You may be familiar with the term polygamy, which refers to a married man or woman having more than one spouse at a time: a practice that is illegal in many cultures and frowned upon in most others. Polyamory is a modern adaptation of this, which simply refers to someone having more than one loving or sexual relationship at a time.
Modern-day polyamorous relationships, or “open relationships”, have a somewhat negative reputation in modern society and I think this is largely because they are misunderstood.
I thought I would share some of my own insights into polyamorous relationships and explain how, whether you approve of the underlying principles or not, they can help enrich how you approach your own relationships and the attitudes and mindsets surrounding them…
True monogamy doesn’t exist anymore:
Obviously you will find examples of people who stay with their childhood sweetheart or their first romantic partner for life, but this is a rare occurrence in this day and age. Most people who claim to be monogamists are actually what we call “serial monogamists”.
A serial monogamist will have many romantic partners or lovers throughout their lifetime but they will always be asynchronous, as in they will wait for one relationship to end before moving on to the next one.
This is the most common way to approach relationships and the way modern society teaches us to behave towards them. It can be argued that marriage was originally created to artificially impose this standard. Unfortunately, human behaviour doesn’t always mirror the mass ideal, which is why infidelity and divorce still occurs so frequently.
You don’t have to be either a polyamorist or a monogamist:
Relationships are dynamic and our desires and attraction are extremely changeable as we develop throughout our lives. It is for this reason that polyamory and monogamy can be used in conjunction with each other, depending on what our relationship desires are at the time. It can be argued that everyone possesses an inherent agreement for both mindsets; we just tend to force one way of living due to learnt behaviour and cultural standards.
Assuming you do ultimately want to be in a happy and fulfilling relationship with one special person who surpasses everything you are looking for in a relationship, how do you think the best way to find that person is?
You could stumble from relationship to relationship hoping that eventually you happen upon someone who meets at least some of your standards, or you can skew the odds in your favour of finding that special person by not restricting yourself to a specific method of dating.
Polyamory and exclusivity:
In my experience, polyamory works best when it is viewed as a means to an end. Polyamory is a difficult setup and mindset to sustain in the long run – and this has been proven to me by every so-called polyamorist I have ever met or analysed – but it is actually a great way to shortcut the process of finding that special person.
Every successful monogamous relationship I have been in has come about because that person has actively made me stop WANTING to be with anyone else, not because the relationship is convenient or there was a lack of abundance in my dating life at the time.
Similarly, all my previous relationships ended because we were starting to lose that desire for exclusivity. Although there are many reasons for a relationship’s demise, every single one can be linked to this theory: the desire for someone else is due to one’s emotional or physical needs and desires not being completely fulfilled!
There is no reason to lead someone to believe they are exclusive if they are not, or if they are not yet. This means that when you are in an exclusive relationship with someone, it is far more sincere.
Is polyamory cheating?
People often think that polyamory and indeed open relationships are like cheating on your partner because of their unconventional setup. It is actually the complete opposite of cheating! Polyamory is about being completely honest and respectful about your intentions and desires as soon as they emerge. The alternative is to either suppress any other desires you may have, or worse, act on them secretly and cheat on your partner. Which do you think is better?
As I wrote about in the article Cheating on a partner does not matter, cheating in a relationship is only an issue because it goes against the assumed values of the relationship. If everyone is at least open to the idea of polyamory as a principle, whether currently in an exclusive relationship or not, no one will ever feel the need to cheat. Feelings and desires for other people can be acknowledged and discussed long before anything actually happens as a consequence.
Being open-minded towards polyamory:
I am personally in a monogamous relationship at the moment, but that is certainly not out of principle or obligation and wholly because it is what Heidi and I both want at this moment in time. We both love each other and work on making the relationship fulfilling as well as being void of any insecurities or negativity. I can only speak for myself but due to that, I haven’t even had an inkling of desire for anyone else over the past few years.
It is however fathomable that at some point in the future as we change and develop, these desires may change for one or both of us, at which point because we are both aware of the anatomy of both polyamorous and monogamous relationships, we will be able to discuss and adapt as soon as anything arises.
Learning to make relationships lasting and continually happy and fulfilling will in theory nullify the need for this mindset, but it is still useful to understand so as to avoid the typical way that a relationship ends: shrouded in negativity and contempt! 🙂