Intentional non-monogamy is important to me. I need freedom to be who I am, learn, and not have all my eggs in one basket. Diversity of support is necessary, as a realistic disabled person. I’m not close to my family of origin, and my parents are both dead. Community sustains me, and I get life-meaning from giving and receiving love.
Also, I fall in love with people, in different ways, all the time. I need flexibility and to try things out. Bottling up feelings just makes them come out in destructive ways.
I don’t make an effort to date, and I’m not having sex with anyone but my spouse lately, but my emotions are all over the place. Having many sexual partners isn’t important to me. But freedom is necessary for my survival, not to feel trapped or owned.
I read some stats on how often monogamy actually is monogamy–there are a lot of people it’s not working for. I mean how often people are pretending monogamy–benefiting from stability of home, while deceiving someone about who they’re having sex with.
Heartbreaking is someone bringing home a STI–a person trusting their partner to behave monogamously, and now they have a lifelong stigmatized illness to manage, because the other didn’t abide by an agreement.
I’ve heard “monogamy is work.” But the reality is–non-monogamy is work too, times two or three or more. Intensely being there, with honest communication, for multiple people–it can be rewarding. But monogamous people can think it’s casual, to be non-monogamous. There are all different ways to do it, but I’ve never done it casually.
Everyone has demons to face, but different demons. Maybe monogamous people need to face monotony, how to stay sexually excited by the same person for decades, boredom? Or how to be close without being too close, like wearing matching tracksuits and merged identities.
A non-monogamous person gets variety, but has to wrestle with jealousy too. Some people are missing jealousy, I’ve heard. But for many of us, it’s powerful and can be painful to the point of terror.
Non-monogamy means we need great time management and communication. Two people can be married for a long time with one or both hiding out a lot. But non-monogamy means we have to be able to negotiate and problem solve creatively, all the time. Monogamy has a normal path, while non-monogamy demands that we make our own paths. What do we really want, and how it will work best to get that.
Many people assume their definition of monogamy is the definition, so there’s no need to discuss it. They want to pretend monogamy is obvious, or a pure science thing. They idealize birds, but even in nature, monogamy is often a scam.
In some couples, monogamy means you’re not even supposed to look at another person. Some people, porn is not ok, or just masturbating!
Some people believe in emotional infidelity, like it’s cheating even when no sex is involved–just getting emotional needs met by another person. I remember feeling deeply creeped out to learn about that concept. Wow, how much care is too much? How much tenderness would I be allowed to feel, toward my friend, grocery store checker, or the homeless person I buy a burrito for?
I could never reign in my compassion. I keep an eye on my behavior, but my heart is free.
romanticizing monogamy as safe
I see people desperate for a fairy tale. Part of it may be wanting to heal their childhoods by making a monogamous relationship work, trying to get back to something remembered. There’s a Christmas ideal I can conjure, of a two story house, gentle snowfall, affluence, no addiction, no violence, and a Happy Family.
This scene rarely happens, but to many, it seems safe and neat. They have a traditional wedding, wanting a traditional marriage, as a way to build a fortress against a chaotic world.
There’s nostalgia for something that maybe never was. A kid could remember it that way, but it might have been only an illusory moment. They might not know what happened behind closed doors, or the half-sibling will be revealed.
A lot of people strive to fix the mistakes of their relatives by doing it like they did, but not making the Terrible Mistake. Like a spell will be broken. But there’s a reason it’s so hard to do. Fixing the past seems dubious.
I don’t want a fortress against the world. Building a longer table makes more sense to me, than building a higher wall. Mother God put me on earth as a human to enjoy human pleasures–conversation, relationship, creating a new life that has never been lived before, inter-dependence, mutual aid. Letting people in makes me more safe than keeping people out.
I choose honesty. Telling my spouse what I’m up to emotionally and socially, in all ways, is my joy. I’m with him for many reasons, but mostly because I like talking with him and sharing a life.
So it’s funny, being non-monogamous is associated with deceit and bad morals. But people who do intentional non-monogamy are often the most moral of all. We have to actually think it through and make honest decisions.