A Note on the Similarity of Monogamy and Polyamory

While I appreciate the many comments that were left on my last entry touching on this subject, I don’t think I was completely understood.

First of all, I have no problem whatsoever with the concepts of polyamory or swinging (or, for the record, monogamy). What I personally don’t like is having intimate sexual contact with someone whom I am not close to. It is a nice fantasy, but I don’t want that as a reality. I just don’t find that appealing. Others do, and I have no problem with that fact nor do I pass judgement on it either.

For each of the “lifestyles” of monogamy, polyamory, and swinging the opportunity for casual sexual encounters exists. There is no uncommon thread among them in this regard. Likewise, in each one there exists the opportunity for intensely close, deeply emotional connections, as well as emotionally intimate sexual experiences in a variety of relationship contexts. Again, there is no difference between the three lifestyles here.

The distinction between the three is merely one of math. Theoretically, monogomists have one relationship of a particular context at a time, polyamorists have more than one, and swingers come to a choice on the math based on their current relationship.

The point here is that the skills necessary to be a successful monogomist, polyamorist, and swinger are identical. These skills are a suite of emotional intelligences including self-awareness, compassion, generosity, love, patience, conflict-resolution, the ability to delay self-gratification, and communication skills. A good monogamist will be a good polyamorist. A good swinger will be a good monogamist. Again, there is no uncommon thread between monogamy, polyamory, or swinging in this regard.

The implicit reciprocal point made from the above paragraph is that unsuccessful monogamists are unsuccessful polyamorists, and so too any other relation. Unsuccessful monogamists are often called serial monogamists. Serial monogamists lack the skills necessary to maintain a relationship—any relationship—for any great length of time, and they are thus bad candidates for polyamory.

In short, serial monogamists are opaque to their partners; they do not keep their partners informed about their concerns, feelings, or other partners. They do not let their partners be involved in the making of choices which affect their lives. Good polyamorists, and good monogamists or swingers are completely transparent to their lovers, their playmates, their friends, and their crushes. That’s what makes them good at love, however they choose to express it.

I am a good monogamist. Not perfect, but very good. That’s the basis for my confidence in myself when/if (probably “when”) I will attempt a polyamorous relationship. I am not put off by the idea at all. Rather, I welcome it. It’s not something I need; I’d be just fine in whatever relationship I end up with as long as that relationship is a mutually loving and beneficial relationship for me and my partner(s). In order for a relationship to succeed at all—regardless of whether it is a monogamous or polyamorous one (or some other kind)—it must be healthy, it must be transparent.

I hope, though I admit I’m not really sure, that this is a good enough explanation of my feelings on the matter.

(As an aside, the realization that I could be happy in a completely monogamous relationship was one that came to me while I was with Danica. One of the things she said to me on the phone before we even met was, “In a good relationship, you don’t feel limited.” That stuck with me ’til now, and will probably never leave me. I hope it never does, anyway.)