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Old 11-17-2009, 05:12 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Default Poly principles vs. mono principles

So let's lay it out there. What's the difference?

I've recently been a part of a few conversations (not just here but in life and on other boards) that brought to light the amount of assumptions people make within and without the poly community. Assumptions such as people who elect to keep relationships open do so out of a "grass is always greener" mentality or out of some kind of ethical sluttiness. Or that open relationships are not conducive to having stable families, etc. As a poly single, I've dealt with all sorts of assumptions about my life and relationships from the poly community from people questioning whether I'm poly at all to people assuming I'm just in it for sexual exploration and nothing more. Or that because I have not had a long term monogamous relationship, I will never be equipped to have meaningful poly relationships.

Those assumptions run the other way too with many poly people viewing monogamy as "less evolved" or a product of social conditioning. Or that people are monogamous because they are insecure and haven't grown enough in themselves to question social conditioning etc...

I see a lot of these underlying assumptions in many discussions and for me, they cause an inability to understand and thus create frustration and hurt on all sides.

Honestly, I see very few principles that can be named "poly principles". The same thing that makes a poly relationship healthy is going to make a monogamous relationship healthy regardless of whether it's an open, closed or any other kind of relationship. Commitment is commitment. Levels of commitment can differ from relationship to relationship, but I don't see exclusivity as a measure of that. A monogamous exclusive relationship can be less committed than an open polyamorous one.


So let's unpack this. Where do the differences in principles *actually* lie between these two models of relationships? Are (or should) ideas like commitment and insecurity viewed differently in a poly or mono context?

Last edited by Ceoli; 11-17-2009 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 11-17-2009, 07:49 PM
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I'm not sure if this is what you're after, but this is my spin.

When I'm thinking in mono terms, these "rules" seem to sprout and cause lots of angst for me.

(even though I'm bisexual, I say "he" in this context because it's a package in my head, the one that was taught to me as how I'm supposed to be)

- He must make all the first moves
- He must commit to me early on
- I would even say, he had better commit to me (I hear my aunt saying this)
- He better not look at other women
- It is his job to meet my needs
- He must desire me physically and sexually, love me with integrity, sacrifice for me, etc.

That sort of stuff.

The man I'm sort of seeing, 'R' was approached by an ex of mine not long ago. My ex asked him, "So, are you two dating?". 'R' replied "We're enjoying each other's company." This doesn't fit at all into the principles layed out for me by my family. When 'R' said this to me, I felt happy. We're not going too fast, we are definitely enjoying each other's company when we do see each other and my boundaries are feeling very honoured.

When I said this to my aunt, she got on her high horse and I knew she was applying all those rules that fall under the category of, "He had better...". It wasn't enough that he is enjoying my company, he's supposed to be doing much more for me as a responsible, reliable, monogamous, hetero partner for her niece.

Poly principles, in my life anyway, make all of that not only irrelevant, but painful, (which makes it very difficult to explain to my aunt how happy I am).

What matters most to me is that I be heard and understood. That I be free to express the amount of love that I feel, (all kinds of love, not simply romantic). That I be allowed to ask for what I need and desire, (doesn't mean I'll get it). And it matters a lot to me to know that someone I care about feel cared about.

Poly feels much more fluid. Maybe one person doesn't fill my sexual needs, but connects with me on another level that helps us both grow and brings us both happiness. In mono world, there would be a lot of discussion about how to have those unmet needs met by my partner who is falling short. How icky.

The principles I operate on in poly involve honesty, (still working out how much honesty though... does a partner need to know all of my inner ramblings, insecurities, etc?), concern and awareness for where everyone is at and willingness to negotiate.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:03 PM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolypoly View Post

- He must make all the first moves
- He must commit to me early on
- I would even say, he had better commit to me (I hear my aunt saying this)
- He better not look at other women
- It is his job to meet my needs
- He must desire me physically and sexually, love me with integrity, sacrifice for me, etc.

That sort of stuff.
Thanks for the reply. I'm not particularly looking for any specific kinds of replies, just some discussion (though I can be pretty relentless when discussing ideas).

I found what you posted really interesting, but it got me wondering- are those principles of monogamy or principles of insecurity or social conditioning that drive those qualifications? Is there a way to separate monogamy from social conditioning?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rolypoly View Post
The principles I operate on in poly involve honesty, (still working out how much honesty though... does a partner need to know all of my inner ramblings, insecurities, etc?), concern and awareness for where everyone is at and willingness to negotiate.
Again, I guess I'm wondering. Are these principles that are exclusive to poly relationships? It seems to me that these are principles that work well in any kind of healthy relationship.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Ceoli View Post
are those principles of monogamy or principles of insecurity or social conditioning that drive those qualifications? Is there a way to separate monogamy from social conditioning?
In my experience, monogamy was socially conditioned. I can remember as far back as my childhood crushing on lots of people and loving being in their energy. I got scolded by a cousin for flirting with his friend and closed myself off a lot. I've been teased by friends throughout the years about my dating style. I crush often, love easily and love the interactions that happen with people. I tend to find beautiful things in most people and can love those things, but this has often been seen as wrong, flighty, asking for trouble, scattered, whatever...

