Poly Pocket: This Is How Bisexual Comedian Gaby Dunn Does Poly

Feature image of Gaby Dunn by Robin Roemer.

When there aren’t any models for how you want to move through the world, it’s harder to move through the world. There’s no one right way to do ethical non-monogamy, just as there’s no one right way to do ethical monogamy, and no way is better or worse than any other, just better or worse for those involved. Poly Pocket looks at all the ways queer people do polyamory: what it looks like, how we think about it, how it functions (or doesn’t), how it feels, because when you don’t have models you have to create your own.

Gaby Dunn is a 28-year-old polyamorous cis white woman. “I say bisexual but then people say no you mean pansexual and then I say fine queer and then people say queer is a slur how dare you so WHO KNOWS.” She’s a writer and YouTuber and actress/comedian.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.


Carolyn: When you say “poly,” what do you mean?

Gaby: I’ve said poly as a broader catch-all, but it’s weird because I do YouTube videos for a mostly younger audience so I think they’re just learning these terms and aren’t surrounded by any sort of different relationship models. Unless their parents are swingers in the suburbs. Or not even kids, for adults who watch the channel who are used to mainstream TV and movies. I try to… simplify. You can see them arguing in the comments about what it means. They’ll say, “Is he her boyfriend? Why does she say she has a girlfriend in this video? Why is she talking about dating?”

I have a primary person and then I can hook up or casually date or even have other relationships. So while I’ve been with my boyfriend, I had a girlfriend for a while. I do date/have somewhat serious relationships with other people. This girl was on and off for like a year and was a big emotional part of whatever else was going on. I think non-monogamy is just physical, right? And poly is relationships? That’s how I understand it but I could be wrong!

And I don’t always have to have one primary person either. I had two people I was seeing for a while who were pretty even in terms of how often I saw them and the level of commitment.

Carolyn: How do your relationships impact each other?

Gaby: I like having all my friends be friends so I think that influences how I do relationships. I want everyone to hang out! Which can be sort of shortsighted or selfish because I sometimes don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to. But it helps me a lot if they all get along. The last situation fell apart because of fighting between my boyfriend and the girl I was seeing. They were seeing each other some. They broke up but she wanted to keep seeing me, and that became a problem because now she was his ex.

Carolyn: Does the way you approach relationships impact what happens when they’re over? (Personally I seem to know a lot more poly and also queer people who are friends with exes, for instance.) Or maybe a better question is, how would you characterize your approach/attitude toward relationships?

Gaby: The queer people, everyone stays friends. But I’ve also never had the bad experiences with queer people that I’ve had with cis men so… Take from that what you will, world.

“That always seemed missing to me in monogamy. How can you be with this person and never talk to them about these things? But then I think about how hard it is to do and of course no one wants to do it.”

I think people would say I’m maybe too loose? Not enough rules? Which is a big thing I like about poly actually. It forces me to express myself and emotions in this very clear way that is VERY unnatural to me. I think of the poly discussions I’ve had and I feel like I sound pained. I talk so slowly and have to be so direct and explicit and it’s a thing I don’t think people in monogamous relationships ever have to do?

That always seemed missing to me in monogamy. How can you be with this person and never talk to them about these things? But then I think about how hard it is to do and of course no one wants to do it.

Carolyn: I think it’s a lot easier to do/not do when you’re in a relationship there are lots of models for instead of… not. What were your monogamous relationships like? How did you start to explore poly?

Gaby: That’s true. I think people don’t think it’s an option, or at least a viable option. My monogamous relationships were not great! But they also always had weird caveats for being open. I remember saying to college boyfriends, “Make out with whoever you want. Just don’t lie to me.” Before I even knew what poly was! My only concern was, “Don’t lie to me.” They always did. I think because they thought it was a trick.

Even grown men have been like, “This is a trick.”

It’s not a trick! Just don’t lie!

Okay but how can I lie then?

Just don’t!

Seems like a trick, no thanks.

