Are you truly monogamous, or are you just trying reeaally hard to be?
If you’re in a relationship, and you know that you love your partner, but you can’t stop thinking about sexual attractions to other people…well. You should:
See a psychiatrist? Renew your vows? Confess to your priest?
Chances are, there is nothing wrong with you. You might just be human. You could call it “mentally polyamorous,” but really, you’re just a sexual being. That is, you might be quite naturally attracted to a variety of people, and you might wish to have some affectionate or sexual contact with those you really like.
Don’t freak out. Admitting this does not mean that you have to have sex with anyone but your partner.
But you might find an immense weight lifted off your shoulders by opening up your relationship to outside affections. These can include warm friendships in which you can be held, cuddle, kiss – or find whatever level or limit you talk about and decide upon with your primary partner.
You’d be surprised at just how many people feel precisely the way you do. After all, mental monogamy is not wired into our biology – we were born and raised for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of years as a tribal species that spent most of our time outside as gatherers, foragers, fishers and sometimes hunters. We didn’t work in buildings, drive cars, or sign mortgage agreements. We didn’t have houses; we had sky and earth, river and lake.
We moved through lifetime in our band or tribe; we sometimes changed romantic or breeding partners over the years, and we did so without great angst, divorce or condemnation.
Divorce was not required because there was no property to divide. Children were not ripped away from one parent or another because all children were raised by everyone in the tribe or band – not by ‘nuclear dual-income earners’ living in isolating cul-de-sac townhouses, having no contact with neighbors (but making sure to simulate ‘community’ with streaming video 24 hours a day).
We are, at root, the same foraging, network-building, multi-partner (over a lifetime) species that we always were. Biologically, mentally, chemically, mechanically suited to forming networks – not “nuclear” pods.
We should all strive to build warm, honest long-lasting relationships. This is how we thrive. But don’t imagine that by imposing a code of anxious, jealous sexual monogamy (a kind of servitude or ownership), you’re creating a sane, freeing, healthy relationship. You might be creating a pressure-cooker – or a kind of prison – where the fun, freeing relationship you once loved used to be.
By loosening up the reins a little bit, you may just be able to have a very long-lasting relationship that allows you to be more fully human.
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Liam Scheff is author of Official Stories and is working on his new book about relationships (and making them better)