COLUMN: Is monogamy selfish?

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Suppose you go to a party. You walk inside to greet your friends who are shouting over the pulsating dance music: “Hey, I’m happy you made it here. You should meet Jamie.” And so you and Jamie begin to talk. 

You’ve never met anyone as interesting as them. You both like to dance, box, and garden. Looking to make new friends, you two plan to hangout again. And as the weeks pass by, you get together many more times. Finally, you make it official.  

“So, are we best friends then?” asks Jamie. “Yeah, I guess we are. And I’m happy you asked too. I was wondering the same thing given all the time we’ve spent together.”  

“However,”  Jamie replies, “I want to set some boundaries. You can still talk to your co-workers and neighbors, but I don’t want you to be friends with them. I mean, that’s what I’m for right? I don’t want you to accidentally find a better friend than me and leave me.” 

You’re a bit taken aback, but you let them continue. 

 “Let me give my reasons first before you make a decision. First of all, I would personally feel jealous of you, and I’d feel like I’m not fulfilling my needs as a friend. I mean, if I was a good friend, you wouldn’t need any others, right? Second, I just think it’s gross and dangerous. What if you get sick from one of them not washing their hands or—well just the thought is bothering me. I want to be safe. Third, I’m worried that if you hang out with other friends, our hang out sessions won’t be as good anymore. We’ll lose our flare. Last, being a best friend is just valuable to me, and I don’t want to share it with someone else. In essence, I want our friendship to be monogamous. Just you. Just me.” 

Is Jamie being unreasonable? Can Jamie legitimately ask you to drop all of your friends because Jamie might be insecure, scared of getting sick, worried your friendship will fade, or because they cherish exclusivity? No. Jamie is clearly acting selfishly. You can have as many friends as you want. Yes, if both parties consent that would be fine, but to expect that is something different. Will you accept Jamie’s requests? 

So, why expect the same with romantic or sexual relationships. Is monogamy selfish?  

In the same sense that we see Jamie’s requests for a monogamous friendship as selfish, we might be committed to having the same view towards romantic and sexual relationships too. Maybe monogamy is selfish.  

 

Ian Palacios is a junior English and philosophy major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or impalacios.edu.