In high school, I had a boyfriend but I was obsessed with this girl and I had this very teen movie thing in my head that hooking up with girls didn’t count, reinforced by, idk, every TV show and movie I ever saw. So for a long time, poly was like, “I have a boyfriend. I’m gonna be with hot girls too. Is that chill?” And the boy would be like, THE MOST CHILL. THE BEST. THIS IS GREAT. Except a high school boyfriend who lost his mind when he found out I’d been making out with this girl. He was really upset! And I remember feeling so confused. Why is he mad? It’s just a girl? Shout out to that guy for getting it.

With my college boyfriend, I was like, we can be together and see other people too. (I still didn’t know the word.) And he took that to mean, I will lie to you constantly about where I am and who I am with and also hook up with people in front of you even though you are clearly mad. All of college was me being like, “This can’t be right! You’re not supposed to lie!” And him being like, “I will now lie all the time.” I felt crazy. Because “don’t lie to me, but do what you want” seemed so simple???

And I was like, other people must be able to pull this off.

I was monogamous again for a while, and cheated on both those people and felt resentful. And then I dated another dude who was a repeat of college dude where I’d say, “Literally all I want is for you not to lie to me,” and he’d go, “Seems like a trick,” and then I found out all he was doing was lying and he’d fall back on “WELL YOU WANTED TO BE OPEN.” So it was my fault he was cheating because I was the poly one.

Then I dated a poly girl who was lovely, if a little too jealous.

Somewhere along the way I met a comedian named Myq Kaplan who’s pretty big and openly poly and talks about it and does jokes about it on TV and such. He’s rad. He became my best friend around that time and he was like, here are some books you’re going to be okay.

“I AM NOT WRONG. I am not broken! This is just different but it doesn’t mean I’m a fundamentally bad person!”

Carolyn: When did you evolve into your current form?

Gaby: Myq really normalized everything and I saw this successful, happy dude just talking about his life on TV and stage. And he sent me The Ethical Slut and he sent me links to Dan Savage and was like, “Right? Right?”

After the you-made-me-cheat-by-being-poly guy, I was so angry. And that anger became, “Okay, I AM NOT WRONG. I am not broken! This is just different but it doesn’t mean I’m a fundamentally bad person! I don’t have to be good enough for anyone!” Around that time I dated that girl who was great, but I think she wanted someone to be obsessed with her (which she’s since found so that’s a relief/great), and then I met my boyfriend.

He was not an obvious answer at all. He was monogamous and like, on paper the type of dude who says, “My father will hear about this!” But that was the first time I explained everything to someone and they were like, “Oh cool.” And I was like, you’re… fine? And he was like, sure yeah I’m interested in learning this. He’d had relationships fall apart in the past because of crushes he had on other people and didn’t understand why that had to be the case, so I think he was looking for poly too but hadn’t found it until he met me. And with him, it’s been what I fucking thought poly was all along! I knew I was right! You can just not lie!

Because he never thought it was a trick. He was like, “Oh, if I tell you this I’m just telling you. You’re not trying to trap me or get information to use again later.”

FUCKING FINALLY SOMEONE GOT IT

Carolyn: Haha

Gaby: I think monogamy is painted as a war between two people. Like any sitcom! Or even, I’ve had a lot of married men come after me in my life (I must give off a vibe?) and I always say, “Why don’t you just tell your wife you’re talking to someone?” And they laugh like I’m naive. One of them told me, “There are things married people keep from each other.” That really sat wrong with me. Why would I want that? Why would I want to be in a long-term relationship where I’m gaming the other person? Or being gamed? That would make me feel so unsettled. But it’s always in every movie or every show or every song or everything we consume: a couple against each other. They’re never shown as a team!

Carolyn: You never see just simply happy not-jealous not-obsessive long-term couples. Married people hate each other, or someone is trying to pull something over on the other, or there’s this “oh I must manipulate you all the time!” edge to everything.

Gaby: Yes! Why??? I don’t understand and sometimes I feel like an alien! Especially when monogamous married people make me seem naive for it.

Carolyn: “How dare you expect to like your partner?”

Gaby: Or even that you can talk to them! Why is it INSANE that you would say to your wife, “I have a crush on someone how funny.”

