The Pretentious Cloak For 21st Century Relationships

A depiction of non-monogamous relationship, Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

By Oluwatobi Fagbuaro

If monogamy is morally upright in the eyes of society, why then is cheating rife in such relationships? Could monogamous relationships be a pretense that one only kept putting up an appearance for society’s sake?

Of human romantic relationships today, monogamy is the universally acceptable form. From presidents to monarchs to religious people to the common (woman, the concept of two consenting adults bound in a legal union is regarded as sacred and the norm. Such is the pedestal that a monogamous marriage is placed on that many countries’ laws make it illegal for a married man or woman to take another in marriage. This is known as bigamy, and in some of these countries, it is an offense punishable by the law.

However, not many people agree with the concept of monogamy and express dissenting opinions that humans are polygamous in nature. Monogamy is but a pretentious cloak that many dons to please society. To get an actual perspective of the latter, I decided to conduct a social experiment.

A social experiment took place on “Bumble,” a dating app where ladies swipe first to match with the guys. I matched with a particular guy name remains “anonymous.” When we talked about non-monogamous relationships (open relationship), he stated that he was a “cuckold,” a man who could stay in a relationship with a woman with many other partners. The only difference between him and the regular cuckolds was that he had no qualms with his woman having multiple sexual partners besides him.

Such a perspective to romantic relationships will more often get a disapproving shake of the head. There seems to be an unspoken but unanimous agreement universally in the 21st century that monogamy is the civilized type of relationship instead of polygamy. 

According to the Irish times, Owen Lovejoy(2009) published evidence that human changeover to mostly monogamous habits can be traced to our ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus, who lived 4.4 million years ago. Monogamy is an energetically economical arrangement than polygamy, which is wasteful of time and energy as males fight over females. However, despite the fact that the favor monogamy enjoys in the 21st century, it is in this same century that the divorce rate has doubled than what it used to be in the last century.

From Hollywood celebrities to influential personalities down to the common man, divorce is spreading like wildfire that has no intention of being put out. Interestingly, the primary reason for the dissolution of many of these marriages is infidelity

If monogamy gets the nod in today’s ideal form of relationships, why do people in monogamous marriages still engage in extra-marital affairs? Could the dissenters be right when they say monogamy is but a pretense?

Sara Huotari, a relationship expert and coach, has this to say about it.

“Affairs are an act of betrayal, and they are also an expression of longing and loss. Those who have such affairs often find themselves longing and yearning for an emotional connection and a wish to recapture lost parts of themselves or an attempt to bring back vitality in the face of loss and tragedy.”

Sara Huotari
A couple sharing a moment together, Photo by Jack Sparrow from Pexels

She adds;

“They are often people who are deeply monogamous in their beliefs, and at least for their partner. However, they find themselves in a conflict between their values and their behavior. They cross a line that they never thought they would cross, and at the risk of losing everything.”

Sara Huotari

Mrs. Adegoke*, a married woman who resides in Nigeria, disagrees.

I believe monogamy is considered acceptable, it is not feasible, but it is a social construct. “The main reason being that many of us, both male and female, would love to explore,” “We are talking about reality here.” Most men cannot keep to one woman.

“Moreover, some women are not satisfied with one man, no matter how hard they try. I will say polygamy and polyandry would allow people not to feel caged and feel they need to fly. Even the supposed pious ones cheat on their spouses.”

Mrs Adegoke

Many others share Mrs. Adegoke’s views, although not all would publicly voice out because they fear backlash from society. The Bible: King James Version acknowledges that stolen water is sweet, and so many people would rather cheat on their partners than contribute to conversations that may help foster the motion for non-monogamy to become as universally accepted as monogamy.

Suppose we are to consider the perspective of Mrs. Adegoke and her supporters. Should we then re-embrace and encourage polygamy as a way to keep relationships from crashing rapidly due to infidelity? Would polygamy be the ultimate cure for philandering in monogamous marriages, thereby saving both partners the trauma and heartbreak that comes with infidelity?

Do open relationships translate to honest relationships?

“Unfortunately, it does not. People can still cheat in open, non-monogamous relationships.” What one person considers as cheating, another one may not. If these are not clearly defined, grey areas might lead to more damage to the relationship.

Sara Huotari

She also mentioned that she had addressed a related subject to this effect on her website.

In hindsight, I do not think that monogamy necessarily guarantees fidelity or a pretentious cloak for relationships. Neither do I think that the option of non-monogamy saves partners from heartbreaks or even divorce. I believe that to have flourishing relationships, and it is the responsibility of the individual(s) in them to be as honest as possible with themselves and their partners.

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