"In our progressive, forward-thinking college town it’s becoming almost a faux pas to be monogamous"
Valley Advocate (Western MA)
Ages ago in a previous century I worked at the Valley Advocate, the alternative news and arts weekly of the college-rich Amherst-Northampton "Happy Valley" area in western Massachusetts. The Advocate is still going. This week a columnist reminds today's poly-trending college generation why monogamy can actually be a fine choice too, so don't worry about being out of step with the crowd if that is what's right for you.
Dear readers in college towns, is this an exaggeration? (I'm assuming yes.)
It’s OK To Go Monogo
By Yana Tallon-Hicks
I’m a huge fan of “open” or “non-monogamous” relationships — when two or more people consensually agree not to be sexually and/or emotionally exclusive. Sometimes this looks like a couple being open to sleeping with others but maintaining their relationship as “primary,” and sometimes it looks like someone maintaining multiple relationships simultaneously (called polyamory).
Many have written compellingly about why humans are better suited to be non-monogamous and how to do it ethically (see Opening Up by Tristan Taormino and Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan). Non-monogamy can be challenging, rewarding and fun when done correctly.
In past columns I’ve written about how successful open relationships require honesty, complex boundary-establishing and a lot of scheduling and emotional processing. While cheating in a monogamous relationship may look like one member of the couple having sex with an outsider, cheating in an open relationship might look more like one member of a couple violating a relationship agreement (such as having unprotected sex with a non-primary partner). Despite assumptions, non-monogamy is more talk than sex.
But this isn’t a column about non-monogamy, it’s about monogamy.... In our progressive, forward-thinking college town it’s becoming almost a faux pas to be monogamous, especially if you’re under 30 and not heterosexual. Polyamory’s the new trend.
But monogamy isn’t that bad, is it?
No one gets castrated. Jealousy crops up in every relationship, but it’s a larger, more persistent beast within open relationships. Constantly processing your own value to your partner while she is out on dates with others can be emotionally draining.... Some can only manage their jealously by being monogamous. And if you know that about yourself, congratulations. Lock it down.
You get more focused free time.... Imagine how much yoga, gardening and sleep you could catch up on by having just the one partner....
It’s cost-effective. ...Having a weekly date night with three partners is downright pricey....
You take fewer trips to the clinic. I don’t believe that monogamous sex is inherently safer sex or that open relationships are “dirtier.” However, having one partner means there are fewer variables to consider in the safer-sex aspect of your life....
Instead of being up on our “evolved” non-monogamous hipster high horses, perhaps we need to look at both open and closed relationships as valid choices. There’s a difference between “de facto monogamy” and “chosen monogamy.” De facto monogamy happens because “it’s just the way things go”.... De facto monogamy doesn’t acknowledge the possibility of non-monogamy. It was built on social constructs and is supported by laws involving tax breaks and idiots fighting against gay marriage....
Alternatively, those who consciously choose monogamy have considered all of their options. They might... just prefer being exclusive with their one and only honey. And they’re probably well rested....
Read the whole article (May 7, 2013).
She gets the "de facto" vs. "chosen" monogamy bit right. I'm proud to have had a hand in how both Loving More and the Polyamory Leadership Network, the two main polyactivist groups, decided to make "relationship choice" central to each of their mission statements. "Relationship choice" means that everyone should have the ability — and the knowledge — to choose their preferred relationship style consciously and deliberately, whichever it may be.