What Do You Mean You’re Not Monogamous?

by Akwaeke Z Emezi

Random fact- I never dated until last year, at 22. It sounds weird because I’d been in relationships before, so I checked in with one of my best friends from college and asked her if I ever dated anyone. Sure you did, she said, you married him. Luls.

Dating for the past year has taught me important things about what I need from people I get involved with- my first relationship post-marriage taught me that when things aren’t working, sometimes trying to make it work is a waste of time, especially if you’re not happy. I learned that wanting to give someone their dream relationship doesn’t work if that’s not your idea of a dream relationship as well, and that adjusting your desires to fit what someone else wants is unfair to both people. Further down the line, I learned from someone else that compatibility matters…especially when it comes to being monogamous or not.

I never thought of how I handled relationships in terms of monogamy or nonmonogamy, those specific labels. It didn’t occur to me that there was a term for my preferences, and when it did, I freaked out because I thought, “How can someone want to be with me if I can’t give them what makes them happy?” Everyone I’d been involved with deeply wanted monogamy, and they seemed to be part of an overwhelming majority. I didn’t want to not be able to give that to them, but eventually I reached a point where I had to put my foot down, throw my hands up and say it: I don’t want to be monogamous. Never have. Ever. Ever. Just admitting that was step one, and step two meant that I had to get vocal about it from the jump, so that I wouldn’t end up dating monogamous people and mislead us both about what was possible.

Whoo, that led to some interesting conversations that raised my hackles. I’ve heard some blanket statements and generalizations about nonmonogamy that simply did my head in, so I think it’s about time we educate ourselves, open discussions, and learn from each other. Let’s tackle a few issues in bullet point, shall we? I’ll be using the term poly as a blanket term that encompasses polyamory and nonmonogamy because…well, it has only four letters.

● Poly people just want to sleep with a lot of people. You can switch this up with ‘poly people are greedy,’ ‘poly people just want an excuse to sleep around,’ et cetera – any format where it just gets reduced to sex. People practice many different forms of polyamory and nonmonogamy; sex might be a driving factor in some interactions, but in others, forming a romantic, spiritual or emotional connection is a priority. Generalizations like the above can be inaccurate and hurtful, let’s avoid them.

● Poly people just can’t commit. Oh, this one gets under my skin to no end. Some poly people want commitment, some don’t. Just like human beings in general. But to assume that because one is poly, one is incapable of commitment is…just…wrong. This one usually gets linked to the first one- operating under the premise that it is impossible to commit to a person if you’re busy smanging other people, i.e. commitment always = monogamy. False.

● Isn’t this the same thing as being a cheater? No. Cheating involves deceit and dishonesty, breaking an agreement you’ve made with someone. Being honest about your needs and what kind of relationship structure you can work with is something to be commended. Agreement-breaking happens in nonmonogamous relationships too, and it carries as much weight as it would in a monogamous agreement.

● What’s the point of being with someone if you’re going to continue smanging/dating other people? If you don’t want to be with a poly person, it’s simple. Don’t. I’ve had this argument thrown in my face, I’ve had a close friend get furious that I had the nerve to get married while nonmonogamous, even though my partner was well aware. When your commitment to someone looks different from the monogamous standard, it gets challenged and some people refuse to respect it simply because they don’t understand it or it’s something they could never see themselves doing, so they respond with criticism and contempt. Just…open your mind. Damn. I don’t go around asking monogamous people to justify their relationship choices or prove their validity to me. On the flip side, some people ask questions like this one in a genuine attempt to understand a relationship structure that differs from theirs #fairenough – as long as it’s clear that even if you still don’t get it post-explanation, that doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Also, poly relationships are so different, that you can’t expect one person to explain all the different permutations – it goes on a case by case basis.

● What if you change your mind and turn out to want a monogamous relationship? #blinks. Then I’ll date monogamously. I’m not seeing a problem here. I think relationship orientation can be fluid, just like sexual orientations can be. Whatever makes one happy, really.

● Did…did you just say relationship orientation?? I believe that for some people, being poly is innate and not a choice, in the same way as some people are just wired to be monogamous and couldn’t ever imagine living any other way. For me, I cannot be monogamous, not right now. If that changes in the future, so be it, but it’s not an option for me at present, which is why I identify as nonmonogamous. Sure, I could be in a monogamous relationship…just like I could technically be in a straight relationship -_- (I’m gay, by the way.).

● Polyamory/nonmonogamy is just the newest trend. People started saying this about natural hair, did you know? iCan’t

Feel free to add your own bullet points.

