Hard-wired for monogamy?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - THE LIGHT SIDE - A col­umn about love, re­la­tion­ships, dat­ing and ev­ery­thing in be­tween by Sadie Love.

Afew days ago I was schooled on love. Through an­other friend’s in­ter­ven­tion I was re­minded of what it was, what it wasn’t, and all the things most peo­ple only imag­ine it to be. For once I wasn’t the one in the hot seat, nor was I the one at­tempt­ing to dish out any kind of love ad­vice, so I just sat back and took it all in.

“There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween guard­ing your heart, and putting up a wall that no one can pen­e­trate!” my friend Michaela was say­ing to our third mus­ke­teer, Tor­rent.

“There’s also a dif­fer­ence be­tween want­ing to be open and out there, and not want­ing to be in­volved in any­thing that could turn out re­motely like…”

With that she stopped short. She didn’t have to say an­other word for us to know where the con­ver­sa­tion was headed. We had talked for weeks about the un­ex­pected end to her re­la­tion­ship, the re­sult of a snoop­ing ex­pe­di­tion gone hor­ri­bly wrong. Or re­mark­ably right - she’d turned pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor overnight, and even SnapChat’s 24-hour ex­pi­ra­tion date hadn’t been able to keep her from the truth that she sought, as messy as it turned out to be. Her long­time boyfriend had been un­faith­ful, and my soft­hearted friend hadn’t been able to han­dle it.

“I feel like all of these new age com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­forms pro­mote in­fi­delity,” she said fi­nally. “Se­cret con­ver­sa­tions, dis­ap­pear­ing pho­tos… I mean, where does the buck stop?”

I un­der­stood her per­spec­tive, but didn’t agree that peo­ple’s behaviour could be blamed fully on tech­nol­ogy. With that our con­ver­sa­tion nose-dived into the ter­ri­tory of in­fi­delity, dou­ble stan­dards, and monogamy in gen­eral.

“I don’t think any­one owes any­body any­thing else but hon­esty,” Tor­rent said hotly, then shook her head. “Since we’re on the topic, why do you think peo­ple cheat in the first place, whether they’re in a happy re­la­tion­ship or not?”

“Bore­dom prob­a­bly,” I of­fered with a shrug.

I’d had this con­ver­sa­tion far too many times be­fore. So much so that I had al­most mem­o­rized the jus­ti­fi­ca­tions that al­ways came up: fear of in­ti­macy, lone­li­ness, or just the op­po­site, hunger for in­ti­macy of the same kind.

My per­spec­tive on the whole mat­ter had al­ways been, if hu­mans weren’t de­signed for monogamy, then why did our emo­tions say oth­er­wise?

“I think we’re just hard wired for monogamy,” Michaela said, and I nod­ded. I re­called a sem­i­nar I’d at­tended months ago that had in­cluded a panel of women dis­cussing the same topic. The group­ing had in­cluded a fam­ily ther­a­pist, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­o­gist, and a re­la­tion­ship re­treat guide. The women had shared that fidelity was a choice, and ex­plained their per­spec­tive.

“Mono means one, and gamy means spouse, so it means one spouse; it doesn’t equate to fidelity,” the psy­chol­o­gist ex­pressed. “We do not share nat­u­rally, we are a monog­a­mous species, we’ve got tremen­dous brain path­ways to fall in love and at­tach to a part­ner.”

“We’re pointed as hu­man be­ings into dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. We want to be free to go where we want to go, we want to be free to have ex­pe­ri­ences,” the re­la­tion­ship guide added. “We love va­ri­ety, spon­tane­ity… so if you’re de­cid­ing you’re only go­ing to be with one per­son, in some ways you’re giv­ing that up. On the other hand, if you’re in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship, it’s se­cure, safe… you know what’s go­ing to hap­pen ev­ery day. You have this peace of mind that you have this per­son to come home to that you love.”

The down­side to that, she said, was bore­dom, or sort of a damp­ened pas­sion. She re­lated that peo­ple opt­ing for fidelity needed to work hard to keep the siz­zle in their re­la­tion­ship.

In the age of hook-up cul­ture, more and more peo­ple were steer­ing away from monogamy, choos­ing in­stead more lib­er­ated life­styles. Ir­re­spec­tive of those op­tions, the ladies be­lieved there was a sin­gle el­e­ment at play, part of the hu­man emo­tion, that even sex­u­ally lib­er­ated hu­mans could not es­cape.

“Peo­ple need to be aware that they’re go­ing to be deal­ing with a very, very strong hu­man emo­tion, no mat­ter what it is that they think, and that hu­man emo­tion is jeal­ousy.”

The strong­est mes­sage that had come from their pre­sen­ta­tion was that of­ten peo­ple found in other re­la­tion­ships what they hadn’t cul­ti­vated enough in their own, and I ex­pressed just that to Tor­rent and Michaela.

Even in the hurt that still lin­gered, Michaela nod­ded.

“I would have no is­sue open­ing my heart to some­one else, if only that came with a guar­an­tee of hon­esty. Whether we can all agree that we’re a monog­a­mous species or not, the least we can do is learn to be hon­est and up­front be­fore emo­tions get in­volved!”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.