Why I Don’t Support Polyamory

While watching The Office, I found myself disgusted by the overt displays of jealousy and insecurity between the Karen, Jim and Pam triangle. At times Karen was overtly rude and tried to police both Jim and Pam’s feelings in order to create her own comfort level. She tried (and failed) to control the situation. This also happened when Roy attempted to attack Jim (out of a sense of possession) and was often overtly aggressive toward Jim because of his attraction to Pam.

Some people might suggest that this is a pretty typical – albeit unhealthy – response to perceived infidelity. Neither

Flickr credit to: Igsinden

characters physically cheated on their partners and Pam insisted on staying with Roy despite their stark incompatibilities.

Granted, The Office is a fictitious example, but I would say that these relationships aren’t too far removed from the reality that they’re based on. According to this article published at Madame Noire, “Is Monogamy Really Possible?”, it suggests that because over 50% of both men and women admit to cheating; does that mean monogamy isn’t a viable option? Should more people begin to explore polyamory to curb cheating?

This implies that cheating is primarily sexual, not emotional or mental, which plays down the severity of a cheating spouse. For me, cheating is a sign of great personal weakness. It means you know so little about yourself that you are unable (or unwilling) to address issues of unhappiness. In Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden cheated on his wife for two years with Dagny for very similar reasons. He was attracted to Dagny, but he didn’t completely understand why. He was no longer attracted to his wife, but he didn’t completely understand why.

He divorced his wife when he realized what it was about their marriage (and her) that he had grown to dislike.

The very act of cheating (or wanting to cheat) is about escaping reality, not wanting to admit what’s wrong. I firmly believe that if more people had deeper self-introspective skills, cheating would be less of an occurrence. You would know immediately when and why a relationship ceased to be valuable to you, and you could come up with solutions. But by cheating, you’re admitting to yourself and the world that you’re too afraid of confronting any inner, personal truths.

Cheating is a personal choice, not en evolutionary one. 

Some might herald polyamory as preferable because the atmosphere creates one of open communication – which monogamous couples notoriously lack. But I sincerely believe that the perceived emotional perks of polyamory are achievable in monogamous relationships. Honesty, trust, communication – there is a reason why some people have been happily married for decades. 

So, what happens when you’re faced with a healthy, and fully functioning relationship? Do you pursue this with just one person or multiple people?

And there – we have the element of choice.

Here are some other blog posts that discuss this:

1. Eat the Damn Cake – “Fidelity – how big of a deal should it be?”

 

2. The Lion’s Historian – “a letter to the monogamous masses”

3. Arielle Loren – “Double gender standards: polyamory vs polygamy”

What about you? What you do believe in terms of polyamory, cheating, monogamy?

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Support Polyamory

  1. I have been polyamorous ever since I was a small child. In no way do I think that makes me bad or makes my feelings invalid. Cheating on your partner or hurting someone you love is not really equal to the individual being polyamorous. Those are things that any person does in bad conscious, irresponsibility, and disrespect.

    For me I’ve always felt like the odd one out. There has never been a time in my life where I have only loved one individual romantically. I would try to figure what is wrong with me until I realized that maybe nothing is wrong with me. I just… I can’t describe it, but I just feel like I have this love that is too much to be only directed at one individual. But why should it be only one? Is it because I grew up surrounded with this being the “norm?” I love making people happy and with all the wonderful and beautifully unique persons out there, why must I only love one of them?

    Is it hard? Of course. People have an inherit selfishness. Everyone wants to feel as if they are special or as if they are the “only one.” You never want to make someone feel like they aren’t important. But why are people like myself are left to feel like criminals? Criminals for validating and acknowledging our own feelings. There is nothing wrong with monogamy and any person in love and in a healthy relationship is a beautiful thing. But dont count out those who do not have a monogamous heart. We also want to feel happy and true to ourselves.

    • Just to clarify, I never insinuated that polyamorous individuals were somehow less human or criminals or any such thing like that. My post was examining the premise for which people try to dismantle monogamy – which I didn’t agree with. I wanted to debunk this idea that a cheating spouse automatically means that if that couple has been polyamorous, it wouldn’t have happened. Which, to me, is irrational.

      While monogamy is a personal choice, I do agree that it’s almost always conflated as being the ONLY choice. It was a really long time before I even knew what polyamory was or knew that it existed. This reminds me of a movie I saw, with Rosario Dawson, and this one character wanted to cheat on his wife but kept saying it was an “open relationship”. So I think that even when discussed in mainstream media, polyamory isn’t portrayed in a positive light. And polyamory is one of those things that unless you’re interested in it, you might not learn about it. I remember watching yet another movie, where people weren’t even sure if open/multiple-persons relationships existed or were possible. We’re told insistently – either through personal experience or through media – that monogamy is the only option available to us.

      So I do think that the discussion of alternative lifestyles needs to be addressed because if we don’t support someone else’s lifestyle, it helps to debunk issues of prejudice and hate when you can get a better understanding of that person. Or their lifestyle.

      Thanks for stopping by. How did you find my blog (since you’re new)? :D

  2. It’s an interesting and rather touchy subject, isn’t it? I’m not pro-polygamy, because women seem to get the short end of the stick whenever that happens, but I am all for consenting adults acting openly and responsibly, and I think that could leave room for polyamory. My good friend from college has always been a bit of a nymphomaniac. She’s been married for about two years and after many frank conversations, is exploring an open marriage. Her husband knows about and is friends with her lovers. Their marriage actually seems to be doing better now that my friend is getting her needs met.

    Now…not to paint too rosy of a picture, I think things have the potential to get complicated, messy, and ugly (even as they can in a monogamous relationship), and I also think that the more people involved, the messier it can get. (As a misanthropic asexual, I am unlikely to ever be in this situation myself.) But I don’t think it’s really my business to dictate what works and what doesn’t for someone else, and I disagree that polyamory is necessarily the result of lack of honesty or introspection.

    • Hey!

      I think polyamory is an interesting and touchy subject. I think because monogamy is really widespread as the lifestyle of choice – so anything outside of that gets a lot of attention.

      It’s cool that your friend’s marriage is doing better! *yay honesty* This actually reminds me of an episode of House, where a woman wanted an open marriage. Her husband came by the hotel room she was at to drop off some stuff for their kids. During the episode we discover that he didn’t have any other lovers, only his wife did, and we learn that he was complying with her wishes to make her happy. Generally, though, I haven’t seen a lot of stuff on TV or in the movies where anyone has an open relationship.

      I disagree that polyamory is necessarily the result of lack of honesty or introspection.
      When I said that, I was specifically talking about cheating. This idea that if a person is poly, he won’t cheat, because cheating is about the sexual not the emotional or the mental. But cheating in a monogamous relationship could be curbed if more people were honest with themselves about why they want to cheat – thus the honesty and introspection. I think that if a person can admit to wanting to be poly, I think that takes a good amount of introspection and honesty because there are a lot of biases about what poly is and how it functions.

      I didn’t mean to imply that polyamory is the result of self-deception or anything like that.

  3. I feel like you’re conflating cheating with polyamory, and imho, they’re really not the same thing. Cheating happens without the consenting knowledge of a partner; polyamory (theoretically, and often in practice) does not. There is no ‘cheating’ a person of anything.

    Some people have very high amounts of compersion and actually gain a quality of pleasure in a polyamorous relationship that they could literally not gain, in the same manner, in a monogamous relationship. Others aren’t looking for mutual trust, communication and so on – they have these things, they are realistic enough to know that not all of their needs can be met in their primary relationship for varying reasons (including – sometimes – reasons connected to ability or illness), and look for other ways to get some of their needs met.

    I’m fortunate that I know far more successful poly relationships, than unsuccessful ones, but that’s just likely a result of the great people that I know in my life.

    Anyway, I’m not sure – at least for me – you’ve actually explained why you don’t support polyamory. I think I can see why you don’t support cheating. I think I can see that you don’t see polyamory as an answer to problems in a monogamous relationship caused by cheating. But is that actually why you don’t support *polyamory* in all its forms?

    • I didn’t mean to imply that I’m conflating cheating with polyamory. I mostly wanted to talk about the reasons why some of what I’ve been reading feels that in order to stop or curb cheating, people should go into polyamorous relationships. Which isn’t a premise I accept and wanted to talk about in this post.

      Personally, I don’t really know anyone in any successful relationship, monogamous or poly. And I haven’t met very many people who successfully practice an open relationship either.

      Anyway, I’m not sure – at least for me – you’ve actually explained why you don’t support polyamory.

      Actually, I think you’re right. The inspiration for this post wasn’t about my rejection of polyamorous but about people who try to use it as a way to say that cheating won’t happen in an open relationship. My issue with polyamory is that it’s not something I’m designed for. I view polyamory as a type of relationship where the participants are actively attracted to various people, even while in an exclusive relationship. Polyamory allows these people to have more than one romantic relationship.

      I guess an honest answer would be that I’m not entirely sure. I mentioned in another comment that since I’m rarely attracted to others, that meant that monogamy is designed specifically for someone like me. But looking back on it, I don’t want to conflate being poly with always “being on and ready” so to speak. But, after spending forever trying to type out a response to your comment, I would have to say that I’m somewhere on the fence. As I read about polyamory, I find myself having less knee-jerk reactions, but I think I’m conflating acceptance of polyamory with wanting to TRY polyamory. But I know that when I see other questions about “if I would practice polyamory” my answer is always NO. I typically respond in like fashion: I’m a selfish person and I believe in selfish love. I only want to share myself with one other person. Period.

      So why don’t I support polyamory? It’s not for me, it’s not how I want to live my life or express my love. This also includes sex: I want to experience that with only one person, not multiples.

      I hope that answered some of your questions/insights. My premise is pretty straight forward but I feel as if I need to expand on it. Let me know what you think!

      Thanks for stopping by Pia! :D

      • Cheating can, and does happen in polyamorous relationships. And it’s considered cheating, or infidelity; and not polyamory. In fact, some people try and distinguish between cheating and polyamory, by renaming polyamory to ‘polyfidelity.’ But polyamory manifests in so many different ways for different people that polyfidelity doesn’t apply to everyone.

        I’m polyamorous. Granted, I’m a bisexual Gray A, which means that there’s not a great deal happening in that area pretty much ever; but that’s where I’m at. I’m happy for significant others to experience sexual and romantic attraction to others, and to follow through on that attraction in a safe, open, communicative way.

        But on the other hand, I have no problems with people who are monogamous or want to be monogamous either. For me, cheating is still cheating no matter what type of relationship you’re in, and it sucks either way.

        I do think that some people who cheat, are people who have suppressed their polyamory (due to it being ostracised, due to people not understanding, due to having a partner who would reject them for it), and who literally don’t know that there are poly people out there, or that they have other options. I don’t think that makes cheating okay. I don’t think that means that all cheaters are polyamorous (most just have poor impulse control, live in shitty relationships, can’t commit, or any other of the bazillion reasons people cheat).

        But, on the other hand, I do think that the western world generally promotes monogamy while crapping all over polyamory, and this creates a situation where people literally don’t know how to express themselves sexually and end up in very fucked up relationships trying to both be ‘themselves’ in a society or small social group that has no room for who they are. It’s not just poly people who end up in fucked up attempts at monogamous heteronormative sexual relationships because there’s no room in the world for their sexuality; it’s been happening to everyone on the LGBTQIA bandwidth forever.

  4. Monogamy is a choice. And it is more of an unnatural choice than Polyamory. There are people who are happy in relationships who still want to experience other people or who may develop emotional or sexual bonds with other people.

    Cheating is different from polyamory or open-relationships. Cheating can take place in either poly or monogamous relationships. It’s about deceit and non-consent. You can be totally honest in a monogamous relationship and there’s still that need of the other person to “possess” their partner. That’s a major problem and factor (it was seen in your example from “The Office”).

    • Hey! Thanks for stopping by. :D

      I’ve been thinking about this a lot – this argument of natural vs unnatural. It’s something I’ve heard and seen before and I’m not sure I entirely agree. Mostly because as animals, humans have certain natural processes similar to other living things, but humans also have a certain amount of consciousness which enables us to make certain choices. To suggest that ployamory is natural suggests that monogamy is contrived, which I don’t agree with. I think, at least historically, our species’ relationship to monogamy has been very specific. But as we ease more into women having more control over their bodies, and more language to describe what we’re experiencing, polyamory starts to seem less constrictive than monogamy. (But I’m not sure if that’s the point you were trying to make). So I think some of these positive changes can also be used to enhance our own relationship and understanding of monogamy.

      On an individual level, I am rarely attracted to more than one person at a time. In my last year of college, I had a year long crush on a girl who probably didn’t even know I existed. In the four years I attended school, I’ve been romantically interested in maybe 4 or 5 people (off the top of my head). And it was one at a time. And in regards to platonic relationships, it is very difficult for me to find others to bond with, and I struggle with creating deep friendships with people. Many of my closest friends I have known since I was a young teenager. So I would say that monogamy is a perfect choice for me because my emotions don’t find themselves conflicted over multiple people or finding several people at once attractive. I have also gone years of not liking anyone at all. To me, polyamory is about being open about your attraction to multiple people, particularly at once. I’m not like that. And I wouldn’t call my experience “unnatural” simply because it’s unusual, especially compared to many people my age.

      Yes, you’re right. With monogamy/exclusivity, there’s still that strong sense of “you’re mine”. And I wonder if that’s an inevitable consequence of being in a monogamous relationship. This was also seen when Jan thought Pam liked Michael, and was very (verbally) aggressive toward her. But I also think it’s interesting to point out that once Pam and Jim became exclusive, their relationship became rather admirable. They rarely bickered (at least not about anything that would escalate to a huge fight) and issues of them cheating on each other (or insecurity) never seemed to come up. They were very blissful – compared to the situation with Andy and Angela, where Angela cheated on Andy with Dwight and persisted in this relationship until they were peer pressured by the rest of the office to come forward. And in that situation, Angela didn’t understand why she was still attracted to Dwight, yet didn’t want to end her relationship with Andy.

      Thanks for your comment. :] I hope I can see you around more often!

  5. “This implies that cheating is primarily sexual…” I have to disagree. What you infer and what the author is implying are two different things. I think the only implication is that cheating inside a ‘monogamous’ relationship is so common that the idea of monogamy should be revisited. The piece doesn’t even mention whether said cheating was sexual or not.

    • From my understanding of cheating – how others in real life tend to define it and how blogs tend to discuss is primarily sexual, versus the “emotional” cheating that is sometimes discussed. And for many couples – at least in my experience – the act of kissing or having sex with another person is grounds for termination of a relationship. Granted, the blog post didn’t divulge too greatly into the TYPE of cheating that polyamory could “solve”, but I don’t think it’s far-fetched to assume that they meant “sexual/physical” cheating versus another kind.

      Also, like you quoted, I suggested “primarily” versus “specifically or only” sexual cheating. Also, the larger scope of polyamory for those who don’t practice or aren’t involved in it too deeply is that polyamory is about sex. I’m not saying that polyamory is ONLY or even primarily about sex. But what I’m saying is that the misconceptions around and about polyamory tend to be about people wanting to have sex with whomever they want. Which also leads me to believe that the aforementioned post is primarily about sexual cheating.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Being Poly or Mono is a choice. I am with you here.
    The key is communication with your partner. If both are open and okay with being poly then it’s a choice that both parties should make.

  7. This was an interesting post. I tend to agree with you that cheating is a choice and not an evolutionary one.

    I don’t know, at present, I have so little to say because everything you’ve identified is what I think. Having been cheated on in the past, I’m a little bias because it was the need to escape. And escaping prior to identifying the situation is just cowardice.

  8. You are absolutely right.

    I don’t believe in the saying, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” I’ve cheated on one boyfriend in the past, and that was primarily because our relationship was totally fucked and there was no saving it. In that instance, the bf and I lived together with another friend (helloooo Three’s Company jokes), but I hadn’t been able to get out of that house and into my own place. Our relationship was pretty much null and void, but my bf and I would still hook up simply because it was easy.

    If I’d been the woman back then four years ago) that I am now, I would have gotten the HELL out of there much sooner. Alas, I was a girl unable to own up to the facts that I was in a stupid situation, even though I KNEW going in that it was NEVER going to work (live with my boyfriend and share a two-bedroom apt with a coworker/bandmate/friend, and have to share ONE bedroom’s worth of space? No dice).

    I’ve no regrets about my actions, but I know FOR SURE that things would have turned out differently had I figured out how to get OUT of the relationship and work my single, fabulous self.

    It’s totally circumstantial, and again we’re back to the notion that everything we do and experience are CHOICES.

  9. To the author of the article; while I think you have some very valid points I feel like you’re missing an important part of polyamory and the motivation for choosing it.

    A large part of why I’m polyamorous is because I feel its selfish to tell another person in the context of a monogamous relationship “I am the only person who is allowed to make you happy.” “Your love is MINE and you may not give it to anyone else without betraying me.” While none of this is explicitly said, it is very much implied and the consequences for faltering are obvious and negative.

    Additionally, I feel monogamy places unreasonable demands and limitations on the individual. If John and Jane are in a relationship. each must completely fulfill the other’s physical, emotional, personal, and sexual needs. If for some reason one of them cant, the other is expected to either deal with it and go unfulfilled or to terminate the relationship. I concede that there are routes to meet some of these needs outside a monogamous relationship without breaking the monogamous aspect, however not all a person’s needs and desires can be met in this way.

    While I do agree openness and communication should be a goal of ANY relationship, I contend they are much harder to achieve in a monogamous relationship. If you have a relationship that involves multiple people, you have more than one person looking out for the health of the relationship and the people in it who can spot and call out when bad habits are developing. In monogamy, there can be a tendency to ignore problems in favor of more pressing things (work and general life chaos) until they become major problems because nothing is actively calling you out and saying “This is a problem and we need to deal with it.”

    With these points in mind, I hope its a little easier to see why many people choose to live this way.

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