The beauty of a single soul.
The spiritual journey of monogamy. Why is challenges us, and how it cherishes and protects the ones we love.
In this article I am speaking to a growing trend whereby people speak of polygamy as a more mature form of love. They speak, quite articulately I may add, to the idea that to truly love someone is to let them be “free.” Many who pursue polygamy are highly intellectual and have developed very enticing theoretical views on the subject. The nature of this form of relationship also often gives a lot of practice with talking about sexuality, feelings, and boundaries. They speak to an understanding that we should not bound our lovers to ourselves, nor ourselves to them. The theory of this resonates with many, yet many find themselves heartbroken, challenged, and sad in the pursuit of the promise of its glory and universal love. Often people wonder what they did wrong, or even what is wrong with them that they can’t let their lover be. To answer this call, this article talks about some of the inherent problems with many forms of polygamy, and about how monogamy can offer a route to truly love and cherish your partner in a way that helps you both grow and mature. I encourage anyone who is pursuing polygamy, or encouraged to do so, to read this for a balanced perspective. I encourage this even if, and perhaps especially if, it is working for you. You’ll see why.
“Every day I will be there for you. Like the Sun, I will love you so consistently you may even confuse my presence with the concept of a day itself. As if you were not to see my love you may wonder if days have stopped and gone to rest.”
The question of poly vs monogamy for me comes down to which way forward is more loving. I believe it is the presence of love that makes us happier, not just sex. Otherwise masturbation would be the obvious answer to fulfillment in life. This is a question you can not answer adequately without talking about attachment. That is, sex naturally links to attachment. Some animals attach for life immediately, others do not create strong attachment at all. Humans attach. We do this through chemical bonding and social bonding. How quickly, or how strongly, can vary.
What I see a lot of are couples, or an individual within a couple, who is naturally slow to attach or has weak attachment. They engage with many people. Sadly many of their lovers develop strong bonds to them only to be dismissed as “breaking the agreed upon relationship rules.” Essentially people think it’s a great idea, then through sex become bonded, and end up getting left alone. This creates drama and much heartache, and in some cases can be a traumatic experience. If you are surrounding yourself with this drama and heartache is that really the most loving, healthy way forward? For you or them? Sure the sex can be great, but what is one missing?
Attachement is on a scale, like many of human phenomena. Some are slow/weaker to attach others much faster/stronger. Women more than men in general, I’ll get to that.
On a physical level this is due to oxytocin and the limbic emotional bonding. A similar bonding that is created between a mother and her infant strongly at childbirth as well as though nursing. When people have sex their brains release these strong bonding hormones. These emotional ties hurt when they are broken. Women have a larger limbic system and therefor often have stronger ties created than men though not always.
Asside from the physical we create social bonding as well. Humans begin to reorient their sense of beauty, conception of love, and can even shift values based on the connection they create with their lover. There is a beauty to this that creates lasting relationships that support couples though raising kids and even through the last years of ones life.
With polygamy we often see people who are essentially single, but still want to have a deeper level of connection with people, just without the commitment. We also see couples who commit to each other, but explore with others. I’ve seen more than one slow to attach couple (primaries) do just fine, but many who they are with are written off. It is the “secondary’s” I’m worried about. Because relationship style is cultural, but bonding though sexual contact is a natural thing that is more strong in some than others. People agree to not attach, but it happens anyways. This creates strain for the new partner, and a emotional drama for the primary couple even if just under the surface.
Another contention I have with some of the language often used is that monogamy is control though commitment. That is not the point. It is about being “all in.” A relationship fundamentally changes when someone is there 100%. This is true with all relationships, especially intimate ones. Sometimes people are sort of into their partner but have reservations. When you feel these reservations it can cause yourself be subconsciously reserved, or trigger other relationship problems. When two people are 100% there for eachother it creates a magic that cannot exist in any other forms of a relationship. Why? This comes down to time and resources, as well as emotional commitment. If you are being romantic and entertaining such a deep relationship with more than one person, and pursuing your dreams, and having children there really isn’t enough time to do your best. Also any sensitive person will feel your connection to the others in a way that will trigger the bonding they have created to you; thus, make them feel unsafe and less likely to open up completely. Or worse. They will still open up, but in to a container where they are not protected.
