The new monogamy
“If you think fidelity is possible, you are being naive, Nish, there is no such thing as faithfulness nowadays!!” A sweeping declaration was delivered with a surety from a rather young friend of mine. It quite startled me and I stopped mid-track at what I was doing. Poor thing must’ve been badly hurt to feel so much embitterment, I thought. But, no, Dilnaz was not at all out of composure. What she was doing, she said, was turning me around to face the world I lived in, beyond the delusions of fairy tale romances. We argued. The world is not that far changed. It is not that trust, commitment, loyalty had vanished from our sphere. What I inferred on digging further is that those words have changed context. In fact, they don’t even feature much in the vocabulary. It’s not a morality issue, it’s that people in a relationship no longer even expect such intense commitment anymore. It is what you might call an occupational hazard — infidelity not only can happen, it is likely to happen!
I am pushed into contemplation. Indeed, there is much more of straying — both women and men, in relationships and marriages. It is okay for a married man to proposition a married woman and while they may not shout their liaison from the rooftops, there is little or no shame especially in fast paced metros. The joke doing the rounds is that of a couple who are jointly on a diet and decide ‘let’s allow ourselves to cheat on Saturdays’. Come Saturday and the wife brings home a carry-bag of burger and fries and the man brings home a girlfriend.
Surely, human emotions are still the emotions that were. Othello’s still prowl around, and Desdemona’s beware! “Ye-e-s,” says a more mature friend, “That is indeed so but do you know that marriages are nowadays more ‘monogamish’ than monogamous?” As I gape at her, she elaborates that it’s the new word that describes marriages and the situation of being a ‘one-ish woman man’, she smirks. There may be intended monogamy — but no assurance on the same — so marriages are sort of ‘monogamish’.
Another young girl shares that the best way to have a relationship today is ‘minus a heart’. She is with a guy but with no emotional hurt or baggage. This seems to be a prevalent boy-girl thing among the younger set these days. A Bollywood movie that celebrates this ‘newish’ equation Befikre is acceptably doing the popular rounds. It’s a sexy movie about a ‘no strings attached’ relationship of lust, daring and fun, when the couple realise that without wanting to they have gone beyond their initial resolve of living together without love and have unwittingly fallen in love. They secretly cannot see their partner with another lover while pretending nonchalance.
Certainly, there is the immense polarity of views in our changing times. After all, although it is increasingly happening, it is still done under wraps. Partners tolerate it due to their own insecurities and it is a sign of social trends but not rampant, thankfully.
To me, as I write, all these variants suggest that human beings have not really radically changed. Emotions are in their appropriate place. But yes, it is the times that have changed. They’ve become more liberal. It’s more about individual choices. You decide what works for you, and society is somewhat less judgemental and controlling. Philosophically, all is seen as life teaching you about living. The bottom line still remains the enduring maxim: you make your choices and you bear the consequences — good or bad.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.