Carolyn: Above you mentioned that talking and expressing yourself and your emotions is very unnatural for you and that you have to force yourself to do it instead of falling back on rules. In those moments, what’s particularly challenging? I.e., Even when it’s okay to share, does anything make sharing especially hard?

Gaby: I get embarrassed about asking for things. I think because everyone wants to see themselves as above human emotion and as maybe the coolest person to ever live. So when something hurts me or makes me jealous, my instinct is to go, “No, you’re better than that.” But no one is!

I don’t like telling people not to do things, because I get resentful and my worst fear is someone resenting me in a relationship as being like, the old ball and chain. “Un-fun.” So when I have to say “no” to something someone wants and explain why (based on my personal feelings or my reaction or the emotions it brings up in me) I want to be like I AM A ROBOT I HAVE NO FEELINGS.

But then you have miscommunications. Like if I say, “Don’t hook up with that girl. She’s your friend’s roommate and your friend wouldn’t like it.” And then my boyfriend asks and the friend is like, “Oh go for it. I don’t mind.” He thinks my objection was because the friend would be mad. And once he gets the go ahead from the friend, he thinks he’s in the clear. (Which is a thing that happened.) What I should have said was, “I don’t want you to,” instead of making up reasons other people might be upset to seem like I don’t get upset.

Carolyn: It’s so much easier to make things about other people! How do your relationships shift when you date or sleep with someone new?

Gaby: Time management becomes a big thing. There’s periods where we see each other all the time and then where we don’t really. (We don’t live together.)

I think a lot of my monogamous friends go into a vortex when they start dating someone and hang out exclusively with them all the time so it becomes, “What are we doing tonight?” “What are we doing this weekend?” and that’s not a given here. With other partners too. You have to make a plan. Which is actually more interesting and leads to less boring “I’ll come over after work and we’ll just sit.” But there’s comfort in that assumption that the person is coming home so I get that too.

And I’ve tried to shoehorn like, “Okay I’m going out of town so everyone let’s just hang at this bar together tonight,” but my ex-girlfriend bailed once because she didn’t have any interest in competing for my attention while out at a bar.

Carolyn: How does being poly influence how you understand yourself or move through the world?

Gaby: I think it’s way less stressful because I’m free to be a person. To be flawed in the traditional societal sense. To not have to meet a mold that was set up a long time ago for agricultural reasons and then has continued I assume because of Valentine’s Day? It lets me create a community and to keep people in my life and experience all the different things I want to experience. I don’t feel like being with someone is the end of my life.

I’m not sure I agree with the common wisdom that a relationship is sacrifice. That seems horrible. Why would I want someone with me who is sacrificing enjoyment or experiences?

Carolyn Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Carolyn has written 1047 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. “I think monogamy is painted as a war between two people. Like any sitcom! Or even, I’ve had a lot of married men come after me in my life (I must give off a vibe?) and I always say, “Why don’t you just tell your wife you’re talking to someone?” And they laugh like I’m naive. One of them told me, “There are things married people keep from each other.” That really sat wrong with me. Why would I want that? Why would I want to be in a long-term relationship where I’m gaming the other person? Or being gamed? That would make me feel so unsettled. But it’s always in every movie or every show or every song or everything we consume: a couple against each other. They’re never shown as a team!”

    YES this whole thing. I’m not poly but this is so true (and especially painted as such among m-f relationships), and it always made me wonder, like, why would a woman marry a man? People say their spouse is their best friend, but then there’s this stereotypical stuff, ‘battle of the sexes’ and ‘oh women are so mysterious I never know what’s wrong’ / ‘well he’s a dood they don’t talk about their feelings’ and I’m like why would you want to share your life with someone you don’t understand/someone who won’t open themselves up to you?

    I do realize, of course, that stereotypes aren’t reality, and there are lots of straight cis couples who truly are each others’ best friends, who truly understand and know each other and operate as a team. I even know some! (lol). But when I dated cis guys myself, there was a certain sense of impenetrability, an opaqueness, a sense of them being somehow other. Then I dated a woman, and it was like OMG WE GET TO SHARE OUR FEELINGS THIS IS LIKE A SLUMBER PARTY PLUS SEXY TIMES THIS IS AMAZING WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT ANYTHING ELSE.

