Saturday, October 1, 2011


I have written before about how society teaches us to treat monogamy as "the default".

There is however another aspect of life that is generally taken for granted; an expectation of a linear progression through a series of stages. In our youth we go to school, at some point we notice boys/girls. We continue our education, and we have a relationship or two. We graduate and start a career, and we find "the one". We settle down and have kids. We toil and struggle raising those kids before we finally retire.

It's the great big template of life and whilst living inside it we can barely tell there is any other way. And if your life does not proceed exactly along these stages it may feel like you're failing. Failing at life!

But why? Why must we "act our age" or "settle down"? What is the virtue unless we choose it for ourselves?

Moving from monogamy to non-monogamy puts everything in perspective. Everything is a choice.

I want to have at least one kid, but why should that require me to settle down? Neither our friends, nor our social life, nor even our non-monogamy is incompatible with having kids. Why should I act my age all the time? Sometimes it's fun to dangle upside-down off the monkey bars no matter what your age.

Recently I've been thinking about jumping back to studying. Not because I'm unhappy with my job. Far from it. There are just so many interesting things, and it would be a shame to delay until the stage where it's once again "officially allowed": retirement.

I'd like to challenge all our readers to consciously make the choice to do something non-linear in their lives.

You'll feel better for it. Trust me.


Lily said...

I'm non-monogamous; I have a husband and a girlfriend. I went through what I think of as the "relationship escalator" with my husband -- dating, sex, moving in together, getting married, having kids.

One of the pleasures of my relationship with my girlfriend is that it's a relationship that -- from the default societal perspective -- is "going nowhere." We're not ON the relationship escalator. We're not going to move in together. We're not going to get married. We're not going to have kids. (She is also married).

You know what's left? Dating! Wonderful, perpetual, pointless dating -- enjoying each other's company and fucking each other silly.

My relationship with my husband is wonderful -- but my relationship with my girlfriend is wonderful in a different way. It's a very stripped-down experience, because our relationship isn't about achieving other life goals: it's about spending time together and appreciating each other, something that all too often gets pushed aside when couples are ascending the escalator and trying to build a home and a life together. They start doing those things and stop doing the stuff that brought them together in the first place.

Lust and Confused said...

I like the term "relationship escalator" although it sounds a bit too automatic; I have some friends and family that haven't followed the "standard trajectory" and a few of them seem to interpret it as a failure on their part.

I guess what I was trying to say mostly is how we get conditioned to assume everything has to follow a progression, and I love the way you're comfortable with "going nowhere". Sometimes just being where you are is the best thing in the world.

I wish more people felt that was a valid way to feel.

Thanks for the awesome comment.

- Arthur

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