In our parents’ generation, it was much less of a public conversation. Today, it feels like much of our culture has at the very least warmed up to the idea of non-monogamy. While our grandparents watched I Love Lucy, we grew up with Sex and the City.
Open Relationships Are Becoming More Popular
Today, we see celebrities like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith speak openly about having extramarital interactions — consequence-free. Movies like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women are part of the Hollywood circuit, and nobody really blinks an eye at them. Because it’s offensive to criticize or judge a couple for whatever choices they make with their sex life, right? How dare you, you bigot.
We see celebrities speak openly about having extramarital interactions — consequence-free.
New York Magazine recently reported that a study in 2016 showed that 20% of the participants said they had been in non-monogamous relationships in their lifetime. Other surveys have shown that 38% of men and 31% of women picture the perfect relationship to be non-monogamous. This is not some fringe idea. More and more people are becoming seriously interested in having multiple partners at once, even when their kids are involved.
It sounds like a dream, right? You can have sex with anyone, anytime, anywhere, and your husband just wouldn’t mind. That hot guy you meet on a work trip? It’s fair game to have a one-night-stand. The ripped guy you see at the gym who keeps flirting with you? Yep, he’s included in the package too! And you still get to come home to a caring man who you share a life with.
Well, non-monogamy is a lot like socialism. It sounds incredible in theory, like a utopia — only the reality of the situation is much less pleasant to experience. In fact, the reality is a living hell.
Why I Decided To Be in an Open Relationship
I was a walking stereotype in my mid-twenties. I shaved half my head, declared myself an intersectional feminist, traveled around the world thinking I was some sort of bohemian, and swore off capitalism (even though I was regularly using all the gifts capitalism has bestowed upon us, like Amazon and Uber, in order to live my nomad life).
I used to be wildly embarrassed thinking back to this period of my life. While I wouldn’t exactly recommend these choices to you today, I’m at a point in my life where I’m not afraid to own up to my mistakes — in the hopes that I can deter other young women from making the same ones.
We convinced ourselves it was going to help us grow together and experience our fullest selves.
During this wandering period of my life, I was in a relationship with an Australian man who was 17 years older than I was. We were on-again, off-again for almost four years. We got involved with a circle of friends we probably shouldn’t have ever invested time in (we were living in a small, liberal, hippie-like beach town so we didn’t have many options as far as friends were concerned), and from there we began to explore the concept of non-monogamy.
We convinced ourselves it was something that was going to help us grow together and experience our fullest selves. But I think we both deep down just wanted to sleep with other people because we weren’t physically intimate with each other anymore and we functioned more like best friends who laughed at everything together and cuddled sometimes. There was a lot wrong with this relationship, I know, but for some reason, I decided to give it one last shot and try non-monogamy in the hopes that it would save us.
The Many Difficulties of Non-Monogamy
Having been on both sides, I can definitively say that being in a monogamous relationship is much, much easier than trying to navigate a non-monogamous one. Even boiling it down to the simple fact that dealing with only one other person’s emotions and baggage is way easier than juggling two or more people’s hearts. No matter how “strict” the rules are that you set for yourself and your partner, it’s inevitable that you’re going to run into gray areas where someone’s feelings get hurt in a very real way.
The more men I flirted with, the more my desire to be held, supported, and loved by just one reliable man grew.
Jealousy is a human emotion that’s difficult to predict and manage. You’re not sure when it will arise in yourself and when it will rear its ugly head in another. The fights that I got into with my boyfriend at the time of our non-monogamy were the worst we ever experienced. I felt even more alone and isolated from him as well as the other guy I was seeing. And worse than that, I felt used, cheap, and undervalued. These are feelings I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
The more men I met and flirted with, the more my desire to be held, supported, and loved by just one reliable man grew in my chest. I tried to deny it for years, but as a woman who wanted a family and children, I felt myself falling further away from the life I wanted deep down. I was almost mad at myself for wanting this because I’d spent so long insisting that these desires were simply side effects of the patriarchy.
What Everyone Gets Wrong about Monogamy
People talk about monogamous marriages as if they’re a restrictive prison that robs you of your freedom and agency in the world. But just like socialism is the utopia that becomes a tragedy in real life, non-monogamy is a disaster that results in loneliness and confusion. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to find a couple that has been together for decades while also romantically involved with other people. Not to say it’s not possible, but it’s certainly the exception to the rule.
The security of marriage with the right person gives you the foundation you need to do whatever you want.
Hollywood may try to paint monogamy as an outdated way to approach a relationship, but monogamy is actually the very thing that gives you the freedom to propel your life forward in the most amazing ways. The security and relief you’ll experience in a marriage with the right person are not worth any price in the world. It will give you the strong foundation you need to do whatever you want to do — whether it’s have a baby, focus on a successful career, help take care of your parents, be creative, etc. A monogamous marriage gives you a faithful person by your side to help you create a loving, stable home life. That’s the very thing you need to feel empowered to do what’s most important to you.
Why I Advocate for Monogamy Today
The data has proven time and time again that marriage is good for society and the economy. There’s no point in denying objective reality for the sake of political correctness. We know that children who grow up without a father in the home are five times more likely to commit crimes, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more to end up in prison. Children who grow up with married parents perform better in school, have better social skills, are physically healthier, earn more money, and experience more success in life. This is the same for every racial group.
There’s no point in denying objective reality for the sake of political correctness.
Although the rate of poverty in black American communities is disproportionately high compared to other racial groups, the poverty rate among black married couples has been below 10% every year since 1994. In fact, there were many years in which the poverty rate among black couples was lower than the white poverty rate. This shatters the idea that racism causes poverty and forces us all to recognize that a life choice like marriage has a much bigger impact on your financial future than the color of your skin.
Getting married is one of the best things you can do yourself. The odds are in your favor if you get married — and the data even shows that there are many benefits to getting married before you have any children.
Furthermore, my personal experience has taught me that nothing feels more secure and reassuring as being married to someone who loves and cares for you. There’s not a single non-monogamous situation that would make it worth it for me to give up what I have with my husband. I can only hope that many young women after me can experience that as well.