    Anyway this is getting way off-track. But yes, the ‘couples against each other’ trope has really got to go.

  2. The best, yet toughest part of polyamory is the “be open, be honest” part. When it comes to the poly community, there aren’t too many lesbians to choose from, so I find myself introducing this idea to all my relationships when I date. I don’t like uncomfortable, emotion-telling conversations any more than the next person, but I also know my relationships are happiest when those talks happen. I can certainly relate to the idea that most people are initially skeptical, thinking this must be some sort of trick. “I can do what I want, and talk about it later or beforehand?” Here’s the real trick though- if you don’t understand and appreciate compersion, then it rarely works out for those exploring poly relationships. My perspective is one with just the ladies, but it is definitely similar to Gaby’s. Thanks for the article ladies.

  3. Thank you for this interview! In addition to gaining some insight into polyamory (I’m monogamous but think being poly is rad if that’s what works for you), it’s also nice to have more bisexual people speak out. The quote at the beginning – “I say bisexual but then people say no you mean pansexual and then I say fine queer and then people say queer is a slur how dare you so WHO KNOWS” – is so perfect and relatable.

  4. “To not have to meet a mold that was set up a long time ago for agricultural reasons and then has continued I assume because of Valentine’s Day?”

    I think it’s OK to explore polyamory as an alternative to monogamy, but this amazingly thoughtless dismissal of the benefits inherent to monogamy comes across as naive. We can malign institutions like marriage until we’re blue in the face, but countless studies demonstrate that married people live longer, are happier, are healthier. It’s true that antiquated conceptions of marriage–that women are property, etc.–have created great oppression, but concepts like devotion and fidelity are still worth celebrating. I don’t think that they’re impossible in polyamorous situations (maybe), but monogamy actively encourages them.

    I guess I’m just really fucking happy about same-sex marriage and I get a little annoyed when someone wants to throw the baby out with the bath water. Be polyamorous all you want, but please don’t bask in your superiority over it. If you’re think that you’re ahead of the game or at the vanguard of some new, liberated way of living, you’re kidding yourself.

      • Well, built into the concept of marriage is the prohibition against adultery. Two people can agree to their own terms, but eh, adultery is still grounds for divorce in most if not all jurisdictions. Mutual consent by both parties doesn’t nullify that part of the marriage contract. Terms of marriage are set by the government, by society. Two people entering a marriage agree to abide by those terms, by the legal level at least.

        Also, apologies for the combative tone of my initial comment. It didn’t end on a nice, conversation note.

      • Agreed!

        Polyamory, though, stands in opposition to traditional ideas around marriage. Though so does same-sex marriage.

        Anywho, I found my initial comment a bit too combative/insulting and didn’t mean for it to go through, anyway! I closed the tab as it was loading. Alas.

        • “Polyamory, though, stands in opposition to traditional ideas around marriage. Though so does same-sex marriage.”

          True – although the tradition you mention is more limited in scope than we tend to remember. Many cultures have/have had various types of plurality built into their institutions (too often, this plurality has been driven by the patriarchy, sadly…)

          Anyway, here’s to the 21st century and continuing to allow marriage to evolve into a caring commitment between consenting adults that works the best and is healthiest for them, regardless of how the state’s definition and legality lags.

    • “countless studies demonstrate that married people live longer, are happier, are healthier.”

      But why?? If the kind of relationship you are in is very much socially encouraged, that’s often conducive to good health. I would think that might be important to consider.

      • Also, you’re supported by the society you’re in, with everything from joint bank accounts to healthcare, to being treated better during job-hunting and during work if you’re wearing a wedding ring. I feel like it’s p obvious that these things would make you live at least a healthier life.

        • Well, I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. A married person isn’t necessarily going to be better off in job interviews than a single person; there could easily be concern on the employer’s end that they may have children, which could interfere with their work commitments.

