A few days ago, I read a blog post that discussed non-monogamy vs. monogamy and the fact that these two lifestyle choices are often pitted against one another. And, more specifically, that mono people are often perceived as being ‘close-minded’ for their choices.
The author touched on something that got me thinking – something I experienced first-hand all last year (on both sides of this debate). When my ex was experiencing NRE (new relationship energy) in spades, and I was literally losing my mind, he would look at me with disgust. I felt ashamed; like I couldn’t catch up to the ‘cool kids’. I felt like a monogamously minded idiot and was even told, “you fuck up poly at every turn’. I hated feeling lost and left behind by my own husband. I hated feeling like a failure because this new lifestyle was so much harder for me than it was for him. And yes, our attempt at non-monogamy was an EPIC FAIL. No question about that. But just because I was not emotionally wired for that lifestyle did not make me a fuck-up. And it certainly didn’t make me close-minded or wrong. I didn’t choose to have PTSD for fuck’s sake.
Though I do not think it is in any way intentional, non-monogamous individuals can sometimes promote an elitist attitude – that they are more ‘enlightened’, more ‘evolved’, and more ‘open-minded’ than those people who choose to be monogamous. These are all terms that I have heard non-monogamous people use; from close friends, to my ex, to various people in chat groups. There seems to be this underlying belief that monogamous folks are somehow mistaken for their belief that one person can satisfy them for the rest of their life. That this viewpoint is utterly ridiculous. One person for the rest of your life? Madness!! All of your ‘eggs in one basket’? Just too risky.
To be fair, this point of view, this ‘non-monogamy is better than monogamy’ attitude, is in no way indicative of the general non-monogamous population. It would be preposterous to assume that this blog post is pointing a finger at all non-mongamous people out there – nope – not even close. It is just me puzzling through more of my own beliefs and expericences per usual.
Not everyone believes that monogamy is flat-out wrong and stupid, there are people out there that just know that it isn’t for them and hell, that is okay. Of course that is okay! I think that the bipolarization becomes dangerous when mono people are inadvertently shamed for their belief systems around relationships. The belief that many non-mono folks have is that monogamy is a societal construct of lies of epic proportion; that you need one person, a true love, a soul mate to sustain you and fulfill you is utter bullshit. And, if you buy into this lie, you have drunk the proverbial Koolaid, you are not a free-thinker; you are behaving in a way that society has trained you to behave after years of social conditioning.
Have you seen those old Disney movies? Enough said.
What about the ‘evolved’ piece; emotionally evolved, to be more specific? The word jealously comes to mind – people can experience this emotion in spades in both non-mono and mono relationships. This is a NORMAL feeling; and I have seen firsthand, in multiple non-monogamous chat groups, people being shamed for experiencing jealousy. That somehow this emotion is an indicator that someone is not cut out for non-monogamy; that they are not dealing with their deep insecurities – and perhaps both of these things are true – but it doesn’t make them wrong to feel jealous. I would propose that in ANY relationship, jealousy is an indicator that something is off – whether it be in the relationship itself or something that a particular individual needs to work on for themselves. And this is okay. We work through our shit – we do not feel ashamed about it or run from it.
And the emotional work – the ‘sitting with your shit’ that I blog about so often – is where I believe the answer lies. It is not a question of one lifestyle being superior to another, but something more fundamental to each individual out there puzzling through their own life.
If you have not squared off with who you are – if you have not done some serious soul-searching, no relationship will work. Period. And this is the lie that society feeds us, whether you are monogamous or not, that you need another person, or persons, in your life to feel fulfilled. Nope, I don’t believe that this is true.
Because here is the truth: if you are completely comfortable with who you are ALONE, without a relationship of any kind, it doesn’t really matter how you identify or who you are with. Once that piece of the puzzle fits, then relationships become an added bonus to your life. You can maintain your individuality while simultaneously maintaining a relationship (or many relationships if that is your choice).
People run from vulnerability, they run from being single, from being alone. People run from their true authenticity, from being their most raw and open selves. They seek out relationships to lose themselves in another person or persons.
This is the unevolved piece. This is the part so many people get wrong. And it has nothing to do with being monogamous or not.