a mono perspective
I haven’t been online for a little while, but I guess this life story is going to be a bit different, because it’ll be told by someone who dated a poly person in the past, but is not poly themselves.
(p.s not everything I write will be completely ‘poly-friendly’ or completely ‘mono-friendly’ honesty is what im aiming for in this.)
I first met Mr. polyman over 2 years ago, and at first, for 6 months or so, we were just friends. After 6 months or so he told me that he had feelings for me, and crucially, that he was polyamorous. At this point, I’d had one boyfriend who was also poly, but only for a few weeks and he was only dating me, basically, I knew of the concept, but had no idea of the actual practice of polyamory.
Mr.polyman at this time, already had a primary partner, I actually started out as a secondary. I don’t know if it was just the NRE , but at this time I don’t remember having any problems within the relationship. It was only after about 6 months or so, when he had broken up with his primary partner, that anything started to change.
And if youre wondering whether that could be because I’d deluded myself into thinking he was now mono, you’re probably right.
I guess this is the time where I began to realise that there is a difference between polyamory in theory, and in practice. And I wasn’t liking the practice very much.
I believe it was around this time that I started asking other poly friends I had about their experiences and any recommendations they had that could help me.
So, I started reading the ‘typical’ literature for someone hoping to learn about polyamory (Sex At Dawn, The Ethical Slut, etc.) I started reading online websites and articles that answered every question I could ever have about polyamory. Informative, detailed, non-threatening, non-shaming, practical advice.
But honestly? I might as well have read a fiction book of some kind, because it would’ve portrayed the same amount of information, if not more.
I say that not because those books and articles were poorly written, or incomplete in their information. But because I believe there is a difference in cognitive understanding and empathetic understanding. I only had a cognitive understanding of polyamory.
And I truly believe for a mono-poly relationship to work, there must be empathetic understanding.
Now, some will say that a mono person and a poly person should not date, and 9 times out of 10, I’d agree and tell you to both run for the f*****g hills, and don’t ever look back. However, a problem arises from the fact that since monogamy is the norm in western society, not many people question it, and not many people actively identify as polyamorous. So, you will probably come across people you like who have never had the opportunity to be in a poly relationship, should you give them a chance? Yes, but tread carefully.
And as bad as it sounds, don’t take them at their word, because the chances are, many of them are still caught up in monogamy.
If they say they’re ok with it, remember that is likely to change at some point, only you can decide what to do at that point.
For about six months, Mr.polyman and I broke up, until one day, he contacted me and asked to get back together. He used some cheesy pick up line on me *cringe* and I agreed. Over the next year and a half, things were in hindsight, rather unstable. I still couldn’t wrap my head around an empathetic understanding of poly, and he was going from one partner to the next, never really seeming to settle on any of them. One minute she’s a f*****g goddess and the next she’s Satan’s handyman.
And throughout this time, I felt that, surely, at some point he’s going to come to his senses and see what this ridiculousness is doing to him, and to us. But, nope.
Maybe I should admire him in some ways, no matter how many times he got dumped or hurt, he never gave up on love.
In February this year, I had somewhat of a sexual awakening myself, and I realised that I had fallen in love with Mr. Polyman against my natural inclination. Women.
I knew, and in many ways had always known, that at least physically, I was far more attracted to women. But instead of helping me understand myself and my relationship more, it only compounded the guilt I felt about not being able to want, or be comfortable with, polyamory.
Surely, now that I realise that ‘normally’ I would fall in love with a woman, I also realised that I WAS in love with a man. Surely, somewhere in my brain I would now be able to make the connection that it is possible to love two people at the same time, with little difference between the levels of love, surely now I could understand it, right?
No. Not at all.
I had eyes for only him, still. Although I entertained the idea in my head, no woman in reality would spur my interest. And it was at this moment I was reminded of an article on More Than Two. It was between the poly author, and an anonymous mono partner, who in all honesty, really seemed extremely bitter and angry at her partner for seemingly ‘forcing’ poly on her.
Many have commented that a lot of mono perspectives seem extremely juvenile, which I can see why, but also, I understand completely, the emotions behind the mono perspective.
Anyway, this lady said something that really confused me, and the poly author. It was something along the lines of ‘I just don’t understand. Why can’t he just control himself?’
This confused the author because he went on to explain that being poly, does usually require some level of control over your desires.
I was confused however, over the fact she was mentioning desires at all. Desires? What desires? What the hell is she on about?
I actually began to wonder if something was wrong with me, if I was some kind of super-mono freak.
And I think this can answer the poly people’s question of why mono people think theyre not enough, or not loved if their partner has other partners.
For me, when I’m in love. I have eyes for that person only, every fantasy I have is with that person only, every dream of the future I have is with that person only. The ‘attraction switch’ in my brain gets turned down so low I doubt if it’s actually there anymore.
And the only thing that turns it back on, is if I break up with someone, or I am somehow dissatisfied in the relationship. In short, if I feel attraction for someone else, it is because there is something wrong with my relationship with you. Something, very, very, very wrong.
And actually, if this happens, I may not even be sure that I love you anymore.
It’s not that I have to control my urges, it’s that there is simply nothing to control.
Now, im aware that most ‘mono’ people are not like this, and to be honest, its beginning to do my head in a bit.
Some of the things people say about marriage and monogamy astound me. Or rather, people astound me.
And I can’t help but thinking ‘if you’re calling your marriage a ‘ball and chain’ and youre complaining about the supposed sexual constraints of monogamy, why the F wouldn’t you just become non-monogamous?
I don’t understand why, if something feels so constraining you basically compare it to slavery, you would do it. Monogamy isn’t the shitty one here, you are.
I tried to think up ways that I could somehow live with this situation that id gotten myself into. Such as not cohabiting with my partner, making sure to give his other partner equal time that I had.
But eventually I realised that when I imagined that set up, it was almost like I imagined him going on a business trip for two weeks a month. I wasn’t actually considering any potential partner he may have, and I realised that, I just didn’t want another person to be there.
So I told him we had to break up.
And actually, we’ve been much better allies for each other not being romantically involved, although we do have to watch ourselves quite a lot.
I guess what it comes down to in the end is realising that someone can be perfectly healthy, yet completely different to you.
Poly people aren’t broken, or misguided, they just seem to have this set up that doesn’t turn that ‘attraction switch’ off.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can change that, cause you cant, and it wouldn’t be fair to. I read an article about a woman in a similar situation to me, and she mentioned having an ‘off putting’ feeling every time polyamory is mentioned, a knee jerk reaction of ‘no f**k that’
And I can relate to that a lot, that’s why I only posted this today.
But I would implore all of us to not use our shitty experiences with poly or mono to deter anyone else.
I will still continue to try and raise awareness of poly relationships, so hopefully unhappy marriages and shitty experiences can be avoided by others.
Even if admittedly, my knee jerk reaction is less, but similar to what it was before.