          I think there are a lot of obvious privileges to being married, but the bind of a legal tie presents a tremendous amount of security to the two people involved–especially the woman, if she ends up having children or taking time off of work (in a heterosexual arrangement, which is what most marriages are). If one spouse becomes ill or loses a job, they can rely on the other person for help; in fact, because they are spouses, there is a legal OBLIGATION that they support one another. No such legal obligation exists in informal arrangements. I could throw my girlfriend out of a house that I own if we broke up and she would just be out of luck; I’d be a terrible person perhaps, but I wouldn’t be breaking the law. I couldn’t do that with a spouse. Even if we divorced, there would be the issue of alimony and equitable distribution of property.

          So, I think that society supports these arrangements in part because they are beneficial; I don’t think they’re only beneficial because society supports them. Similarly, I think other societies–such as ones that practice polyandry or polygamy–promoted those practices because they were practical for them at given times. So, I don’t mean to say that monogamy is necessarily the best thing ever across all times and societies, but I do think that maybe it’s the best thing ever for people living in 21st century America. Or maybe most people.

          Maybe in a post-birth control world, where pregnancies don’t have to be accounted for the in the same way, we’re approaching a time where we can be polyamorous or have more open arrangements. I just don’t know. But it’s worth critically examining these ideas before giving up on older ideas completely and advocating for another model. It’s easy to look for flaws in monogamy (“people are going to cheat anyway,” “it’s based on patriarchal bullshit that treats women as property,” “I can grow and learn more if I’m open to new relationships,” etc.) because it’s the dominant paradigm and it’s what we see everyday. But there are myriad flaws–and perhaps greater ones–in alternative models, and they just aren’t understood because we don’t see them represented. So, maybe we should! But, again, I think this should be done with a critical eye.

          It’s also important to note that the people who aren’t marrying in the highest numbers in the United States tend to be poor and less educated. For them, not marrying and having children outside of marriage has proved disastrous in terms of familial and economic stability. This is why I’m skeptical of a viewpoint that devalues marriage so much.

          • Well, I think there are several pieces at play here. It’s true that married people generally do better than non-married people, but I think a large part of that has to do with the marriage, not the monogamy. For example, men see huge health benefits by being married vs. not being married and while they don’t yet know what exactly about marriage promote these health benefits, the running theory is that it’s due to the fact that being part of a family unit either a) makes them more personally responsible for their health or b) allows them to be near someone who will take responsibility for their health (overall, women do tend to keep up with yearly preventative healthcare more or are more likely to seek medical help for concerning symptoms, etc…). Having been with a partner for a long time, I also see this benefit of being with a long-term partner, even though I’m a woman. It’s just nice when someone is there to care for/about you when you can’t. Now, take that model and put it in a poly household….like mine. It works, as you seem to agree based on your answers above. So the take-away lesson for me is that the merits aren’t going to rest on monogamy or non-monogamy; they instead rest on having a long-term partner (like in marriage, but not EXCLUSIVELY in marriage), which is an available model in monogamy and poly.

            So then you mentioned security. Legally, of course your argument works, but we can’t be comparing monogamy in the legal sense to poly in the non-legal sense, because there’s no government-sanctioned legal course for polygamy–not because it can’t exist in a similar legal marriage model, but because legislation in the US is still largely tied to conventional morality (maybe even religion, though modern marriage has moved away from that). To compare the two would be comparing apples and oranges, because we don’t know what a state-sanctioned, legal poly marriage would look like. So either we visualize what a legal, state-sanctioned poly relationship would look like and judge its merits as compared to monogamy or we compare them both outside of the context of what the law provides. Because, let’s be real, the law provides plenty–from tax breaks to parenting rights, to the right to take legal recourse against an ex-partner. So, taking it out of the legal context, a committed monogamous relationship has as much merit as a committed poly relationship. Full stop. You can make that argument all you want, and I will be there with you until the cows come home, but the idea that monogamy’s merits rest on the institution of marriage or that the institution of marriage’s merits rest on monogamy is faulty.

            Also to the last point you made on devaluing marriage…I would argue that what I’ve said above also applies to that. You can devalue the institution of marriage and still be a working model of relationships as long as you have a mutual understanding of commitment. My personal response to marriage would be…if you have to legally compel someone to not be a douche to you lest they can face the economic consequences, then is that more sound than a commitment made by two people who choose to commit to each other without legally-binding documents? I would say neither is better and it comes down to the people–douchey or non-douchey. SO, no…as someone who’s been with my partner happily for 10 years without being married, I don’t think there’s anything skeptical about a model that undervalues or even devalues marriage.

