For most people, monogamy is our default setting. Yet, so many couples are unhappy and most will split up. Does that mean non-monogamy is the answer? For some, perhaps. This is partly why the term “polyamory” is super popular these days. It sounds like an edgy, super hot alternative to “old-fashioned” relationships. Sexual fantasies aside, polyamory is an option — not intrinsically better or worse than other options.
About half of first marriages end in divorce. The numbers are much higher for subsequent marriages. As for the break-up rate of non-wedded couples, it’s virtually impossible to calculate. Clearly, monogamy as an enforced relationship default may be a concept worthy of re-evaluation.
What is Polyamory?
Good question. It seems, for many, polyamory is in the eye of the beholder. In a way, this can be both accurate and healthy. After all, each couple must decide together what works for them. So, for starters, let’s begin with some of what polyamory is not.
Polyamory is not:
- Non-stop sex
- Permission to cheat
Some of what polyamory is:
- Consensual non-monogamy
- Not widely accepted
- Lot’s of communication
No one style of relationship can be proven better and more sustainable than others. Partnerships are an evolving process. Variables shift and emotions change. If you believe monogamy is not for you, polyamory may be worth a try. But prepare yourself for more “air clearing” and process conversations because being in relationship with multiple people requires conscious conversations in order to make sure everyone’s needs are held with care.
The Pros of Polyamory
- No One Person is Tasked With Fulfilling All Needs
Poly is a realistic alternative to the belief that a single soulmate can make us happy in every possible way.
- Possibly More Support When Needed
A polyamorous grouping of three or more can mean you have expanded your personal support system.
The opposite of jealousy. This is the joy you experience when you know your partner is having a good time — even when it’s with someone else!
- So Many Ways to Make it Happen
You may be an existing couple wishing to sometimes see other people. Maybe you and your significant other each want to have your own significant other. Perhaps it’s about growing from a couple into a triad or quadrant. The point is, polyamory is fluid. Unlike monogamy, poly can be molded to fit the particular needs and wants of those involved.
The Cons of Polyamory
- Social Judgment
Poly may be growing in favor but it remains a fringe concept; therefore, you may be ostracized — sometimes even by your own friends and families. If you have children, it is absolutely essential to consider how their lives will be impacted.
- Too Many Personalities to Juggle/Too Little Time
You may already feel it’s tough to find time for your spouse. What happens when you add in more lovers?
Compersion is ideal. Jealousy, however, is far more common and unpredictable.
- More Bodies = Higher STD Risk
Here’s where communication becomes extra-important. A greater number of sex partners requires hyper-vigilance on the part of those involved.
Plan Far in Advance
You may be in a monogamous partnership that is considering the option of becoming open. You may be single but seeking to connect with others in a polyamorous style. Either way, you need to plan ahead. Brace yourself for endless variations on the non-monogamous theme. Set ground rules for yourselves. Perhaps best of all, get some solid pre-poly advice. Individual or couples counseling is an excellent choice for laying a foundation. As a couple, you can hash out motivations, needs, and boundaries. For individuals, your therapist can help guide you through potential pitfalls and issues. The more you communicate up front, the fewer surprises later. Non-monogamy obviously involves more people. Respect their perspectives by honing your own.
Posted by Counseling Wise on April 8, 2019