Monogamy Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Missing a Hashtag

by Bill Brenner on February 13, 2015

Chris Messina, the self-proclaimed inventor of the hashtag and advocate for open-web initiatives, has written an article for CNN about why he chooses non-monogamy.

I respect his beliefs. People should be free to love who they want to love. I’m also a happily married, old-fashioned romantic who wonders if people have stopped trying.

Mood music:

Messina writes about being a child of divorce and having had the notion of “happily ever after” monogamy shoved down his throat. He tells us how monogamy established itself thousands of years ago, when society was ruled by scarcity and resources and potential mates were in limited supply, but that:

We’re now living in a period of great (though unequally distributed) abundance where our basic needs are sufficiently met, and reproduction is a choice. As a result, the reasons to be with a single mate for life are less urgent. And with the advent of connected mobile devices and the internet, we’ve entered into the era I’ve dubbed Big Dating. Big Dating unbundles monogamy and sex. It offers to maximize episodes of intimacy while minimizing the risk of rejection or FOMO.

He goes out of his way to reassure those of us who still believe in striving for monogamy:

But fear not: just because a viable alternative to “happily ever after” is in ascendancy doesn’t mean monogamy is irrelevant. To the contrary, it just means that there’s now more than one option for building meaningful and satisfying relationships.

Fair enough. He’s entitled to his point of view. But it all sounds too easy to me. It takes the work out of relationships. And that work is important.

Striving for a relationship where two people are committed to each other was never about achieving the happily ever after. It’s about two people challenging each other. It’s about building something lasting. It’s about facing difficulties and coming out stronger. It’s about casting aside selfishness.

It doesn’t always work. I’m the child of divorced parents, too. I’ve seen a lot of couples destroy each other instead of strengthening one another. Love is hard, and I can see why it puts people like Messina off the idea of monogamy.

But to me, monogamy is still worth the effort. Would I feel differently if I weren’t happily married? Perhaps. But I doubt it.

Messina can have his open relationships. I’ll stick with my one romance.


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