Don’t Give Up, Scarlett!

The idea that we aren’t suited to monogamous relationships has been a subject of debate for ages. Hopelessful romantics will argue that not only are we suited to monogamy, a monogamous relationship is the best possible relationship attainable. On the flip side are those who’ll claim monogamy is an unnatural dynamic for us. Things like our biological imperative are frequently referenced as rationale by not just polyamorists, hedonists, and sensualists, but by everyday folk who’ve simply had difficulty making monogamy work.

This topic was in the news recently thanks to a candid interview Playboy magazine published with actress and chanteuse Scarlett Johansson in a bit of shrewdly deliberate Valentine’s Day counter programming. E! News expanded on the topic in an article that quotes a number of other celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Cameron Diaz, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who voice support for the contention that monogamy just isn’t workable.

monogamywordcloudMs. Johansson, while respectful and reverent of the theoretical concept of monogamy, claims it’s “hard work” for “everyone.” Then makes the leap that her claim “proves that it’s not a natural thing.”

Ms. Johansson has been married twice, so undoubtedly a lifelong monogamous relationship is something to which she aspires. But her extrapolating her own inability to achieve one into it being an unnatural concept for everyone is both presumptuous and laughable. She hasn’t done it, so therefore it’s not doable. Really?

For sure there are probably plenty of people out there, both in and out of monogamous relationships, who either wholeheartedly agree with the “unnatural” characterization or who are open to the possibility that Ms. Johansson is onto something.

For what it’s worth, here’s where I come down on the subject of monogamy. I can understand why a high percentage of people feel it’s unattainable or unsustainable, that it’s ongoing hard work, a grind. Even unnatural. If one isn’t in a relationship characterized by True Love, not in an Everything relationship, then the bottom line is that it will absolutely be an effort to remain in that relationship in a monogamous way. Imagine perpetually trying to get the square peg in the round hole. It just ain’t happening, no matter how hard you try. To varying degrees, that applies to a pretty big percentage of romantic relationships.

The heart seeks not only love but True Love. That’s the romantic Holy Grail. The Powerball Trillion-Dollar Jackpot. To realize a True Love/Everything relationship, you’ve got to be willing to define exactly what’s important to you in a partner and a relationship, then, when you manifest/meet that person, be willing open your heart fully without expectation. You gotta give big love to hope to receive it. That’s just how it works.

From my own personal experience, as someone who’s been married and divorced, and nearly married a second time before finding True Love in middle age, I can assure you that monogamy and True Love are a seamless whole, inextricably connected to each other. Monogamy isn’t “work” when you’re in an Everything relationship. It’s the opposite:  your connection to your partner is so deep, strong, and ever growing that the notion of other possibilities is absolutely irrelevant.

It’s surely the case that for celebrities like Ms. Johansson and Mr. Hawke there’s no shortage of opportunity, of possibility, available to them. Perhaps that reality undercuts the conviction and fearlessness required to open the heart fully, be truly vulnerable and exposed, since those choices carry with them the risk of failure. With so much opportunity, there’s less motivation to step outside the comfort zone, to risk rejection. Why freely offer more of yourself than you’re comfortable offering, when someone who you consider a perfect match is happy with whatever you’re willing to offer? Oh, it turns out they’re actually not down with your limits? Adios, then! Who’s next?

To reiterate, just opening up your heart to someone doesn’t mean you’ll end up in a True Love relationship with them. There’s always the chance of rejection. But if you want an Everything relationship, want True Love, you’ve gotta give everything of yourself. No holding back. And do so without expectation of reciprocation, by the way. Hope for it, yes. Never expect it.

True Love is out there, Scarlett! Don’t let cynicism and doubt forged by past experience obscure that truth. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying an Everything relationship. And for anyone in a relationship who agrees with the idea that monogamy might not be natural, that it’s perpetual hard work, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’re stuck in the square peg/round hole dynamic, bearing in mind that there are no right reasons to remain in the wrong relationship.

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