I'm 25 years old and in a serious relationship. We've been together two years and are exclusive, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm making a mistake by being this monogamous so early in my life. Aren't your twenties about "sowing your wild oats" anyway? Shouldn't I be doing that? I love the person I'm with, and I don't think a few physical flings or random hook-ups will change that.
- Ambiguous about being Monogamous, 25, Los Angeles
Dear Ambiguous about being Monogamous,
Before I answer your questions, let me toss one back to you. Why the heck are you in an exclusive relationship if you have oats your feel you need to sow? To a certain extent, it's natural for anyone in a monogamous relationship to still be attracted to other people, but your ambiguity about being monogamous is a red-flag warning you that you are not ready for a serious relationship. Whether it's because you feel the societal pressure to sow your oats or driven by your own desires (or a combination of both), you are jeopardizing your relationship by thinking frolicking physically is a viable option. Think of how you would feel if your partner came to you with these feelings. What would you do? Be the wingman (or woman)? I think not.
This expectation that the twenty-something years are supposed to include horizontal relationships with a potpourri of people is adding to the long list of pressures twenty-somethings are feeling. Not only are you supposed to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, get your dream job, make a lot of money, look runway ready, and save the world - but you're also supposed to hook up or have sex with a lot of people, too? Please! Just as I can emphatically say that it's not realistic to have your entire life figured out in your twenties, I will tell you that sleeping with a lot of people isn't going to add anything of value to your life.
I won't sit here and lecture you on STDs or pregnancy - you know the risks involved; but I will tell you that you don't have to taste 31 flavors of ice cream to know what ice cream tastes like and discern your favorite flavor. If you are with someone whose flavor you are enjoying, why would you want to risk hurting them and ending your relationship? Try monogamy on for a while; come to your own conclusions about how it feels for you rather than obsessing about what you may be missing out on. And if you feel a strong desire to go sow your oats, make sure you are doing so with people who want the same thing.
I encourage twenty-somethings not to get into serious, intense relationships too early in this decade of life; however, that doesn't mean going out and hooking up with anyone that seems like a good oat to sow. Instead, get to know yourself, spend time with your friends, and get to know people you are attracted to on a mental and emotional level FIRST. The physical part of any relationship is usually the easiest - especially at the beginning. That is why monogamy is challenging. As the initial physical passion wears off, and you are faced with having to go to the deeper levels of a relationship, the urge to have that initial physical rush with someone else surges. And I have a feeling that is what is happening in your case . . .
So if you are not ready to go to those other levels and you want to get out and play the field, then fine, go do that - but don't claim to be exclusive to someone until you can see that the benefits of monogamy with someone you love far outweigh the challenges.
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