Advice

WAfyWF: Monogamy might not be for me…

The question form is open. 🙂

There are plenty different kinds of relationships you can have. For example: That one friend who’s a really great snuggler and who sometimes helps you groom behind the ears. We all need that, right?

Question: When do you know that monogamy just isn’t for you?

That’s it. That’s the question. 

Answer: When I wake up every day. 

I can’t speak for everyone, but monogamy was never for me. I was always a “natural” poly person. Being raised in a heteronormative society and a religious community, I heard and internalized all the usual ideas about what relationships were supposed to look like, yet in all of my formative relationships, I gravitated toward an unconventional way of doing things. As a child, I didn’t have just one best friend. Rather, I had a bunch of different people who I loved spending time with, and I referred to them all as my best friends. When I started to explore my sexuality with my peers the way little kids do, I was drawn to multiple people of different genders, and it never occurred to me that that might be a problem. When I started dating, my first serious relationship was polyamorous, although I didn’t have the language for it at the time. I loved  my boyfriend, and I was also in love with a girl (we didn’t call ourselves girlfriends at that time because Catholic school is a high-risk place for queer kids). In college, I dated a man who would try to coopt my sexuality for his own gain while also invalidating me with statements such as, “You can sleep with other women as long as I’m there,” and “You can have sex with whoever you want as long as you don’t fall in love.” I felt dehumanized by that relationship, and it made me run away from the whole idea of non-monogamy, but eventually I met a partner who understood and even appreciated this aspect of who I am in a truly loving and not manipulative way. And over time, I’ve found a whole community of people who feel the same way I do about love and relationships. 

So … how do you know monogamy just isn’t for you? Personally, I’m not convinced monogamy is “for” anyone. Even if you are sexually monogamous, no one gets all of their mental, emotional, and social needs met by a single individual. You might have a best friend you call up when you need help working through life’s challenges, a professional mentor who challenges you intellectually, one friend you like to go see movies with and another person who loves to check out new restaurants with you — those are all relationships that meet different needs in your life. For me, non-monogamy is about nurturing connections in whatever form they take, and that is for everyone.

Some questions to consider: 

  • Have you tried monogamy and felt that you’re always suffocated by your relationships?
  • Do you feel that you’re not able to express your full self within the confines of monogamy?
  • Do you deeply love your partner but still find yourself developing attachments to others?
  • Do you feel guilty about caring for someone because you’re “not supposed to feel that?”
  • Are you unbothered by the idea of your partner loving someone in addition to yourself?
  • Do you feel capable of having mutually supportive relationships with multiple people?
  • Are you excited about getting better at using Google Calendars? 
  • Are you willing to learn to talk openly about your needs with your partner(s)?

If you’re answering yes to a lot of these questions, consider learning about polyamory and ethical non-monogamy. There are tons of books, blogs, podcasts and online communities dedicated to the subject, so the opportunities to learn are plentiful. Do be wary of taking advice from strangers on the internet about your relationships, though — and that includes me. A lot of people will try to project their own experiences onto you and make big assumptions about what you must be thinking, feeling or experiencing. As in all areas of life, it’s essential that you know yourself and trust your own mind and heart more than the judgements and projections of others. 

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