There are also a lot of myths that run in the opposite directions, such as claiming that poly relationships are ‘more evolved’ than monogamous ones, or that involve people treating monogamous people with disdain. Prejudice can run both ways in this case. Personally, I believe everyone should just do what makes them happy, but I do resent the fact that so many people treat being poly like it’s ‘less than’ and/or utter bullshit. I’ve had conversations with people who are vocal in their contempt and dismissal of nonmonogamous dating/relationships because they believe monogamy to be the one true way. I know some people tolerate nonmonogamy but secretly turn up their noses at it. I know monogamous people who respect nonmonogamy and simply say, “Hey, this is not for me but it’s not *less than* what I practice, so power to you.” I’m grateful for the latter.

So now, I turn it over to you. What are some preconceptions you’ve had about monogamy or nonmonogamy? Have you ever encountered someone who is extremely anti- one or the other? What’s your preferred relationship structure and the challenges you face with it?
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About the author
: Born and bred in the south of Nigeria, Akwaeke Z Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil free love advocate, genderqueer Nutri-C addict, and natural hair aficionado. In the space where parathas and palm oil meet, she dances reverence to dope beats and follows the Christ. As a queer bard, blogger and performer, Z infects a message of self-awareness laced thoroughly with love and bravery, believing that only in knowing and accepting oneself utterly can we truly be free. A current Brooklynite, they adore traveling and beautiful people, and are constantly pushing for a life free of fear and full of marvelous.

My preferred pronouns are she/he/they. Mix it up. Surprise me.

 

Akwaeke Z Emezi
Drag King| Bard | BloggerMilliner
www.akwaekeemezi.com

 

 

Originally published on bklyn boihood. Republished with permission.


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65 Comments

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    Great article. Above all people’s way of wanting to live should not be met with negative reactions that could be perceived as agressive and hurtful, which is what exposing the facts and reducing ignorance, such as you have done, can help prevent.

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    My preconception of nonmonogamy is that it must be really timeconsuming/require massive amounts of effort? Other than that, I’m down with it, although I’ve never actually tried it myself. I think it’s vastly preferable to the cycle of cheat – lie – repent that some so-called monogamous relationships have going on. Be honest with yourself and those around you. It’s the most important thing.

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      that’s my preconception too i think — that it takes a lot of time. i’ve had open relationships kinda, and i dated a couple for a few months …. but i think a barrier for me w/r/t actual polyamory would be that my favorite part of having a relationship is that i don’t have to go out and meet any more human beings and can just stay in my room and it counts as a social activity because there is one other person there. because i’m weird and antisocial.

      but i’ve never thought there was anything wrong with polyamory or judged anyone non-monogamous. YOU DO YOU, etc.

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        This is so true, I love relationships with people but the mechanics of dating is draining. Too much of a hit and miss and to much crap. Long term I suspect I will choose stable and a little boring over variety and exciting. Besides always ways to spice up a stable relationship – like some sexxxy role playing and sex toys….

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      Dusty,
      You are right. It does take a massive amount of effort to balance everyone’s emotional and physical needs in a poly relationship. For some people, that effort is worth it. For others it would not be.
      I’ve been in a poly relationship for 11 years (one parter is the same and the others have changed – sometimes we dated the same “third” and sometimes we had different partners). I don’t actually recommend my lifestyle choice to anyone because it is so complex, but it is what works for us.

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      … but let’s face, any type of relationship worth having prolly is, right? I’m in my first poly relationship and indeed we occasionally have long processing conversations, but these don’t take any more time than the fights over cheating, etc. did in my previous relationships. so, yeah.

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    Excellent article and so well written. I tend to live by the idea that in a relationship–whatever happens, happens and if it makes me happy then I’m all for it. It sometimes feels like talking to a brick wall when trying to explain these things to someone who can’t fathom being non-monogamous!

    I think a lot of people criticize unnecessarily due to insecurity in their own relationships or a fear that they secretly want some different lifestyle (albeit, way off from what they’re imagining) and they’re too afraid to admit it to themselves because society has indoctrinated us with the idea that monogamy is the ‘one, true way’ for relationships.

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      I think a lot of people criticise unnecessarily because, even though they might like to be poly themselves, they’re horrified at the idea that their partner might want the same privilege. Or, in some cases, they prefer to be mono themselves, but are afraid that their partner would really like to be poly if they knew it was an option. And, of course, the ultimate fear is that if their partner found somebody else via a poly relationship, they would leave them for the new person.

      It’s potentially a direct threat to their own relationship in a way that a stranger’s sexual orientation is not. *sigh* I wonder whether the increased media exposure poly is getting might result in poly folk being the next most-hated minority? I mean, look at what LGBT people have suffered just for existing, when we don’t threaten anybody’s relationship.

