Monogamous, polyamorous or open relationship: How do Tilburg students view love?

We listen in droves to songs about broken hearts, read books about complicated love affairs, and enjoy romantic comedies. But what does the word “love” really mean? Is there an unambiguous definition of love? asked Universe’s Teyla Bronk, assistant professor of social psychology and the scientist of love and spoke to three students about their love lives: one polyamorous, the other monogamous, and suspicious.

Photo: Fimke Kobe

Love comes in all kinds of scents and colors and is a popular topic of conversation. Also among young people. But how do we love in 2022? A recent study by EenVandaag showed that 42 percent of young Dutch people believe that humans are inherently monogamous (exclusive), and 39 percent do not. Almost a quarter believe that an open relationship works for them, in which you can kiss, date, or have sex with someone else in addition to your regular partner. In addition, thirteen percent of young people indicate that they are polygamous: they can be romantic and intimate with several partners at the same time.

How do students from Tilburg view different forms of relationships and love? Speakers: Tila Bronk, Whitsky Petrisor, Judith Zigdenbos, and Sam De Smit

Teila Pronk, assistant professor of social psychology and love scientist

Various forms of love such as monogamy, polyamory, and an open relationship are of all times. However, it has always been taboo to talk about this openly. Today it’s different. In recent years, the topic has been taken out of the taboo atmosphere. More is being talked about and written about in the general media. It is also remarkable that many young people no longer want to think about boxes. For example, they are increasingly questioning ideas like “typically masculine” or “typically feminine.” This social development also affects the way young people define their relationships: they are less obviously monogamous. They feel more free to know who they want to be and how they want to love.

“People in a monogamous relationship are just as happy as people in a polyamorous relationship.”

Teyla Bronck

Science has long ignored non-monogamous relationships. Today, scientists are paying more attention to it and trying to check the quality of these relationships. There are quite a few preconceived notions about non-monogamous relationships. For example, people think that you only fall in love with someone else if your current relationship isn’t right. What does it look like? It’s complete nonsense!

“Research shows that there is no difference in quality: people in a monogamous relationship are just as happy as people in a polyamorous relationship. However, it is very important that the relationship is transparent and that the partners communicate clearly with each other. Not knowing what they are doing can lead to your partner to feelings of insecurity and jealousy. Ultimately, clear agreements and communication skills are the best strategy for maintaining a healthy and sustainable relationship.”

Wietske Petrişor, a philosophy student and oriented polygamist

“For me, love is in many things and when I describe it, I am by definition lacking in it. I can feel love towards people, moments, ideas and nature. Love for me is a personal, intimate and unique experience that I share with another person. I do not want that experience to be affected by structures social and outlook.

“Honest bonds and intimacy are very important to me. This is a condition of good love for me. In addition, clear communication is essential. For example, I don’t want to burn bridges and break friendships because my lover is jealous. That’s the absolute limit for me. Of course that applies. Also in reverse. As long as my partner and I communicate to each other that our relationship is good, we don’t question our love. By the way, I don’t condemn jealousy. I just don’t want those feelings to guide the decisions we make about our relationship. I’d rather talk about it so we can of coming to an agreement in which we both feel comfortable.

“I am currently dating two people. I notice very clearly that both of them have a very different, yet very positive, impact on my life.”

Whitisk Petresor

“I experience every day that this way of loving is not the norm. I had a valuable conversation with my grandmother about it. I told her that I don’t think of love traditionally and that I can love multiple people at the same time in a romantic and committed way. I asked her what I should do: adapt or choose My own way? Then she said something that stuck with me firmly: “Your polyamorous experiences are still new to society. He still has to get used to the idea that there are other forms of love. It also took a while for homosexuality and gender identity to become more accepted. This is a process, but that doesn’t mean you have to adapt. May your love be there. That insight gave me confidence.

Photo: Fimke Kobe

“Monogamy is still the norm. It seems as though there is a handbook out there that describes exactly how citizens should behave in accordance with the norms and values ​​of monogamy.

“I am currently dating two people. I notice very clearly that both of them have a very different, yet very positive impact on my life. I find that very valuable. This does not mean that polyamory is the best option for everyone. But if people have the opportunity to find out for themselves, then it is It gives them more space to discover which form of love works best for them.”

Judith Zigdenbos, communications student and convinced single wife

“It amazes me that people often speak of love with praise. I find it strange, because in my eyes it is not all the scent of roses and sunsets. Love also brings out the worst aspects in people. There are of course phrases like “love is blind” or “love is a strange disease” for a reason. When I look around, I see a lot of people suffering from jealousy. In addition, many of them are trapped in a toxic relationship. Then there are those people who are obsessed with the person they “love”. Love is often misinterpreted in my opinion. Just look at the great literary masterpieces: The love between Romeo and Juliet is not romantic and fanciful.Isn’t it a scary idea to die for love?What do people like about that?I find it rather tragic.

“Of course love has a very beautiful side. Sometimes the feeling is intense and familiar. That’s why the little moments take on so much meaning. My boyfriend and I are in a monogamous relationship and I’m very happy. It doesn’t mean that we’re always on top of each other’s lips. I think it’s important not to We merge into one pair, rather to remain two independent people. We always try to encourage each other and bring out the best in each other. Sometimes this also means that you have to ignore yourself, so that the other person has more space to develop.

“I think it’s important not to merge into one couple, but to remain two independent people.”

Judith Zigdenbos

“The reason we’re in a monogamous relationship has nothing to do with my aversion to polyamorous relationships. I know a lot of polyamorous people and I see that works too. But I don’t see myself loving more than one person at a time right now. The relationship with my boyfriend is satisfying enough.

“In addition, I would like to have children and I don’t think I can reconcile this vision of the future with polygamy. It feels more stable to share my desire to have children with one partner. I’m still a bit traditional in this. By the way, I don’t mean to I say polyamorous people shouldn’t have children.I just don’t know any polyamorous couples with children that I can look up to.This makes a monogamous relationship a bit like the “safe way”.The fact that I don’t feel the need to share my life with anyone Someone else at the moment is also helping, of course.”

Sam Dee Smit, a third year student and a love skeptic

“Love to me is a ‘warm’ thing to give in to. It’s about caring and caring for each other. An absolute sense of protection. But in romantic love, there’s an essence of doubt to me; and then suddenly I no longer know how to define it so easily. This has everything to do with my confidence.” When something gets “romantic” I can suddenly start to doubt if I’m enough. All of these doubts and insecurities keep me from feeling monogamous or polyamorous.

Photo: Fimke Kobe

“I have so much love to give and I can love people so much. It’s almost sometimes too much for one person. I really look up to polyamorous people. I feel they are generous in so many ways. I love their positive attitude on life. I think it’s so nice to have you.” Very free and to live in the moment. In addition, I admire their communication skills. As an outsider they seem to be neither jealous nor have secrets. This transparency suits me. I also want to carry life “lightly”. But wanting and being able to do so are two different things.

“It’s almost religious: what good is life if this love doesn’t exist?”

Sam D Smith

“In a sense, monogamy works for me too. There is an intimate desire in me to meet my soul mate. I really want to belong to one person and experience a relationship in terms of friendship, orientation, and intimacy. But there is immediately another side that I find less beautiful; I like ‘to be’.” I find this possessive side less attractive.The quest to make it clear to myself remains in my head.

“No one in my area has a relationship that I would like to take as an example. In my opinion, all of these relationships are not sustainable. But although I don’t see any worthwhile relationships in my environment, I believe my ideal love exists. It’s almost religious: what’s the use of it?” Life if this love did not exist?

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