So, I think those qualifications are definitely socially conditioned. For me, they are synonymous with mono. As soon as I become exclusive with someone, the old story plays.

The poly principles I listed can definitely be present in monogamous relationships, (though willingness to negotiate then has limits). For me, they're not. Monogamy is what I think I'm supposed to do. Not what I want. So, when doing something I think I'm supposed to do, I do it the way I think I'm supposed to do it.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:20 PM
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Overall question-I don't know.

I guess for me I don't care one way or another if someone is poly or mono-it really has very little baring on me. But I've been poly my whole life and for some reason that has always been a problem for the people around me.

I think in truth most of the "functional rules" are actually the same-but people are conditioned to think of them as different.

Great topic-hopefully with some time to think on it I can elaborate more!
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:59 AM
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I have thought about this at length before. I came to the conclusion, that I don't care either... It isn't the relationship "style" that is important to me... just the items in my previously posted relationship death list. That stuff applies to both styles of relationships. This is from a journal of mine:

"I have done alot of reading on this subject and have come to another epiphany. Polyamory is like any other relationship model. I say this because it involves all the good and the bad of any other relationship. Ideally, a good relationship, be it monogamous or polyamorous should involve honesty, care, compassion, communication, respect, appreciation for who each other is as individuals, freedom to be themselves, and growth.

The only difference is the number of people and relationships involved. All relationships are hard, all require work... I do NOT subscribe to the belief that one style is harder than another, or that one style is more "evolved" than another. Because truthfully, I don't think everyone is wired to be monogamous and to maintain a happy, healthy monogamous relationship for life is just as spiritual as maintaining a happy polyamorous one.

In monogamy it may be harder to find ways to "keep the spark alive" so you have to be creative. It may be harder to remember that you are individuals and not become codependent. It may be harder to stay emotionally and sexually faithful - but you do it, because when done right, it can be incredibly fulfilling!

In polyamory, it may be harder to make quality time for your lovers and make sure they feel special in your relationship. It may be harder to confront jealousy and feelings of ownership when faced with them head on. It may be harder to develop and maintain a deep, meaningful connection when your life is full with "distraction" or other possibilities."

Just a thought...
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:10 PM
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[QUOTE=rolypoly;12299

- He must make all the first moves
- He must commit to me early on
- I would even say, he had better commit to me (I hear my aunt saying this)
- He better not look at other women
- It is his job to meet my needs
- He must desire me physically and sexually, love me with integrity, sacrifice for me, etc.

[/QUOTE]

So you are saying these are things that you feel have been stressed to you by your family/upbringing? That monogamy means that a man bends over backward for the woman he intends to marry? Wow.

My idea of monogamy is very different. I think my upbringing never really touched on what relationships were, healthy or otherwise. I could get into it more in depth, but it would take a while to explain the conflicting values my family exhibited. So I will just say that I sort of had to make up my own concept of what monogamy means....a concept which is, at this time, being totally disassembled (having been introduced to poly over a year ago). I had these very sort of stringent assumptions and expectations about monogamy but I never really examined them in depth until recently.

I think what monogamy is to me is the expectation that your partner is the only person who holds The Special Place. The term Significant Other illustrates that. My children, my mom, my friends, etc are all significant. But no one gets that title except my monogamous partner, right? This partner has certain responsibilities and rights within the relationship: exclusive sexuality, emotional intimacy, life-sharing, and I believe most are responsible for giving their partner support (emotional, physical....and day to day things like fetching medicine when the partner is sick or sharing finances). They are also the person you check in with on a daily basis about pretty much everything.

What I am seeing in some poly relationship descriptions are these exact same things. But I think it is called Polyfidelity - which is confusing to me....I thought a major point of poly was to give your partner(s) the freedom to explore any/all relationships? But some people have these 'closed' poly groups.....which I don't understand. Is it possible some poly's are monogamous poly's? (Or am I opening a GIGANTIC can of worms on that?)

I am going to read the rest of the replies to this post and may post more.......
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyx View Post

What I am seeing in some poly relationship descriptions are these exact same things. But I think it is called Polyfidelity - which is confusing to me....I thought a major point of poly was to give your partner(s) the freedom to explore any/all relationships? But some people have these 'closed' poly groups.....which I don't understand. Is it possible some poly's are monogamous poly's? (Or am I opening a GIGANTIC can of worms on that?)

I am going to read the rest of the replies to this post and may post more.......
The word poly refers to the ability to love more than one. It does not mandate that you have to be open all the time. That is how some people aproach living poly but not a requirement. You could be in love with just two people for your entire life and that is still being poly. Polyfidelitous living is essentially embracing more than one love in an apparently monogamous manner. It is not monogamous because it involves more than two people.

