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.
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.
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!