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Old 07-14-2012, 04:58 AM
AlexanderGoodman AlexanderGoodman is offline
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Default The Wrong Question

This isn't so much about polyamorous vs monogamous relationships, but about closed vs open relationships. A good portion of polyamorous relationships are closed, and some monogamous relationships could be open.

Clearly if two people are just naturally monogamous, but there are no rules in the relationship saying that they have to be, you can't call that abusive or slavery. Presuming that everyone is secretly polyamorous is without statistical evidence. It's quite possible if everyone had open relationships, some would still be monogamous.

So the question should be: Are closed relationships akin to slavery? And are they abusive?

To answer this question we have to look at what a closed relationship is. There are two qualities.

1) A closed relationship demands that one person or a group of people have a right over what another person does with his or her body. If they didn't have that right, if people just had the liberty to do what they wanted with their own bodies, then it would be an open relationship.

Calling this slavery will naturally cause reactionary comments, because the word slavery has such negative connotations. However simply by the fact that you are exerting control over another person's body is akin to slavery, though it's more like wage slavery than the kind of slavery based on physical bondage. Wage slavery is a mutual agreement, which in many cases people can opt out of. You aren't being forced, so much coerced to stay in such an agreement. In the case of wage slavery with the loss of wages, in the case of a closed relationship the loss of a relationship.

Is this abusive? We have to look at the second defining feature of a closed relationship.

2) A closed relationship has to be contrary to some of the urges of someone or everyone in it. If this was not the case, there would be no purpose of having a closed relationship with rules. Such rules would be unnecessary. So this might seem abusive.

However, if we can go back to my previous example, participating in wage slavery is a necessity for many people to survive in our society. Is it abusive? Not as much as starving or living on the street. Things are relative, and in a society like ours, most people have to make pragmatic agreements in order to survive and attain some measure of happiness. Whether they are ideal or not. So wage slavery might be abusive but not as abusive as the alternative, at least for a lot of people.

In our society, people are taught that some jealousy is a right and is acceptable. In fact it is ingrained in people's mind that you should be jealous in certain situations. There are cultural pressures to be jealous. In this sense, while people might have urges to be with people outside of their relationships (whether it is romantic or sexual urges), they would prefer to suppress those urges because they would be horribly jealous if the other person or persons did the same thing.

I.e. since I can't have a relationship in which I can be with whoever I want, but the other person can only be with me. I would prefer a closed relationship in which we can only be with each other. My jealousy outweighs my desire for other people. (This is putting it simply, certainly more noble people would think if they were going to force someone to just be with them, they have responsibility to reciprocate.)

A closed relationship, in this sense, is a preferable -- if not ideal -- compromise for the people or some of the people in it. Is it abusive? Sure, but it's less abusive than the alternative for a lot of people. As our society has trained us to object to non-abusive relationships.

Somebody here mentioned BDSM, and I think it's an apt comparison. In a healthy society, would you get off on bondage and control? Submission and domination? Let alone masochism and sadomasochism? It's very conservative and authoritarian, it goes directly against any kind of libertarian ideal of free mutual support of one another. But we live in a fucked up society. And people's sexual predisposition is often developed at an early age. And if that is how people get off? Is it really a bad thing if everyone agrees?

If agreements are free and fair, and to the benefit of everyone involved, can you condemn it? It might be abusive and yet still a positive agreement for everyone involved. Once again, because the society, in which we live, makes non-abusive relationships impossible.

It's only becomes an unhealthy abusive relationship, if it isn't for the benefit of everyone involved. The most common example of this would be non-jealous people stuck in a closed relationships. In this case, someone is likely being restricted in the closed relationship, but gaining nothing from the fact that the relationship is closed. Because if they don't care what the other person or people in the relationship do, but have romantic and/or sexual urges for other people themselves, then the closed relationship is harming that person on some level. Note I say relationship, they aren't really being abused by the other people necessarily, but the situation.

