C L A R K  S O R L E Y

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I hate the term “dump” when used to describe ending a relationship. It’s as if a person, previously respected, loved, betrothed even, now becomes a piece of trash to be flung into a skip. Using such a word is irreverent in the extreme.

Apparently it’s okay if you meet a new person to dump the old one and start another relationship. Obviously the “dumpee” isn’t going to like it but it’s considered more morally acceptable than keeping two relationships going. If you do that you are the equivalent of something from the sewer.

A senior politician in the UK reflecting on his affair in the 1980s said he was condemned for not leaving his wife. Had he done so his drama may have passed relatively unnoticed. Compare another one a decade later who, when it appeared he was going to be rumbled, left his wife of twenty-odd years for the “mistress” and so averted a hounding. In the former case no credit was given to his reluctance to sever an old tie.

When people are lead to affairs there are usually profound impulses at play. Perhaps they should be resisted for the sake of fidelity or a family. Such resistance might be commendable. It might not. It might just be cowardly. Choosing to go with the impulse given the potential drama of the outcome might be brave indeed. Unless you are entirely without sensitivity riding the tiger of two relationships is far from an easy route. Most are left scarred by the experience.

Question is: should you rightfully end a previous commitment to go with a new one? Contemporary wisdom says yes. This way you are able to claim the sanctity of monogamy. It is of the serial type but that’s considered unimportant. This seems to me a sham set of values born out of a confused morality. Too much selfish interest is invested in this kind of monogamy. In the modern age it is invariably little more than the desire to have another person conform to one’s demands but argued for in terms of elevated language. Those who argue for it usually argue for the values of commitment. They are often the ones who do the dumping thing easiest.

True monogamy is an ideal most people are incapable of even conceiving of, let alone achieving. Their attempts at it are generally insincere and pretentious. Carefree use of the term “dump” and the selfishness enacted in dumping is indicative of the case.

most people are incapable of monogamy