Sunday, March 20, 2011

'Aint gonna tie me down: Thoughts on Polyamory and Non-monagamy

Polyamory: the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Non-monogamy: a blanket term which covers several types of interpersonal relationships in which an individual forms multiple and simultaneous sexual and/or romantic bonds.

Thank you, Wikipedia, for the definitions. Note, that this has nothing to do with The Mormon church.

These alternative relationship models have been on my mind lately. I've never been in a polyamorous relationship, but I have tried an open relationship. That didn't work, but that had to do with other issues within the relationship to start with. So, I'm curious.

I have some friends who are poly and it works really well for them. I also have monogamous friends and that works for them too. I don't know what works for me yet.

A good friend described her form of polyamory to me as a way to meet all of her needs without putting unreasonable expectations on one person. So she can be in romantically attracted to one person, sexually attracted to another, or many others, and have a make-out buddy and a cuddle buddy, etc. Each of us has a unique set of needs, and in this situation one person is not expected to fulfill them all.

This piece, I think is brilliant. I've had so many relationships fail because my partner was not meeting all of my needs, or I was not meeting theirs. Or we had different expectations for the relationship. I know I'm not the only one who has had these problems. Problems that can't always be solved by more effective communication.

However, I also think, that polyamorous relationships could get very complicated. People get jealous, they get angry, and things are miscommunicated. Maybe the initial rules of the relationship were not exactly what one person had in mind, or the communication piece got totally screwed up. Hearts got broken, relationships ended.

But, this is something that happens in monogamous relationships, right? Maybe, because the rules and expectations necessarily need to be negotiated in the beginning of the relationship, this could foster better communication within the relationship. If all parties involved are good at that sort of thing.

I don't have any answers about how poly and non-monogamous relationships work, or if they do. It's different for everyone, because everything is different for everyone. And that's beautiful, it would be boring if everything were as black and white as a "one-size-fits-all" relationship model, or way of living.

Anyways, I think that everyone operates differently and some of us haven't figured out how we operate yet. That's ok too. When I figure out how I operate, I'll let you know, but right now I think I might experiment. That's what these years are for, figuring out who we are.

Identity is constantly changing, and the road to figuring out who you are is an adventure. Sometimes you have to take risks. This is how we grow, by challenging the norm and experimenting with the unknown. If we stop growing, we die. I'm not ready to stop growing, are you?


  1. I was recently watching the documentary "Bi the Way" and one of the psychologists in the documentary said that one part of the brain is for attachment, another for romance, and yet another for lust. I haven't looked into the information myself, so I'm not entirely sure how accurate it is. However, it would explain several aspects of polygamy/non-monogamy. Also, Jen told me that she read that some people have a polyamory gene, and others have a monogamy gene. Again, I don't know how accurate this info is. This was an interesting blog!

  2. Hi! If you were in an open relationship, then you have had your first taste of Poly already. The idea is whatever your form of consensual, respectful non-monogamy might be, whether you have a primary relationship and a fuck buddy on the side, or a group marriage, or... it's all yours to decide.

    Audrey, I hate when people say that Poly is a gene, because it doesn't leave room for people like myself - for me, poly was a choice. It was something I do not feel that I was wired for, but that I adapted to. I think some people are more hardwired to only ever be poly or only ever be monogamous, but like being bisexual, I think that I can be (and have been) happy either way. So that's my two cents on the matter.