Ok… so this is a humungous topic, but I’ve always wanted to somehow cover all the arguments I’ve accumulated over the years for polyamory. So this is probably more for me than anyone else… but I feel like there are just so many things to cover and why shouldn’t I share it? I wasn’t holding back in this post, so some of my opinions may sound a little harsh, or maybe not. They’re just opinions, everyone has them
I’m probably going to edit this several times because I know I can’t possibly cover everything in one go. I’m going to forget things. So apologies if it starts getting a little less cohesive towards the end, I may end up unwittingly repeating myself. Right. Lets *do* this!!
1. Because monogamy isn’t working
You can’t deny the facts, everyone knows divorce rates are soaring and you don’t have to look far in modern media to see people cheating on each other and having painful break-ups. If this isn’t evidence that monogamy isn’t working for us anymore then I don’t know what is.
Serial monogamy has become the norm because relationships are doomed from the very beginning. Even if you love your partner more than you thought it was possible to love anyone, that doesn’t guarantee that some handsome soul could waltz into your life and you just won’t have the strength to deny yourself this tempting opportunity. Lust is probably one of the hardest things to resist, and I know I wouldn’t have it in me… but then I have the worst resistance of temptation of anyone I know. Girl’s got no self-control. Why’s that gotta be so wrong?
Now I’m generally a pretty accepting person… but for some reason I just can’t resist monogamy-bashing. If you tell me you’re honestly happy loving one person for the rest of your life and you’ll never be tempted to stray and that you have a healthy relationship with a tonne of communication and total disclosure where you can work through your problems together in a healthy way – then I’ll be impressed, a good healthy relationship is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, but I probably still won’t believe you wouldn’t be happier if you managed to work through a few issues to try and be poly. There are a lot of stubborn people out there and I’m not saying everyone really has it in them, but I think more people could make it work if they genuinely tried.
2. Because you love your partner!
It tickles me when people tell me that the reason I want to be poly must be because I just don’t love her enough. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I like to think a big part of why I prefer polyamory so much is because I want things for my woman. They say if you love someone you’ll set them free – I like that phrase, because I feel like we do that every day. We are not pets to be caged, we are living beings and we have hopes and desires – so letting her fulfil those things is just part of being head over heels in love with my girl! So next time someone accuses me of not loving my girlfriend, maybe I’ll ask “So then is love selfish?”.
… Speaking of selfish:
3. Because sharing is better.
When you’re a little kid, adults tell you to share. Sharing makes you more likeable, people can enjoy new things they wouldn’t otherwise have, and it feels kinda good doing it. But as soon as we’re adults, life’s all “everyone’s selfish, so you might as well join in”. Capitalism at its ugliest. Adults are cynical. And it strikes me that monogamy is a little bit like the adult version of a kid who won’t share his/her favourite toy. “You’re my person! No-one else is allowed to play with you!”. Can’t we all just grow up and share please?
My girlfriend’s pretty hot. I don’t want to be the only one who gets to appreciate her. That wouldn’t be fair.
4. That old saying: “Variety is the spice of life”
This seems to be a big point that a lot of people can relate to. People are struggling with this notion of “the one” in the modern age – so I think people find it easy to relate to this idea that no-one can be your all! We’re all very different and it’s very unlikely you’re going to find this special person out there for you who can fill every need and desire in a relationship that you crave. The problem with this “the one” model is that if you’re with someone who doesn’t fulfil a certain wish of yours it’s easy for you to begin to resent them for it – and now how is that fair? On either of you? So it seems to me that if you want to stop all this resentment you should find a way for these unfulfilled aspects of your life to be fulfilled.
A lot of monogamous couples get around this problem with platonic friends. I hear a lot about women who aren’t getting enough emotional fulfilment from their boyfriends so they have a “best friend” with whom they share all their secrets and feelings with because they need someone for all that. And what’s wrong with that. Poly’s just the same with fewer limitations.
People do seem to relate this topic to sex quite a lot though it has to be said. A point I hear argued a lot is one that refers to bisexuality. It basically states that if your bisexual you might feel unfulfilled by just having one partner because you need to be with a man and a woman to feel complete… or whatever. Now I’m bisexual (though I use the term as a shortcut not a label), and I kinda find this offensive. It kinda implies that it’s just about sex. There’s this whole myth about bisexuals that they’re greedy (you know the tale), but the truth is closer to being that we try not to distinguish. For us we don’t look for “are they male or female” to decide if we find them attractive or not, it’s based on more individual things (I’m not going to give examples, you get the idea – it’s about personality and all that shit).
