In a recent post called Why Do You Believe In Monogamy? I presented the not so great statistics reflecting traditional long term monogamy’s poor track record.
The high failure rate of such relationships has made many people opt for an alternative form of monogamy known as serial monogamy.
With serial monogamy you enter a relationship actually expecting it to end at some time in the future.
So the point is no longer to find your soulmate and live “happily ever after” as the traditional Disney fantasy would have it.
Instead you might opt for one of the two alternative reasons people usually site as their reason for being in a relationship.
You may enter a serial monogamous relationship believing you will be together as long as you grow and progress as a couple. This growth could last a short time or it could last a long time.
But the likelihood is eventually you will begin to grow past your partner, or they will begin to grow past you.
Or you might reach a point where your relationship stagnates.
When either of these things happen it is time to recognize the dynamic of the relationship has changed and move on.
If you and your partner are enlightened enough this could be a congenial parting of ways.
But since you usually don’t grow apart or stagnate without some significant differences forming between you, the possibility of a messy breakup is still highly likely.
A messy breakup is almost guaranteed when less conscious people come together, solely for reasons of sexual attraction and chemistry.
This is actually the default.
In this case nature is really playing its course, bringing you together to get some babies born and on their way.
Without conscious deliberate intention on your part to circumvent nature’s intentions, the usual run for such a monogamous connection is approximately 3 years.
At that point attraction wanes and since that was the only thing that brought you together, the break up happens and the emotions fly.
Sadly most serially monogamous relationships end this way.
The funny thing about serial monogamy is it could just as easily be called serial polyamory. Because unless you marry someone and remain romantically exclusive with them for the rest of your life, you are not really monogamous.
Whether you switch partners every few years, or have relationships with more than one partner at the same time, you are not truly monogamous.
Since you have several partners in your life, you are really polyamorous.
Once you recognize your natural polyamorous tendencies you could become more deliberate about this and open up your relationship to additional partners, instead of breaking up when your desire and sexual attraction for your current partner fades.
This is what is usually called polyamory, but it is really just parallel polyamory as opposed to the serial polyamory your current pattern of serial monogamous relationships represents.
This allows you to experience romantic love with additional partners without ending your current relationship.
Many people say when they do this, they actually become more desirous of their initial partner as well.
You may not feel such polyamorous options will work for you. You’re just more comfortable with a romantically exlusive relationship when you’re in one. But you’d like to beat the odds that seem so stacked up against you. Is there another way to do monogamy that will give you a better shot at making things work?
There is a newer, alternative way of doing monogamy, that many people are giving a spin.
It’s called Living Apart Together and it just might be for you! In many ways this way of doing monogamy is an exclusive version of the concept of Romantic Friendships I’ve introduced before.
With Living Apart Together you have an exclusive romantic relationship with your partner.
Neither of you is seeing or romantically involved with anyone else.
The main difference though is you don’t move in together.
You both have your own living arrangments and you pay for them from your own incomes.
You don’t merge bank accounts.
You don’t own anything in common.
You don’t live together day in and day out at all.
Instead you just are seeing each other ongoing, like you’re in a permanent state of dating.
You sleep at each other’s homes whenever you want to but you maintain your own living arrangments.
A lot of couples are finding this works to keep love alive and thriving in their monogamous relationship, well past the usual 2-3 year honeymoon chemistry collapse deadline of traditional monogamy.
Why does this work?
In many ways Living Apart Together keeps the energy dynamics alive that were present when you first started dating.
First, it takes advantage of a couple of well known principles.
These are: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
In providing advice to men seeking to create attraction in women, well known dating coach David D’Angelo was often known to say “Give her the gift of missing you.”
The fact is, you want what you don’t have. What you have a sense of being just outside your reach.
When you are monogamously related to your partner a big problem is that you begin to take your partner for granted and become bored with him or her.
Part of what made your initial dating life fun was the anticipation of seeing each other again whenever you were apart.
When you knew you had a date you would get yourself ready and seek to look your best.
When you shared together you would hang on each other’s words and talk for hours late into the night.
You were excited about the chance to experience one another because you couldn’t be together all the time.
Traditional long term monogamy removes this important attraction dynamic from the equation. When you live together and see each other day in and day out, you cease to prioritize each other and treat each other special. You begin to assume your partner is just yours.
Another positive thing about Living Apart Together is you don’t have to deal with all the compromises living together entails.
You squeeze the toothpaste and she rolls it? Not a problem.
You like the toilet paper roll over the top and he wants it underneath? No big deal.
Your place is your place and you can live the way you like to live without worrying about what your partner thinks. Your partner’s place is their place too.
When you are at their place you respect how they do things and they respect how you do things at yours.
But you don’t have to live with it day in and day out.
You don’t have to sacrifice anything. You don’t have to change to enjoy being together.
I know I know.
You’re thinking this sounds self-centred.
When people live together and learn to compromise they grow.
Yes they do.
And then they break up when the strain becomes too much for them.
But in a statically large number of cases.
But this response assumes again that the point of a relationship is to grow.
You’ll do lots of growing in any relationship without applying the heat caused by living together.
And as I have suggested before the real reason to be in a relationship is because you value your partner and want to share yourself with them, not because you want to grow. You don’t need to change your partner so they can live with you, or change yourself so you can live with them, to appreciate what you value in them and share closeness with them on that basis.
Traditional monogamy puts a lot of strain on a relationship.
It requires it to be a lot of things it does not need to be for romantic love to flourish.
Living Apart Together removes these strains and allows you to enjoy each other for what you have in common and value together, while giving you space apart to enjoy and value what you don’t have in common too.
And that very space keeps the attraction going because you anticipate your next rendevous!
In a sense the goal of Living Apart Together is to keep your relationship in a permanent state of dating.
It seeks to keep all the positive dynamics of that going in your long term relationship, without all the negatives that come from cohabiting and suffering the resulting stains.
As I said, in many ways this concept of monogamy is the same as the idea of Romantic Friendships I introduced a while back.
It is just being applied in a monogamous way.
The polyamorous version I shared has additional benefits to Living Apart Together that I believe make it the better alternative of the two.
I’ll talk about this in future blog posts.
But Living Apart Together is an excellent alternative if you just don’t see yourself taking polyamory for a spin!
What do you think? Could this be the better relationship option you’ve been looking for?