How many of us believe we will find that special someone? We fall in love and spend the rest of our lives in blissful monogamous harmony. Most people will raise their hands, even those whose dreams crashed along their relationship journey. The reality is that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce less than 10 years after the wedding.
So why do we hang on to the romantic notion that our perfect soulmate is out there, somewhere, waiting? Because of the movies “Love and Basketball”; “Love Story”; and “The Best Man.” Of course, we can’t forget about “Titanic”; and “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
It’s supposed to be that way, right? Come on, we all know people who are living the dream. We see them still hold hands and sneak kisses after many years together. So why not us?
Unsuccessful marriages fail for the same reasons. Expectations aren’t met, passion flags, commitment wanes, communication stops and problems grow. On top of that, you feel stuck. The grass looks greener, and one or the other strays. In most cases, it’s “bye-bye” after that.
So, we move on and jump into serial monogamy. Someone new feels good for awhile. But soon reality sets in, red flags wave, alarms bellow and we decide to cut our losses.
And then some folks try something different, something like polyamory. Interestingly, many who embrace open relationships will say they work for all the reasons that monogamy didn’t. Consistent communication is key. Honest sharing of emotion is essential. Most important though, partners find joy in their counterparts’ happiness. It’s called “compersion”.
Monogamy is based on the idea that one person can meet all of your needs for the rest of your life. Polyamory lessens that pressure and offers the possibility of freeing up lovers to grow in a variety of ways with a variety of people. When polyamorous couples involved in long term relationships are asked why they’ve succeeded, they often cite the very thing that they hoped to find in monogamy but couldn’t. They say it’s all about love and connection.
So, why aren’t more people polyamorous? Well, it’s complicated, literally. It isn’t easy to maintain multiple healthy relationships. Polyamory can spread you thin. Plus, it’s not like the specter of monogamy goes away. It’s embedded in the very fabric of society. All the things than can undercut monogamous relationships can do the same to polyamorous ones. Jealousy, insecurity, possessiveness, safe sex, breakups, life…they all can play a role.
Polyamory isn’t for everyone but, guess what, neither is monogamy.
The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures by Dossie Easton
More than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory by Franklin Veaux
Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino
The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families by Elisabeth Sheff
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan