Does Society Force Unnatural Expectations?
From a very early age we have grown up with a very strict outline of how our life should play out. I’d say it’s mainly split into stages that, once completed, should make up the ‘perfect’ life. These stages are generally considered to be education, career, marriage, children/family and finally, old age. And, as you can see, they all lead nicely into each other. Once you’ve got a good education it will lead to a happy career which will provide you with enough money to support a spouse and a family. Once you have accomplished all that, the next stage is to watch your children grow up and live happily ever after with your one true love. And because this way of life seems to be so engrained into society, people put so much pressure on themselves to find their one and only soul mate. However, is the idea of finding this one perfect person driven by human nature as a means of survival or is it because society has enforced so many ‘guidelines’ on us, that to not conform is to be seen as unaccomplished?
It’s hard not to think that there is that one special person out there for you when the world has grown up watching Disney films where the princess is whisked off her feet by the handsome prince and they live together happily ever after. But what is so often presented as normal and expected on TV is unfortunately not always accurate. In recent years society has seen a huge rise in affairs which sees around 45% of marriages ending in divorce. This could be for a number of different reasons. This could be because that people crumble under the pressure of trying to find the perfect person to spend the rest of their life with. The other reason would be that it’s just simply not in our DNA to stay and settle with one person for our lifetime. It’s not our human nature.
Especially seen in Shanghai, the expat life is definitely not always as perfect as it seems. Many come to Shanghai with the idea of monogamy and the happy ever after in mind. It’s a scarily exciting experience for couples to share together. But, quite often the picture perfect world doesn’t stay perfect. Moving to a different place and changing your whole life causes massive amounts of stress and when it takes a toll on someone’s relationship, they often look elsewhere for support. A common theme of this is that of infidelity. Infidelity is often portrayed with a victim and offender scenario. However, it can be more complicated than that. It could be that people seek things in other people that their partner can’t give them. Don’t get me wrong, some people are just looking to play the field, but in many marriages infidelity isn’t done as a malicious act, it’s done purely because of lack of emotional/physical support. They look elsewhere in order to gain the thing that they require in order to maintain their relationship. This rise in infidelity cases may be an insight into the idea that humans aren’t made to be just with one person forever and that if society hadn’t labelled it a crime then it would be much more common.
Being polyamorous is a term that scares many people. It’s often confused with the idea of infidelity but is a very different thing. It’s a taboo topic that is quite often shunned by society. It has very little media representation and when it does, more often than not, it’s negatively portrayed. A common misconception is that if you identify as polyamorous you can’t form serious relationships with people and quickly move on from one person to the next. It’s perceived as a fancy name, a disguise almost, for sleaziness. But, what it actually is, by Google’s definition is “the philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time”. It means that people can still form serious relationships with someone special whilst dating and being romantically involved with others. While many can’t understand the reasons behind being polyamorous it isn’t something that should be ignored. If it is human nature not to settle down with just one person then maybe we’ll see a more accepting shift in society and more people identifying as polyamorous in the future.
So is society telling us to be monogamous or is it human nature to be curious?