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I have become recently obsessed with relationship podcasts and columns. Most recently, I am listening to Dear Sugars and am addicted (no pun intended.). I have pretty much halted channel surfing the radio in search of one decent song and just grab a Dear Sugars episode because I have 2 years to catch up on. It makes me actually look forward to all my commuting. I have also slipped a few others in there on occasion….Modern Love, Esther Perel therapy stuff, even Guys We Fucked can be amusing.

I also have noticed on dating websites that it’s more common to see guys calling themselves polyamorous, ethically non-monogamous and all sorts of other things that imply they have a main relationship but are down to have other relationships as long as everyone understands the wife/girlfriend is the number one.

Being unmarried and having lots of terror around the idea of what marriage could mean in my life…loss of independence, more financial instability, being cheated on or finding out 10 years in he wants to get plugged, I am 100% dialed in to hearing about all the nooks and crannies of relationships. It’s almost like I am studying for a test while also a little excited at the idea I can kind of build my own contract when the time comes. I am not bought into traditional gender roles and by no means think a strong woman is one who has come to terms with a life of doubled laundry and unsaid resentments. Nor do I think staying married to someone who devalues me is a sign of conquering the ultimate goal in life. Citing old Facebook commentary… friends’ marriages have been more celebrated than my graduate degree.

Lots of talk today of what cheating really is. It used to be when your friend said she was cheated on, it meant her husband slept with someone else. Divorce!!! But it’s far more nuanced now. With technology, you can actually have emotional affairs without ever touching someone or seeing them physically. It used to be the argument was about watching porn and going to strip clubs. Now, women do those things too. It’s rare that I hear about a woman taking issue with that stuff. Kissing someone else…totally not real cheating, right? Wrong, think about all the randoms we have had sex with. I can get by without kissing a one night stand too much because the kiss might actually mean more than the fuck depending on who you are and where your boundaries are.

Frankly, after spending time in Amsterdam marinating in sex shops, peep shows and legalized prostitution, I am excited for the day I get to negotiate boundaries and start contracting what I am ok with and what I am not ok with. It’s surprisingly liberal and yet very personal.

What I am confused by and a bit resentful of is all the stuff couples might need to do outside their relationships in order to make their relationships grow. Some women need to be able to go out and flirt with other men to get turned on and feel valued. Then they go home to their husbands in a more satisfied state of mind which excites their sex life. Some folks do the open marriage thing too. They love their spouses and children but need something another person can give them or else the marriage starts to suffer. I kind of get it when I listen to all the scenarios.

Where I get resentful is that I am in the single crowd which means I am susceptible to having to fulfill some of these needs unwittingly with no return on my own goals. Married guys love to flirt with me. So does that mean they feel better when they go home and are suddenly more invested in sex with their wives? Don’t get me wrong, glad I can help. But what about me? Who do I go home to? Or some guy is ethically non monogamous and wants to date me. That’s nice. So basically, it’s ok because I will know up front he is always fucking someone else when he’s not with me and he doesn’t have to be bound to family dinners or attending wakes with me. How does that actually benefit me in any way?

So these dysfunctional or evolving relationships…depending on how you see them….get to widen their net in order to preserve the cake they eat at home while going out and shopping for other cakes. These couples sure do seem entitled to a shitload of bakery items. Why? Why do they get to move one plate aside to try another one when I don’t get anything at all? Because I am not coupled off, does that now make me a pawn in making their marriage work when I have no marriage to begin with?

I have no opinion on what’s right or wrong here. I know divorce rates are high. People are holding off on marriage. Married people seem to feel a death of something personal to themselves, even if they are happy more often than not. Evolution seems to be outpacing traditional ideas on the purpose of marriage. Technically, we aren’t built for monogamy and yet, force it upon ourselves. Some people assume marriage is for procreating and some don’t. Women are putting their bodies through the hell of infertility treatments and feeling inadequate when it doesn’t work. Marriages fall apart during that process.

Through all of this, some marrieds slither through a crack and seek out people like me to give them back whatever they perceive their wife took away. That’s nice. But, what’s in it for me?

For real, let’s start a dialogue. If we are going to see more of this marriage evolution, what does it mean to the game pawns….the single people who are still looking for our own bad marriages to try? When did we fall off our journey and become part of theirs? What might be the benefits? Are there any? Or should these people be counseled to divorce and made to play it out as a pawn with the rest of us?