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  • To a greater extent than we perhaps realise, when it comes to what sort of relationships

  • we are allowed to have, our societies present us with a menu with only a single option on

  • it: The Monogamous, Cohabiting Romantic Relationship, usually served with a Side Order of Children.

  • To be considered remotely normal, we are meant to develop overwhelming emotional and sexual

  • feelings for one very special person, who will then become a combination of our best

  • friend, sole sexual partner, co-parent, business associate, therapist, travel companion, property

  • co-manager, kindergarten teacher and soulmateand with whom we will live exclusively

  • in one house, in one bed, for many decades, in substantial harmony and with an active

  • tolerance for each other's foibles and ongoing desire for their evolving appearance, till

  • death do us part. But what is striking, for an arrangement supposed

  • to be entirely normal, is just how many people cannot abide by its rules. At least half flunk

  • completely, and a substantial portion muddle along in quiet desperation. At best, only

  • around 15% of the population admit to being totally satisfied, a thought-inducingly low

  • figure for a menu option vigorously claiming universal validity.

  • In our societies, those who can't get on with Romantic Monogamous Marriage are quickly

  • diagnosed as suffering from a variety of psychological disorders: fear of intimacy, clinginess, sexual

  • addiction, frigidity, boundary issues, self-sabotage, childhood trauma etc. We powerfully imply

  • that someone might be psychologically ill if they don't want to keep having sex exclusively

  • with the same partner, or seek to spend every other weekend apart or want to develop a close

  • friendship elsewhere.

  • But there might be another approach, this one drawn from the pioneering work of advocates

  • of gay rights, namely that any taste or proclivity must by definition be acceptable and non-pathological,

  • except in so far as it might hurt the unwilling or unconsenting. From this perspective, while

  • many ways of life might be different to society's presently preferred option, it cannot be right

  • to judge, correct, amend and seek to re-educate all those attracted to them.

  • With this in mind, the menu of love we should use starts to look very different. Aside from

  • Romantic Monogamy, all kinds of alternative ways of living could be devised, including

  • (to kick-start a list): The Parenting Relationship A union oriented

  • first and foremost towards the well-being of children, where parents are free to form

  • unions with other parties, once the welfare and security of off-spring are assured.

  • The Separate Spheres Relationship A union which understands that no two people should

  • ever be expected to be in total proximity night after nightand respects the role

  • of certain kinds of privacy in contributing to emotional well-being and a robust sense

  • of self. The Yearly Renegotiated Relationship A union

  • which is accepted by both parties as having only a one-year assured lifespan, after which

  • it must be re-negotiated but without any presumption that it will necessarily be so or resentment

  • if it is not – a source of insecurity with surprisingly fruitful and aphrodisiacal side-effects.

  • The Love-or-Sex Union A union which recognises the difficulty of fusing love and sex in one

  • couple, and makes the possibility of dividing the two, and seeking fulfilment from alternative

  • sources, non-tragic, unshameful and predictable. In love, we accept an absence of choice that

  • would be intolerable in other areas of life. We consent to wearing a uniform that cannot

  • possibly fit our varied shapes, and without daring to make even minor moves to assemble

  • our own wardrobe. All our collective energies go into creating astonishing varieties of

  • foods, machines and entertainments, while the entity that dominates our livesour

  • relationshipscontinue in a format more or less unchanged for the last 250 years.

  • It would be a genuine liberation if, whenever a new couple came together, it was assumed

  • that they almost certainly would not go along with the romantic monogamous template, and

  • that the onus was therefore on them to discussup front, in good faith and without insult

  • the arrangements that would ideally satisfy their natures. Extra marks would be awarded

  • for innovation and out-of-the-box schemeswhile protestations of satisfaction at

  • the standard model would raise eyebrows. Once upon a time, male offspring of the European

  • upper classes had only two career options: to join the army or to join the church. Such

  • narrow-mindedness was eventually dismissed as evident nonsense and eradicated, and the

  • average citizen of a developed country now has at least 4,000 job options to choose from.

  • We should strive for a comparable expansion of our menus of love. We are not so much bad

  • at relationships, as unablepresentlyto understand our needs without shame,

  • to stick up politely for what makes us content, and to invent practical arrangements that

  • could stand a chance of honouring our complex emotional reality.

To a greater extent than we perhaps realise, when it comes to what sort of relationships


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B1 中級

標準關係的替代方案 (Alternatives To a Standard Relationship)

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    Summer 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日