I was talking to a friend of mine today about my personal transition to monogamy. We were talking a little bit about the benefits of non-monogamous relationships to monogamous relationships. Does what you learn in non-monogamous relationships benefit monogamous relationships? If you idealize a polyamorous lifestyle and relationship, can you be happy in a monogamous relationship? Here’s to you, P.
I tried writing out this post a few times and kept getting distracted by various subplots of the subject. So, I’ll try to keep it concise and stick to those sentiments specifically. It’s still going to be long, there was just no helping it.
What do I like about monogamy?
It’s a lot more clear cut than non-monogamy. This isn’t to imply that clear cut is good.* It’s to say that monogamy has strict boundaries that are already set in place. It is the default, social-factory settings. When I went back to monogamy I temporarily got error messages because I’d been running a different program. I forgot how to monogamy. Can I go out for drinks with other guys? What’s flirting? It took me about a week to realign myself. It wasn’t hard, because monogamy is reinforced everywhere. It was easy to fit back into monogamy because there isn’t much confusion about what monogamy is.** I like this (again, not saying that I didn’t like the flexibility of non-monogamy) because expectations are clear. It can be exhausting (and rewarding, of course) to have to negotiate so many new experiences. Non-monogamy can be a constant conversation. Monogamy cuts some of those strings and simplifies itself because you are only having those conversations with one person.
*Whatever upside there is to non-monogamy, an equal rests on the side of monogamy. (ex): Monogamy is clear-cut and Non-monogamy allows for creation of untraditional boundaries! Though opposites, they both can mean something positive.
** Sometimes there is confusion about what the boundaries are in terms of what makes two people comfortable. A lot of this can easily be sorted out at the start of a relationship. (ex): Porn, levels of flirtation, masturbation, etc.
I like that monogamy focuses on building a primary relationship. Even within non-monogamy, I put a lot of emphasis on the primary relationship. A lot of people who explore ethical non-monogamy or who are polyamorists don’t believe in the “primary partner”. Their relationships might be based around a more equitable design. In non-monogamy, I felt as though a lot of the experiences I had were to benefit the primary relationship. To make me happier, and to make the relationship happier. Whatever it is about me, and who I am, is deeply satisfied by making that relationship thrive.
I learned from non-monogamy how to sustain outside relationships, which has been useful in having close friendships now that I am monogamous. One thing I like about monogamy is the challenge of developing those friendships without overstepping boundaries. Granted, avoidance and temptation haven’t really been an active challenge. Even still, I enjoy the idea of friends just being friends. I’m looking forward to using what I learned about intimacy to build those friendships in comfortable and meaningful ways.
I am not sure that someone who was poly could be monogamous as a serious lifestyle choice. I never considered myself poly – which is why that was never a problem for me. I imagine that it is different for everyone, given their own unique desires and experiences.
What do I not like about monogamy?
Like said above, it’s clear cut. This prevents a lot of questions (some, albeit, pushy and stereotypical) from being asked. Though sometimes these questions were unwanted, I did enjoy the ability to talk about my beliefs. I enjoyed the curiosity that people had about my relationship and what it meant to me. I liked to discuss new and exciting ideas with people who may have not heard about non-monogamy before. When you are monogamous, there aren’t any questions that push the boundaries like this. It’s when are you getting married? or When are you going to have kids? These questions don’t necessarily bother me, even though they aren’t anyones business. It does bother me that they seem to be the only questions people ask. Despite boundaries being clear, I still believe that all relationships are different, and that we should talk to one another about how we sustain our relationships and how we make them thrive.
Ultimately I don’t miss anything about non-monogamy. Nothing that anyone might suspect. I am happy having one partner. I don’t feel emotionally stifled or unsatisfied in any way. So far, what I can extrapolate from this entire post, is that what matters most is happiness.