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        “the ultimate fear is that if their partner found somebody else via a poly relationship, they would leave them for the new person.”

        I think this is a legitimate fear, even if you’ve never been monogamous your whole life.

        I think another preconception that makes it hardest for me to understand a poly-relationship is that you’re talking about (at LEAST) a three-way commitment to never compete for the heart of one individual in the group (to give relatively equal love to each partner), and an added consensual agreement that IF there were to be a fourth or fifth, you would give them the same treatment.

        It just sounds so risky to me. But then, I’m a monogamous gay dude and I remember how some of these relationships have ended.

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          I think this is a great point. Everybody has been on the receiving end of being “dumped” and it is a horrible feeling. I have never believed that there is one special person that you just happened to find. Chances are, given enough looking, everyone will find someone at least as good, if not better than their current partner.

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          I think feeling like your partner may find someone better than yourself is a driving force in every relationship–gay/straight/bi/monogamous or not. I think everyone has that underlying fear that they’re not good enough. Those who are opened to being non-monogamous seem to be more confident in taking this on–not that the feeling goes away because they’re actually more confident, but perhaps just that they’re brave enough to tackle those emotions and talk them out with other parties involved.

          I’m sure it is a lot of work to keep that level of communication open between more than one person, but hell, it’s a lot of work for some monogamous couples to communicate. I guess it’s all a matter of what you’re willing to work for in order to find something that works for you and makes you happy.

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        And I agree with settlingbones’ post about monogamy not being the “one, true way.” I’m aware that everyone has their own experience, and it’s not my job to make comparisons and point fingers. I’m just giving my personal opinion.

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    Very thought provoking and helpful. I am lucky enough to see both sides first hand in my family, but still has not brought any real clarity for me.

    My maternal aunt is a flaming lesbian who very much lived the poly style. Never settled down with one partner and her house today looks like a museum of sex toys and the lesbian lifestyle (to this day, I am too embarrassed to ask her about how some of those things work). She is the sweetest lady on earth and I love her to death but that is one extreme….

    My parents are the other extreme of a monogamous relationship, my mother is bisexual but in a very committed relationship with my Dad. Both live very much a Bohemian lifestyle, very open about sex, but very committed to each other. They certainly, outwardly, really love each other.

    Personally, my libido runs pretty wild. This is way to embarrassing to go into detail at this point, maybe later, but suffice it to say that as long as I can remember, there were girls on cartoons, movies etc. that I was in love with and not afraid to act it out…..picture naked rolling around on the floor kind of acting out…..

    This is my way of saying that the poly lifestyle is appealing because I do love being with girls of all types but I also look at my parents and think ultimately that is what I really want.

    Is it a fantasy to want a single girl who loves me to death as much as I love them and who I can just totally fall into their arms and feel very comfortable with the silence of just holding each other?

    Ultimately what resonates with me is: do what comes naturally and feels right….but is it weird that I am not sure what that is?

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      I also want to do what comes naturally and feels right, which has caused me to have fluid relationships with people, interacting with everyone however feels naturally, not placing my relationships in hierarchies…and then I find that I still struggle with jealousy in situations I have myself worked hard to create. Then I also think I am weird and maybe don’t actually know what I want. Even though I’m pretty sure it’s what I want. Maybe it’s hard to get used to going poly, even if I want to, because I’ve never seen any other poly relationships, only traditional relationships. I’m not sure there’s anything to do about it all except keep going with it, and find out where it leads. And read Diane Di Prima’s autobiography obsessively.

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        Diane Di Prima has an autobiography?!?! I must acquire this and read it 100 times in a row.

        I am doing some couples therapy training and there is SO MUCH poly prejudice in the field. I mean, it’s called “Couples Therapy” and not “Poly Triad Therapy” for a reason. Real life example, from a meeting with many seasoned clinicians: “Well, this man has several random partners. Basically, he’s a BIGAMIST.” The whole room nodded. “So he’s polyamorous,” another person chimed in, to more nods. I said, “Sorry, I must interrupt: Sleeping around is not BIGAMY.” How can they make judgments about people when they don’t even understand the terms?! I have engaged many of many of my licensed colleagues on the subject of multiple partners, and they believe that having sex or romantic relationships with more than one person is “defensive” — that people only do it when there is something too terrifying about committing to one person. They try to back up this position with theories (which I will not name, because they are good, really helpful theories, which I do not want to malign here, and which have nothing to do with poly-anything). But usually, from the look on the faces, I can tell it just creeps them out! And it makes me sad because I’m currently monogamous but not necessarily forever! It makes me want to DO SOMETHING, but I’m not sure what, because I do not know enough about nonmonogamy to, like, present on it.

