How Modern Monogamy is Like 3-in-1 Coffee

Over here, in both Bulgaria and Turkey, instant coffee is very popular, to the point that it actively contends with espresso on most cafe menus. Along with instant coffee, there are what are known as 2-in-1 and 3-in-1 coffees. These are little packets with just the right amount of sugar or sugar and milk added to the coffee.

When I first moved here, I was not particularly enthusiastic about instant coffee, but while living in Turkey I got used to it (because there it was instant coffee at 50 kurus as opposed to a 5 lira coffee true coffee and I was a poor, freshly married college student). I even grew to like it.

I will say that there are even times when I prefer 3-in-1 to my usual espresso or latte. Sometimes, the balance of the 3-in-1 just feels right. Other times it is just easier. But most of the time I prefer espresso, and not just because it tastes ‘better’ than instant coffee.

Espresso (or clean instant coffee, for that matter), allows me to put in the right amount of milk and sugar for me. I am not tied to an arbitrary amount that someone else decided was perfect. Also, I can change it up.

Soy milk? Honey instead of sugar? A square of dark chocolate? Coconut oil? Not a problem. Although I CAN add these to 3-in-1, the foundation of it means that there will always be milk and sugar in my coffee, and the ease of a single-serving packet makes it feel unnatural to try to dress up the drink.

While reading a forum about emotional cheating for an article I was writing the other day, I realized that modern monogamy (and modern marriage) is a lot like 3-in-1 coffee: We live with the expectation that our significant other should be the perfect balance of everything that we need. We should not need to supplement our relationships and there is no way to extract parts that are not working for us.

The women writing in the forum I was reading were obsessed with all forms of cheating. Emotional cheating. Mental cheating. Physical cheating. They were all deal breakers and the fear of them seemed to have these women with one foot out of the door. It was clear that they wanted to be the only significant person in their husband’s life. I guess that is what we get with the term, ‘significant other,’ defining our relationships.

But what about having many significant others in our lives? What about deep, intimate friendships? What about emotional sharing with a community? What about all of these people that can ADD to the experience of a wonderful caffeinated (or caffeine-free, if that’s your thing) base?

I will say that I know cheating is destructive. However, I do not think that building other intimate relationships outside of a primary romantic relationship is always cheating. Cheating is, quite simply, breaking the rules that you and your partner have developed (either explicitly or implicitly). So, yes, emotional cheating IS a thing, but only because we make it so. Only because we are drinking 3-in-1 relationships.

Let’s face it, while 3-in-1 works for some people, it can be boring. I’ll have coffee every morning (or most mornings), but let me choose what I add to that experience.

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