However, because we live in a society that is so supportive of closed relationships, if a non-jealous polyamorous person can be in a closed relationship without going insane or being perpetually hurt... you can't really say they shouldn't be in a closed relationship. While they might prefer being in an open relationship to a closed one, they might prefer being in a closed relationship rather than being alone -- if you demand open relationships, your options for partners is far more limited. This is once again unhealthy but probably preferable for some, and it is just dickish to harp on them for being enslaved or abused. People can make their own decisions here.

It's like if a person lived in Kansas. Say, in turn, that it is a particularly conservative town in Kansas, and they don't have the means to escape that town. Say this person could only be sexually attracted to people of the same sex, but could be romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex. Would you judge them if they chose to be in a straight relationship?

We have to accept that in our society some relationships, while philosophically offensive, are more acceptable than they would be in a healthy free society. Closed relationships are one example of this. Condemning people for participating in closed relationships, when they live in a closed society, is tantamount to cruelty.
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Old 07-18-2012, 04:03 AM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Good post Alexander; well said.
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:32 AM
Daysleeper Daysleeper is offline
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Default Ok with cheating, but not okay with poly?

I am being personally affected by this right now, so it's on my mind.

Why are some people okay with cheating, but not okay with poly? My assumption was that group would consist of cheaters too afraid to be honest to their partners or accept their partner's potential dating. But I have met several people willing to date a married person A without the knowledge or consent of a's spouse, b. However, they will not consider dating c who is also married, but whose partner, d is supportive of the relationship or potential relationship. This is what I can't puzzle out:

1). If someone wants to be monogamous, why date a cheater in a monogamous relationship?

2). If someone doesn't want to be monogamous but wants to have long term romantic relationships, why would they be unwilling to date a poly person?

3). Pertaining to my particular case, why might someone date several poly people for several years, break up with all of them because they supposedly want to be monogamous, and in the same breath talk about pursuing a relationship with a monogamous married person?

My metamours and I are having such a hard time wrapping our minds around this. I mentioned it to some friends, and they said while they don't understand it, they have known people who could accept cheating relationships, but not poly ones. I'd like to understand the motivation there. Can anyone give me some perspective?
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:28 PM
JaneQSmythe JaneQSmythe is offline
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I don't have any ideas as to how you can come to understand this perspective - since it is not rational. However, I see variations of this all of the time - where people's actions do not match up with their stated desires. I think this stems from the fact that many people are not very introspective - they just react to feelings/situations ("I have the hots for this guy.") and then rationalize it afterwards with little insight as to how they got into the situation in the first place.

Unfortunately, in our society, cheating is common and poly is not. Therefore, we have a societal "script" for cheating whereas the concept of having open and honest relationships with people seems like entering uncharted waters for many. Crazy.

Me: poly bi female, in an "open-but-not-looking" V-plus with -
MrS: hetero polyflexible male, live-in husband (24+ yrs)
Dude: hetero poly male, live-in boyfriend (6+ yrs) and MrS's BFF
SLeW: platonic hetero girlfriend and BFF
MrClean: hetero mono male, almost lover-friend to me, FWBs to SLeW
+ "others" = FBs, FWBs, lover-friends, platonic G/BFs, boytoys, etc.

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Old 11-29-2012, 01:31 PM
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RfromRMC RfromRMC is offline
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Lightbulb All about Image!

Also, there's a large number of people in society that are more concerned with image than substance. Sigh.

At least with cheating--in their minds---you can appear to everyone else as still doing Monogamy and thus part of mainstream society. As opposed to Polyamory which is a "fringe lifestyle" in their view.

(Kinda like people still members of a church or religion ,even though they never go and deep down probably don't hold those beliefs anymore or follow the basic tenets.)

This, I have seen personally, especially big as a gay man who's poly, and is frowned down on by fellow gay men even, though I know they are all fooling around on their boyfriends. But as long as they "appear" to the outside as the perfect happy monogamous long term couple fighting for "marriage equality", etc, then that's all that's important.

Just Rob now. That's all. .

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Old 11-29-2012, 04:06 PM
annakas annakas is offline
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For clarity in my examples He is the married cheater/married ethical polyamorist and she is the person who is willing/unwilling to date them.

