Are human beings inherently monogamous?  Most people would say yes, but an increasing number of people have begun to question this notion.

Non-monogamy is the practice of having more than one partner at a time. It can come in different forms- like polyamory, open relationships-, “swinging” etc.

This differs from cheating in a significant way. You do not go behind your partners’ back, everything is done consensually. Consensual non-monogamy has rules and boundaries; it is built on trust and communication.

“The more love you give, the more you are capable of giving. It’s only when you shut off the source that it dries up.” 
― K.J. Charles, Band Sinister

The degree of openness differs from situation to situation. Polyamorous couples might have a situation where they are involved in more than one romantic relationship at a time. Whereas couples in “open relationships” have a romantic partner and are open to having other sexual partners as long as there is no emotional involvement. Some couples agree on not sharing details of sexual encounters outside their relationship. Different people have different comfort zones and rules. 

“I reserve the right to love many different people at once, and to change my prince often.” 
― Anaïs Nin

Polyamory in particular could have many configurations- three or more people could have a committed partnership while being involved with one another, one person in the equation might have separate romantic partners who have nothing to do with each other. 

When confronted with these realities, most people in monogamous relationships wonder WHY. Why are more and more people opting for this? Is it just about sleeping around? 

Is it just being greedy?

There is much more to it than greed or wanting to maximize the number of partners you sleep with. There is a romantic notion instilled in us by society, that one partner must fulfil all of our needs. You see this in movies about finding your “one true love”. 

“The point for me is to create relationships based on deeper and more real notions of trust. So that love becomes defined not by sexual exclusivity, but by actual respect, concern, commitment to act with kind intentions, accountability for our actions, and a desire for mutual growth.” 
― Dean Spade

Real life is a little different, and you might find that all of your needs are not fulfilled by one single person. Expecting that is expecting too much. You might find yourself experiencing attraction to another person but this does not mean you love your partner any less. Also, as we see with human relationships in general, different people serve different purposes in our lives. Some offer emotional support and encouragement, some give us tough love when we need it. 

It is also instilled in us that our partners should be exclusively our property. Other people are essentially a threat. This makes people behave in ways that limit their partners’ growth. They want to control them so as to not feel threatened. 

Traditional monogamy can get really unhealthy. More and more people are embracing the idea that you do not own your partner. Allowing to grow helps them maintain their individuality. They can and should have experiences independent of you. It also makes your relationship stronger, if you can foster that kind of honesty and communication. 

A lot of people still think that in order to be a “valid” couple, you must be monogamous. Otherwise, you are just messing around. You don’t love your partner. 

“It’s a false premise to say that most monogamous people have chosen monogamy. Most people belong to the religion they were raised in…because that’s what’s familiar. That’s the milieu they grew up in, and, for better or worse, they’re just continuing the pattern. Until this traditionalist mindset is shaken loose, you would likely try from reflex to impose notions onto nonmonogamy that are not only untenable in the new context but spel sudden and messy doom even in situations that otherwise could be worked out.” 
― Anthony D. Ravenscroft, Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful: An Introduction on Polyamory

So is it possible to have a long term committed relationship while being polyamorous? What about having children for instance? 

It is very much possible to have lifelong committed relationships while being polyamorous, also it is possible to raise children in such a situation- it might even be easier considering there are more people involved in raising the child. 

So what is the big secret? How do Polyamorous couples deal with jealousy? 

It starts with acknowledging that jealousy is an inevitable human emotion- just like sadness or anger. And just like sadness or anger, it can be managed. When you have trust and communication, there is space to bring up jealousy and talk about it. 

In traditional monogamous relationships, jealousy is a very negative emotion and can wreck your partnership. Most polyamorous couples though, encourage transparency when it comes to feelings. If you can sit down and acknowledge, that this is how you feel, and talk about what would make you feel better, it wouldn’t be something that could wreck your partnership. 

“When jealousy rears up, it indicates that something inside of you is afraid. It’s an alarm, nothing less and nothing more. Treat it as such.” 
― Anthony D. RavenscroftPolyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful: An Introduction on Polyamory

HOWEVER, this arrangement does not work for everyone. Before getting into any form of non-monogamy, you need to assess where you’re at in terms of knowing what you want from a relationship. Is your partner willing to work with you? Are they good communicators? Do they make you feel secure if that is something you struggle with? Are you comfortable with vulnerability? 

“Polyamory is differentiable from some other forms of nonmonogamy (including adultery) in that it is future-oriented. Poly relationships are not located solely in the moment, but have intentions (though perhaps tacit and vaguely defined) of at least adding to a base of experience possibly so far as signifying a life-long and emotionally attached commitment.” 
 Anthony D. Ravenscroft, Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless and Hopeful: An Introduction on Polyamory

If you are thinking about exploring any form of non-monogamy, ask yourself these questions and have a good, long talk. The idea of an “open” relationship is simply being open to whatever comes up. It does not even mean that you HAVE to have other partners, it just means that you’re open to the discussion if it comes up.

If you wish to explore further and delve into whether Polyamory might be for you, you can find a list of questions here- https://poly.land/2016/08/30/polyamory-questions-from-more-than-two/ 

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