The Numbers Game: Quality Vs. Quantity
By Terrence [Vigorous Sex & Relationships]
“A HIGH PERCENTAGE OF HUMAN SOCIETIES THROUGHOUT OUR HISTORY (MORE THAN THREE-QUARTERS OF THEM) HAVE EMBRACED SOME FORM OF POLYGAMY.”
Open Relationships and Other Alternatives to Monogamy
Monogamy is, for the most part, a modern human invention. It doesn’t occur so often in nature. Many animals have a number of mates simultaneously; or else they stray from their primary mates several times over their lifespan. A high percentage of human societies throughout our history (more than three-quarters of them) have embraced some form of polygamy. Nonetheless, the idea of committing to one partner for life is an ideal that many people cherish.
Some have a difficult time practicing it, however, for one reason or another. Intimacy is a mysterious phenomenon that we all have to discover and define for ourselves. We’re bound to reach our own personal interpretation of it; and if there are nearly as many definitions of intimacy as there are people in the world, then it would stand to reason that there would be myriad ways of exploring it.
“OFTENTIMES PEOPLE CAN JUSTIFY INTIMATE EXPLORATIONS INTELLECTUALLY BUT THEY CAN’T NECESSARILY HANDLE THEM EMOTIONALLY.”
Is exclusive commitment between two people actually natural for human beings? If not, then why do so many of us still cling to the ideal? And if so, then why is that sacred pact so often broken?
No hard and fast rules apply to the adventure of exploring sexuality and emotional closeness. What we should take into account, however, is how well our hearts and our minds are working together when we get involved with someone. Oftentimes people can justify intimate explorations intellectually but they can’t necessarily handle them emotionally.
Our minds often outstrip our hearts. This is perhaps true in the realm of intimacy more so than anywhere else. For example, we might be completely comfortable with the idea of an “open relationship” and yet find that our personal experience of it is intensely confusing and/or painful.
“HOW DO I RECONCILE MY LONGING FOR LOVE AND CLOSENESS WITH MY AMBIVALENT ATTITUDES TOWARDS COMMITMENT?”
Monogamy can be trying for some people – and the reasons for this may have nothing to do with lack of love. There are those who simply don’t relate well to consistency or routine – or even to stability. They need variety and change, to be caught up in shifting winds. The familiarity of a long-term monogamous relationship can become stifling for such people. They long for the passion but not so much the permanence.
The question becomes: How do I reconcile my longing for love and closeness with my ambivalent attitudes towards commitment? One solution to this dilemma of intimacy is the fantasy of casual encounters. If we view earthly life as essentially a learning endeavor then this absolves us of moral considerations.
“…MANY PEOPLE ARE EMOTIONALLY ILL-EQUIPPED TO ACTUALLY LIVE OUT SUCH A FANTASY.”
A hedonistic life devoted to polygamy is just as valid a path of learning as is a faithfully committed married life. Experience is a great equalizer; and since no one can “experience everything” in one lifetime we become as defined by the roads we don’t take as by the ones we do.
Yet many people are emotionally ill-equipped to actually live out such a fantasy. Their hearts long to feel special to one person – and to make that one person feel special in return. Their natural, vulnerable selves will only come out and play if it feels safe to do so.
“THE VARIOUS ALTERNATIVES TO A MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIP… CAN’T REALLY PROVIDE THAT SAFE CONTAINER.”
The various alternatives to a monogamous relationship – open relationships, friends with benefits, partner swapping, etc. – can’t really provide that safe container. Therefore, even if they were willing to accept the pain that inevitably comes along with such arrangements, they wouldn’t find it possible to be fully present. VIGOROUS
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