There are no "points" to how you have relationships...that almost makes it sound like a club with rules you have to follow or you are out LOL! (traditional monogamous relationships have a lot of these) Yes I do see this attitude in my poly community. There are some that think if you aren't open to new loves you aren't poly. That's fine for them. I would find a great deal of weakness in someone who felt they had to leave themselves open only to fit in or meet the "club" requirements. I find a weakness towards anything like that really..cheerleaders, jocks, bikers, anyone. I would also find this a weakness in someone forcing themselves to act mono just to blend with society for any reasons less than survival and health of family.

I hope this helps

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Last edited by MonoVCPHG; 11-21-2009 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:34 AM
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Commitment is commitment. Levels of commitment can differ from relationship to relationship, but I don't see exclusivity as a measure of that. A monogamous exclusive relationship can be less committed than an open polyamorous one.

Everything you are about to read is in my own humble opinion

You are absolutely correct that a monogamous relationship can be less committed than a poly one.

A person can be committed to aspects of the relationship at varying degrees. But, sexual/intimate exclusivity within a monogamous relationship is the key to defining the commitment two people make to each other.

Commitment to a monogamous relationship is based on being exclusive. Exclusivity and commitment go hand in hand. That is the appeal for many in monogamous relationships. That "having someone for yourself" is the fundamental core of committing to a monogamous relationship. Don't take my word for it....ask any monogamous couple if commitment to the relationship means they are intimately/sexually exclusive.

Why direct energy trying to understand the monogamist ideal of commitment when you have no desire to apply it in your own life is my question?

Define it the way you chose to use it in your life.

As a side note:
To say that monogamous relationships lead to cheating is a contradiction. Monogamous relationships only involve two people. When another person becomes involved there is no longer a state of monogamy. It is a state of deception and becomes it's own entity hidden within the preception of monogamy through acting monogamistic.

Yes there is pressure to conform to society's idea of a monogamous relationship, but there is also peer pressure to conform to what is the idea of a polyamorous relationship. Ceoli has experienced this, as have Redpepper and me. Polyfidelity is not the social norm within our community so therefore we are subjected to the same sort of bias, judgement that mainstream monogamists impose on polyamorists.

Lastly, acting monogamist, as is dictated by social norms is different than being monogamous as is dictated by nature. One is governed by established external rules; the other is a product of internal wiring.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:54 AM
Ceoli Ceoli is offline
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Originally Posted by MonoVCPHG View Post
A person can be committed to aspects of the relationship at varying degrees. But, sexual/intimate exclusivity within a monogamous relationship is the key to defining the commitment two people make to each other.

Commitment to a monogamous relationship is based on being exclusive. Exclusivity and commitment go hand in hand.
They may go hand in hand, but I still don't see them as the same thing. It could be that in a monogamous context exclusivity is a necessary factor for it to be monogamous, and you can even say that that monogamous people make a commitment to be exclusive, but again, they are two different factors. The commitment is what you do. The exclusivity of monogamy is one particular way to manifest and follow through with a commitment. It is but one of many ways a person commits to a relationship. It just so happens that it is a necessary factor for monogamy.

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Why direct energy trying to understand the monogamist ideal of commitment when you have no desire to apply it in your own life is my question?
Well, why do you post about your views on monogamy and commitment in other places? Why do you post about polyamory if you're monogamous? To get ideas out there and discuss them. I have continually seen on this board, on other boards and in many discussions the idea that commitment is measured in terms of exclusivity, i.e. somehow relationships eventually evolve into some form of fidelity and are somehow more committed than relationships that remain open. I've also seen a lot of judgement behind many of those assumptions. These are the kinds of assumptions that continue to drive negative stereotypes around polyamory. Plus it creates a false dichotomy between what it means to have a healthy mono or a healthy poly relationship.

And lastly, when opinions are put out there that drive negative stereotypes of any kind, I'm going to challenge them. When people start saying things like "It's only my opinion, but I think gay people are more promiscuous than straight people. But that's just my opinion. If it's ok for them, then more power to them!", of course people aren't going to remain silent. It may seem innocuous (though I imagine it doesn't sound so innocuous to us) but assumptions like that do a lot of damage and create a lot of prejudice that translates into an entire group of people in our society being marginalized in life altering ways. Those same types of assumptions can be harmful when applied to poly people. Because the idea that being in an open relationship is less committed pervades our society. It can damage poly families, it can disempower women who would have to hide their nature in order to not lose their families, it can marginalize men who practice ethical non-monogamy. I have seen people almost lose their kids because of such assumptions about commitment. It can do and has done a WHOLE lot of damage to people who choose to live this way.

So yes, I'm going to challenge these views, even if they're only opinions.

Last edited by Ceoli; 11-18-2009 at 07:17 AM.
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