Though that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t any truth in this idea that polyamory is good if you’re bisexual. Me and my girlfriend both swing that way and she in particular seems to feel that she craves male attention. I was just writing about gender roles in a recent blog post so see that for more info, but you can’t deny that relationships with people of different genders have some noticeable differences as a result. So I see nothing wrong with feeling like you want to explore both.
5. Because breaking up sucks!
Remember Monica and Richard on F.R.I.E.N.D.S? They broke up because Monica wanted children one day and Richard wasn’t sure if he ever would. If they were poly they never would have needed to break up. I find myself shouting at the TV when couples who love each other but have different goals in life decide that has to be the end of their relationship. This is also applicable to relationships involving distance. A fairly large amount… actually, no… all of our current relationships outside of the two of us are long-distance (or at least not close-distance). It sucks that we can’t see them more often because of the distance! But because we’re poly that doesn’t mean it’s the end! It just means we see each other less. Who knows what might happen in the future?
6. To hurt potentially less people
I have a sort of philosophy in life that says – to decide the morality of a situation you should objectively weigh up the amount of people that could be potentially hurt. In monogamy you see people getting hurt all the time by the rules that monogamy imposes on them. Poly allows for more scenarios so that less people have to get hurt and more people can have what they want. That – in a nutshell – is probably the initial reason that most of us look for a new way to have relationships and land on polyamory
7. Monogamy is a compromise
I read an article of relationship advice recently that said “don’t compromise”. Normally relationship advice is shit in my opinion, but this was an unusual concept and it rather inspired me. Though we may think compromise is a positive in relationships, really it’s more of a lose-lose situation. When you let your partner have their way every now and then, it can actually be quite a bonding experience. First of all your partner is enjoying having their way and thanks you for letting them, and you feel good about doing something nice for your partner. Anyway… monogamy is like a compromise where neither of you “get your way” and you can agree that it is “fair”. We should all consider that it is possible that in not getting your way you might actually enjoy it after all.
Though I feel that in a way – letting your partner have their way is sort of a compromise. I think it just depends on your definition. Either way, I hope you get my point.
8. Because you want to grow as a person, and expect your partners to do likewise
This is something I recently realised about my relationships. In the past I have found myself falling into the category of “person that tries to change their partner”. Before you all start to gasp and tut I’d like to propose to you yet another theory of mine. I think that this idea of changing people being bad comes from people who try to change others for selfish reasons. For example, their partner spends quite a lot of time doing something they love instead of spending time with them… or they think their partner doesn’t earn enough money etc etc. That would be an example of changing someone for selfish reasons… I think it is easy to confuse this with people who just want to encourage their partners to grow for the long term benefit their partner will have – you know, because they care about them. I have found that in the past this has been met with “I don’t want to change, I like who I am” … to me this translates as “Facing insecurities is hard, I’d rather avoid it”. Understandable, but not really the right attitude. Anyway – I’ve found that this is a pretty fundamental aspect of polyamory that separates those who say “tried it, not for me” and those who say “poly has made such a positive impact on my life”. I think this is first and foremost because it starts us out by giving us a situation in which we are all likely to face internal turmoil and says “you can overcome this”. So when we are faced with future problems we tend to have a similar attitude, because it worked out so well for us the first time.
9. To escape conventional assumptions surrounding relationships
Ok, this is a bit of an obscure one… but I was reading this and it mentioned how when one enters into any relationship there are a bunch of unspoken assumptions that set the boundaries for that relationship. Monogamous relationships come bound with a whole bunch of unspoken assumptions. And it can cause unnecessary conflict and disappointment when a partner doesn’t meet certain expectations. Polyamory, on the other hand, sort of makes these assumptions less valid and encourages you to vocalise assumptions and expectations and in turn avoid the mess that might have been made if your ideas of what “a relationship” should be differ in some way.
My experience has taught me, however, that this is not a default when you enter into polyamory. I have had and observed relationships that have sort of fallen apart because of unspoken expectations… but it is at least widely acknowledged that polyamory simply won’t work properly if you don’t communicate. On the other hand, it seems that if you’re in a poly relationship and you don’t ask about something – that is usually looked on as being sort of unusual, rather than the norm. Because why wouldn’t you ask?
Having less clearly defined relationships is now more possible. If nobody is asking you to conform to “boyfriend/girlfriend” or whatever label (perhaps because you already have a primary partner) then you can kinda feel free to just let any new relationships be whatever they are. No labels. No pre-set expectations. Wonderful… of course, this could go either way – maybe not defining your relationship doesn’t let you talk about it enough… orrr maybe your relationship is so undefinable, no matter how much you talk you’d never find the right word unless you made one up. Better to live without a label than to force yourself into one just for the sake of it.