        Disclaimer: I know PUH-LENTY of therapists who are poly, or who are completely accepting of poly people.

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          Yes di Prima does, it is called “Recollections of my Life as a Woman” and it is changing my life RIGHT NOW.

          But yes! I am glad you are in therapy, with your open mind, making me more comfortable with the thought of ever potentially seeing a therapist!

          I think the problem is that a lot of people judge polyamory by standards of what makes a good monogamous relationship–like, maybe someone is poly because they are uncomfortable with committing to one person. Which might be a problem, or it might only be a problem if you assume committing to someone in a monogamous relationship is the only real goal. Same thing with the “poly people ‘just’ want an excuse to sleep around.” Well, yes, you know what? Obviously they do want to ‘sleep around,’ or, in less vaguely judgy terms, sleep with more than one person. But you don’t have to see that as an ‘just’ an ‘excuse,’ unless you are judging their actions by monogamous standards. If you don’t want a monogamous relationship, then…there’s no excuse-making occurring.

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          di Prima has some really fascinating looks at non-monogamous love too (alternating between what seems to be concessions to the ‘cool’ of the scene, and genuine feelings on the matter). There’s one scene where she talks about when her respect/desire to be in a relationship with one woman ended, when this woman comes to her and begs forgiveness for having been unfaithful. She writes:

          “I finally realized that the act might not have needed forgiveness but apparently Bonnie did. She needed more than that: she needed to act out and–worse–have me act out with her, this particular unsavory style of romantic drama. She would beg for forgiveness. I would be hurt and upset. I would forgive her and she would weep. We would put the roses into an old milk bottle. Something like that.

          Only thing was: I wouldn’t do it….It was uncool for one thing. For another, I didn’t believe people needed to be forgiven or given permission to make love. And then her assuming that I could possibly think I had this claim on her made me feel cheap and sleazy. Who did she think we had both been all these months, what did she think we’d been doing? What kind of love was she playing at, or believing, that could possibly include this ludicrous scene?”

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          My AS required reading list seems to grow exponentially daily. Just ordered Diane Di Prima’s autobiography from amazon. I expedited the order, can’t wait!!! Thanks!!!! I continue to be in awe of you guys.

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    this article was good readz. i’ve only ever been in a monogamous relationship, but if i ever decide to do relationships again ever (watching blue valentine and its giving me feelings) i wouldn’t rule out being in a poly one.

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    This is really relevant because my friend and I were discussing open relationships and nonmonogamy the other day, and she kept telling me how she’d lose all respect for anyone in a nonmonogamous relationship, and I was too angry at her for being close minded that I couldn’t really form words.

    So now I can send her this article. Thanks.

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    Wow, Akwaeke, thank you for posting these frustrations. This information really helps people. When I first felt monogamy wasn’t for me, I felt ashamed, and simply discovering the term “polyamory” on the internet gave me comfort. Discovering an online dating site dedicated to polyamory, and seeing people identify as poly on their profiles, blogs and videos showed me I had plenty of company and made me feel real potential. Years later, being quite familiar with all the poly stereotypes and the trouble people have understanding this lifestyle, it’s a real joy to see my thoughts once again reflected by someone else.

    As I’m sure you know, it’s not just the outsiders who are confused. I’ve found all the permutations of non-monogamy get us offending ourselves on occasion. Case in point, the infighting surrounding the term “polyamory”. Is it an umbrella term for all non-monogamy? Does it have a love focus that separates it from “open” relationships? I’d like to see anyone define polyamory without sparking a debate.

    Our tired little brains like to group things together, put labels on them, and fill our lack of knowledge with assumptions. We all do it – we have to. But thanks for giving me a page to send people to when they’ve grouped, labeled, or assumed incorrectly.

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    These bells are ringing true within my own life. My partner of 8 years (monogomous) and I have recently started dating a third. It has definetly been a crazy ride so far emotionally but I also find it to be a liberating experience. We’ve had our hard times within the past of her falling in love with other people. And I have had strong feelings for other women too. It was never a sexual thing and the only way we worked through it was honesty about her feelings and communication. We chose to be committed to each other and we take that very seriously still. Whoever we bring into this relationship will also be expected to value commitment just as much, but with both of us. And we will continue to stick to our values as a couple, but also incorporate them into the new addition.

