Zen Bastard (jimbojones) wrote,
Zen Bastard
jimbojones

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for Lindserella (aka buckylea)

i totally don't understand this:

I used to be a serial monogamist, but I think I've pretty much recovered. I feel weird about not being one anymore sometimes, but I try to squelch it when I do.
Serial monogamy is when you enter into one monogamous relationship, break it off, and then enter into another monogamous relationship - lather, rinse, repeat. It's basically the default dating style of the western hemisphere. Most people are so heavily immersed in it that they don't actually think about it, anymore than they think about which side of the road they drive on. It just gets filed under The Way Things Are Done, and that's all there is to it.

The problem with the serially monogamous lifestyle is that it makes it incredibly difficult to really look at your partners with open eyes. By committing yourself to that one person and that one person alone - even if only for the time being - at the start of a relationship, you make it very hard to separate the person themselves from the role that the person is occupying, or that you want them to occupy. A tremendous number of important needs - emotional, sexual, and social - are personified in your monogamous significant other. And not only is it difficult to separate the person from the role when things seem good, when things seem bad, it's basically impossible to separate your fear of losing the person from your fear of not having an SO, and/or your fears of not fulfilling any eventual goals you may have of marriage / children / never having to worry about dating again / etc.

This is why people struggle for months or years to stay in a relationship with somebody that in all honesty, they don't even like. And when the inevitable breakup finally happens, they can't spend enough time gushing venom about their ex. They felt all the same venom DURING the relationship too, but refused to acknowledge or do anything with it because they were really trying to relate to the role, not to the person they'd (inappropriately) placed in it. But once the person was no longer occupying the role, there was nothing protecting them from all the anger and dislike that had built up, unacknowledged or at least un-dealt-with, for all that time.

Ick.

People who aren't serially monogamous, and who don't commit to monogamy very nearly as soon as they become involved with someone else, generally get labeled "dogs" if they're men, or "sluts" or "easy" if they're women. Sometimes that's fair - there are certainly plenty of dogs, and plenty of sluts, in the world. What isn't fair is to assume that if you aren't serially monogamous, you must therefore be a dog or a slut.

In a way, I rather like the word player*. It has some unfortunate connotations - that if you associate with a "player", you got "played", et cetera. But, basically, that's what the first stage of any relationship really should be... play. You should be having fun and finding out what the other person is like... and you shouldn't be weighing yourself down with a whole bunch of assumptions about them and what role they're going to play in your life, and making your overall happiness dependent on them. So a "player" could just be someone who is still at a stage of "play" - they're not looking to lie to anyone about anything, or "break anyone's heart", or what have you; they're just enjoying life and learning - about themselves and about others.

And how the hell are you going to do that if, from almost as soon as you become romantically involved with someone, you make them Your One And Only until such time as you break apart? The short answer is: you're not. You will never be able to separate your feelings for the actual person from your desire for the Significant Other role itself, and how badly you want that role to be filled. Maybe you'll get lucky and both accidentally fill that role with someone appropriate and not fuck it up and drive them away. But if you aren't a fairly common sort of person who needs a fairly common sort of person, your odds are going to be pretty damn poor. And whether you eventually win or lose, there's going to be a hell of a lot of Wagner in the meantime. From the "OMFG I LOVE YOU" way too early, that's really your love for the role you want them to play, to the eventual "OMFG I HATE YOU!!!" for being a real person instead of being the fictitious ideal that fit your preconceived role. (Not to mention the rather common scenario in which the person exiting the SO role gets placed into another role - that of The Horrible Betrayer That Etc, Etc, Etc. Sigh.)

So basically what I told myself earlier this year was: I'm done with all that. Nuh-uh. No more. Not gonna do it. Sure, I'd love to be monogamous again one day and get married and have 1.5 kids and a house with a white picket fence and a catdog in the yard and a dogcat in the house, and maybe a minivan if necessary (but not an SUV!). And I even hope that it'll happen. But I'm not going to load myself or somebody up with all those expectations right off the bat. I don't trust myself to ever really get to know the other person if I'm so busy trying to stuff them into this role that I have built up. For that matter, I don't trust myself to build a reasonable role for someone else to fill at all if I don't actually get to know them first. So, yeah... for right now, I'm a "player." (Don't player-hate, congratulate!) It's not that I won't ever do monogamy again, it's just that I won't do it first - and when and if I do, monogamy is going to be a serious step in an already-established relationship. Sort of an engagement to be engaged, if you will. And if a girl I meet and would like to date can't understand that ... well, I'm probably better off not dating her to begin with.

* Incidentally, there is a perfectly good word for "not serially monogamous", and that word is "polyamorous." I just try not to use it because it's been seized gleefully upon by far too many fat nasty people looking to fuck as many other fat nasty people as possible, and I don't really want to lump myself in with THAT. Besides, "what up, playa?" is fun to greet your friends with. =)
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