The Side Piece Complex

In Real Talk by Jerzy MessanLeave a Comment

Photo by Keoni Cabral via Flickr

With serious trust issues in relationships revolving around infidelity and other unfaithful acts, the question I hear most is: “if you want more than one person and cannot be faithful, why not just be single?”

This is a very relevant question in college, where we come into contact with a wide range of young individuals from all over who have varying cultural norms and personal ethics that influence the way we approach relationships, and many are encouraged to have the full “college experience.”

Observing my peers and hearing their sentiments regarding interpersonal interactions, I have found that many feel as though monogamous relationships are risky and unrealistic because “these girls ain’t loyal” and “negus will always be negus.”

But other than this fear, what other factors play into this fear of commitment?

“The major thing that makes monogamy so unattractive is that pop culture and the music we listen to constantly paint pictures of a great life consisting of having multiple women,” states Zachary Byrge, a first year Biology major.

I concur, considering how songs like Young Money’s Every Girl reached #2 on the 2009 U.S. Billboard Rap charts, along with countless others that continue to convey similar messages of having sex with as many girls as physically possible while we are still young.

Or even how my peers glamorized Lou Williams, a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, when he made news by stunting on us, simultaneously having two girlfriends that were fine with sharing him.

The status of being wanted and having access to multiple people of the opposite sex, although double standards make it primarily something males are targeted for, is also something that is increasing competitiveness between women.

Between Instagram and Twitter, the drama caused by the trend of being someone’s “side,” or in other words, being someone’s mistress or paramour while they are already in a relationship, continues to infest the dating culture by amplifying the distrust between sexes.

“They want that individual to want them but simultaneously have the other women they want,” proclaims third year, Sociology major Jon Kent.

“They’re playing her, but also playing themselves; playing her by talking to other females, but playing themselves by not assuring that she is not also talking to other guys.”

So is monogamy even realistic at a time where polygamous relationships are heavily popularized, and people seem more at risk of getting played than being with someone faithful?

“There is always that risk of being played,” Byrge added. “Monogamy can only exist if two people are seriously ready to settle down.”

“Monogamous relationships are nice because you can focus on one person instead of trying to keep multiple people happy, and trust (hopefully) that that person is not trying to talk to someone else.”  

It is interesting to see how so many of my peers are either opposed to being in a relationship entirely, or are constantly in their feelings and alluding to their “relationship goals” of being in long term, committed relationships.

When I go back home and talk to my teachers, mentors, and even my mother and they ask me about my romantic interest, they are all in consensus when advising me to “date around and do not commit yourself to anyone.” They tell me that we are all in this melting pot of emotions, hormones, gossip, and drama that we can not get away from but will ultimately teach us about ourselves and what we will eventually want in a significant other once we leave this microcosm of the world.

These wise words are in the back of my head whenever I enter interpersonal relationships, however, I also understand that building and learning from a member of the opposite sex involves interactions that are less superficial, which lead to experiences that go beyond just “talking” and learning what that individual likes to do for fun.

But I also understand that everything is not for every body.

Therefore, what are the pros and cons to seriously engaging in monogamous relationships?

Kent feels as though monogamy provides a great situation for those looking for consistent affection and support, with healthy stress alleviation through camaraderie and sex; but can also inflict unnecessary stress when arguments and jealousy arise.

“You can’t move freely without letting that individual know the moves that you’re making because you don’t want them to feel left out or jealous, which can be tedious,” Kent expressed.

“Monogamy is looked at as a standard and I don’t buy into that,” he appended. “The notion of monogamy comes from Judeo-Christian ethics, and not everyone comes from that background, and even if they do, they may not want to follow it.”

“This creates a norm that tells us that a person is not serious about us unless absolutely exclusive, which to me is not true because expressing affection with someone that I am not dating does not mean that I care for that person any less than if we were in a committed relationship.”

Essentially, monogamy is choice that has to made between two people who are ready to be vulnerable enough to embrace that infidelity is a reality but have enough trust in their partner to understand that they will be honest and loyal because they have similar goals for the relationship.

That does not mean be naive to those with ulterior motives, nor does it mean that people should put up with someone who is mistreating them just to maintain a toxic relationship.

Be vigilant without being unreasonable. Take the advice of my mentors and date people, but like…actually go on dates. Do not make the mistake of thinking you know people just because you text, Snapchat, and perform olympic dives into their DMs all day, everyday.

And for those who are single and mingling: don’t be afraid to be unapologetically honest. Empathy is becoming a lost emotion, and personally, this lack of consideration for others’ feelings is beyond depressing. Do things that you would want done onto you without letting your libido cloud your judgment and ethics. Oh, and safe sex is the best sex!

Disclaimer: you cannot control how people will react to the truth and what kind of drama it will cause, so if you cannot legitimately get yourself out of the drama with integrity DON’T get yourself into it.

That’s my two cents.

College will teach us many things, but most importantly, it will expose us to parts of the world that we may not have had the chance to see and people we may not have ever got the chance to meet, which will allow us to shift the way we have been taught to view society and relationships between the people in society.

So whether you find you are looking for your soulmate or to get the full “college experience,” take the opportunity to learn from your relationships without breaking the hearts of those you share your intimate experiences with.


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