What Polyamory Isn’t (for me)
I’ve been in a non-monogamous relationship with my husband for about three years now. Before that, I was involved in other non-monogamous relationships, going back for quite a few years. In that time, I’ve found that people unfamiliar with polyamory tend to have some common misconceptions about what it means.
Myth #1.) Polyamory = Polygamy
This is not just a matter of semantics. Polyamory is a lifestyle of open relationships, where both partners are free to pursue other relationships by personal choice. Polygamy means being married to more than one person, particularly a man with multiple wives, which is often dictated by religion or culture.
Myth #2.) Polyamorous women are sluts/loose/up for anything.
This is similar to the myth that all bisexual women are interested in threesomes. As a poly woman (and a bisexual), I can tell you that neither of these is always true. I am actually quite picky. It’s not just about random sex for me.
Myth #3.) A relationship with a polyamorous person doesn’t count as a “real” relationship.
I wasn’t sure how to word this one. Basically, this is the scenario that I’ve experienced several times (and other poly women have had this happen too):
I’m in a relationship with someone, I’ve told them from the beginning that I’m non-monogamous and things go well. We spend a lot of time together and build a nice, honest relationship. Then suddenly, (usually in the springtime) they disappear for a week and when they contact me again, it’s “Hey, so I met this girl and I want to pursue a real relationship with her, so we can’t see each other anymore.” After all the time we’d spent together, talking about how awesome it is to be open and honest, he breaks up with me like it never happened. Instead of explaining to the other girl, “Look, I really like you, but I’m kind of seeing someone. It’s an open relationship, so it’s OK if we start dating, but I just need to be honest with you and with her. If you’re not cool with that then I need to know so I can let her know what’s up.” They just assume from the start that not only will the other person not be OK with it, but that I will. I can’t tell you how much it hurts when this happens.
Myth #4.) All polyamorous couples are “swingers” just looking for a sex hookup.
This is similar to #2. My husband and I are happy with our relationship. If we pursue a relationship, sexual or otherwise, outside of our relationship, that’s our business. We don’t “swing,” though we’re not opposed to the idea if we met a couple that we were really into. “Wife-swapping” is another term I wouldn’t use. We’re also not looking for orgies or group sex either. It’s not just about sex. If either of us meets someone, and we like them, it means it doesn’t have to end with “Look, I’m married. So we can only just be friends.” It means we can pursue it further, and even have a committed, long term secondary relationship. My husband has been with his secondary partner for two years! That’s longer than most monogamous relationships he’s had!
Myth #5.) All polyamorous couples are looking for a threesome.
Yuck. Threesomes don’t work very well. It’s an unstable relationship at best and can cause a lot of strain. Not that we aren’t open to it, should it happen. It’s just not something either of us is interested in seeking out exclusively.
Myth #6.) All polyamorous couples are unhappy with their partner, otherwise they’d be monogamous.
This is just insulting. I’m very happy with my husband. He is my partner in life and I can’t imagine any reason I would ever leave him. We just don’t limit ourselves. If I had to settle for monogamy, I’d always wonder if there was “something better out there” and then when I met someone new, and all those happy NRE chemicals were swirling around in my brain, I’d think I found them and I’d be unhappy with my relationship. In this relationship, I can pursue that new thing and it doesn’t threaten my old one. It means every new relationship strengthens and deepens it. The irony is, if I was monogamous, I’d be unhappy, but the fact that we’re both polyamorous means I’m happy.
That’s all the myths I can think of now. If I think of more, I’ll write them down.