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Old 11-06-2011, 06:56 PM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Default Jealousy a Root of Monogamy?

I need to preface my main point with a note about the discussion style I'm going to use on this subject. Otherwise, I will likely be seen as bullheaded and agrumentative This is one of those things where I have an idea in my head, I've rolled it around and around and need to fully vet it and see which parts of it hold water and which ones don't. During that process, I'll make an assertion, examine feedback, note what I think has merit and what I think doesn't and make more assertions. Sometimes it might seem as though I'm not listening, but what I'm really doing is running the idea through the meat grinder, many times with a devil's advocate approach, and seeing what makes it out the other side. I assure you I have no problem ultimately admitting I'm wrong, in part or fully. I just have to run it through all the logic in my head first, and I've found the only way I can do that is to open up my thoughts to being challenged and to challenge responses. I always do my best to do so respectfully and gracefully

It seems to me that an emotional need for monogamy is almost always rooted in some combination of jealousy, insecurity and fear. I think these things are unhealthy parts of the human psyche, and that people are ultimately better off without them, even if they think they aren't. The reason people think they aren't better off without them is because these things are self-perpetuating--our jealousies, insecurities and fears keep us from addressing our jealousies, insecurities and fears; they tell us, indirectly, that we are better off holding onto them.

In a short discussion with OldGuy, he noted that a relationship should be judged on whether it's healthy or not. I agree with this. But I maintain that a relationship where jealousy, insecurity and fear are generally never actualized is not as healthy as it appears. This is because, even though these things are never triggered, they still exist. The dynamic of the relationship is that each person is mindful not to trigger them, which can in fact be good. But it's kind of like the idea of the person who is deathly afraid to drive across bridges. What is the most healthy way to deal with it? One way is to examine what's behind the fear and try to overcome it. So an old story goes, a woman who had such a fear was driven across bridge after bridge after bridge by her counselor, to show that there is in fact no need to be fearful (in addition to helping her understand the physics behind bridge structure). Another way to deal with it is to avoid bridges. If you make sure the triggers are never fired, you have nothing to worry about right? I mainatain that the seemingly healthy relationship which never triggers jealousy is akin to avoiding bridges. The underlying unhealthy attitudes are still there. And just as the unhealthy response to a fear of bridges is to never drive across bridges, I think the less healthy response to jealousy, etc., is to ensure the triggers are never fired, rather than letting them fire and working through issues.

It may sound like I'm advocating purposefully finding things that trigger unhealthy responses in our relationships. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about allowing the triggers to be fired and not avoiding them at all costs. I think most "healthy" monogamous relationships do the latter, which is the less healthy response. I think this is part of why many poly people are seen as having a superiority complex towards mono--because mono is largely predicated on less healthy responses, and less healthy responses are in fact rigthly seen as inferior to more healthy ones.

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Old 11-06-2011, 07:31 PM
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I think the roots of monogamy come from the establishment of the patriarchy some 5000 years ago, which resulted in an idea that women are the possessions of men, and that the offspring needed to be biologically his, for inheritance purposes. Therefore it was imperative to control the woman's sexuality through laws (seen in the Torah), force and oppression.

Also acceptable under this template for society was polygyny. Polyandry (one woman, multiple husbands), and polyamory, where a woman has the power to choose for herself how many mates/sexual partners to have, were right out.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:52 PM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magdlyn View Post
I think the roots of monogamy come from the establishment of the patriarchy some 5000 years ago, which resulted in an idea that women are the possessions of men, and that the offspring needed to be biologically his, for inheritance purposes. Therefore it was imperative to control the woman's sexuality through laws (seen in the Torah), force and oppression.
I actually agree with you, from an historical standpoint. I would argue that all of that is a mask for jealousy, fear and insecurity. As women came to be more equals, rather than demanding that they not be owned, they instead went down the path of "well, then I own you too." Again, based on those unhealthy things.
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:56 PM
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I think one potential issue with this theory is that it assumes that people in mutually-monogamous relationships would go into spasms of jealousy if one partner broached the idea of opening things up. For many people that may well be true, but I think that,especially in our Dan Savage inspired times, more than a few monogamous couples are actively discussing how they want to structure their relationship and deciding together that they both want to devote their attention, time, and love exclusively to each other. Maybe they're each just naturally inclined that way, or maybe they think it's the best way for them to build the strongest possible partnership.

Plenty of people who prefer monogamy for themselves are completely capable of overcoming jealousy to accept their partner having more than one partner (thus the mono/poly relationships out there). Like my mono boyfriend, he accepts my other relationship but has no interest himself in loving anyone romantically but me, it just doesn't come naturally to him to do so. If I felt that way too, we'd be monogamous, not out of jealousy but out of preference/orientation.

Other people who are monogamous and insist on monogamy from their partner may do so because that's how they believe they'll form the strongest bonds, not because of jealousy.

