Originally I had planned this massive post which answered a LOT of questions. Then I realized that’s too much reading for the average casual blog reader, so I decided to split this post up into three parts, which I will release every other day this week. Check back on Tuesday and Thursday of this week for the ongoing adventures of “Common Questions!”
Hello my monogamous friends! If you’re reading this, it’s (hopefully) because you’re curious about this thing called polyamory. You might have some preconceived notions about this whole “poly” thing, and I would like to help you better understand who we are, and what we do. If you have other questions, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
To my poly friends, I would love to make this an ongoing feature, in which I address questions that your mono friends might be asking – so please read, and let me know what I’m missing out on! And as always, join the discussion in the comments section if you find my viewpoints to not match yours. I’m not the authority on any of these questions! This is simply my observations and perspectives. I try to value and honor all viewpoints as much as I humanly can, and want this blog to be a dialogue as much as it can be.
So, enough of all of this chit-chatting…bring on the questions!
Question #1: So, you’re cheating on your partner?
Nope, not cheating. Cheating implies that my partner isn’t aware of what I’m doing, and if she did know, she wouldn’t be cool with it. But not only do my partners (note the plural here! Poly means more than one!) know about my relationships with others, they have their own relationships. We share openly about who we are dating, and who we are sexually active with. Further details might or might not be shared, depending on the boundaries established in each relationship.
This might be one of the hardest ideas to get your head around. When I’ve talked to my students about polyamory (in the context of the class I teach on interpersonal communication, in which we discuss various types of romantic relationships), some students equate any kind of relationship outside of monogamy to be “cheating.” To really understand what cheating is, we might look to how we use the term in other contexts. Some people cheat on their taxes or on a test (not MY students of course! ;). Almost every time the term cheating is used, it is to connote dishonesty of some kind. There is NO dishonesty going on in a relationship that is being conducted in an ethical manner. The ethical part indicates that honesty is paramount.
Now, cheating still can, and does occur in polyamory, but based on my observations, it’s at a much lower rate than in monogamous relationships. Why? Probably because with polyamory, you don’t have to lie! So why do some people still do it? Great question! Something I will bring up in a future blog post! (note to self…do that!)
Question #2: So you just have commitment problems then?
Well yes, but polyamory has nothing to do with that! (Just kidding!!!!) But seriously, there seems to be a myth that exclusivity is synonymous with commitment. True, exclusive relationships are usually committed relationships, but non-exclusive relationships can also be committed. To me, commitment entails putting myself in a person’s life in such a way that I will always be there for him or her. I am committed to many people – my co-workers, my friends, my lovers. These commitments are all unique – some require more time, some less time. Some require more energy, some less. Some require a lot of love, some require none. The investments of time, energy and love that I make with my lovers is the way I show my commitment to them. This is no different than the time, energy and love I devoted to my monogamous relationships I was in prior to discovering my poly orientation.
Note that I discuss investments of time, energy and love. However, one of these things “doesn’t belong here.” What I mean is that two of those three investments are finite, while the third is infinite! That’s right, the love I have to give (and the love you have to give!) is infinite, it knows no end. We are inherently limited in time and energy, but love is an endless natural resource. How is that possible, you may be asking? Wow, another great post for another day! (At this rate, I’ll have posts through the year 2022!)
And that’s it for today…check back on Tuesday for Part Two of “Common Questions” – until then, you stay classy Internet!