    It is not about sex, but that is a nice perk! There is of course a lot of issues that go along with adopting this lifestyle such as jealousy. I thought I would handle it better but It’s been challenging. Above all is the importance to communicate these feelings and work through them together. They are just feelings afterall. Just like love is just a feeling. Being with my wife so long, I’ve learned that love alone doesnt hold a relationship together. It takes work and trust and so many wonderfully horrible things.

    When the idea of this was brought to me (by her) I was so confused becuase I have always felt that monogomy was the reason our relationship was so successful, but after thinking about it, I realised that we were both just putting limitations on our love. It felt more like another form of oppression desguised as self dicsipline. *I know my spelling sucks today!

    We are still only about a week into this whole situation so these feelings are all still very new, but from what little experience I’ve gained, I realise that I love watching her be courted…It’s like why should’nt someone else like her as much as I do? She is that wonderful that she deserves to cherished more than I can do alone.

    I feel much like I did when I realised I was a lesbian. Its a blessing when your mind opens up. I am very excited that I can be more open minded and experience that self discovery all over again. Thankyou for this article, really!

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    I think honesty about where you are at – I mean total honesty is key in monogamy or nonmonogamy. I’m in my mid 40′s and have been through both nonmonogamous and monogamous relationships. I am speaking from personal experience only and I am very happy with my monogamous relationship of now 7 years. Maybe its wired in me, maybe its age or hormones slowing down but even if I am attracted
    to someone else, I don’t have the same urge need or desire to see that through anymore. Then again, I have really great satisfying sex with my partner and I am very much in love. We have genuine chemistry which I think is key in a monogamous relationship. Yes friendship and loyalty is terrific but you’ve got to have that schwing. When I was younger I couldn’t help being non monogamous, too horny and too many cute women plus there was a general encouragement to be non monogamous. But ultimately I ran into hurt feelings, lack of trust, STD’s, and general lack of passion and romance. Something about monogamy seems to ignite romance. For me. And basically I want to live a happy life, not live out some theoreticl model. That said, I do not believe that my relationship style is for everyone and I like reading articles like this to be able to discuss everyone’s thoughts and experineces

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    I find polyamory very interesting, but not at this point in my life. I do, however, want to learn more about it, because I’ve given some thought to it in the past.

    This was a great post. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Lemme go curl up with my copy of The Ethical Slut.
    : )

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    It’s interesting, poly people seem to get a lot of the same stereotypes as bisexuals (that it means you can’t commit, that it’s just the latest trend, etc.)

    Thanks for this, I definitely learned a lot from reading this.

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    “There are also a lot of myths that run in the opposite directions, such as claiming that poly relationships are ‘more evolved’ than monogamous ones, or that involve people treating monogamous people with disdain.”

    I’m glad you included that bit. I only have enough energy and patience for one person at a time (if that), so polyamory is just not for me. I knew a lot of poly people back in college and I’m a Pagan, and polyamory is probably a little more common in that subculture than it is in the general population. I’ve had so many people get all snide about me being monogamous and I’ve been flat out told to my face that non-poly people are just in denial and I’m hopelessly naive to expect to have a long-term happily monogamous relationship some day.

    And I was just like, is that really necessary? Why do people have to be like that? Why do people keep trying to turn things into heirarchies, with whatever group they happen to be a part of at the top? Can’t we all just be happy for each other that we’ve all figured out what it takes to make ourselves fulfilled and are working toward meeting people who want the same things?

    CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?

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    A-GREED.

    Claiming that one way of doing things is “more evolved” or “better” than another is, well, similar to what got everyone into this mess in the first place. Except with religion or heteronormativity instead of evolution.

    I guess what I’m worried about is that in the future monogamous folks won’t be allowed to marry just one person? (HAHA LIKE THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN.)

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    This was a great article. Definitely one of my faves from autotraddle.

    I’m a bit conflicted about poly relationships. If other people want to do it, that fine. But I feel like I could have either type of relationship. There have been women who have appealed to me on certain levels – intellectually, physically, comically, etc – but not on an overall level. So, do you settle for their specific qualities and look for someone else to add to the relationship to fill the other gaps, or wait and look for a single girl who has more overall compatibility to your personality? The former option seems like it would be telling the person that they are not good enough to fulfill your needs individually. The latter is more traditional.

    With poly relationships it’s narrowing the available field drastically because most people prefer strictly monogamous relationships. This can be difficult in an already smallish lesbian/genderqueer community. But it can also be difficult to locate one person who has all of the important assets on your list.

    For me, monogamy or non monogamy stems from attempting to find most/all of someone’s wants/needs within one relationship package.

