It’s important to understand the distinction between our nature and social norms imposed upon us — these are two very different things that are often in conflict with one another. The idea of enforced monogamy as the only legal means of being recognized as a family unit in our society is one such example.
We are, as relationship therapist Esther Perel put it in her Ted talk Rethinking Infidelity, serial monogamists. That’s not one and the same thing as being monogamous. Rather, that’s our way of coping with the restrictions of the society that go against our very nature.
When an enforced monogamous relationship ends, the party that’s left behind often feels devastated and has a hard time moving on. The one that moved on, though, simply became aware of the fact that we are not monogamous and acted on it.
Sadly, this is often accompanied by a huge portion of guilt and suffering. But whether we admit it or not, we often need more than one partner to satisfy our needs so that we can experience life more fully. We might, for example, get along with our partner perfectly on the intellectual level but are highly incompatible when it comes to sexuality.
If we, as a society, accepted that this is how things stand, a new person of whichever sex would have been able to enter the existing relationship without the need for anything to end and anyone to suffer. Instead, we have serial monogamy where the only legally available option is to have one or the other but not the best of both worlds.
This causes a lot of unnecessary suffering and frustrations. It can and often does lead to nasty divorces where the “guilty” party can end up being financially destroyed, their careers might end, they face losing custody of the kids, and have a tarnished reputation.
So what do we do when our needs haven’t been met in a relationship? We either cheat or suppress our desires and suffer. Cheating only in our mind and fantasizing about other people, however, is still a form of cheating, even if we don’t act on our desires in any other way but through imagination and masturbation.
To make things worse, we might think that this kind of sacrifice is noble and that we should be saluted for making it. It’s not noble and it doesn’t do anyone any good. The partner will sense that we are cheating, they know that our needs haven’t been met, and they will nag and doubt us while still not setting us free.
The end result of this is that nobody is happy and that such relationships just keep deteriorating. But what else could we expect? How on earth could that ever work out?! Unless we become willing and ready to accept, understand, and embrace the nature of our nature, we are doomed to suffer.
The high divorce rate (50% of marriages) is not in the least surprising when one looks at it that way. The only thing that is surprising is how we fail to see this and how determined we are to forcefully squeeze ourselves into this impossible mold, the dogma, that doesn’t fit. It might fit in some cases, but happy marriages in our society are an exception rather than the rule.
It’s thus not surprising that the infidelity rate is even higher than the divorce rate. It’s hard to define it, though. If, for instance, we define fantasizing about another as an act of infidelity then it’s likely 100%. If we are willing to let that slide, 70% of men and women have had a real affair at least once in their life, according to the Marriage and Divorce journal.
So why are we making such a fuss about it when just about everybody does it?! Why are we dead set on making each other’s life miserable and deny who and what we are? How about letting people, and above all our significant others, be happy and have their needs fulfilled instead of living in misery?
Copyright © Claire Divino 2020