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More Myths of Nonmonogamy

Posted in Polyamory, and Sex & Relationships

The topic for last week’s Opening Up Read-along was myths of nonmonogamy. Readers on a FetLife thread (free login required) shared more myths of polyamory and open relationships which I’d like to discuss.

Opening Up by Tristan Taormino includes several myths about nonmonogamous relationships. Here are a few more.

Poly people are trying to steal your girlfriend (or boyfriend).

Drama sucks. Stealing someone in a monogamous relationship isn’t ethical behavior, and it is almost certain to cause grief and drama. Just because we have sex with multiple people doesn’t mean we want to have sex with you, or we somehow get off on stealing others’ partners.

People who successfully practice nonmonogamy must never feel jealousy.

Monogamy is one way relationships form to create a sense of security for those involved. If it is to work, nonmonogamy has to do the same. While jealousy affects us all very differently, nonmonogamy is not practiced by a special race of people who are magically immune to difficult emotions.  Many people give jealousy more power than it deserves — people learn to cope with jealousy just like other difficult emotions, and dealing with it gets easier with practice.

You just haven’t found the right person yet.

For me, the right person is someone who I feel intensely close too, but still wants me feeling free to explore. My ideal matches not only accept my polyamory (and their own, one hopes) but also embrace it and the benefits it brings to all our lives.

People in nonmonogamous relationships never cheat.

Unfortunately, just as those in nonmonogamous relationships are subject to many of the same negative emotions, they also have the same human frailties. Ethical, negotiated nonmonogamy hopefully removes much of the impulse to cheat or lie (like seeking sexual variety), but it doesn’t prevent it. People still make mistakes, and damaged people act in damaged ways.

We’ll support your cheating relationship.

Reactions will differ, but expect your nonmonogamous friend to encourage honesty, and frown on cheating.

Assumptions about gender.

This myth is that men want sexual variety more than women. Outsiders sometimes assume all men push women into accepting open relationships, as if they would never choose it on their own. Another related myth is the idea that women are more prone to jealousy in nonmonogamy than men.  No gender has a monopoly on any emotion, and people of all genders seek nonmonogamy.

Assumptions about couples.

Just because a couple are dating does not mean they are monogamous. But in a known open relationship, another set of assumptions often applies. Each relationship is different, so you cannot assume that all nonmonogamous couples have sex together, or date the same people. Not everyone is bisexual so, for example, you can’t assume a woman in a male-female open relationship is necessarily looking for women and not men to date. Finally, especially in the kink community, there is sometimes an incorrect assumption that one partner has control over the choices of the other.

Thanks to everyone participating in this read-along & to those who sent in their own myths. The read-along continues with Chapter 3 this Thursday.