            TL:DR I agree with you that monogamy and poly are equal models for the people who seek them, but I don’t think legality and marriage have anything to do with it.

  5. Interesting interview – I enjoyed reading it. I tried poly for a while and learned a lot from it. However it was too painful for me and I’m still recovering from that. I think I put so much pressure on myself to participate in what is increasingly being seen as a healthier relationship model that I neglected my own emotional needs.so I can relate to the need to be a robot!

    My partner and I have switched to monogamy now which has brought some other difficulties, though we are trying to keep some of the things we found helpful in poly.

    I did find this article seemed to make negative generalisations about monogamy,however that is understandable given that this is a piece about someone’s personal experience and given the media portrayal and cultural understanding of relationships

  6. I love this series so much! I’ve learned a lot by reading each one, and I love the way it’s done as a conversation, as opposed to a personal essay (no hate on the personal essay form, but this works really well for the specific series).

    I’m currently happily monogamous, but honestly I feel like the reason that my current relationship is so emotionally fulfilling for me (whereas both other casual dating/non-monogamous and also monogamous situations haven’t been in the past) is because of the level of communication. As Gaby says, it’s super hard and uncomfortable at first, but also kind of radical and amazing. I think higher levels of communication are already more common in queer lady relationships (“processing, etc”), in a way that combats the whole “resentful married couple where the man and woman hate and can never understand each other” sitcom myth, but I think there’s definitely something to be learned and built upon even from that foundation. I’d love to maybe see future questions in this series overtly ask, “What can monogamous people learn from poly people?”

  7. I love how much this series is making me think about so many things.

    I’ve only ever been in monogamous relationships, but definitely have always felt that it’s better to be truthful about crushes than try to hide them. I’ve had one past partner where we were very open about it, and yes we both experienced some jealousy, but we also would tease each other about our crushes, and reassure each other, and in some ways it actually brought us closer. Then in my last relationship, I tried to apply this same theory with my gf and it was disastrous.

    These days I’m really in a place where I’m moving far away from the notion that a partner is supposed to be this one perfect match who is going to make you feel happy and fulfilled forever. I don’t want to rely on anyone or anything outside of myself for that – and I also don’t want to be with anyone who expects it of me either, because that’s a lot of pressure. I want to be (and feel that I’m becoming) happy and fulfilled on my own, and then have the freedom to let other people in without so many heavy expectations. And I feel like in some ways poly might be a natural extension of that mindset? But I’m not sure.

    Is there a term for someone who doesn’t have a specific relationship orientation, but could be happy with either monogamy or polyamory as long as it’s with the right person/people under the right circumstances? Because I kind of think that might be what I am.

    • I don’t have a word for that kind of identity, but I feel much the same way!

      The relationships I’ve had that have worked best, both poly and monogamous, are the ones where my partner(s) and I were honest with each other, worked through any jealousies, and dealt with our own shit as whole, separate people.

      I don’t think I’m hardwired for polyamory or monogamy, as long as I’m getting what I need to be happy in my relationship(s). I’m open to a lot of different relationship configurations with the right person(s) and ended up in a long-term monogamous relationship. So like…polyflexible? I don’t know. There should be a word. Maybe there is one that I don’t know?

      • ^Yes to all of that!

        Polyflexible could maybe work. I was thinking there’s “monogamish”, but that seems like a slightly different thing. Is there a word for the whole spectrum, like how we have “sexuality” for gay straight or “gender” for woman man? If so I’d be bi-whateverthatwordis. Bi-relationship-oriented, or something. Ugh, language.

        • I want a word for this identity! So far I’ve just thought of myself as poly-curious, as I’ve only been in mono-relationships, but lately I’ve been thinking of it more as an openness for any kinds of relationships, with people of any identities, as long as they’re based on mutual trust and communication. I’d like there to be an all-encompassing word for “anything goes”-mentality that ranges from sexuality to relationships!

