Does Monogamy Ultimately Force Us to Settle for Less Than What We Want?

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t already watched Sex Life, then don’t read any further as there are major spoilers in this article.

Everyone has been raving about that new Netflix show Sex Life, mostly for its steamy sex scenes and female-narrated plot and I thought what the hell? I could use some good trash TV in my life.

As I snuggled up on the couch with a martini and fluffy blanket, I wasn’t prepared to face thought-provoking ideas and reassess my life choices.

Overall, Sex Life is a fun and easy watch. There are lots of horny sex scenes and the main characters are played by an actual couple, which adds this layer of believability that you don’t always get the privilege of with Hollywood sex scenes.

Briefly, the plot follows Billie (Sarah Shahi) in a not-so-adventurous phase of her marriage, who finds herself dreaming about her ex and potential ‘The One’ Brad (Adam Demos), who of course, finds a way back into her life.

Her husband Cooper (Mike Vogel) is “perfect” and yet, Billie isn’t satisfied. Throughout all eight episodes, she is toying between what she wants, what she needs and what she should want. We see her go through grief, heartbreak, guilt, passion, lust, love, marriage and all of the messy emotions that come with someone you can’t quite let go of.

While watching, I found myself thinking about my own life. Sure, I’m not married with kids, but I am in a long-term monogamous relationship and I definitely have moments of thinking about my former flames.

For some reason, thinking about someone else when you’re in a committed relationship is deemed wrong, but everyone does it. It is completely unrealistic to believe that you’ll never think about someone else sexually ever again.

The concept of ‘The One’ isn’t even romantic to me anymore, it’s just a lie. I promise I’m not cynical, I’d actually say I’m a romantic, but I just don’t think there’s a person that exists out there that can be absolutely everything I want and need all of the time.

To me, it seems inevitable that at certain points of my life, I’ll need to seek out certain things from people outside my relationship. Whether I just want to have sex with a stranger, or whether I want to play make-believe and be someone else for the night or whether I just want to let go and be a version of myself that I reserve just for me – I think it’s these desires that make us human.

Relationships ebb and flow. Sometimes, you feel satisfied and as though you have everything you need. Other times, you might not feel as sexually attracted to your partner because you’re feeling comfortable and safe and those things don’t always go together. To have different moments with your partner is normal, relationships never feel the same all the time.

Sex Life really reminded me that society loves it when we’re married. I think it’s more for other people than for us. If we’re married that means we’re okay, we’ve found someone that loves us ‘unconditionally’, we’ve got security and we’re committed. Apparently, these are the things that define adult success.

In Sex Life, I couldn’t help but notice that Billie doesn’t get any real support for her feelings. People try to make her feel as though she’s got something wrong with her. Fantasising about your ex-boyfriend who you had the best sex in the world with apparently means that your marriage is failing.

She’s thrust into emotional turmoil because she loves her kids, she loves her husband, she loves their life… and she also loves the sexy, dangerous and mysterious person that she is with Brad.

Also –  he wasn’t just a f**k buddy that she occasionally met up with. They were in a full-on adult relationship, with real adult problems. They went through sh*t together. They loved each other.

Billie’s inner dialogue is constantly questioning why it’s wrong to want it all. If being an empowered woman means expressing your desires, then she’d had to admit that a perfect husband, with a perfect house and perfect kids, isn’t enough for her. She’d have to admit that she wants other lives too, that she wants to exercise parts of herself that she can’t do in that married life, but that doesn’t mean she wants out. It means she wants it all.

If that’s not relatable to literally everyone, I don’t know what is.

And the thing that really baffles me, is I think this is the same for every single person. We all want it all. So why do we have such trouble in vocalising that?

Maybe if we spoke openly, created a dialogue in relationships and life that involve us asking for what we want without shame, then we’d all be in richer, long-lasting relationships that made us feel fulfilled.

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