Are We Wired For Monogamy Or Polygamy?

Inverse recently published an article advocating for consensual non-monogamy. It was a response to a body of research that says almost all married people experience longing for someone they’re not married to, at least to some degree.

Here’s what I think is great about the article: It acknowledges the simple reality that attraction doesn’t fit into a box. You can be happily married, or deeply invested in a relationship, and still feel an attraction to someone else. It’s part of human psychology. I think it’s great to encourage newlyweds and romantic couples at any stage in their relationship not to freak out–not to beat themselves up or to feel like they can’t trust each other. Best line of Inverse’s article:

“A new viewpoint requires a willingness to supplant the fairytale — a belief (often cherished) that one person can forever meet all your emotional, romantic and sexual needs.”

There’s freedom in knowing it’s normal to feel things. Feelings aren’t the enemy.

I think there are basically two approaches for dealing with the reality of feelings. In real life, we often fluctuate between both of them in how we make decisions: One is to make life about exploring and experiencing the things that satisfy you, trying to balance enjoyment of a fulfilled impulse with the guilt that sometimes comes after.

The other is to take those moments of longing for something else, something differently special, as opportunities to be shaped. You relinquish the need, and you let that sacrifice shape you into someone who loves your partner more deeply. You change yourself rather than your circumstances.

Feelings aren’t the enemy–they’re opportunities to be transformed TOWARD something, one way or another.

The cut-and-dry hardwiring of sexuality is this: Either you limit yourself to a person that will only sometimes satisfy some of your needs, or you lose the ability to feel as deeply connected to any one person.

A wise person once told me that you have to choose your pain in life. We don’t get to decide whether or not we have loss or longing, but we get to choose how it hurts us: by knowing that we’ve failed or by emptying the self. By pruning a tree, you guide the direction of its growth.

What are your thoughts?


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