  8. This was very interesting. Very candid I thought. I’m new to Gabby Dunn, and she seems a very eloquent when explaing her views on things, plus obv funny!

    I think the best thing for every individual is to do what sits most naturally with them in terms of relationship ways/setups (or however you want to call them.

    I don’t think either Poly or Monogamy needs to have a monopoly over each other. They are so different, and are both successful/or not for different reasons, to different people. Not even two poly people will have the same experiences, as some will have this main partner and another but not want more, and then another may want equal partners of more numbers, etc. From what I read about polyamory, you could even have sub-divisions within it, because the degrees of difference even within can sometimes be notable.

    I’m not poly in mind, emotion and obviously therefore not in practice, but I have not problem or struggle with people that are. Just becomes it does not flow through me, doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but neither does it mean I’m wrong either, we’re just different. As a monogomous person, I do want to dispell a myth, or be it, lessen the strength of a myth that is associated with monogomous people. I (personally) don’t want to just be with one person because of this idea of insecurity or jealously. Of course I can feel those things (in relation to anything, people, work matters – say if someone gets a mention and I don’t, etc,) but that is not the actual thing that ‘keeps me’ monogomous so to speak. I’m not kept monogomous, I just happen to not want more than one special person in my life that is my everything (warts and all). I ahve choice, and I have chosen it. I just don’t need more than one, and perhaps it’s more because I’m lazy rather than jealous or insecure, but actually, in seriousness, I just don’t want more and hence don’t need to venture to a poly side.
    I’m pretty sure, on reading things, that poly people can have similar amounts of jealousy/insecurity in their lives too (just as non-poly people, none of us are robots) but it’s what they want in contrasting degree that separates the poly and monogomous aspect. Not eveyone that is monogomous is restricting their ability to love. Some, like me, are just happy at that expansion reaching one person. I am not less inclusive as a loving human being if I just want one person in my life, just as a poly person no more inclusive or greedy if they want more.

    There is this notion that the difference between poly and monogomy is the degress of being able/open to love more (and hence being deemed a more inclusiveness, all-round emotional being if you have the ability to do it and not just think it). While I have not problem if some poly people feel this (it’s your right too), I find the difference is perhaps more fairly about degrees of want, rather than it is about ability/capability/inclusiveness. Along with that, the clear difference of whether a person is in the habbit of lying or not is the difference, and I’m sure there are experiences of lyers in the poly world as well as the monog one as well. All people lie at some point, some more than others, some better than others. You can still be in a monogomous relationship and not lie throughout that experience, and you can be in a poly relationship(s) and find there are lies at every turn – BUT also the vice versa with both as well (with lying monogs and honest polys). It cuts both ways, all ways. There is no monopoly in my mind.

    Lies ruin all relationships, monogomous or otherwise, so I think whatever you love and the amount is more about your will to and intent of, rather that how ‘open’ or not you are to love and the degrees to which you extend that. I’m sure you can find both poly and monogomous couples/multicouples and either will make you want that if they look (and actually are) honest, happy and functioning with as few lies as possible. So, it’s not that poly is more open, or that monogomous is more rigid/selfish, it’s just the difference of want (or even be it desire) at the end of the day.

    The desire is not in my to love more, so I don’t follow that path, and that is right for me as an individual, and it doesn’t make me less or more than another. In equal measure, the desire in someone else may be to love more than one (on similar or varying levels) and that path is right for them and the relationships they form there. That doesn’t make them more, or less tha. If it works, it’s right, if it doesn’t it’s not. That’s really the only ‘fact’ that I think you can apply to poly or monogomous relationships.

  9. At some point in every poly person’s life, that person seizes upon the notion that poly people are more evolved than mono people.. The act of having sex with, ahem, I mean loving many people immediately elevates them above the sniveling, mono masses. They are so much more free! More truly human! More…something.

    Given the wreckage of the poly relationships I’ve stumbled over along the way, I’d say this evolution is tenuous at best.

