I increasingly see my role on Ricochet as consuming as much of the liberal media as I can so that the rest of you don’t have to. While perusing the intellectual wastelands, I invariably come across articles that confidently assert that the way human beings have been doing something for several millennia is totally wrong.
It seems the New Republic is beginning to question this whole monogamy thing.
The current model of lifelong, cohabiting monogamous partnership has never been such an outdated ideal
Now that is a hook. Any article that endeavors to refute an institution such as monogamous marriage in less than 1,200 words is guaranteed gold.
Liberal social attitudes mean monogamy for the sake of it is but a moral trinket. Fine if you’re in the early throes of romantic love and only have eyes for each other. I’ve been there many times and what a wonderful feeling it is. But it’s no secret that romantic infatuation doesn’t last.
Could it be possible that people engage in cohabiting, monogamous partnerships for reasons aside from their feelings? Is it conceivable that this particular arrangement has existed throughout human history because it offers discrete benefits?
Since the entire biological drive for procreation aims at passing down your DNA, I suspect few men would work to support a family if they ran a significant risk of the children their wife gave birth to not being their own. Similarly, how many women are comfortable having a man’s child without a commitment from him that he won’t abandon her at some future date for a younger woman?
Of course, these concerns are minimal for the wealthy, who possess the means to cope with the negative consequences of terrible decision making. Most of us are not rich however, and cannot easily afford the costs. The advice of Hollywood actresses and wealthy authors is of questionable value to the average person. Someone should write a book on this topic.
No matter how rich you are though, some consequences cannot be mitigated. Studies estimate that 110 million Americans have a sexually transmitted disease. You run approximately 1 in 3 odds of your next partner bringing a little something extra into the bedroom with you. Now, you could demand all prospective lovers supply you with negative test results before coitus commences, but it is a bit of mood killer.
Alternatively, you could find a single partner, remain faithful to them, and run no risk of infections. What an outdated concept.
There are other assumed rules of commitment applied blindly. What, for example, is the obsession with living under the same roof?
I’m just spitballing here, but I’d guess it’s the cost of multiple roofs.
If you think life-long commitment is still needed to start a family, a replacement for that has been found too. Earlier this month it was reported that the number of single women seeking artificial insemination with a sperm donor has doubled in five years. This is more significant if you consider that as late as the 1950s single motherhood was deplored so much that they could be locked away in a mental asylum.
Can the author not posit any possible reason it was deplored? Perhaps the tripled risk of ending up in jail that children raised in single-parent homes are exposed to? Or the fact that being raised by married parents reduces the risk of living in poverty by 82%? Do liberals really believe that moral preening is the only reason societies have structured themselves around monogamous relationships?
None of us think a lifelong commitment is needed to start a family. Many of us, however, recognize the wisdom of doing it that way.
It is telling that the author’s only reference to children in her idealized anti-monogamy world is to point out that they can still be created. How they will be raised above the poverty line and effectively educated when commitment is shunned is left to the imagination. Perhaps all children will be shipped off to government boarding schools at the age of six so that their parents can relive their college glory days forever.
I’m obviously not suggesting that we treat life like one big Club 18-30’s holiday with a new lover for every change of bed linen. Life would be anarchical, board meetings would be in danger of turning into orgies..
Well now you’ve lost me completely. Board room orgies was about the only thing this plan had going for it.
We will continue to fall in love and to believe the feeling will last forever. But it is time to modernize the rules and expectations. That means casting away the fairytale and facing up to the fact that a life partner—should we choose to have one—fulfills only one corner of our emotional, romantic and sexual needs. The belief that we can find one person to meet all of them is one which is very likely to be considered radical in the future.
For propriety’s sake, I will avoid openly pondering which corners of your sexual needs a second or third partner can fill while your life partner is filling another.
Personally, a world where relationships mirror a game of musical chairs sounds like a hell that could only have been devised by the proprietor of a dating website who was looking for a never ending parade of clients. Wait a minute…
Helen Croydon is the author of Screw The Fairytale: A Modern Guide to Sex and Love. She is also the founder of the dating website parttimelove.co.uk