Monogamy Isn’t The Same As Commitment — Don’t Confuse The Two

Commitment and monogamy can go hand in hand for a lot of people, but they’re definitely not mutually exclusive. Things may be going great with your guy and you’ve agreed to see one another exclusively, but that doesn’t mean you’re in a committed relationship — here’s why:

  1. Exclusivity doesn’t make you his girlfriend. The two of you might choose to be monogamous, which is one type of commitment to make to each other, but until you actually DTR beyond who else you can or can’t date, you have to remember that being monogamous isn’t the same as being official. It’s likely that if he only wants to see you that he’s serious about you and wants you to be his girlfriend, but if he won’t actually call you that, there’s a problem.
  2. Commitment doesn’t ensure faithfulness. Just because someone is committed to spending time with you, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be faithful. Sure, that’s the plan in theory, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen. When you’re looking for the ideal man, commitment and monogamy might be entirely different qualities to be assessing in your options.
  3. Commitment means you can make plans. Being monogamous doesn’t necessarily offer you anything in the way of making plans for the future, whether that’s going out this weekend or moving in together in six months. A commitment, on the other hand, assumes that no one is going anywhere for the foreseeable future, which means you make some plans as a couple.
  4. Monogamy can be one-sided. You might be monogamous with every single person that you date because that’s just your personal style, but that doesn’t mean it’s mutual. You might be totally happy to see him and only him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not seeing other women without you knowing. Or, if he’s really arrogant, he might expect you to only date him while he does whatever he wants behind your back. You need to make sure you’re on the same page.
  5. Commitment means learning from mistakes and working to fix them. Nobody’s perfect so you’re bound to make mistakes in your relationship, whether you’re dating or in a serious relationship. The difference is that when you’re committed to each other, you learn from the mistakes you make and strive to be better for the sake of your partner and the relationship as a whole.
  6. Lack of commitment usually equals lack of investment. Without commitment, there isn’t necessarily a drive to change and grow within the relationship, so when it stops working, it’s easier to walk away from. In a committed relationship, you’d fight to fix your issues, not move on at the first sign of trouble.
  7. Monogamy without commitment can be a trap. A friends with benefits arrangement or casual relationship can be totally monogamous, but there’s also a chance that one of you might end up wanting to take things to the next level. If you’re the party who’s holding out hope that it will develop into something else, you might end up wasting your time.
  8. But commitment without monogamy can, as well. On the flip side, when commitment reigns supreme, sometimes people are hesitant to leave a relationship even when they aren’t happy anymore. In that sense, commitment has its perceived trappings as well. Not wanting to hurt someone might lead to shady behavior, and if that’s not hurtful, what is?
  9. If you want both monogamy and commitment, you deserve both. The bottom line is that if you want monogamy in a committed relationship then you deserve it. That means both getting clear within yourself about what you want and being strong enough to avoid any relationships that don’t provide it.
  10. If you don’t want both, find someone who’s on the same page. If you’re comfortable with either monogamy or commitment on its own, it’s your responsibility to communicate that. The people you date should be aware of your intentions so that they’re free to make informed decisions about the relationship, just as you’d hope they’re being straightforward about their intentions with you.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog