Does monogamy exist? (And does it even matter?)

I just had one helluva Saturday night. From the World Affairs Council discussion on Southeast Asia peace and economics, to dinner with my friend’s eccentric family, to bar hopping and getting way more than I bargained for conversation-wise, one question keeps bugging me: does the practice of monogamy not exist within the confines of today’s relationships? And when does this random notion of monogamy kick in for a relationship?

A still from the film “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.” And no, it’s not representative of my Saturday night, but it shows the type of relationships I’m trying to understand currently.

Let’s start with the economy. It’s always been known that in a capitalist society, monopolies are not generally recommended, but rather competition in the marketplace allows for the consumer to benefit. Consul-General of Japan Motohiko Kato explained how Japan has been able to benefit from this mentality over the past thirty years, focusing on the auto and technology industries. If we take this type of plan and apply it to relationships, then the consumer (you) could and should have competition (multiple dates) in the marketplace (dating world). This would mean that people should not exclusively date in the beginning, giving competing parties the opportunity to vie for your affection. And I’m totally cool with that. But, where and when does the consumer finally make a decision and stick with one brand or product (or in this case, suitor)?

Multiple suitors always remind me of the shitshow Odysseus walks in on when he finally gets back to Ithaca in Homer’s epic The Odyssey.

Accounting for the traditional courting period of couples, which includes a first (second, thirtieth) date of sorts and then at some point a mutually-agreed-upon exclusivity, every person differs in his or her timetable. This means there is no real right or wrong way to go about attaining exclusivity. This is especially apparent when one thinks of the frequency in which people have more casual arrangements and less long-term ones.

I bring all of this up because a friend of mine has been dating someone while leading someone else on. And on top of that, this friend hits on people he meets at bars. When I saw this, I just chalked it up to him being an asshole and immature in relationships. While I know nothing of the details of his relationships with his significant others, I figured that if he’s engaging in such relatively serious behavior with someone, this would mean that they would be exclusive. I legitimately felt bad for the people my friend was “dating” and “leading on…” Until Saturday night.

On Saturday night, the person my friend has been dating happened to be at the same club as me. During this time, the “dater” flirted with me and half of the other guys at the bar before proceeding to kiss one of them. So I’m sitting here dumbfounded because here I was trying to feel bad about what my friend was doing to the “dater” while the “dater” was doing just the same. From there, I realized just how much time I had placed into understanding and analyzing their relationship. It had nothing to do with me, yet it fascinated me. Is it the fact that they’re young, wild and free that allows people to act this way? Not that I’m judging.

These are NOT my friends, but they sum up the “young, wild and free” feeling pretty well. And don’t act like you’ve never sat in a bathtub with your friends before!

In contrast, though, I met a couple at the club who had been celebrating their 6 year anniversary. These kids had been through it all, yet stuck by each other. While I didn’t ask them for explicit details regarding their relationship, anyone could tell they had something special and wholesome. They were also about 36 years old. So, is that the age at which people stop going for the kiddie rides and save up for the emotional roller coaster? While it’s all very confusing, it has helped me realize that I’m in the prime of my life and things like this shouldn’t be plaguing me. Instead, I should be just having fun (for once). Laissez les bons temps rouler, right?

We’ll see where this new way of approaching relationships leads me. I’ll leave you with an ode to just not caring and living it up: