Fusion: "Seriously, though: What’s so great about monogamy?"
Fusion is an online magazine from Univision and Disney/ABC designed to reach "today’s young and diverse audience," it tells advertisers. It claims 10 million visitors a month. This morning it published a long nonmonogamy thought piece (4,000 words), further evidence that we're considered trendy. Excerpts:
Seriously, though: What’s so great about monogamy?
By Molly Osberg
...They got hitched at 18.
“I thought it was happily ever after,” she says. “I wanted to go with him anywhere he went.”
Fast-forward three years: their marriage is no longer, and Britt’s OkCupid profile acts as a one-two punch of invitation and warning. If you’re into hiking, Little Miss Sunshine, or The Bible, message her. If you’re into one-night stands or want to be monogamous, please don’t. ...Polyamory is making a cameo even in the conversations of otherwise straitlaced young people like Britt.
The old rules certainly felt applicable to Britt and John. Shortly after the wedding, going anywhere with him meant an army base in another Texan town. Britt happily followed her husband, only to find out what couples often do: that people change....
...According to Britt, the “swinger culture in the military is insane,” with vast numbers of people swapping partners for the night or the weekend. But the ideas about sex and relationships Britt talks about valuing—communication, honestly, fluidity, sexual freedom—don’t come from that tradition.
...Nowadays, Rob is in a committed relationship with a woman he loves; they’re moving in together soon, and he still goes on dates with other people occasionally. “It’s not really about the sex even,” he tells me, though making out is pretty great. “There’s a measure of independence” in non-monogamy, he says; he thinks abandoning the idea that he and his lady have to be responsible for each other’s’ every need ultimately makes their life together more sustainable. You can go off and do your own thing sometimes, says Rob, and “still come back to the person you love.”
...Night Nurse—red-haired and tattooed, working the graveyard shift at a hospital—is how Rob got the specter of monogamy out of his system. The two met through mutual friends at a ball game. When they started sleeping together, they kept it intentionally casual—just about the sex. But as any human who has ever attempted such a balancing act knows, intimacy has a way of developing between people who spend a lot of time pressing their naked bodies together, particularly if their fuck buddies are nice people to spend time with.
...Conventional poly talking points will tell you that every relationship is a unique snowflake, that love isn’t a zero-sum game. That doesn’t mean navigating a lover’s level of emotional commitment to another person can’t be absolutely brutal. So, I imagine, is 50 years spent wondering about every flirtation you could have acted on. So is being taken for granted. So is feeling trapped.
...Sit on that for a second: “Love is a decision.” If that sounds crazy, think about the fact that all committed relationships, monogamous or not, require all types of choices. Sometimes it’s whether you can accept your partner’s level of financial stability. Perhaps it’s whether helping them wrestle with their various neuroses feels like a worthwhile endeavor. For Night Nurse, it was whether she was into Rob enough to keep dating him, bar guy or no.
That all might come off as overly pragmatic, even a little harsh. But being ethically non-monogamous requires muting some of the most seductive ideas we have about romantic love.
Polyamorists have invented a language to describe ideas not often in currency in modern-day America. One is “compersion,” a feeling of satisfaction and empathy while seeing one’s partner happily fucking or enjoying someone else’s company. NRE—“new relationship energy”—is a topic that blazes across poly communities on the internet, where longstanding couples wrestle with the reality that what’s mysterious and new has a fundamentally different quality than the familiar. Which doesn’t make it better, they say, just different.
Concepts like these can appear hokey or cultish to outsiders. Rob wasn’t the only person I spoke to who felt alienated by the trappings of the “poly scene.” Britt, too, told me she sometimes had trouble finding so-called “normal” people who understood what she was going for. And when I ask 28-year-old Kaela about the poly meet-up she and her dude, Riley, went to recently in Kansas City, her voice drops to a mock whisper. “Oh my god,” she giggles. “It was weeeiiiirdddd.”
...When Kaela and Riley first met a few years ago, it was Riley who initiated what Kaela calls the “relationship conversation” after they’d only been dating a few weeks.
“It really freaked me out,” she says. “I was like, oh god, this guy is gonna try to tie me down.” Actually, though, Riley wanted to talk about them being in a relationship—but also seeing other people. “So I put on my research hat,” says Kaela. “I thought, ‘there has to be books on this.’”...
None of these ideas are particular to 2016. The fact that they’re becoming more legible to mainstream culture, among heterosexual people in liberal islands of conservative states like Kansas, might be.
Read the whole story (February 9, 2016).
Update: At the right-wing site Newsbusters, writer Mairead McArdle is upset: Depraved New World: Fusion Asks “What’s So Great About Monogamy?” (Feb. 10).