“My son, I cannot see you staying with just one woman for the rest of your life. You are too restless.”
This is what my Dad said to me not too long ago during one of our many discussions (I say discussions but it’s more akin to a lecture. Nigerian fathers aren’t fond of the idea of discussions haha).
Since myself and my father have a more amicable relationship now that I am a full-grown adult, I dismissed his remark with a laugh (15 years ago such an action would have resulted in a lightening fast slap to my right cheek).
But what he said surprisingly stayed on my mind like an unwanted guest and began to trouble me. Maybe my Dad is right. Maybe I won’t stay with one woman for the rest of my life.
Is that such a terrible thing, though?
Romance is fun. Marriage is a job.
In my 30 years of walking this Earth, I’ve had two long-term and serious relationships (I am not counting the seasonal flings). My first serious relationship was 3.5 years during university with a girl from Brighton. Not too long after that one collapsed, my second relationship was with an Italian girl, which lasted for four years and resulted in the birth of my beautiful daughter. This relationship eventually collapsed as well.
As you can see, I am very good at making my relationships collapse haha.
But having turned 30 now, I’ve looked back at these two very important relationships in retrospect and realised I might not actually be built for long-term monogamy.
I am someone who only commits to something completely if one or two of the below conditions are met:
I love reading and writing because I enjoy it. There are times (very few thankfully) where I don’t enjoy my 9 to 5 but I need it to survive so I stay committed to it.
But a relationship or marriage? I don’t need to be in either to survive and if I don’t enjoy being in a relationship or being married anymore, what is the point of being in one?
From what I’ve observed from my own relationships, what I've heard from other people’s experiences and what i've read online in numerous articles, relationships are fun and your spouse is perfect for the first 2-3 years on average.
After that, maintaining the relationship becomes a job. The love chemicals have left your brain and now you see your spouse as the irritating human they are. Now it’s an effort to keep loving them. This is nothing new.
For some people, maintaining a marriage for the rest of their lives is exactly what they want even if it will be hard. These are people who don’t really care about novelty of a relationship but put value on security and longevity, even if they are unhappy with their partner.
Trust me, I admire these people.
But people like myself who crave adventure, spontaneity and enjoyment will eventually become bored in a long-term marriage or relationship. Even if we’re somewhat happy that we have a stable partner by our side, we will also grow to resent the overfamiliarity of their presence. Once the passion goes, the fun goes with it.
An argument for short term, monogamous relationships
Falling in love with my two girlfriends was an amazing experience. I look back at the memories I shared with them fondly.
But in the end, both ended. Does that mean my relationship with them was pointless?
No, it just meant it came to an end. When you watch a great movie or an entertaining football game, you don’t think it was pointless because it came to an end. You’re happy you got to experience such a great film or game.
I think, for some of us, not everyone, this is how relationships work for us.
We meet someone. Fall in love. Let that love run its course. Then, if we are no longer enjoying it, we are honest with our partner and leave the relationship as amicably as we can. And we must expect the same treatment to us.
If children are involved, it goes without saying that it’s crucial to remain on friendly terms as I am with my child’s mother. But even without kids, as hard as it will be initially, remaining at least civil with your ex will give you peace of mind and a better sense of closure from the relationship.
Sometimes, as humans, we want things to last forever even when doing so is detrimental to us. I’ve seen women and men stay in relationships and marriages that should have ended years ago but they had to stay together for the kids, for appearances, for finances etc. But where is the joy in that?
I am not against marriage and there are many people who can and have made it work for over 40 years. But don’t be ashamed if you're one of those people who get to their 60s and you’ve never been in a relationship that has lasted more than 4 years. Because you can look back at your life and think of all the wonderful memories you had with people you genuinely loved at the time.
And you know the thing about fond memories? They don’t collapse.