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    My first real exposure to polyamorous relationships came through reading biographies of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. Their whole circle was seemingly poly and both Simone and Jean Paul had numerous lovers at a time. Just thought I’d share an example of a high profile intellectual couple that lived a poly lifestyle.

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    This was a good article because I liked how it refrained from judging on either end of the spectrum. I’m in college, I’m in an activist circle, everyone (including me) loves Dan Savage to death…so I often feel like “monogamy” is the type of relationship that is shunned here!

    I met my first girlfriend at 19 and told her I was a through and through romantic, monogamous, etc. She was bisexual and said she saw sex differently (just a thing you “did” like skiing with someone or bowling….strike 1 against her…sex is not like skiing or bowling…skiing isn’t even like bowling…every action is unique and comes with its own set of meanings…obvi…*deep sigh*…eye roll…) and had a more open attitude toward relationships…mainly because she couldn’t commit to just having sex with girls for her whole life because having sex with guys was “different”. They had things girls didn’t have. Whoa, strike two for her and strike one in my “prejudice toward polyamory” book (I’m not “enough” for someone or can never “satisfy” them even if THEY satisfy me…ouch…)

    Ultimately, I like sex a good 2-3 times a week and girl could go a month without it. Ok, so this is a polyamorous person who doesn’t even have time for ONE girl much less two. Strike three for her and strike two for polyamory (there is just no way in hell a polyamorous person could have the time to give me the kind of relationship I would want…how could they have the time to give any girlfriend the relationship she wanted, assuming both also had their own friends, career, and family? You must have non demanding friends and a low stress career then and never see your mom and pops ahah)

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    Can I respectfully agree to disagree (which is what I wish Christians would do)? I just don’t think that its right, morally. But I’m not saying you’re a bad person, I’m saying that I view poly as I view gambling, drinking a lot, or texting while driving…except not bad like that, since you’re not hurting people. Let me see if I can drag myself out of the hole I dug…I don’t believe its right, but it doesn’t matter what I think, because I’m not supposed to judge you, and its your business. And kudos to you, because I could never have the time/love to devote to more than one person.

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      So what, exactly, do you think is immoral about it? Who is it harming, what are poly people doing wrong?

      Regardless of how respectfully you do it, it is problematic to equate polyamory with dangerous, impulsive or addictive behaviours. That’s inherently disrespectful, in fact.

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    What?! Not Monogamous?
    Don’t you want to have that deeper connection? Passed the physical, instead of something that makes your sexual parts feel good? That feeling you get that are indescribable, that makes your whole self float in ahhhh…your true soul mate. That love you have for the one person who will be with you forever. Like the fairy-tales you’ve heard as a child of the princess finding her prince (princess). If we don’t believe in something like that, how can our human race exist without making those connections that bring us together, the love of one another. How someone can know all your secrets,who knows your true self. Someone who will hold you & be there when your whole world feels like its crashing down. Or you could be that person. Cause being alone is hard.
    The work you put into these relationships is just leading you to your true love. Even in our LGBT society. And you may laugh & make fun of but I really don’t care. Cause unless you’ve experienced it then you won’t understand :)

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      Is Lauren’s comment (^^ above) written ironically? Just in case it isn’t: I don’t know if a “true soul mate” exists (I say this 17 years into a marriage to my presumed “soul mate”), and “true self”? — I’m constantly evolving, so I don’t know what my “true self” would be, although I think that honesty and truth about where one’s self is at, one’s emerging growth edges, is generally the best policy. And fairy tales? What I’ve come to believe is a fairy tale (for me at least) is the notion that sleeping with one person for 50-odd years (the rest of my effin’ life?!) somehow leads to making a “deeper connection.” ‘Cuz I have experienced it, and I don’t understand.

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        oh ok I took it more literal and not in just. But your partner is your best friend, & in life you’ll come to see its not all about sex. And eventually it won’t matter who else you can be with, its just that one person. Thats what I meant about soul-mates in a small way.

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          There are different ways of being poly. For example, I am polyfidelitous. I have two partners. I have been in a relationship with one partner for 20 years, and with the other partner for two years. I love them both and regard them both as my best friends and my soulmates. We live together very happily in the same home. None of us is interested in casual sex or hook-ups, and in fact I have only ever had three sexual partners in my life (including my two current partners).

          Believe me, our relationship is no more ‘all about sex’ than any monogamous relationship is. It’s about building a life and a relationship together. Like any other relationship, it’s hard work, but it’s rewarding for us because the alternative is not being together, and that is unthinkable.

          We face additional stresses and problems socially compared with those in mono relationships because relatives and society generally just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that our relationship is actually, genuinely about love and affection, not an irresistable compulsion to have perpetual rampant three-way sex sessions.

