Everyone asks why. Why take the risk of having an open relationship? They perceive open as ‘non-committed’. Why take the risk of being polyamorous when you are so happy together? They perceive polyamory as a simple choice rather than a choice and an inclination. Rather than argue those misconceptions, my answer is this.
The reason we are so blissfully happy is because we have an open relationship. Being monogamous is a horrible risk. And for us at least, a greater one than polyamory.
How Successful is Monogamy?
Monogamy is designed to keep couples together by creating barriers of exit; socially; financially and psychologically. One cannot look at the divorce statistics to ascertain how successful it is; this only proves how many couples remain married. Not how many couples remain happily married… Judging by how many marriages now end in divorce since it became more socially acceptable, that’s not many over the long term. Nor does it show how many couples are monogamous by law and yet have some element of infidelity within their configuration, be it emotional or physical.
No. In the final analysis, statistics mean very little (and being a financial analyst by trade, I know that underlying motivations for variance can tell a completely different story). I cannot, and will not prove anything to anyone with statistics.
People may choose to be monogamous or polyamorous. But the monogamous system has evolved from a principle involving control and property/resource management. It has not stemmed from values of freedom, acceptance and love. To my mind a system which has evolved freedom, acceptance and love sounds far better than a system which is grounded in control and property/resource management. We are a culture who tries to assuage uncertainty and establish boundaries to control our fear. We are living in a fear based culture. And our society exemplifies this in numerous ways.
As an economy, when Enrons or Barings scandals occur, we immediately look to control any future outcomes by making more rules. More stringent measures…codes of ethics, Sarbanes Oxley, better corporate structures to govern conflicts of interest. Control and property/resource management. They are mind and ego games. They take the heart out of operations, create anxiety and – yes – temporary reassurance. It won’t happen again. Until it does. And this is the everlasting vicious circle. More control, creates more fear, which in turn creates more control.
In society we also create rules, mostly implicit unless they are religious (they’re fairly explicit). People who go against the norm are excluded. Those people are a threat to our beliefs and a veiled insult to the way that we live our lives. Where people are a threat to our control, authority, territory, or resources, we can even go to war to prove our point.
At an individual level, many prefer to live in a comfort zone, unwilling or unable to take on certain challenges of life. They are happy – or think they are happy – with the effect that a system derived from control and property management produces. It gives them a false sense of security and in many respects stops that pain that is growing. Because the challenge life is that it is uncertain. This uncertainty encourages growth. Development. A commitment to better awareness and honesty. It involves some pain on ocassion, yes. But only as far as it concerns the breakdown of our self-imposed beliefs. Life is a bit like training for a marathon. No one expects it to be easy or comfortable, but it sure as hell is powerful and exhilarating.
Polyamory is a belief in our ability to love many. It is also a methodology by with you can constantly re-evaluate if your current relationships are serving you all in a healthy way. It is a concept which embodies our universal needs of Love, Freedom, Connection and Honesty. It is the antithesis of control. It is complete trust. Not – I hasten to add – in the other person. That puts far too heavy a burden on your relationship. To trust and depend upon someone for one’s own happiness is actually abusive to the other person. To trust someone ‘not to hurt you’ accords them a power and a responsibility which is your own. The trust involves the trust in yourself as a microcosm of the universe. The trust that you are open to what it brings you and what you create. The trust that you can cope. The trust that you will always be okay…because it is your choice to be okay. Getting to this realization is part of what monogamy prevents.
Of course many who choose polyamory start along the path of openness and trust. Then somewhere, someway down the line they create rules again for themselves. They impose hierarchy on it. Primary partners, secondary partners, tertiary partners.They ask for prioritization. It is so easy to slip back into our familiar control patterns. For anyone with whom I develop a new relationship it is difficult to understand.They ask - ‘Where would this relationship lead?’ (It must lead somewhere to a climax, a goal.)Nowhere. And everywhere. Where does any friendship lead? To happiness. To knowledge. To growth. Probably not to living together and children (since two is enough for me). But never say never.
So programmed are we into an imposed relationship structure of ‘my prince will come and we will live happily ever after’, ‘he will be my everything and satisfy every need’ (what a huge burden on someone!), that we cannot envisage exploring a connection, just because there is one. The safety of unthinking, unconscious monogamy creates a perception of comfort where there is none. It dulls the senses. It wraps us in cotton wool. Where we remain fetally stunted, soft and shielded. From growth. And that for me is a far bigger risk. A risk of wasting this precious life…who knows if it’s the only one we get, or how long it lasts?We are a society who has mistaken happiness, for comfort. But if you seek to be happy, do not seek to be comfortable. Because there are many battles to be fought if you are to find your true self. But once you have – even if it is still not comfortable all of the time – it is the ultimate state of bliss.
Need An Ear? Book Some time to sort through your head with the Polyamory Advice Line.
If you want…
- Third-person perspective on your situation
- Advice on which resources might help you figure out a knotty problem
- A non-judgmental chat on what the hell you’re doing (and reassurance about why you are not crazy, self destructive or a sinner)
…Then Talk To Me.