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  • Monogamy: too hard or hard-wired?

    Monogamy and vulnerability are taking some hits these days as casual relationships are on this rise. It seems like everywhere we look individuals are growing averse to labeling their romantic interactions.

    This is particularly true for millennials who tend to prefer casual engagements over exclusivity. Or, if they do opt for monogamy, still engage in vulnerability-reducing practices. “Cushioning” is when a person will still flirt with potential partners to ensure options should their current relationship fail. If it does fail, some prefer a hands-off approach and may “ghost” their partner. In other words, completely eliminate all contact with the person without warning or explanation.

    It seems as if everyone is just chasing the honeymoon high. The passion that ignites in the beginning stages of getting to know someone. And as soon as that heat starts to wane, insecurity creeps in and the viability of the relationship comes into question. However, as Dr. Sue Johnson, renown clinical psychologist and developer of Emotionally-Focused Couple Therapy explains it, “passion is the longing for connection linked to the attunement that only emotional safety can give.”

    The myth about long-term relationships is that they often become passion-less and dull. Where one or both partners grow indifferent towards each other as the excitement experienced early on finally settles.

    Here are a few reasons why Dr. Sue Johnson thinks we owe a bit more credit to monogamy and practicing vulnerability in our romantic relationships

    Monogamy exists in the animal kingdom

     

    For those whose argument centers around the abnormality of monogamy, consider beavers, wolves, bald eagles, penguins, and gibbons. As well as a whopping 3-5 percent of the more than 5,000 species of mammals. Monogamy is alive and well in the animal kingdom. If it were really such an abnormality without any value, evolution would have wiped it out ages ago.

    It’s in our biology

     

    Our brain has developed structures “not just for social group interaction but for the intimate synchrony of emotional connection and bonding.” This includes chemicals like the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin which floods our brains post-sex. The same hormone that gets released after a mother gives birth.

    Higher reports of sexual satisfaction in LTRs

     

    Sex in a long-term relationship is often reported with higher levels of satisfaction than a casual rendezvous. Couples in long-term relationships frequently describe their sexual encounters as more pleasurable, consistent, intimate, and comfortable.

    How do you feel about monogamy and vulnerability? Do you believe it to be a vestigial aspect of evolution that’s served its purpose or an essential ingredient in what it means to be human?

    John Gallagher, LMHC, is an EFT-certified couples and individual therapist with over 20 years of counseling experience. Call Couples Therapy Orlando to move your relationship forward.