a year are spent in the dating industry to help us find that special someone so we can spend millions of more dollars on weddings, engagement rings, bridal parties and showers.
I once had a married friend who in attempting to console my broken heart said having a big wedding was like buying a BMW and blowing it up. (I couldn't help but think that could be fun to try at least once.)
When we’re single for longer than what is socially acceptable people begin to wonder what is wrong. For those of us who have struggled too long in their search for that happily-ever-after monogamous relationship, we begin to feel a sense of shame. So we spend even more money to fix ourselves. There are thousands of self-help books and therapists who specialize in helping us get back to the socially accepted box of monogamy.
Just because we’ve been told by society and religion that monogamous relationships are what we’re supposed to want, desire and have does it mean anything outside of this framework is bad, wrong or abnormal. Relationships are a personal choice between two (or more) people depending on the relationship you are in.
So what are the options if it isn't Monogamy?
RELIGION KNOWS HOW TO MARKET MONOGAMY!
Monogamy is what mainstream culture knows best, thanks to some amazing marketing that started with the spread of Christianity. But the Christians were just that, great marketers.
Before the spread of Christianity the elite Greeks and Romans were using monogamy as an incentive to lesser statured men to fight in the army by promising them women for marriage. (Yes, women were seen as property back then, and for a long time afterwards.)
It may be hard for some devout people to accept, but some of our most beloved forefathers in the old testament practiced polygamy. If we consider some of the stories in the old testament to be truthful, both Solomon and Abraham had lots of wives---making them polygamous. Given that The Bible is one of the most read books in the world, it’s amazing that very few people realize how popular polygamy was.
Both monogamous and polyamorous relationships have benefits and disadvantages so one isn’t better or worse for us. More importantly, both are normal and have made many people happy in their love lives. We need to become our own relationship investigator and decide what is right for us.
P.S. Nothing is set in stone. Just as we are free to decide what type of relationship for works for us now, we are also allowed to change our mind whenever we like. The most important thing to remember is to keep communication clear with our partner(s) and make sure everyone is on the same page and wanting the same thing.
Author: Heather Dawn
A version of this blog originally appeared in Heather Dawn's column on Elephantjournal.com