Nikki looked at me across the table. “I told him I wanted an open relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, or wanted someone in particular. I just wanted more.”
Twice this week I’ve had similar conversations with really smart women. A lawyer. A business owner. Self-directed, centered, strong women.
“We were going through the motions,” said Nikki. “We’d become stale.”
“The routine wasn’t bringing what I needed,” said Ali.
We can all relate.
Selfishness? Sense of entitlement? Some of my friends would say so. I tend to think it’s Biology. A psychologist friend said once that the “in love” feeling lasts about 18 months max, then needs to become something deeper, or the relationship will fail.
Women are designed to put our heads up once in a while, and look around. There was an article in the Feb 7, 2015 issue of The Economist, pg 75 (yeah, yeah, I know. I have lots of odd habits) that referred to research indicating that about half of the female population (in the U.S.) belonged to a more promiscuous phenotype, or had a genetic predisposition to… let’s just say it: fuck around.
We are designed to want that tall, dark and handsome bad boy (substitute your own fantasy) in the corner of the coffee shop, and we want him more at certain times of the month when we are fertile. Biology wants to maximize the possible combinations of our DNA. Diversity offers protection against disease wiping out our bloodline.
Biology doesn’t care who survives, by the way. She’ll leave that to the changing conditions of natural selection. She just wants to maximize the chances.
There are competing forces, of course. Personal and social stability, for example, represented by laws, and the church using my personal favorite, guilt. To protect my brood from my sister, who’s always wanted what I have, there’s jealousy.
So what’s a girl to do? There isn’t one solution, and it’s never an easy decision. We are not all alike. Nikki and Ali chose very different paths. Nikki went to divorce, multiple partners and a busy, though seemingly happy life. Ali chose monogamy, parenthood, diapers and a bigger home, and a seemingly happy life.
The key, I think, is honesty. First and foremost with oneself, within one’s values. And with our partner(s), as early and as often as possible. It’s also necessary, according to my grandmother, to accept that we can’t have our gateau and eat it, too. Only the immature believe that’s possible, or the pathologically selfish.
An honest appreciation of who we are, what we want and what we are willing to sacrifice can lead to fulfillment. But don’t pretend a decision doesn’t have to be made, because the journey is short, and momentum can take us to dreadful destinations.