In their provocative best-seller Sex at Dawn, co-authors Christopher Ryan and Cecilia Jethá offered the theory that humans were never meant for monogamy. From the very beginning, members of “our sexy species” were keeping their options open. With the relatively-recent innovation of religious morality, our swinging-ape phase was forcibly ended. The book stopped just short of claiming it was our duty to pay homage to our hyper-sexual forebears by engaging in some sort of polyamory.
At least that’s what the authors thought.
The trouble with this theory: Everyone wants to be someone else’s one and only. We need to believe we’re enough for someone. We want to be someone’s priority – not just an option. This was likely as true 200,000 years ago as it is today. It’s probably the best argument for monogamy as a natural phenomenon: We all seem to want it, badly.
In any relationship, there are certain tells that might indicate you aren’t really in a monogamous relationship. Let’s talk about four big ones:
A missed or cancelled date now and then is no reason to worry; a pattern of missed or cancelled dates without sufficient warning or explanation might be. If they’re treating you like an option, chances are you are not their only priority.
We’ve come a long way from the days when “If a man answers, you better hang up” was a necessary warning in an affair. We now have smartphones, texting, and social media. We can carry on without any visible signs were doing anything more than shopping Amazon for stylish potholders or collecting Pokémon. However, if you’ve witnessed attempts to hide incoming text messages, an insistence on not “friending” you, and/or long absences with only a smartphone for company, you should be getting the signal loud and clear.
Emotional Intimacy with Someone Else
There’s more to cheating than what happens at the physical level. Many relationships recover from physical infidelity; It’s generally far harder to recover from emotional cheating. If you pay attention, sometimes you can tell while you’re not getting real emotional intimacy from your loved one, someone else you both know definitely is. Whom does your partner seem to trust? Who makes them laugh? Whom do they mention an unlikely number of times – in unlikely situations?
We Just Don’t Talk Anymore
Distance can creep into relationships for any number of reasons – reasons that have nothing to do with cheating. But the truth remains that people long to share their lives with someone. At one point, it was you, but perhaps that’s faded. If you’re now getting the silent treatment, chances are someone else isn’t.
Help is Available
If you sense you might be in something besides a one-on-one relationship, it can help to talk it out with an experienced relationship counselor. The professional relationship therapists at Cuppls will compassionately listen to the issues you’re facing. They can offer suggestions on how to address your concerns with your partner. You must remember that you deserve to be happy: If your partner isn’t giving you the security and attention you deserve, you should change something. Don’t let yourself be treated as an option by someone you treat as a priority.