When I see an attractive woman, I instinctively look to her ring finger. If I see a ring there – an engagement ring especially, but also a wedding ring, or both – I’m disappointed. Sad, even. [see “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” for this reference. No clip available, alas.]
This intrigues me.
I’m not looking for a(nother) wife. And I’m not at all deluded – I understand just how little information is communicated reliably by the presence or absence of a ring. But somehow, I project onto every woman I see my own naivete at an earlier date, the hegemonic presumptions of society. I imagine that the ring means a) she is unavailable, and more interesting, b) there’s a certain sadness, to her, in her unavailability. Either in the moment, or in her future. I imagine her confronting the challenges of monogamy in the long term, the myths to which she has subscribed crashing down.
This is my narcissism, of course. There are happily monogamous people – many of them. Fewer than many would believe, but more than others would believe. And there are people in open relationships. I have no way of knowing what the ring(s) on a random woman’s fingers mean. But I imagine that she is, as I was, miserable in her monogamy.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t imagine, for a minute, that my monogamy was what made me miserable. It wasn’t. I own my misery, and monogamy – aspirational, if not practiced – had nothing to do with it. But I associate the time of my aspirational monogamy with misery, and I know intimately my own relationship to the myths, associations, goals that are attached by so many to rings. I’m happy, now. My marriage is phenomenal, a source of tremendous happiness, joy, pleasure, sustenance, and support.
But that’s not what I see when I see a ring on a hot woman.
Maybe narcissism, but maybe really more like empathy. Been there and now free and notwithstanding the occasional hurt that comes with being untethered, I am more than ever joyful in my freedom from monogamous marriage.
I understand what you’re saying, and feel a bit that way too, but it does feel a bit of a failure of my imagination to assume that one reality (mine) necessarily must obtain for all.