On top of my head I can come up with several reasonings why someone is willing to date a married person who is cheating instead of a polyamorous ethical married person.

First it's a power trip and an ego boost for the woman. She can think along the lines of "I am so irresistibly hot/sexy/awesome that this married man can't stay away from me and is willing to risk all (his reputation/marriage/economical standing) to be with me".

This way the mistress doesn't have to take in to account the husbands wife at all. The wife becomes the "frigid bitch/she doesn't understand and appreciate him at all shrew" who is in the way of their one true love. And it is the mistress who understands him best/partners in crime ect. The mistress can do what she wants, the wife is none the wiser and it is the cheating husbands duty to appease the mistress and lie to the wife to get time away to spend with his lover.

And there is still hope for monogamy for the mistress. If it comes to the point of the man is willing to leave his wife to be with his mistress, she can reason that "He mustn't have ever really loved his wife since he was looking for an upgrade anyway when we met and I am the love of his life since he does this damage to his reputation all for me to be with me."

Person like that will not be willing to date a ethical polyamorous married men because she will lose the power trip/ego boost she would have otherwise, instead of becoming the" irresistible beauty he will be willing to risk all", she just becomes one of potential many, and she will never become the wife, number one in his life in the eyes of all and in the eyes of law. There is no hope for monogamy because a polyamorous man will not be ever willing to leave his wife for his secondary. The mistress will have to take in to account the wifes wishes, timetables, potential veto powers, she will have to appease the wife to get time with the husband ect.

Another reason for why someone if both are in relationships of their own, will not be willing to date a ethical poly man but is willing to date a married cheater is mutual blackmail and like you said, they might want to fuck around but no way in hell will they want to give their spouse/significant other the same right in return. If someone wants to cheat on their spouse the smart thing to do would be to date someone who is also cheating on their spouse, that way both have mutual leverage against each other. I will not tell to your spouse about the cheating if you don't tell my spouse about the cheating.

Someone who wants to cheat can't have this kind of mutual blackmail/leverage if they were to date a ethical polyamorous person, since the poly persons other significant others all know about each other and have agreed to nonmonogamy. If the poly person one day thought that they couldn't stand the lies and it is time to come clean the cheater doesn't have anything to hold over the poly person to stop them for confessing to their metamour that the metamours partner is a cheater.


Also it could just be the power trip. Some people get off on sneaking around and getting away with stuff from their oblivious partners. Person like that dating a poly person from one side would not be "getting away with stuff" since the poly person would know and agree to non-monogamy and that takes out the power kick that a cheater would get off on, if everything is above board there can be no sneaking around.

3) NRE addict? NRE stupidity?They will always be searching for the one?And when the NRE drops out off to the next "the one?"

Originally Posted by Daysleeper View Post

Why are some people okay with cheating, but not okay with poly?

My assumption was that group would consist of cheaters too afraid to be honest to their partners or accept their partner's potential dating.

But I have met several people willing to date a married person A without the knowledge or consent of a's spouse, b. However, they will not consider dating c who is also married, but whose partner, d is supportive of the relationship or potential relationship. This is what I can't puzzle out:

1). If someone wants to be monogamous, why date a cheater in a monogamous relationship?

2). If someone doesn't want to be monogamous but wants to have long term romantic relationships, why would they be unwilling to date a poly person?

3). Pertaining to my particular case, why might someone date several poly people for several years, break up with all of them because they supposedly want to be monogamous, and in the same breath talk about pursuing a relationship with a monogamous married person?

Last edited by annakas; 11-29-2012 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:18 PM
sparklepop sparklepop is offline
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I think yes, a lack of introspection. Simply 'doing' and not thinking. The fact that poly is still largely considered 'weird' - people tend to stick to what they know and many people find 'alternative' lifestyles too strange to even both contemplating.

Plus, from what I have seen and heard, people who tend to cheat, or lean towards cheating, also seem to be people that are able to live in denial. I have heard "but I'm not really cheating if [we're not married yet / it only happens once / we aren't having sex / xyz]" so many times. So, perhaps there is something in that.

