In a monogamous relationship, you choose to be faithful to one steady partner. Find the right one, promise each other loyalty and then grow old together. It is a romantic image, but does monogamy still fit in this time? A survey by 3quests shows that 39 percent of Dutch young people do not believe in monogamy. Are we actually monogamous or do we choose it because it’s the norm? Social psychologist Tila Pronk and social scientist Linda Duitsland discussed this during an event organized by the University of the Netherlands.
Are humans made for monogamy?
Do you believe in one lover, till death do us part? According to Tila, man is sent to monogamy. This has to do with two strong needs that people have: safety and adventure. Well, those are two opposing needs. We want to fulfill both needs, so they have to compete with each other. Tila: ‘Those two needs fight for attention and in the end the choice for a monogamous relationship is the choice for a safe option.’ Many people prefer safety over adventure, especially when they want to go for house, tree, animal at that moment.
Safety? Monogamy VS. Non-monogamy
Monogamy is security and non-monogamy is adventure. If you want a safe, stable relationship, choose monogamy. Better safe than sorry, However? It seems like a logical conclusion and for a long time social psychologists thought it was. But after much research into non-monogamous relationships, researchers are coming back to this. There is no evidence that non-monogamous relationships are any less secure. Tila: ‘For many people, a monogamous relationship feels like the safe choice, while there are also major risks there. As we know, cheating and breaking the rules are common.’
Being non-monogamous, is that scary?
According to Linda, the fact that we see a non-monogamous relationship as less safe has to do with the norm that currently prevails in society. Monogamy is seen as what should be, the ‘normal’. It is also considered normal nowadays that you enter into a monogamous relationship at different times in your life and that it ends again.
But when you choose a non-monogamous relationship, you no longer meet the norm and you are often overwhelmed by questions from those around you. Because, what about you and how do you do that exactly? Linda: ‘You constantly get questions that question your relationship model and the moment that relationship breaks down for whatever reason, people often point to your deviant relationship form: ‘You see, an open relationship doesn’t work anyway. ”But if a monogamous relationship breaks down, it isn’t said: ”See, that monogamy doesn’t work either.”
Sharing is caring?
When you fall in love you want to be as close as possible to someone, together as one. You kind of merge with each other. ‘On a psychological level, this means that you become more and more alike and that parts of your identities overlap. From that concept, entering into another relationship is a threat,’ says Tila. You can experience this feeling not only with a love partner.
It also occurs in friendships of which, according to the norm, you are allowed to have several. For example, when your bestie suddenly hangs out with someone else a lot more. Tila: ‘Those feelings are very normal. We want to protect relationships that are important to us, so it always remains a balance. You have the danger anyway, both in a monogamous and in a non-monogamous relationship. It’s just choosing what you feel most comfortable with.’
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