Monogamy in contemporary relationships


The age-old debate of whether or not monogamy is natural finally made its way to a conversation I had with a couple of friends. It was an informative debate as it gave me insight into both sides of the spectrum. Friends who were in a relationship at the time argued that monogamy is natural and is an integral element in long-term relationships. Most of my single friends, on the other hand, refused to acknowledge this, claiming that monogamy is a joke.

The strong proponents of monogamy claimed that being with one person is natural but so is non-monogamy. The take-out from their argument is that there is no one way of being in a relationship. Some people are naturally inclined to be monogamous and some are not. Both options are natural.

Those on the opposite end maintained that the viability of anything different from monogamy disproved the claim that monogamy is natural. To them, people simply choose to be monogamous and others choose not to be monogamous. Monogamy in this instance is not natural – it’s a choice.

I’ll admit that I don’t have the expert capacity to dispel the claim about the biological essence of monogamy but I share similar sentiments with those who insist that monogamy is a choice. Being in any type of relationship whether it be monogamous, open or polyamorous should also be a choice afforded to all the parties involved in the relationship.

Forming a relationship goes beyond your beliefs about romantic connections. It is unbecoming to expect someone to be monogamous or polyamorous without discussing and agreeing to the terms of your relationship beforehand.

There is nothing wrong with pursuing relationships with different partners and there’s nothing wrong with seeking monogamy. As much as it is unfair to force someone into monogamy, it is also devious to pretend to be monogamous when you know you’re incapable of being with one person at a time. Doing the latter is taking agency from the other person, you’re withholding information that when revealed could make your partner choose not to be with you. There’s everything wrong with manipulating someone into being with you for your selfish desires.

A recurring sub-topic that made its way into the conversation was whether or not women are expected to be monogamous more than men and the answer to that is- hell yes! That doesn’t make it right though.

Monogamy is enigmatic, yes, but I believe that it’s something that’s puzzling to the human race, it’s not a gendered conundrum. Women are treated with less empathy when they cheat in comparison to men who perform the same act. I’m not proposing that people in relationships of any kind go out and cheat but I’m highlighting the gender dynamics that exist within certain heterosexual relationships.

An example is when I asked women who were participants in the debate whether or not they ’d forgive a cheating partner, most answers ranged from uncertainty to yes. When I asked my male friends if they’d forgive their female partners if they cheated, the question was met with an unyielding “never”.

I’m not insinuating that this is the general consensus on the issue of cheating across gendered lines but as Gunderson and Ferrari note, cheating is a complex issue influenced by a list of factors. The manner in which the infidelity came to the other partner’s attention, the emotional and sexual attachment the cheating partner has with the person he/she cheated with; past relationship experiences all influence someone’s tolerance for infidelity. [This will be unpacked further in a follow-up article].

This was a lot to take in but the gist of it all is monogamy is a choice. However, it is disingenuous to fake monogamy for one’ selfish needs and as much as gender dynamics play a huge role in relationships, monogamy is a human, not a gendered conundrum.



Love and Vulnerability


I’m a romantic at heart, I’m the typical romantic comedy watching, happily ever after person. However, I live in my head and I overthink stuff and I think that’s partially why I’ve never really been in love.

Now, of course, I’ve said “I love you” when I was a teenager, but my definition of love then and my definition of love now are two completely different things. If we both loved sport, literature, shared the same taste in food and just returned each other’s texts and phone calls to me that was love but I’ve realized that loving someone romantically is more complicated than I thought.

To love means being your own person but at the same time being vulnerable and trusting that your romantic companion will not see your vulnerability as a sign of weakness. To love means committing to loving that person past their flaws, to love means to be secure, to be trusting and to be trusted. To love means learning your object of affection’s love language, to love means loving yourself first. It’s not limited to the things I’ve just listed, but you get the idea.