Are couples who are monogamous out of mutual preference and/or philosophy rather than because of jealousy the exception rather than the rule? Perhaps, but I think there's an epidemic out there of people not examining why they do the things they do, on every level of their lives, and that if more people were able to see monogamy as a choice rather than an unquestioned default, we'd have a lot more couples choosing monogamy for healthy, informed, positive and loving reasons.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:04 PM
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Oh, oh, and -- I think there are probably many couples who see monogamy as a religious dictate and are monogamous because they think that's what their god intended for them. While I don't adhere to those beliefs, I can see how it doesn't necessarily have any relation to jealousy.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:34 PM
UnwittinglyPoly UnwittinglyPoly is offline
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Thanks for responding AnnabelMore. Maybe I muddied the waters more than I should have--sorry, I'm trying to work through all of this in my head. I'm specifically talking about the emotional need for monogamy, and your points, even the religion angle, speak to other-than-emotional needs for monogamy. Granted, I did kind of lump all needs together somewhat in my initial post. That's because, I do believe for the overwhelming majority of monogamous people, even if they point to non-emotional factors such as religion, underlying emotional needs for it do still factor in quite heavily. It's been said there usually two reasons people do what they do: the reason they tell you and the real reason . I think you are highlighting the exceptions--which is good to point out--but I think they are just that...exceptions, quite rare ones.

And as Magdlyn pointed out, I do believe even the religion angle is historically rooted in these things. In fact, I tend to think they were huge factors in the invention and propogation of religion: "The big bad man in the sky says you are my property, so you better do as I say or else!"

Last edited by UnwittinglyPoly; 11-06-2011 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:04 PM
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I dislike your premise because it seems to be making the assumption that polyamory is inherently more 'evolved' than monogamy. I think that poly can encourage personal growth and often does but so does monogamy and any healthy human relationship. Humans do have emotional needs and monogamy can be very rewarding. It's completely possible to confront jealousy and other emotional issues as an adult in any situation. Not everyone wants to be polyamorous. I think that those who feel like it enriches their life should go for it but that doesn't mean that everyone else is emotionally stunted and jealousy riddled. Saying that jealousy is a root of monogamy frames it as being almost pathological. To me, that's like saying promiscuity or unfaithfulness is the root of polyamory. Both are valid approaches to relationships.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:22 PM
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I don't know what has been written on this thread but I wanted to reply to your original thoughts before going back and reading. Excuse me if there are repeats.

I think that the idea of people avoiding crossing the bridge is valid, but it think its for different reasons than one might think. Having talked a lot about monogamy and polyamory with both types of people I have come to realize that mostly people who are monogamous think the idea of poly as a theory but in practice they just don't have the time, interest or inclination to pursue it. They prefer other "hobbies" over their relationship dynamics.

It seems for some self work is not that important and other things in life are. So why bother going down roads that have known bridges if you can take the over pass quite happily. I don't think its much to do with jealousy until one partner wants to try out a poly lifestyle for whatever reason.

By doing a tag search for "mono/poly" you will find additions to this discussion. It could shed more light on what mono people think.
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Last edited by redpepper; 11-07-2011 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpepper View Post
It seems for some; self work is not that important and other things in life are. So why bother going down roads that have known bridges if you can take the over pass quite happily.
RP, I am about to scold you! I hope I'm misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you're saying mono people choose the easy way out because they're uninterested in doing "self work," which I'm assuming you mean to be looking inward, examining old beliefs, working on getting to know themselves better, improving communication, all that.

WELL!

I am really surprised you would say that. The self-help industry is huge and didn't get built upon poly peeps alone. I know I've said it before, but I've been doing self-work since the early 80s. I've tried a number of different therapies and self-awareness modalities, and attended numerous workshops and courses in all the above and then some. I've even given workshops myself. Only met two poly people in all those years. Of course, some may have been in the closet, but my point is that monogamous people are just as interested in challenging old beliefs and doing "self-work" as polys are. Just because someone chooses monogamy doesn't mean they are unenlightened or narrow-minded. Some of the most progressive and radical thinkers I've ever met were in monogamous relationships with equally progressive and radical partners.

So I hope I've misunderstood you.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
RP, I am about to scold you! I hope I'm misunderstanding you, but it sounds like you're saying mono people choose the easy way out because they're uninterested in doing "self work," which I'm assuming you mean to be looking inward, examining old beliefs, working on getting to know themselves better, improving communication, all that.

WELL!

I am really surprised you would say that. The self-help industry is huge and didn't get built upon poly peeps alone. I know I've said it before, but I've been doing self-work since the early 80s. I've tried a number of different therapies and self-awareness modalities, and attended numerous workshops and courses in all the above and then some. I've even given workshops myself. Only met two poly people in all those years. Of course, some may have been in the closet, but my point is that monogamous people are just as interested in challenging old beliefs and doing "self-work" as polys are. Just because someone chooses monogamy doesn't mean they are unenlightened or narrow-minded. Some of the most progressive and radical thinkers I've ever met were in monogamous relationships with equally progressive and radical partners.

So I hope I've misunderstood you.
sorry. I wrote too fast and didn't edit. I meant to say the self work that is required when addressing a partner who wants to try out a poly relationship dynamic. Of course mono people do self work and care about that for themselves. A lot of it over laps even, just that some care more (not exclusive to monogamy either) about their careers, their hobbies or their kids etc. than dealing with the self crap that comes up around poly relationships. Does that make more sense?

The kind of self work mono people do as a result of a poly partner is often not chosen work either I might add. At least not initially.
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Last edited by redpepper; 11-07-2011 at 08:54 PM.
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