    Shtupping multiple people doesn’t make you evolved, Ms. Gaby. It means you have better than average scheduling skills. That you have a boyfriend of a few years and a handful of playmates doesn’t make you better than anyone else. If in 20 years you still have 2+ long term relationships, we can call you poly. Otherwise, you’re just a swinger with better than average staying power. And regardless of what gets you wet, you’re just a human.

    • At some point in some people’s lives they decide that everytime a person decides to expose their feelings and opinions and they’re not directly compatible with the first person’s, that must mean the second person is arrogant and no-good and worth insulting and dismissing. You’re just human too, LM, and I think you’re seeing things that aren’t there.

    • Aw, but why do you feel so threatened, so triggered, so provoked – listen, buddy, that’s just your ego talking. No one is better than you! No person more evolved walks this mortal plane except for maybe the Dalai Lama, but I’m sure you could take him down too in order to soothe your wounded ego. How dare they assume superiority over you! No one is better than momma’s little boy, he’s the smartest one there is!
      There, I hope that helps.

  10. Why are so many monogamous people so defensive? The dominant majority in general tends to feel incredibly threatened as soon as a marginalized minority starts to speak up. Is it that the monogamous majority is so used to being the obvious, normal, ‘natural’ choice, as well as the morally superior one, that they’re not accustomed to having to advocate for their way of life the way poly people (like gay/bi people) have always had to? And so the very notion that there is a valid alternative rocks their boat in a major way. Add to that the suggestion that being poly could even prove to be a superior option for some (many?) of us and you have a riot on your hands.

    Not all monogamous people, of course! Only the relentlessly defensive/hostile ones.

    • A lot of poly discussions happen in LGBT spaces. The discussions are happening amongst a group of people who are already vulnerable and our relationships are already heavily critiqued. And the implications that non-poly people are possessive, insecure, and dishonest just reminds me of the same comments made by homophobic hets, that somehow a monogamous lesbian relationships can’t be healthy or genuine.
      I think that’s my issue with a lot of poly discussions, it’s less about the words themselves and more about the context in which they’re discussed.

  11. Very glad that honesty was the focus of this interview. I’ve come across so, so many polys and people in open relationships who just view it as a valid excuse to lie to everyone – because they want to avoid conflict with their partner and know their likehood of getting laid is higher if they don’t actually tell the people they sleep with that they’re not monogamous. All the while saying that what they’re doing is only ‘natural’. Gah.

    • Yeah, see… that’s called “cheating”. It’s not polyamory. Lying, cheating, abusing… those are all bad things. None of those are polyamory. Polyamory, by definition is ethical non-monogamy. You don’t just get to lie, cheat, and use people and claim you’re polyamorous.

      Polyamory inherently involves honesty and communication or is isn’t polyamory. Please don’t conflate the two. It’s insulting.

      • To expand… it’s no more fair to call that cheating, lying asshole polyamorous than it is to call them monogamous. Obviously they aren’t living up to to standard of either. They’re just lying, using people, and cheating. It’s shitty no matter what their alleged orientation.

  12. Oh man, I really feel this: “I’m not sure I agree with the common wisdom that a relationship is sacrifice. That seems horrible. Why would I want someone with me who is sacrificing enjoyment or experiences?”

    I’m only interested in monogamous relationships, but the narrative of sacrifice is something I’m starting to hear now that I’m getting a weensy bit older and some of my friends are starting to get married. And I never say anything to them because obviously I don’t want to insult their relationships, but dear god it’s honestly so off-putting. I’m not sure if it’s just a thing I’ll grow into as well or if the people I know getting married in their early 20s just have a penchant for codependency (both very possible hypotheses), but my revulsion at that kind of language has been leading me to reevaluate if I’m really as interested in the marriage and two kids and white picket fence lifestyle that I’d always kind of wanted for myself.

  13. I think communication in all relationships is key. My girlfriend is bi and engaged to a hetero man (has been since we met). When she met me, she told him she had a crush. When it became obvious that we were more than friends, I approached him about his comfort level with me being involved with her intimately… We now all live together in a house. We bought a California King bed so we can all cuddle when we please, but kept extra rooms and beds for when we don’t want to. It’s been a learning experience for everyone. But I have never been happier.

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