By: Jazlyn Moock
Ah monogamy, every hopeless romantic’s dream of giving love to one and one person only. When in each other’s arms, you can proudly say that they are all yours, and you are all theirs. Completely devoted, monogamous couples are bound by the sacred love and trust they have for another, keeping a promise to never be led astray from the special, emotional connection they both share together.
The concept sounds so beautiful, right? Well, at least that’s what I thought until I entered the convoluted, sudoku, flaming corn-maze mess that is the dating world.
Before I had entered a relationship, I was all on board with the traditional rules of monogamy set thousands of years before me. The thought of finding a faithful partner to call my one true love at the end of the aisle made me hopeful for dating and for monogamy—not that there were many other options presented to me when watching Say Yes to the Dress and cheesy Hallmark movies on repeat. Nonetheless, monogamy seemed like the most fulfilling choice for my hopelessly romantic self.
To my complete and utter dismay, staying monogamous proved to be quite the challenge for me during junior year, as I fell madly in love with two different people at the same time. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I do know that I fell hard. You are probably thinking that being “in love” with two people sounds contradictory and ridiculous, and for that I do not blame you; I never thought it would happen to me until I was knees deep in a soap opera love triangle between my boyfriend of ten months and my best friend. I was faced with quite the dilemma, to say the least, because not only did I fall in love with my friend, they also fell in love with me. For the first time in my life, polyamory never seemed so sweet and so suiting for my sticky situation. If successful, polyamory would allow me to establish a consensual relationship with the two people I adored the most while receiving double the love I would normally get with one partner. What could be better than double the love? So, I did the unthinkable and somehow—with the consent of all parties involved—started a polyamorous relationship.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after forming, the relationships did not exactly… work out the way I had planned and ultimately ended in disaster. The fact that they were both extremely monogamous people at heart, along with the fact that they wanted to slap each other silly by the end of the week, was not exactly the best combination for success. Yet, I refuse to surrender my polyamory dreams and still hope to create a healthier relationship like this in the future. In my mind, as long as my partners are willing to sacrifice exclusivity to be with me, then polyamory seems like a win for everyone.
If you are still in the dark, polyamory, deriving from the latin words for “many” and “love,” is defined as the practice of intimate relationships with more than one partner. In its truest form, this type of love is completely consensual, ethical, and responsible.
When first hearing of polyamory, my initial reaction was probably similar to yours right now. I thought to myself, “Why would I willingly have a second partner? My relationships are already overwhelming enough with one emotional, needy boyfriend—let alone two! And wouldn’t the jealousy eat me alive if they decided to see other people? What if they loved their other partner more? And what if they left me to be with them?” These were all valid questions, but after my experiences over the past year I finally understand why I was so wrong, and why monogamy totally sucks.
In a perfect, harmonious universe where humans never make mistakes and are always loyal, monogamy would be nothing but peaches and cream, but, in the real world, cheating is an inevitable fact of life. Over one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. The percentages of married men that cheat can be even higher, with rates today ranging anywhere from 25% to 72%. The unfortunate truth for the majority of couples is that being in a monogamous relationship will not stop them from catching feelings for other people. Instead, your beloved, darling angel will only hide their desires from you. Even if they do not decide to act on their desires, the strict and unforgiving nature of monogamy incites secrecy and a lack of communication. Polygamous relationships on the other hand are a completely different ball game since they force couples to have open, honest discussions about their emotions and status with other potential partners. They would not be able to function otherwise, due to the fact that polyamorous people have to start from scratch and make their own personalized boundaries and rules of what the relationship will look like.
What about jealousy, you may ask? The plain reality is that there is bound to be jealousy in any type of intimate relationship. Feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity can negatively affect all couples, regardless of how many people are involved. Additionally, people in polyamorous relationships, like mentioned before, do not ignore complex or painful emotions and must deal with them together. One can actually feel less envious when in a polyamourous relationship because you learn to value your partners’ individual needs outside of yourself. Sometimes they might need something that you cannot give them and that is okay; you do not have to be the only person on the planet that can make your partner happy. I understand how frightening it can be to accept this fact, however suppressing a partner will only lead to resentment at the end of the day. In my own relationship, when one of the loves of my life told me that he had actually fallen for another girl, I was furiously angry and upset. Though, after having those tough conversations and coming face-to-face with my most powerful fears and insecurities, I realized how truly insignificant jealousy was in the bigger picture.
Well what about all of the responsibility of having to support multiple people? Believe it or not, having a second partner can at times be less overwhelming. Think about it like this; oftentime people in monogamous relationships have to rely on each other for everything and all of their needs have to be met by one person. This dependency can put an enormous amount of pressure on a relationship. In all of my attempts at monogamy, my partner and I would only talk with each other and dedicate all of our time and energy towards the relationship. Even though we both had numerous other friends, we naturally isolated ourselves from other people and took on the roles of partner, best friend, and even therapist. A dependency like this can quickly become toxic and dangerous because it can make it harder to become self-reliant again or leave an abusive partner. However, with multiple support systems, this tendency to cling to a partner is less of an obstacle and one can receive the love, intimacy, and attention they need from varying people.
Without a doubt, it takes respect, flexibility, patience, and maturity to partake in a long lasting polyamorous relationship, and it is definitely not for everyone. Although, many valuable lessons can be learned from polygamous couples unique perspectives on love and how to remain happy and healthy together. Above all else, the most essential components of any relationship are consistent communication and open-mindedness.
The confining definitions of monogamy and the social standards placed upon couples to act and love in a certain manner have caused people to care more about being the perfect monogamous couple, rather than the actual strength and longevity of the relationship. In order to last, couples must think outside of the heteronormative box and realize that the happiness of both partners should be the ultimate goal.