Is monogamy for everyone?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines monogamy as “the state or practice of having only one sexual partner at a time” or “the state or custom of being married to only one person at a time”. They also define the concept concerning animals as: “the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time” 

In the realm of marriage specifically, there also exists monogamy’s demonized opposite named polygamy, which is divided into polygyny and polyandry. Polygamy is defined as “marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time” Polygyny is the most popular form of this concept, as it is when a husband has multiple wives. Ergo, the opposite being polyandry, which is when a wife has multiple husbands, is less common.

In 1996, one of Dancehall’s Kings, Beenie Man, released “Nuff Gyal”, a song where he exhalts his promiscuity with multiple women, and sounds his belief that they should have no issues with this happening. As a child, I had often heard this song and the point of view used to tailor its garment – the sentiment that men should be with multiple women. Or in local parlance “man fi be gyalis”. Did Beenie instigate this cultural phenomenon? No, what he did, however, was to perpetuate it, as many of us do. But, why did Beenie Man, like so many others before and after him, sing about this? Why do people engage in these kinds of relationships? Are these relationships okay?

Let us find out.

Sexual maturity

I have some friends who are (well) in their 20s and either: have yet to lose their virginity or did not become sexually active until their mid-20s. Compared to myself and some other friends who had been sexually active at younger ages like 14-18, we are more sexually mature than those I first mentioned. Why? Because we had the chance to explore, ‘experiment’ and discover new things about our bodies sexually, whereas my other friends did not. 

The sexual self-concept that we possess is more accomplished because of this. It means that in the realms of sex and sexuality, we have a better idea of who we are and how we identify, what we like and dislike, and where we see ourselves relationship-wise in the future. Recently I told a friend who had just turned 20, to abstain from a relationship with a mutual friend who is 3yrs shy of 30. Why? Because they had only become sexually active for a year! When you stack that against my friend who is almost 30 and had been active from a younger age…you can see the disconnect, yes?

Someone who is not as sexually mature as others is more than likely to not do well in a purely monogamous relationship because they have yet to feed their Id’s desires and wants. Sigmund Freud defined the Id as the unconscious dwelling of our innermost desires and needs and one such desire is sex. I said to that 20y-o friend “how can you lock yourself down in a relationship when you haven’t explored and enjoyed yourself yet?”

Imagine a relationship where one partner is sexually experienced and is ready to settle down, and the other partner is still figuring out how to have sex? It sounds bizarre, but it is true. Of course, the more experienced partner can help the inexperienced one to mature into their own; however, that requires both two-way communication and understanding between the parties. Yes, these concepts are simple, and yet they remain foreign to many of us. Therefore, some single women will say “I can’t get married without testing the waters first” or “mi nah buy puss inna bag.”

Now, before anyone runs to comment that I am endorsing sexual promiscuity, is that such a bad thing? It is natural to be sexual and so long as it is being done safely, what is the problem? Although, I do suggest sexually exploring yourself, with one person or as few as possible, as I do believe that we should not share ourselves sexually with any and everyone.

I would also like to note, that not every inner-most desire should be fed. We cannot have everything we want in life; if we did, we would not have progressed to where we are now as a species. Therefore, if one is single, engage in some deep introspection. If you are in a relationship, then speak to your partner and engage in the introspection. 

Not everyone wants to commit

Everyone is different and thus, not everyone’s goals and aspirations are the same. That is the beautiful horror that is humanity. In the realm of relationships, this rule applies just the same. Not everyone wants to commit to a monogamous relationship. Why? It could be the lack of sexual and or emotional maturity, histories of abuse and trauma, or simply their brain is wired differently. Whatever the case, not everyone wants to commit to a monogamous relationship and that is okay.

Like the previous point, some people may struggle to commit because they are not ready for a monogamous relationship. They have yet to explore and fulfil their desires and wants and as such, some of them will refrain from these relationships. Although sadly, not all of them do and either try to meet society’s expectations by going into a monogamous relationship, OR they deceived their partner into thinking they wanted such a relationship. 

The ones who do the former, are trying to denounce and suppress their craves to facilitate another desire – their yearning for a monogamous relationship. This inclination can be attributed to evolution or just folk laws. Whatever the source, this individual wants it and attempts it. Some see favourable results in quelling their beasts, while some are defeated. It is important to note that those who are successful are not the rule, they are simply the exceptions. Because once again, everyone is different

Then there are the ones who do the latter; that is, to deceive their partner into thinking that they wanted a monogamous relationship. These persons are complex and problematic as they are the causes of many heartbreaks. What I wish these individuals would do, is to be honest with their partners about what they want, at the START of these relations. However, I do see the hardship in finding partners, especially women, who would be okay with an open relationship or trying things that are not necessarily monogamous. Consequently, these individuals, especially men, believe that they must scheme and deceive others to get what they want. Nevertheless, it is wrong.

But what about those who just think differently? Not because of social conventions, but because they are just wired that way. This means that some people do not want to commit to one person. Some people are polyamorous– this means that they enjoy dating more than one person at a time and believe that open knowledge of this occurrence ensures peaceful co-dating. Everyone has their methods of showing and receiving love and their own beliefs surrounding love. Therefore, to have a single concept of how love should be practised, is a bit unfair, no?

Additionally, some of us are scarred from trauma and thus refrain from practising monogamy. Trauma is a hell of a thing that many of us experience at some points in our lives. These events can scar us mentally and create shifts in our behaviour, cognition, and emotional expression. So, for those who desist from monogamy because of trauma, I may not know you, but I do see you and I do understand you. I wish that healing comes for you and that in time, you can engage in a healthy relationship of whatever style you feel is right.

Final Thoughts

Some of us are not ready for monogamy at certain points in our lives, and that is okay. Sadly, this fact is not known to many of us, and sexual freedom is not encouraged. Well, sexual freedom is encouraged, but generally only for boys and men. Girls and women are oftentimes not afforded this privilege. 

Quite frankly, I reject the notion that relationships during the periods of adolescence (15-17) and young adulthood (18-28), should be defined by the doctrines of monogamy. When a young person wants to drift from the monogamous doctrines of relationship, that should be okay! One of the most heart-wrenching things I have seen and heard is when mature couples who have been married since they were young adults, suffer a divorce. A divorce which enables the woman to say, “he was my first love,” or “I have never been with anyone else but him!” These feelings of sadness are oftentimes accompanied by regret. The regret that they could have been with someone else and the regret that they could have dated other people before settling down. 

And once again in the context of a couple, both partners must work with each other! If you love one another and are committed to making your dream of a long-lasting relationship true, then some compromises will have to be made. However, what you should never compromise, are your values. To quote my fellow blogger Jael in her post titled ‘Opposites: Do they attract or attack?

“Many relationships fail because the partners had incompatible values and ideologies. The same things that they chose to overlook or even saw as new and exciting early in their relationship are the same things that eventually caused them a great deal of pain.” 

This means that we should be cognizant of the beliefs each other holds, and to be respectful of them as well. Because when we fail to do so: 

 “This type of compromise ATTACKS your peace, stability, faith, moral compass and the result is often a broken home with heartache beyond measure.

Therefore, being honest about what you want in the relationship AT THE BEGINNING is imperative to the success and longevity of it. If we are not honest with ourselves, can we truly be honest with anyone else?

What do you think? Is monogamy for everyone? Does it work for you? Did I leave a stone unturned in this post? Let me know down below!

23 thoughts on “Is monogamy for everyone?

  1. Loved this Tafari!

    I read some of the comments and agreed with all that I’ve read so far, so I don’t want to say what was already said. But I will say this; you chose to address an extremely sensitive topic that remains taboo even today AND you took a stance that could have easily offended many who hold a different view. Before reading, I thought ah boy…this looks like a controversial one! Lol But, you did an incredible job with this very real topic! This post is so enlightening and beneficial even for those who are not inclined to practice polygamy (like me). You are absolutely right – many, many relationships and marriages fail because one or both partners lack sexual maturity. What I would say is that, sexual maturity does not only come from being sexually active. But because sex and sexuality are such avoided topics especially in spiritual settings and among women like you said, many people enter relationships without learning about themselves as sexual beings. Our sexuality is a part of who we are and before we enter any relationship with hopes that it will last, we do need to know ourselves, understand how past experiences including trauma made us who we are and be true to ourselves.

    Great Post Tafari…I’ll read again and may comment with additional thoughts too! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words and that nugget, Jael! I’m happy you enjoyed the read and that my aim was achieved even in you– to enlighten and to spark intrinsic thought.

      Looking forward to your possible additional nuggets on this post 😁

      Like

  2. This was a well crafted article. It adds to conversation and the perspective that many are struggling with, their sexuality and sexual behaviours. Promiscuity is synonymous with teenagers and not so much young adults. That’s quite unfortunate. During my own sexual exploration, I discovered that monogamy isn’t for everyone. It’s not to say one can’t settle and grow with one person sexual but there’s something that might just be unfilling. It comes down to the way how we’ve allowed religion and culture to determine our sexual behaviours.

