Sometimes I will happily stand up and be called a dinosaur. Called myself one plenty of times before. Someone actually called me a killjoy today. That’s going too far. Old fashioned. Yes. Out of step with modern living. Yes. Sometimes. And yes, this is one of those times when I am happy to be walking at a different pace.
It was the headline that got my attention. Are modern dating apps killing monogamy? Apparently the answer is yes. And proof positive of this development was offered by way of a case study. Let’s call her Jessie. That’s what the article called her so who am I to contradict. Before online dating, before her two kids, before the Big Conversation with her skeptical husband, Jessie’s inkling was that she wasn’t quite like the ladies she saw at church. The sexual taboos of life in the affluent burbs weren’t for her.
Her first marriage when she was in her early 20s, ended after she had an affair. Her second marriage, starting shortly thereafter, was “happy – very happy,” but as her children grew up, moved out and on, she was left….well…. bored.
Thoughts turned to cheating on her husband of 20 years, we are told, as if this was perfectly normal behavior. She considered bars, parties, and a return to the good old days of her mid-20s. All care and no responsibility.
But Instead, Jessie sat her husband down for a deep and meaningful so we are told. Here’s the kicker. We are told she told him something that more and more “progressive” couples are beginning to realise. They love each other and want to stay together – but in the age of Tinder, Ashley Madison and OkCupid, well…they have other options.
Options, that are just a click away.
“Interesting, introspective, happily married professional,” reads Jessie’s profile on the newly non-monogamous dating site Open Minded. “I’m into building deep and loving relationships that add to the joy and aliveness of being human.”
Bollocks Jessie. You are into sex, Nothing deep. Certainly, nothing meaningful, and only the truly naïve would call it loving.
Let’s just pause and refect for a moment. Open Minded is a dating site that isn’t quite like Ashley Madison, the unapologetic dating-for-cheaters service that expects a billion dollar valuation when it becomes a publicly listed company you can buy shares in.
How sad is that?
There’s money to be made in every kind of human exploitation including adultery. Open minded also isn’t quite like mobile hook-up app Tinder, where – according to one recent report – as many as 40 per cent of “singles” are secretly … not single. Open Minded, according to its founder, yet another tech savvy hustler, is a new kind of dating site for a newly “mainstream lifestyle” where couples, we are told “form very real attachments” just not exclusively with each other. He expects the app to be used by swingers, polysexuals and experimental 20-somethings. But he guesses that most of his 70,000 users are people just like Jessie. In committed, conventional relationships, who realize that, statistically speaking, few modern couples stay with a single person their whole life. Can I just say I have no problem with that at all. In fact, can I say, I have been that person. All I am saying is, if you are going to do that, don’t stay married and act like a single person.
“If you look at marriage, it developed as a survival strategy and a means of raising kids,” the founder of Open Minded says. “But relationships are no longer a necessary component of life. People have careers and other interests – they can survive without them.”
This is a classic example of people just talking without saying anything at all. And of course we have an academic to give the whole thing credibility. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading relationship researchers, ( I bet she is the only one to call herself that) is in the same dark camp as the Open Minded app entrepreneur. She says in caveman days, humans teamed up in non-exclusive pairs to protect their children. Later, as people learned to plant crops and settle in one place, ” marriage became a way for men to guarantee kids, and for women – who couldn’t push heavy ploughs or carry loads of crops to market – to eat and keep a roof over their heads.”
So is Fisher seriously suggesting this is the only reason why people enter into relationships? What about love? And commitment? What about it ? says Fisher. There’s a long history of married men sleeping around, Fisher says. You can forget about romantic notions or thinking that relationships are anything other than transactions and the social expectation that both people partner for life, to the exclusion of everyone else. Is just that, an expectation.
In fact, given the history and prevalence of non-monogamous relationships throughout cultures, it’s not scientifically correct to say the human species mate or pair for life, Fisher says. Dogs mate for life. Beavers mate for life. Humans have one-night stands, lovers and a 50 per cent divorce rate.
Fisher dubs it a “dual reproductive strategy”: We’re biologically programmed to form pair-bonds, yes, but some people – many people – are also programmed to seek out variety.
I couldn’t possibly disagree more. Deep down human beings want romance in my view. They want something long lasting. They want friendship, companionship. Love. Yes they want sex. Don’t we all. But that comes at the end of the long chain of all of the other.
See I told you. I am a dinosaur.