For nearly three years I’ve maintained the position that a normal relationship isn’t possible (or even practical) in college. I consider myself no expert on what constitutes a “normal relationship,” having had my fair share of interesting men drift in and out of my life. And I’m not really known as a one-man woman.

But when I read Rose Afriyie’s column yesterday (Why nonmonogamy?, 10/02/2008) I felt she left out an important (and often overlooked) part of ourselves: emotion. She explained the rational decision-making that can go into being in a nonmonogamous “relationship.” But what Afriyie failed to address was that when entering into a nonmonogamous “relationship,” most of my classmates aren’t making a mutual well-thought-out decision. Often they are making a selfish, flippant one.

We live in hook-up culture. We chose our bedmates as quickly as our drink orders. We walk around like we’re bulletproof and invincible. Who can stop us when we’re this young, restless and destructive (though more often than not it’s self-destructive)? This may help us learn more about ourselves everyday. But at what expense?

By entering into these nonmonogamous “relationships,” we’re only setting ourselves up for emotional failure. We may be maturing sexually and intellectually (that’s supposed to be the reason we’re here), but how can we develop emotionally if we’re consistently leaving feelings out of the picture? We’re putting half ourselves out there and asking our casual companions to only address part of what is truly us. How can we better understand ourselves if we can’t reveal our naked emotions to someone who sees us in the barest forms?

I won’t deny that I enjoy the independence that comes from not being technically attached to anyone. But nonmonogamous “relationships” aren’t without their own set of rules. As Afriyie wrote, “nonmonogamy … requires people to communicate, negotiate and set boundaries.” That sounds a lot like a committed relationship. What happened to the fun and excitement of casual freedom? I don’t believe it exists.

The temporary enjoyment of detachment can often be replaced with feelings of emptiness and loneliness. And while the person lying next to us in bed can hear our wildest fantasies, our greatest worries may be kept silent for fear that revealing too much takes the “relationship” to the next level.

Afriyie also addressed the issue of us as pure sexual beings. She wrote, “It’s possible to communicate sexual interest to someone you find attractive while also disclosing that presently — or indefinitely — you can’t meet the requirements of a formalized commitment with that person.” But what if this never ends? What if we continue to float along asking for nothing more than a warm body and a goodnight kiss? By addressing only our sexual needs, we forget to satisfy our emotional and intellectual desires. To achieve a full and satisfying maturity, we need to address all of our different facets. A casual relationship may just leave us wanting more.

Afriyie continued, “But (a nonmonogamous relationship) also allows you to face your ephemeral partners the morning after, or days after in the street, because you’ve been honest about the terms of your exchange.” From my experiences with temporary flings, honesty isn’t at the top of most people’s priorities. I can only imagine a humorous morning-after encounter involving an engaging conversation where we honestly lay out our wants, needs and feelings for a casual relationship. Can someone tell me where this Neverever Land is and how to get there?

Near the end of her column, Afriyie admitted that nonmonogamy “is not for everybody,” but “we have an obligation to ourselves to develop a rubric for our sexual limitations and desires that allow us to truly pursue happiness.” I’ve failed to find this happiness she speaks of in my casual relationships. Am I doing something wrong?

I believe pure and complete happiness will come to us when we’re fully satisfied sexually, emotionally and intellectually. The sexual revolution of the ’70s allowed us to push our boundaries, but I’m tired of being shoved into an emotionless era. We shouldn’t have to give up complete fulfillment for momentary pleasure.

Lisa Gentile is an LSA senior.

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