          And having said all that, I see no problem with those who do poly differently than we do. No problem with open relationships, with friends-with-benefits arrangements, or even casual hook-ups, if that is what has been agreed within a relationship, and if everybody involved is happy with that (and safe, of course!). It doesn’t mean that people in such relationships love each other any less than I love my partners or than mono people can love one another. It just means that we all have different needs, which must be met in different ways. These needs can change over time with age, with child-raising or other family responsibilities in life. Or they may just be unique to the make-up of each individual. It really doesn’t matter, as long as we can all live a life that we find healthy, loving and personally fulfilling.

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    The preconceptions I’ve run into are mostly the ones laid out in the article. Primarily the cheating one: “But how was it cheating if you were in a non-monogamous relationship?” Yeah.
    Another big one I ran into a lot was that non-monogamous automatically meant I wanted to have group sex. Uh no. I’m sure there are people out there that are all for that but not me.
    It was frustrating, and still is even though I’ve since realized it’s not for me. But I still support and defend poly relationships when I can.

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    Z, baby, this was an AMAZING ARTICLE. Way to make your FB wife proud.

    SMANG IT? Yes.

    On a serious note, you have definitely opened my eyes to further understand polyamory love/ non-monogamous relationships as you currently experience them. It is a difficult thing to wrestle with when it comes to feelings, emotions, boundaries and expectations, but at the end of the day, it’s about mutual happiness.

    Awesome article, hon.

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    I’ve had great experiences with nonmonogamy and one that didn’t work out. A lot of people have told me it’s impossible for poly people to cheat on each other. I don’t agree. I was once in a poly relationship and our stipulations were
    1)full disclosure of who else you were sleeping with
    2)no sleeping with other partner’s family members or close friends

    She broke both rules by having a secret affair with my best friend (after being told it was a no-go) and people told me I didn’t have the right to be hurt because we both had other lovers so I shouldn’t be surprised or upset. The incident proved to me that it’s not about the sex so much as the agreement that counts. Have sex with as many people as you like as long as you don’t break an agreement.

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    With multiple sexual partners comes an increased risk of STDs.

    I do not think less of people who have more sexual partners or of people with STDs. But the behavior that propels epidemics of STDs: multiple sexual partners in an insular marginalized community that is rarely targeted or even included in any safe-sex education campaign.

    Just because we haven’t seen infection rates like that of gay male communities or black communities, doesn’t mean we never will. We have several factors in common.

    And please don’t come back with “Anyone with a vag already knows.” I’m still answering questions like “How do lesbians have safe-sex?” And “You mean you can get AIDS just by fingering a girl?”

    When I say “multiple sexual partners” I’m not only referring to polyamorous people, but serial monogamists and people who claim to be monogamous but cheat.

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    Just wanted to add something else. Even though nonmonogamy didn’t work out for me, I don’t regret anything. . . When I was in my teens, twenties and even early thirties, I enjoyed everyone I was with and it was part of my journey. When I was 20 an older 40 ish lesbian told me to sleep around, you really don’t know what you want in life till at least 35. And it was true for me, even though I hadn’t planned on doing that. I had to “sow my wild oats” I guess and I do believe its important for some women to do that. But when my love came knocking the second time around at 39, I was truly ready.

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    Wow, it’s like AS read my mind. I was just talking to my crush, in the library, about this. Kind of. We were talking about relationships and stuff. Except neither of us really know any of the terms that are included with polyamory. So, it went this way “I wish I had a boyfriend who was cool with me having sex with girls,” she said. “I just want to have sex with random girls all summer…” I said. Then she said something about meaningless sex. I tried to explain “It wouldn’t be meaningless, it’s not like I’d do them and leave. I just don’t want commitments.” Which still sounded bad. I clarified “Relationships never work out for me”. Did I mess up here?

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    I think a world where everyone was poly would be nuts. And I’m very skeptical of women who want to be some dude’s wife/girlfriend but still sleep with women. To me that seems something much different than simply believing open relationships. But hey, to each their own. I am a one-woman gal and I expect my lady to be the same, for many reasons that seem obvious enough and would require too much effort to write out right now.

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    I’m so glad this article came out right now…this is something I’ve been questioning with myself for a while and it’s nice to have some one articulate these things so nicely. Thank you for a wonderful article Z!