Whenever someone says “I love you” to me, I brush it off with wit and humour and I’ve done this successfully, I can’t say “I love you” back when I don’t feel that way about you romantically. The worst was when I dated someone for 6 months and never said “I love you” to them, they became frustrated and things just didn’t work out. It’s honestly not that I don’t want to open up myself to love but I’m afraid of being vulnerable with people in that way. I like being in control of my feelings and vulnerability just gets in the way of that.

When you’re vulnerable, you’re placing your heart and emotions on a platter for another human to affect it and that is scary! I’m a sceptic, trust isn’t something that comes easily to me. I’m fearless in life but I’m not as fearless in love, going all in and promising to love someone forever just isn’t me. Maybe I’m making excuses, maybe I’m afraid of commitment, maybe I’m scared of things I don’t understand – love being one of them but I also don’t want to be scared at the same time. I’m just confused right now.

I concede that my definition of vulnerability and its attachment to fear and rejection is a hindrance to finding love. I’m still a sceptic, but at least I’m aware of that and I’m working on fixing it. Being vulnerable isn’t easy and it comes with a lot of emotional baggage but I wonder if it’s better than living with “what ifs”.




Letters to my 16 year old self

Dear Athini

There’s a sense of security in being in control of your life, from a very young you’ve been able to calculate the outcomes of every decision you make, that’s responsible but that’s not living. Do you want to go through life existing or do you want to live life to the fullest?!

You think too much, you do too little, you give too much but you take too little, you give advice that you never follow. You preach self-love yet you’ve been showing love to others more than you’ve been showing love to yourself.

You’re rushing through life, girl where are you rushing to? You can’t outrun life, life is not a race it’s a marathon.

Forgive yourself for being unable to be everything everyone wants you to be. You’re one person, you’re not superhuman. You’re going to disappoint people, and that’s fine, forgive yourself for disappointing them. Also, it is much better to disappoint people than to disappoint yourself. Strive not to be everything to everyone but be everything to yourself!!

Learn that you can’t give what you do not have, you can’t form relations with people in the hope that you’ll find pieces of yourself inside of them. Water your own flower before watering your neighbour’s flower. You can only give the best of yourself to people when you’ve given a lot of effort and love to yourself first. Prioritize yourself!!

Fall in love with your flaws, embrace your imperfections and learn that true love starts from within.


If I were to have a daughter, I would tell her these words:

If I were to have a daughter, I would tell her these words:

  1. Someone who is comfortable with disrespecting you and who keeps on testing your limits will never fully appreciate and respect your loyalty and love no matter how much they claim to love you.
  2. Someone may love you unconditionally but their love is wasted if you first don’t love yourself unconditionally because they’ll be filling a void that’s not meant to be filled by them but by self-love. Love yourself first.
  3. Never allow a man to tell and show you that they don’t love you more than once.
  4. Open the door and leave when you don’t feel appreciated in someone’s life. Do not beg to be part of someone’s life.
  5. Communicate your feelings and thoughts and never allow anyone to belittle how you feel and how you think.
  6. Remember, you cannot associate yourself with someone with the intent to change them. Your presence in someone’s life won’t change their actions, people change when they are ready to change.
  7. People who don’t appreciate and respect themselves will do the same to you, people treat you according to how they feel about themselves.
  8. Always take note of the signs and energy people give off to you, someone who’s aggressive when you’re not together will be aggressive when you’re together as well. Relationships don’t change people; they just increase the traits they had beforehand.
  9. Focus on making yourself happy, when you practise self-happiness you bring happiness to others around you as well.
  10. Be comfortable in who you are and ensure that your Yes to someone else is not a No to yourself.
  11. Don’t compromise who you are to make someone else happy.
  12. Always reflect on your decisions, laugh, smile and learn to apologise without being apologetic about things that matter the most to you.
  13. Don’t be someone else’s everything, be your everything.
  14. Know the difference between giving up and letting go.
  15. You are enough, never allow anyone to tell you otherwise!!
  16. Finally, be a work in progress. Work on improving yourself constantly.

Be black without apology, be yourself without apology!!