August 22, 2021

I’m a Polyamorous Person who tried to be Monogamous—it was Toxic as F*ck. 

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Picture, if you will, a Karen.

Now imagine her speaking, a high-pitched, nasally, whining voice. Or perhaps, picture a Kyle talking in a dull, low-pitched voice that makes you think he has the IQ of a tomato. Now imagine one or both voices for the following statements:

“Monogamy is toxic and controlling.”

Polyamory is unethical and polyamorous people are afraid of commitment.”

In the words of the late George Carlin, “It’s all bullsh*t, and it’s bad for ya.”

Why is it bullsh*t? I’ll take it statement-by-statement in a moment, but let’s get the definitions out of the way first, so we’re all on the same page.

Monogamy is simple: two people in an exclusive, intimate relationship. Usually, it’s a sexual and/or romantic relationship.

Polyamory, on the other hand, is actually also pretty simple, definition-wise. It’s the practice of or desire for having more than one intimate relationship, usually romantic and/or sexual in nature.

Now for the good part:

“Monogamy is toxic and controlling.”

I’m a polyamorous person who tried to be monogamous, but ultimately every monogamous relationship I was in was toxic as f*ck. I left every relationship with plenty of self-hatred and a sense of shame or worthlessness—none of which was there before the relationship. Clearly, monogamy wasn’t right for me, but I absolutely reject the notion that monogamy is inherently toxic.

A lot of monogamous relationships are toxic. But they’re not toxic because they’re monogamous. It’s because they involve toxic traits from one or both people. Monogamy, while not for everyone, is a beautiful relationship type. Two people who can put so much trust and love into each other and will be there for each other through thick and thin is a lovely, incredible, and stunning thing.

My parents are monogamous, and while they’ve had many ups and downs, their relationship is one I look up to because of their faith and sheer love for each other.

I’ve encountered toxicity in every kind of relationship—acquaintances, friends, family, and intimate partners (monogamous and polyamorous alike). Calling monogamy toxic implies that polyamory is never toxic, which not only sets unrealistically high standards for polyamory but will allow a toxic polyamorous person to convince their partner(s) that their behavior is fine no matter what.

As for being controlling, any person can be controlling whether they’re monogamous or polyamorous. It’s not the relationship type; it’s the person or persons involved. Monogamy only feels controlling and limiting when you’re a polyamorous person trying to force monogamy to work for you.

“Polyamory is unethical and polyamorous people are afraid of commitment.”

How? How is polyamory unethical? That’s what I ask every time I hear this crap. The answers I get usually go a little something like this:

“It’s against my religion!”

Well, guess what, honey. Your religion isn’t the only one, and it’s not my religion, so it doesn’t get to dictate what I do and who I love. Next.

“It’s just cheating with extra steps!”

Listen. Listen very closely, buddy. Cheating is about lying. It’s about keeping a dirty little secret from your partner(s). It’s about violating consent. In polyamory, there is consent for people to have multiple partners. One of my girlfriends has five other partners. I’ve only met her fiancée and two of her boyfriends, but I know about each partner and what they mean to her. She can date who she wants as long as she’s open about it—none of her partners will even think about trying to stop her.

“It’s just an excuse to be a slut!”

Okay, first of all, slut-shaming is wrong. Stop it.

Second, I don’t need an excuse to be a slut. If I want to be slutty, I don’t have to justify it to you or anyone.

Third, polyamory is not just about sex. Yeah, I have sex with more than one person. But that’s not the glue that holds my relationships together. It’s a bonus. If I were told I could never have sex again, I’d still be polyamorous. And I’d still have multiple wonderful, loving relationships.

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As for being afraid of commitment, that’s just silly. I’m committed to all of my partners. Just like I’m committed to all of my friendships and just like I’m committed to all of my family members. Commitment doesn’t mean exclusivity. It means dedication. I am dedicated to all of my relationships, no matter what kind they are.

One other thing I want to note: my love isn’t divided between my partners. Love isn’t like a pie where if my love for one partner grows, my love for another partner shrinks. Love is more like pi; irrational, endless, and all-encompassing.

Polyamory isn’t any better or worse than monogamy and vice versa. It’s a case-by-case, person-by-person thing. Only you can determine which is healthier for you, but you can’t determine which is healthier for anyone else.

You’ve heard of monogamy. You’ve heard of polyamory. Now get ready to respect everyone’s relationship style regardless of whether you agree with or understand it or not.

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