Monogamy is saying I will make love to you because it feels great and because it connects us. I will not just learn what feels amazing you, but how you grow, change, and evolve your feelings of ecstasy. AND I will hold a safe container for these natural attachments that develop when making love. More than just hold a safe container, I will cherish the connection and nurture our love. Safe sex is a lot more than just watching for STD’s or having a baby, it is also being loving and safe with the feelings of the person you are with.
If you are having sex in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle it is responsible to have a plan in place to take care of any child that may be birthed by your union or use protection. With emotions there is no condom. There are no right time of the month. Every time you have sex, be it intercourse or not, you are calling in attachment. You don’t get to decide either. One cannot just decide not to become attached for this sexual activity or that sexual activity. It does change though. The mind is the largest sex organ and when there is more Love present attachment will often come quicker and stronger.
It is most loving for couples, then, to pursue the lowest common denominator. That is, be there for the person who attaches quickest and strongest. Because this isn’t always uniform it can make sexually active dating quite tricky, and with relationships, I would argue, never a good idea.
Getting sexual fulfillment from others while triggering attachment that you do not intend on holding space for is not loving. It is arrogance. I know, a strong statement. It is justified by the countless tears of people who have had their hearts wrenched by an experience that is neurologically similar to being separated from your child.
When dating it is normal and loving to work with the people you are interested in and discuss what degree of sexuality is safe before this attachment is created. If you do this you are playing with fire a little so it is good to be mindful of this by not making assumptions that words and logic have control over physical experiences. Check in with one another regularly and make sure that everyone is safe, i.e., not becoming attached when the other isn’t there to catch them. Be aware that attachment can sneak up, and often people will try to hide it if they think it will push away the person they love. Nonetheless, many playful, healing, sensual, loving experiences are available. In fact it can be very healthy to explore sexuality in forms such as massage, sensuality, etc. And if attachment is built too early, then to lovingly, and with intention, separate. Hold space for what pain may come up.
So remember, monogamy isn’t here because of control. It is hear because evolution found it valuable, and we are hardwired in ways where relationships based on monogamy provide a loving structure for humans to flourish. Well… mostly they provide resources for kids so they can have longer postpartum brain development, but the consequences of that fundamentally effect us within any sexual relationship.
As a short aside: I’ve talked a lot about attachment here and its is good to note that attachment is actually a very healthy thing. People often misapply translation of attachment from eastern paths like Buddhism to demonize these feelings. I will be writing more articles on this specifically to talk about when how attachment and jealousy can be very healthy emotionally and common gender differences from an evolutionary perspective.
No, polygamy isn’t more “natural” either. People have written whole books talking about how polygamy is a more natrual human sexaul experience. They cite lots of anthroplogical research and some modern science about the process of conception. It is easy to be impressed any time someone cites lots of research. Most of this research is borrowed, not well suited to study human sexuality, and the conclusions they draw don’t hold water. This list isn’t exaustive, but gets at some of the major pitfalls of logic that they make time and time again when trying to present their argunment.
- Comparable primatology is not an adequate method of discovering sex habits of a species. Even small evolutionary branches can lead to entirely different sex patterns.
- Just because it happened in the past does not mean it was an enjoyable loving experience.
- Humans at no point in time stopped evolving and somehow need to go back. We are where we are now and need to have relationships based on our current state. Today most human brains tie bonding in with sexuality. Monogomy holds a container for that bonding.
- Contraception doesn’t change the game. The concept that men get jealous because they are afraid that they will raise a child other than their own is not scientifcially validated. In fact, men, just like women, are pre-programed to feel nurturing feelings towards all babies. There are species where males will be aggresive towards young that is not there own, but humans today are not one. From the perspective of basic psychology jealousy in men is better explained by the fear that someone else will raise their child if you were to take a genes based approach. People are fine raising another child but like to raise their own. It also has a lot to do with the psychology of a relationship, shared resources, goals for the future, and love. So no, contraception doesn’t mean that jealousy doesn’t have its place. Jealousy is a healthy reaction to healthy attachment.