Last time around, I shared my path to polyamory. This time, I thought I would share some of the misconceptions about polyamory that I have encountered during that journey.
Like others who identify as polyamorous, I have had to explain and educate my non-poly friends to help them understand my non-monogamous ways. During the course of these explanations, and sometimes even after them, I have heard some misconceptions about polyamory. Some have been amusing, while others have been concerning. All of these misconceptions shed light on how people might perceive things, though.
Polyamory is the same as polygamy.
If you are reading this, you probably know the difference between polyamory and polygamy. But in case you don’t, let’s review once more.
As I mentioned in my last article, polyamory is the desire and willingness to date and form intimate relationships with more than one person with the awareness and understanding of everyone involved. Polygamy, on the other hand, refers to the practice or custom of having more than one wife or at the same time. The vital difference is that of consent and choice.
Which is as good a time as any to remind everyone that if you have multiple relationships without the awareness and acceptance of your other relationships, it isn’t polyamory.
Polyamorous? You will hook up with any one!
While poly folks are open to more than one partner, we still have boundaries about who they will date or play with. Just as monogamous folks want there to be a connection, chemistry and mutual attraction, so too do us non-monogamous and polyamorous people. We won’t hook up or date someone just because we can or the opportunity is there. Well, some of us might choose to do so, but it doesn’t mean ALL of us will.
Yes, polyamorous people get to decide who we connect with.
Polyamorous? You will hook up any time!
Some people translate the ability to date multiple partners as including the ability to hook up instantly. Some polyamorous people do just that. They discuss limits and boundaries ahead of time and decide that they are fine with spontaneous hook ups.
But not all poly people do that. For example, my wife and I are okay with play in certain scenarios like parties or events. However, we prefer to build relationships that lead to the physical aspect rather than putting the physical aspect first and foremost.
Of course, not everyone establishes such a slower pace in monogamous or non-monogamous relationships. Everyone is different, including poly people!
Poly + poly = relationship win.
I have had people introduce me to certain people thinking we would hit it off just because we are poly. And it didn’t quite work out that way.
The reality is that poly folk are just like other folk in that they have their own different personalities, habits, quirks and preferences. Simply being poly is not enough to base a relationship on.
(Hmm, I do believe I am starting to see a trend in all these points – that all of us poly people have differing needs, wants, personalities and approaches to dating.)
Breaking up is easier on an attached poly person since he or she still has another partner.
Being polyamorous means I have dated other people while I am also in a long term relationship. Some of these new relationships did not work out, and on a couple of occasions I was told it is easy for me since I still have someone else.
Hearing “you two have each other” when one relationship ends is cold comfort. Everything is not magically easier because you still have another relationship. It’s not that simple.
Yes, having a partner does allow you to have someone to talk to regarding challenges in the other relationship. That is a role a good friend could fulfill as well. And yes, if you have another partner, then you are not leaving a breakup single and alone.
But that is not to say a breakup or relationship challenges go easy just because you have a significant other as well. For me, dating someone outside of my existing relationship means that both me and my wife is putting in time and energy to getting to know the person and opening up our lives to that person. Energy is put into discussing boundaries, planning, doing mental and emotion check-ups – for all involved. We put ourselves out there, and if a relationship is challenged or failing it puts a strain on everyone involved.
After a relationship ends, it definitely helps to have support, whether it is from a close friend or a partner. However, the pain of a rocky or failed relationship is placed on both partners who “survive” a failed relationship.
So – easier? Yes… AND no.
You’re poly? You must be bi / kinky / damaged / unable to commit.
Some folks theorize about why people are poly, linking it to a rough childhood, sexual kink, or fear of commitment. This last one is funny, that one, since poly people tend to commit in differing ways to multiple people, rather than one.
As mentioned earlier, poly folk have their own different personalities, habits, quirks and preferences. This goes for sexual preferences, background and reason for exploring polyamory. We all arrived at our current place in life through a variety of factors – just like everyone else. That’s not to say poly people cannot be bi, or kinky, or damaged, or unable to commit. But so can monogamous people too!
We’re polyamorous – some day other people will evolve like us!
I quite enjoy my polyamorous life, whether I have one partner or multiple. And the number of people choosing polyamory as their approach to life is growing. But that doesn’t mean it works for everyone or that everyone would be better off if they “saw the light” and became poly.
Sometimes I hear or see dialogue implying or straight out saying polyamorous people are more enlightened or evolved or whatnot than those who are monogamous. I feel that sort of divisive language – of putting poly above others – is incorrect and needlessly judgmental. We all have our preferences, and I have seen relationships fail whether mono, poly or otherwise.
If your approach to life works and you aren’t hurting others – whether you identify as monogamous or non-monogamous or something else – then enjoy!
That’s all the misconceptions I wanted to cover for now. There are more that I have encountered, but these are the ones I run into most. How about you?
Have you seen any poly misconceptions or myths that need busting? Write about them in the comments section below.