A Further Analysis of Monogamy and Polyamory
I woke up in a sweat. “Oh, my goddess! I have a case of One-itis,” I thought as I jumped out of bed in a state of confusion and excitement. “What does it mean?!”
In the Pick-Up-Artist culture One-itis is a disease. It happens when one plays the game and falls hard for a specific person, so much to the point that they cannot or do not even care to continue playing.
I am not a PUA. But if I claimed to never play the game, I’d be lying.
I am the woman still debating which is better: monogamy or polyamory. I’m not trying to figure it out for the world, just for myself.
I began this journey three years ago; some of you may be familiar with my article “More Sex with More People: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Open Relationships” and the follow-up, “How More Sex with More People was Good, Then Bad, Then Ugly,” that came later.
To save time here’s what happened:
I was in a five+ year long relationship and we together decided to open it from monogamy to polyamory. What that did was expose underlying issues such as bad communication and lack of sexual desire causing the relationship to end permanently.
Since then I’ve been in a state of perplexity.
Technically, I’m in some sort of polyamorous arrangement right now. He’s seeing someone else and I’m at least making out with someone(s) else. This is where it starts to get complicated. I haven’t cared that he has another girlfriend because I keep my knowledge of her and their relationship to a minimum. Will there become a time when I need to learn more? Perhaps. But right now I live by the “not my problem” motto.
Why do I live by the NMP? Because it’s the first time in nearly two years where I like a guy enough to want to see him on a regular basis, but it’s new enough that I have yet to determine how much I want to invest in the “regular basis.”
I know that within the next few months these “one-itis” feelings will fade and I will want to get back in the game, though that doesn’t mean I will have necessarily stopped caring for him.
That’s the problem with the monogamy/polyamory split.
I don’t know if I can ever go back into a monogamous relationship; yet, at the same time, when (whether with this guy or someone else) things start getting more serious, will I be able to handle the alternative?
So, how do I figure out what I want? How do I figure out what works?
When I was in high school my best friend and I would often make lists about why we should or should not go out with a guy. So, that’s what I’m going to do today; though, this time my list isn’t going to be about a specific guy, but about the relationship structures surrounding the guys (and/or gals) I meet in the future.
A Pro/Con List of Monogamy vs. Polyamory
- Pro: Loyalty—you know at least one person has your back.
- Con: Can’t bang other people. Have you seen other people? There are a lot of hotties out in the world.
- Pro: Commitment–someone is always there for you (at least in theory).
- Con: Confining: monogamy typically sets up unreasonable expectations of behavior that stifle and restrict many people from reaching their true potentials.
- Pro: Socially acceptable with an easy-to-follow-script. We’ve been taught since day one the value of heterosexual monogamous relationships, the media alone has helped shape this illusion of love, but we also cannot discount the power of religion and governmental law, particularly in regards to monogamous marriage.
- Con: Unnatural yet socially prescribed. This is based off of scientific and sociological studies such as the one in the book Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan, Ph.D and Cacilda Jethá, MD.
- Pro: Loyalty and commitment—you know at least one but possibly more people have your back.
- Con: Jealousy—it’s real and it has to be worked at to overcome. But as a friend pointed out, working on understanding and dealing with this feeling has the potential to help tremendously with one’s personal evolution.
- Pro: Having different experiences (sexually and otherwise) with more than one person. And yes, you can have friendships and activity partners, but deeper intimacy can be reached with more people if there is an overall openness to said intimacies.
- Con: Not having enough time for everyone you like.
- Pro: Being able to write your own script.
- Con: Money. Unless you’re like mega-rich, finances have to be dealt with in a way that is respectful to you and your partners. Who pays for what on dates, vacations, housing situations etc.
- Pro: More opportunities to learn and grow from a multitude of people without being “afraid” of being attracted to them and upsetting your one and only.
So, obviously there are mega pros and cons in each.
What it comes down to is understanding what I am capable of accepting. It seems like polyamory is an identity, whereas monogamy is a default behavior that people fall into without much critical thinking. I’ve spent quite some time considering what would be best for me.
I know I need a lot of attention and I don’t think it’s fair to put that sort of burden solely on one other person. I think intimacy and romantic love can be developed and shared in multiple relationships if that’s how individuals function best, but it’s up to the individuals to figure that out—whether that’s through list making or actually throwing themselves into these dynamics. I have done both, the list-making and the throwing.
What I find most challenging is that the concepts of polyamory feel right but I have been socially constructed to think and react in the monogamous default. Perhaps the first step is to unlearn everything I’ve been taught regarding how relationships are supposed to function and relearn/re-write the script as I go along.
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Ed: Sara Crolick