I tried polyamory. It didn’t work for me.
Like every breakup, I took it pretty hard. I convinced myself I wasn’t mentally or emotionally strong enough to handle a polyamorous relationship. So, I sat back and truly analyzed my emotions until I realized something.
I am not wired for polyamory, and that’s okay.
Like many, I had a lot of misconceptions about why I needed to open myself to poly relationships and consider giving up my monogamous ways. I quickly found that I have limits. And if nothing else I’m a person who wants his limits respected.
So what led me to discovering this epiphany? Let’s examine a few points that resound with me.
Polyamory Isn’t a Cure-All
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered a couple on a dating app seeking to “open up” their relationship to a third party. One partner initiated the idea, while the other reluctantly agreed to be open-minded about it.
One couple in particular stands out in my memory. Todd (bisexual man) wanted to explore relationships with other men. Meanwhile, Linda (heterosexual woman) wanted to exclusively date her boyfriend.
Underneath all this was a myriad of miscommunication, issues with trust, and little respect for boundaries. We’ll get to boundaries later.
Todd had a tendency to cheat on Linda and cover up the fact. Todd suggested to Linda after multiple incidents that they explore polyamory. Linda gave in because she wanted the relationship to work.
Even though Linda consented to being in a poly relationship, Todd previously broke her trust multiple times. Opening up a relationship doesn’t eliminate cheating. In fact, in some cases, cheating can be increased.
Todd could decide that he now has free reign to have sex with, go on dates with, and become involved with whoever he wants, neglecting his original partner in the process. This is self-centered and not rooted in love and respect.
Monogamy Doesn’t Always Mean Selfish
I often heard that phrase, “Monogamy is inherently selfish. You can’t be someone’s everything, and you can’t expect them to be yours.”
Okay, let’s dissect that a bit.
Yes, we push this magical belief that we’ll one day meet the man/girl of our dreams, who will complete us in every way imaginable. Yes, said belief/goal fails to live up to our expectations most of the time.
However, most of that can be tied back to co-dependence rather than just monogamy. And co-dependence can manifest in poly relationships too.
Think about it like this. Is it not possible for someone to want multiple partners because they’re also trying to fill something within themselves and feel completed?
Your main partner can’t satisfy you in X,Y,Z ways, so you decide to date or seek as many people as it takes in order to feel fulfilled in those areas. Such a mindset can also devolve into co-dependence just like monogamy. It just looks different.
You Are Allowed to Have Boundaries & Expectations
No matter your dating preference, you’re allowed to have boundaries. Not only that, you should expect those boundaries to be respected.
For example, sexual health and safety should be important whether you’re poly or monogamous. Poly doesn’t mean everyone gets to do whatever they want. There are still consequences to be considered.
So, then what if you can’t emotionally, physically, or spiritually handle being involved with more than one person? Is that also a boundary? Yes, and it should be respected.
To put it simply, I chose not to engage with partners with multiple relationships because:
1. Emotionally, the relationship overwhelms me.
2. I wanted to reduce the chance STI exposure.
STI’s obviously aren’t exclusive to poly relationships, but things happen. In fact, the gap between monogamous and non-mongamous STI rates is smaller than you think.
Negative Emotions Don’t Make You Weak
I recently posted about addressing negative emotions. It’s important to express any misgivings or general unease. You are not weak or mentally-fragile because you get upset. Our experiences and personalities form the paradigms that shape our preferences.
No matter what route you take, you need to communicate, listen to understand, and set clear boundaries. Poly works for many people, and I truly believe it’s an amazing alternative for many. But it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay too.