    How can one explore themselves sexual without fear of judgement? The first step is to be honest with yourself, and like the writer suggest, be upfront with those who you have an intent to interact with sexually.

    Very good read Tafari, keep at it, I look forward to your next publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that biologically, human beings were not made for monogamy. However, I also believe that our social constructs require it. Maybe not forever monogamy, but one at a time.

    For instance, at the end of the day, there is no such thing as safe sex. Herpes, for instance, has around an 80% transmission rate even with condom use, because other skin areas touch each other. Condoms burst. Birth control fails. The risk of STIs and pregnancy (who’s the father?) complicates things. One partner at a time simplifies that somewhat, though it certainly doesn’t eliminate all the risks. Men can still deny children and women primarily get STIs while in long-term relationships (compared to men who primarily get it from sleeping around).

    This is not to say that I don’t believe polygamy can’t work. It most certainly can, but in my opinion, it comes with way more risk.

    My dad and I believe marriage should be on a renewable contract. You get married and every 5 years, you renew it by mutual choice or it expires. Can you imagine how people would put in more effort to make things work? Knowing the other person can leave just like that in 5 years with zero effort?

    As far as non-marital relationships, I’m not ready for any of that either. It’s not just about monogamy for me. I just want to enjoy my alone time and be selfish with that time and my body. That means neither sharing it with 1 nor 10. 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, good points Alexis!

      Especially about the STI and thing. Those are scary… Which is why I suggest being safe as possible, but as you said, things still do occur. No matter how you slice it, life is to be lived and we’re to learn from our experiences. There’s just no perfect road in it, sadly 😅

      Marriage being a renewable contract… This is interesting!!! It make sense. I think if a lot more couples did that, versus expecting it to be a never-ending thing, they’d: save themselves heartache or build an even better relationship. Cause like you said, its more an incentive for both partners.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying your aloneness. Shadow is all the man you need 😉 thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  4. Excellent posting Tafari. I hope these thought processes are further built on in an effort to address prevailing social issues we face in a so called modern society where we discover everything but our true selves.

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well written post Tafari. As you rightly pointed out, it all boils down to individual differences. And the hard truth is that many people don’t introspect and know themselves enough to even identify their differences (i.e. if they would truly be satisfied with monogamy). We tend to settle with societal, cultural and familial expectations without question.

    I hope your article will inspire persons to spend time looking in and truly figuring out who and what they want out of life. 😌

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post again. What you said all stemmed back to an important tenet which is honesty. One of the things that causes issues in most monogamous relationship is the fact that the 2 partners tend to not be honest with their different desires. As result, their differing desires tend to clash, resulting in heartbreaks and hurt. However, as u said if they had been open about their intentions and desires it would prevent a lot of trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Terrain!

      Thanks for commenting 😁

      Yes, if only many of us would have been honest. But also, that honesty isn’t easy to divulge… Our culture needs a shift where non-monogamous behavior is less demonized, especially for women.

      Hopefully one day.

      Like

  7. This is always a topic of discussion and it opens doors to further discussions for example open relationships, what is love?, etc. Personally I don’t think there’s a set rule as people are indeed different and have preferences. Just as in some African countries a man can have several wives… but can a woman have several husbands? Lol food for thought.

    I just wish people were just honest with their intentions without being judged. It would make things so much easier…

    Great post bro.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Emmy, thanks bro!

      I, too, wish people could be honest about their intentions, and not be judged. Sadly, with the conventions of JA society, that are mainly Christian, that’s not too possible.

      However, times are changing and people are as well. Therefore, hope seems to be on the horizon.

      Hope to see you around here again! Thanks for reading.

      Like

  8. An article I have been waiting for. Often times as young adults we feel pressured into monogamy, while our subconscious needs/wants polygamous relationships in order for us to grow. This pressure and subsequent suppression of our feelings often lead to risky sexual behaviour, and the formation of what can be considered bad habits. Well said, friend. 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tbh- I don’t think the human species was made for monogamy. I think it’s more of a cultural norm that fits a certain social normative and is pushed to conform with these social normative. There’s so much to unpack with this topic, but you did a great job in highlighting relevant points about the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lloyd!

      I agree with you. I don’t believe it is fit for us, or at least in the way it is practised now. I have noticed that many animals are either strictly monogamous (Penguins) or polygamous (Male Lions). So, why can’t we freely enjoy these other forms too? I do think that some of us can perform monogamy, just not all of us.

      Thanks for reading and sharing. Hope to see you around!

      Like

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