We live in a society where the concept of love equals monogamy. We are raised to believe that one day we will find that one special person who will complete us, who is better than anyone else we have ever encountered in every way perfect for us and who will renounce all rights to the rest of the human race in order to keep us feeling- not just special- but THE MOST special of all.
It starts with stories of princesses and princes and forbidden love that will do anything to be together, even if it means death, renouncing your voice or your family. This concept of "true love" disguised as happiness is truly what we should be referring to as toxic monogamy. Nonetheless, the story is sold to us and our toddler minds buy it like Nutella on sale in France and we find a partner and stick like gum and feel completely complete and somehow sometimes slightly unhappy.
We struggle with "unfaithful" thoughts, or passionate inclinations not shared by our partners, or simply the want to engage in activities that they have no interest in (in as well as outside of the bedroom). We are found suddenly wondering why they seem to have no interest in the 17th Harry Potter movie. Or staying up late drinking. Or the Groupon for 45% off skydiving (do I need to tell you this is probably not something you want to take a discount on?). We create relationship dynamics that work for us and when they no longer work- we are heartbroken, lost and- frankly- misinformed. Why is it that we allow ourselves to change hairstyles, change careers, even move countries- but we don't allow ourselves to renegotiate relationship agreements?
Most couples in this country (and in the vast majority of the world) live in a state of idealized monogamy. To understand this, we have to recognize that the Cambridge English dictionary defines monogamy as "the condition or custom of being married to one person at a time or of having only one sexual partner." We have, of course, elaborated upon this to mean that we also have one romantic partner. But this is not the reality. In fact, over 70% of Americans report they would cheat if there was absolutely no way they would get caught. Aside from the copious amounts of physical cheating we tend to engage in, emotional cheating is even more widespread, with most of us having extremely close friendships that would eclipse the intimacy of the majority of marriages. So why can't we be honest and say: "hey, honey, this incredibly attractive person has my attention and I would love to explore that"?
Jealousy specifically refers to fear of losing something that belongs to us, not to be confused with envy, which is desiring what another person has. While society was busy making you want to be complete, you were fed so much fear about being naturally and perpetually "incomplete" that you now worry about losing everything you have if your romantic relationship was terminated. The beauty of life, and what they fail to tell you, is that no amount of negotiating has to change the things that you have. We are beautiful, dynamic, transforming people- and we have permission to change our minds over and over and over again (as I always say: for any and for no reason). You are gifted with the ability to decide exactly what it is that works for you, even if that means going back to something you are comfortable with or walking the tight rope on adventurous new roles. What we don't have permission to do is not to inform our partners that we have changed our minds and want different dynamics. It is this form of deceit that can ultimately spell doom for our relationships.
I have been known to advise people to come forward about opening their partnerships- or at least bring up the conversation between couples. This has come with a great deal of backlash. But before you decide that I am just some hippie wanting to spread my free love message like a cancer, I want you to know that my thought process is simple: when there is a conversation that starts with the importance of staying together, there is much more safety in the air. The fears we face about changing dynamics do not come from fear that we might, in fact, find happier more balanced lives, they come from fearing that to get there we would have to renounce everything that we know as safe and wonderful and placid. We worry that our spouses meeting someone new might allow them to see that there is a personality that fits them better. And that they might eventually leave with that person. But the whole point of that dynamic is that you don't have to leave, you can have your cake, and eat it, and take pictures with it, and add it to your Facebook relationship status, and even introduce it to your kids. The whole point is: you can define (and redefine) exactly how you want your relationship to be.
This is not to say that everyone would be happy being polyamorous or that monogamy has never worked- but about acknowledging within ourselves when our motivations have become more about complacency or driven by an intense fear of sharing that which we have claimed for ourselves, rather than solely because it is in our most honest expression of love. Engaging in a form of life that includes copious affairs and intense romantic connections outside of your primary spouse and without their knowledge might be a sign that those agreements need to be discussed. And if you would like to continue to have those anchor relationships you might want to honor yourself in discovering why exactly you are shying away from redefining the original expectations. You deserve to support your chosen life partner in knowing you, and you deserve to have honest interpersonal and intrapersonal communications.
Note: This is not a place of judgment (did you know that word has no "e"?!). You are safe here. Not just in this space but on this Earth. You are safe and supported and your journey of self-reflection will always lead to beautiful places.
If you would like to reach out, feel free to contact me privately through the Contact Me button on the home screen or leave a commend below for our growing community.