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    I always thought I’d be monogamous until I learned about polyamory. I thought I wanted the romantic dream of one perfect person. Pssh. Hey, I’m 22 and just started dating last year. I have never been in a relationship either, though. I am finally starting to get involved with someone who happens to be poly, but single. And our connection is not such I feel myself falling in love, getting infatuated, etc. It’s just a very physically intimate and friendly thing. I think my journey might actually start with me being poly. But I’m afraid, ’cause I don’t want to turn anyone off when I’m just beginning to explore and figure out what I want, by saying like, “I’m seeing someone, but it’s, uh, not necessarily what it sounds like. I’m available.” Heh. Being a minority creates endless communication issues!

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    I feel your pain, Louche. I’m in only my second relationship (also 22) and I really wish I could explain my current ‘boyfriend – not boyfriend – on a break – we still love each other – fine with each other sleeping around’ situation better. I also wish I could try being with him, the girl I’ve liked for ages, and even her boyfriend if he was cool with it. I wouldn’t want to sleep with her boyfriend, but I’m fine with her sleeping with him, and fine with her sleeping with my notboyfriend, and fine with him sleeping with my notboyfriend. I would love to be able to make that work. I feel like it would resolve quite a lot, but it’ll never work out, so I’m happy to be with just him because I love him and he would probably always be my ‘primary’ in a certain kind of polyamory. (And this is not just ‘i want an excuse to sleep with that girl cause i’m greedy’, either. We have been going back on forth over whether to be together for years.)

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    Great posts
    I am a strong mono. Until now I didn’t even know that nonmono was possible. I am not against anything if it is how someone really feels. I have been with my partner for 12 years now. She has just discovered she is nonmono. Though I feel that it is not possible,and just a reason to see someone else I see that she truly feels nonmono. “Sorry for my wording, I just don’t how nonmono can even be possible, and am having a hard time understanding the concept” we have 2 great kids 3 and 4. She has said goodbye to her other person to try to make us work. I would like to know from other nonmono people if you think she will ever be happy with a person that is as strong mono as me. I feel hurt cheated on and like I really don’t matter to her. I now know that that may not be the case but it is how I feel. Will she ever be truly happy being mono when she is a nonmono? Help me!

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    I have been searching for an article like this forever. I have been searching for a community like this for about 5 years and I am excited to actually be able to talk about this in a community of people who are able to accept that not every relationship has to have the same label.

    I am bisexual. Even typing that makes me feel nervous, as I feel like there is massive stigma attached to the word. More so because I have never had a “real” relationship with a woman, 95% of people assume that I am doing it for “attention” or tell me that I am “greedy” or it’s a phase.

    It’s not.

    I have known that I was genuinely into women since the age of 12. I remember watching a movie at a sleepover with my friends in year 7 and seeing two girls kiss for the first time made me feel something I had never felt before. I have always been a very sexual person and masturbated a LOT as a teenager (As all teenagers do, I assume). But for me, being bisexual was less about the “sex” with other women (though that’s a HUGE plus, don’t get me wrong).

    I used to fantasise about being in relationships with women AND men, about holding hands, going on romantic dates. The older I got, the more I realised what this actually meant and that, if I was going to label it I was probably bisexual. This made me very uncomfortable as I attended an all girls school and the few girls that came out were bullied incessantly. As a result, I only acted upon feelings I had for men as it was more “socially acceptable”. Now, at 24, I would have zero hesitation into pursing a long term, committed relationship with a woman. But back then I was terrified about being labelled and judged.

    My parents and grandparents are also VERY conservative and whilst I was not ashamed of my sexuality, I was afraid that they would never accept me being with a woman. I have always been a “relationship person” and I have been in my current relationship for five (almost 6 years). I told him I was bisexual after 3 years together and he was surprised but very supportive. I told him that whilst I had never had a relationship with a woman, it was something that I really yearned for, not just on a sexual level, but an emotional level.

    I have always felt very connected to women and have often had strong romantic feelings for women whilst we were together. We talked a lot and engaged in group sex with another couple that were going through similar issues. It was a complete revelation for us. I finally felt like I was with someone who understood me, who trusted me and who I trusted with every fibre of my being. My partner is very comfortable with me pursuing sexual and romantic relationships with women, as long as I communicate my feelings and and continue to nurture our partnership. He is monogamous in the sense that he does not want to pursue other woman, and our boundaries are very specific. We are very open to having a loving, committed relationship with other couples or other people and this acceptance and lack of labelling or adhering to conventional ideas of what a relationship “should be” means that we had a level of trust that is out of this world.

    We communicate so well with each other (you have to when you are letting other people into something you have worked so hard to build) and we love our relationship. I just wish our friends would stop judging us for our sexual decisions as we are so happy together. I doubt we would have lasted almost 6 years together if we weren’t madly in love! it works for us, so who cares!

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