Sex on the Hill: Commitment and Monogamy

Let’s consider the setting: there’s drinking, there’s short skirts, there’s low-cut shirts, there’s people who wander around their residence halls without noticing that their boxers are around their ankles. In shorter terms, we’re in college.

Can we expect students to remain monogamous and loyal in their relationships in this environment?

Studies on monogamous commitment, defined by neither partner participating in “you can’t be mad at me, I was drunk, her boobs were in my face…” have found that within even marriage, the chances of partners staying loyal are sad, to say the least. A 1999 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that roughly half of married individuals participated in some kind of cheating. Of course, the stats on marital infidelity vary, but to think that even married people can’t keep it in their pants puts our college attempts at fidelity in an interesting light.

Add on top of this trend the new abilities facebook and sexting provide and we have to ask ourselves how we even begin to define cheating anymore. (Genitalia= definitely cheating, genitalia “accidentally” peaking out of clothes= questionable).

What makes perfect sense is that men and women can’t seem to agree on why their partners cheat on them. In fact, it seems that men think that infidelity occurs because a person gets that burning feeling from down below, whereas women think that infidelity is primarily caused by relationship dissatisfaction, according to a University of Wisconsin study.

What is surprising though are the numbers of people who have said that they have experienced the l-word while in college (“love,” not “lesbianism”). According to a study reported by the CBS Interactive Business Network, “Ninety-four percent reported that they had been in love before, with over a third (36%) reporting 3 or more love relationships.” So, somehow, with rather shocking numbers of people experiencing infidelity, girls and boys are still finding that mystical love thing.

Before I go on, let me say that if you can make it work with just one person for an extended period of time, that is wonderful if it satisfies you and completes you.

But there are those of us who don’t find it to be enough. Here’s where people like me begin to sound like gigantic commitment-phobes and preach an alternative approach to monogamy—we say just don’t do it. As junior Jason Harder put it, “I commend people who take the time out to be monogamous, because it’s hard when you’re in school, you have academics and athletics…these take time.”

Monogamous relationships are undeniable work that an undeniable subpopulation of students is not interested in doing. This doesn’t mean that we’re advocating casual sex, cheating, or other potentially hurtful arrangements, but suggesting a choice that most don’t consider—honest, open communication of what we are and aren’t looking for. Some of us are not made for, are not ready for, or simply don’t want to be in monogamous relationships when we’re presented with so many tempting…opportunities in college. And, according to recent research, even people like us can stumble upon love.