My GF and I were discussing cheating last night actually. Ironically, given that we are now in a poly relationship, neither of us have ever, ever cheated on a single partner, throughout our entire life. Yet some of the people I know who find the concept of poly strange and don't give me their full support are involved in relationships with married people. Strange.

My GF has a theory that those single people who look for non-available romantic partners do so because they cannot truly cope with a meaningful relationship, on some level. Poly is ALL about meaningful relationships, even hierarchical poly and swinging, because we learn to communicate with and consider our partner. So, if they cannot cope with meaningful relationships, it's psychologically easier for them to seek the unavailable than to consider the concept of the work involved with poly.

A lot of people are selfish too. And immoral. Yet humans pass judgment very easily. So, those having affairs can KNOW it's 'wrong', and in their quest to be 'right', they keep their affairs a secret, because they plan to someday be monogamous (i.e. 'right') again. To them, monogamy rules (ironically) - so the idea of opening up their relationship just feels like openly cheating - so, if cheating is 'wrong', they don't want the world to know about it.

Me: 32f, evolving

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Old 11-29-2012, 06:36 PM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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A lot of good answers have come up already, and mine are going to overlap somewhat.

1. Appearances. Many people are much more concerned about what the neighbours will think than they are about satisfying their own needs. Polyamory is not accepted by the mainstream. Sneaking around means you can still appear to be monogamous to the outside world. Ironically, there's also less stigma attached to being the "other woman" than there is to being in a consensual nonmonogamous relationship. Though frowned upon, cheating is basically accepted by our society. No one (except the wife) "blames" the Mistress, they blame the husband.

2. Cowgirl/Cowboy syndrome. I'll never understand how this is rational to some people, but there are those who like to date married people, break up the marriage, and steal the partner for their own. What I don't understand is how they fail to realize that someone who leaves a spouse for another partner is certain to repeat the pattern when someone else comes along.

3. Communication. Polyamory is hard. You have to talk about your feelings. Yuck. Who wants to do that? Our society has a "cheating culture" with predefined rules and expectations about how to have an affair. If the Other Woman is jealous of the wife, tough shit. Deal with it, or leave. A woman sleeping with a married man doesn't have to talk to him about her jealousy because she's expected not to feel it. She can just go ahead and bury those feelings. Not healthy of course, but "easier" for some people.

4. Commitment issues. Because she knows her role, and that the affair will never grow past a certain point, she doesn't have to make a commitment. She can keep the relationship at a maximum level of intimacy without having to give up too much of herself.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:13 AM
MeeraReed MeeraReed is offline
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There's no way that it could be logical or healthy to be okay with cheating but not with ethical non-monogamy.

However, the pseudo-logic behind it may come from the person's understanding of romantic love. If she believes that it is impossible for someone to love more than one person, than she would not be able to believe in polyamory. She could, however, believe that the married man no longer loves his wife (maybe he never loved her at all because she's a horrible bitch!) and only loves her. They love each other and are therefore MEANT to be together, even though he's still stuck with his horrible wife, the poor man!

Tied into these ideas is, I think, the societal notion of women-in-competition-for-men. If you believe that women are supposed to be competing with each other for men, then it's okay to steal a married man by cheating with him. But it's NOT okay to have non-monogamous relationships where women can be honest about being with the same man--and can in fact be friends with each other.

I have met SO many people who find the concept of polyamory and/or ethical non-monogamy absolutely horrifying because they cannot fathom how someone could be okay with "sharing" a partner.

These people are not okay with cheating either, but they would find it easy to grasp the concept of someone leaving their spouse for someone else. They would NOT find it easy to grasp the concept of someone being okay with their spouse having polyamorous relationships.

It's kind of nutty, isn't it?

For the Original Poster: if this issue has immediate personal significance for you, you might want to post your specific situation in the Poly Relationships section. You could get specific, helpful advice rather than a general discussion.
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Old 12-04-2012, 02:21 AM
philo philo is offline
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Maybe one reason is for the thrill of doing something 'bad'.
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