You are mine – I am yours. What Monogamy Means (Or Sexual Ownership)

I met my first boyfriend when I was 17. We were madly in love and we managed to maintain this relationship for 8 long years. Meanwhile, I studied for 3 years on the other side of the country, and after 6 years we moved in together. Between the age of 17 until 25, a lot happens. You grow, you learn, you gain experience, you become mature – at least a tiny bit.

This relationship lasted longer than most of my friend’s relationships, or mine nowadays. And while it was definitely toxic and I was emotionally dependent, I learned one very important thing:

For me, monogamy is not the key to happiness.

In long-lasting relationships, you will definitely reach a point in your life, where you are sexually attracted to other people. After a while, the sex follows a certain routine, you know what the other one likes, she/he/they knows what you like and if you or your partner is one of a lazy type who does not want to work on that excitement in bed... well you need to surrender.

After a long while, the number of sexual activities in your relationship might sink drastically which can be very frustrating when you are the one with the higher sex drive but again... you will have to surrender.

“Need to” meaning: IF you follow the traditional concept of monogamy.

Interestingly, when I talk about my thoughts on this topic, I get the same reaction from most of my friends: They make a face, they might literally shake the thought off of them and then they say: I could never! That’s not for me!

Monogamy or sexual ownership: A social construct

Back in the days, it was extremely risky and therefore impossible for married women to have sex with another man. The risk was to be ostracized and abandoned by the whole family and community. Women had to be faithful, loving and ready for physical activities whenever the husband wanted to use her body.

And vice versa if men were promiscuous? Normal. No biggie.

May I remind you of Henry VIII? The perfect example of double standards and power structures.

There are indigenous people who do not follow monogamous concepts. Only 16% of cultures actually dictate monogamy. But in our western society non-monogamous, open or polyamorous relationships, are still for “hippies”, and most people fear even thinking about it.

What exactly MEANS monogamy?

Isn’t it fascinating that the majority follows a relationship concept without even questioning it? Where do we actually find the definition of monogamy? Where do we learn it?

While there is no need for most monogamous couples to define what is not allowed (kissing, touching, having sex with someone else), some people consider watching porn cheating. Or masturbating. Or flirting or sexting with a stranger.

“You just want to fuck around or are afraid of commitment when you want to be open.”

I guess the biggest cliché about polyamory or non-monogamy, however you want to call it, is that it is a result of commitment phobia or a huge hunger of sex. Of course, there might be some people with that intention but it is more about trust on the next level. It means trusting your partner and your relationship. It means communicating for real, about sorrows, jealousy, feelings, needs, fantasies, boundaries and never let that discussion end – something studies proved happens less in monogamous relationships. It mostly means overcoming old, out-dated traditions that follow the concept of possession, we never learned to question. We do not own our partner or her or his body and after the huge chemical cocktail in our bodies loses its power and the feeling of being madly in love switches to trust and actual love, why should other people actually be a risk? With every new person coming to your life, you need to negotiate about your both needs, about boundaries and desires all over again.

Monogamy and how natural it is

There are a few animals who live in monogamous relationships at least most of the times:

  • Grey wolf

  • Macaroni penguin

  • Black vulture

  • Gibbon

  • Pot-bellied seahorse

  • Swans

A little adventure here and there is important for genetic diversity in the animal kingdom and yes, even the famous faithful swans have fun with another sexy swan now and then.

There is just one living creature that actually lives 100% monogamous, the famous Diplozoon paradoxum, a fish parasite. When young males and females meet each other, their body grows together. No one will ever cheat in this constellation, lifelong loyalty... without a choice, though.

Let us question those outdated norms, some possessive old men ones made.

I don’t suggest that you all go out and have sex with random people now. I just suggest to open your mind. And yes, for some people it is a very important rule to stay physically loyal. And that is okay. What matters, in the end, is, to talk to your partner, to define own rules in the relationship and to never stop communicating.

THE ONE relationship concept does not exist. But I'm pretty sure, there is one that will work for you. And maybe, only maybe it is one where you are free to find other people attractive and flirt, touch, kiss or even have sex with someone else now and then – as the beautiful swans do.

I still strongly believe in long-term relationships and I am convinced that if you find someone where communicating feels light and easy, and if you are able to not give a sh*t about social norms, you can maintain a long, powerful, loving relationship.

Text by Elisa Thiem

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