Is monogamy dead?
Gone it seems is the day when men and women simply dated one person at a time even at a relationship’s inception. Foreign is the idea of investing time in a burgeoning relationship to adequately know a potential new partner before moving onto another. Rare is the couple that, within weeks, meets, falls in love, and becomes exclusive. Monogamy is no longer the yardstick by which satisfactory relationships are measured or the obvious goal in today’s dating arena. Instead, retaining the freedom to meet and experience as many different partners possible is espoused and even applauded. Whatever the label − friend with benefits, booty call, or hookup − casual relationships are now the hallmark of acceptability. But are these ambiguous encounters truly a desired end or a mere consequence and inevitable compromise of standards necessitated by a dating pool unable and unwilling to commit?
With the narrowing of salary differentials between men and women employed in comparable positions and the equalization in education levels between the two sexes (the number of women enrolled in college programs today actually surpasses that of men), women have assumed a more socially forward role than ever before. No longer do women necessarily rely on their male counterparts for economic support and, as a consequence, marry later if at all. Men, in turn, enjoy the fruits of women’s labors and date a culture of women who, in large part, are not eager or ready to settle down. For men, the world is their oyster, filled with women who willingly and happily allow flexibility and freedom should men so desire.
With more attention paid to career and the consequential postponement of marriage and family, many women find themselves struggling later in their childbearing years to find a monogamous partner when they eventually want one. Because so many women stave off commitment early on, men, now well trained in contemporary dating mores, do not feel compelled to give a relationship their undivided attention when women suddenly change the rules by seeking out more traditional arrangements. The position of women thus appears hypocritical, having already given men permission to behave in a manner that ultimately and painstakingly becomes the subject of their frustration and complaints later on.
In an effort to attain their desired result, namely monogamy, many women, regardless of whether they have never been married, are divorced, are looking to have children, or remain childless, may feel compelled to accept certain less conventional situations with which they are not satisfied in the hopes that the relationship they are having will one day change − spontaneously combust− into one they want. In reality, a casual relationship will rarely grow into anything more. Why would it if a man is already being satisfied and then some?
Casual relationships arguably have their place. Sexual freedom is a socially acceptable privilege women were not afforded until late. And if engaging in a casual arrangement is where a woman’s true intention lies, then more power to her. But when a woman, either forced by her biological clock to find that one special person with whom to procreate or because she simply changes her mind and wants to settle down then goes ahead and compromises her values, sexual freedom becomes more of a tether than anything else.
If women one day hope to enjoy more traditional relationships with devoted partners, they need to be mindful of their possible long-term goals and lay the necessary foundation first. The instant gratification satisfied by casual relationships does have its consequences. By being cavalier early on, even shortsighted, or compromising their objectives later to appease a potential partner, women send men a clear message about what they want and what is acceptable to them. At that point, men can only be blamed for responding accordingly.
Monogamy may be dying but women have a definite hand in killing it.
Have your feelings about sex changed since your marriage ended?