Monday, April 1, 2013

When Monogamy is Expected

Most people who aren't actively trying to deny reality know that people are born with their gender-sexual orientation (whether there is some flexibility to it or not), whether that is heterosexual, gay or lesbian,  bisexual, etc. Relational-sexual orientation is the same way. There are people who are monogamous, people who are polyamorous, and just as there are bisexuals, who can be fulfilled being with either a man or a woman, there are also people who can be fulfilled whether they are in a monogamous relationship or polyamorous relationship. I haven't discovered the term for that yet. 

Many people now understand that one of the harms caused by discrimination against LGBT people has been some people hiding their sexual orientation to the point where they involve someone else who is unaware. Think of gay men who have married women who did not know that their husband was gay, and the pain that has inflicted on both of them and others.

To some extent, the same thing has happened with some people who are polyamorous and need polyamory. They may have committed to monogamy, may have a great partner our spouse and many be great in return, but they still seek, say, emotional relationships with others to the point where the other partner feels cheated on, or that they're the victim of an emotional affair.

Ideally, people would gain enough self-understanding about their own sexuality and relationship needs before entering into commitments, but in addition to the pervasive discrimination against LGBT people, there has been similar discrimination against polyamory and polyamorous people. Monogamy, or at least pretending at it, has been presented as the only acceptable relationship model in so much of the world, perhaps allowing for non-committal "hooking up" when not in a relationship. The problem is, very few people are, on a lifelong basis, monogamous both physically and emotionally. And with the pressure to conform to monogamy, some people enter into relationships with promises they can't keep, or come the realization that they are at least poly-curious when they are in what was agreed to be a monogamous relationship.

I got to thinking about all of this because of a letter written to Miss Lonelyhearts at that presented a common problem.
My new girlfriend wants me to try a polyamorous lifestyle. I admit I met her at the last fetish ball in town, but I had no idea she was that far along the track. I don't mind anything we do together as a couple, but I am not the least bit interested in other people. OMG! I am a pudgy nerd of a guy and it scares me (and would embarrass me) to get undressed to do anything sexual, except with my lady. But it is hard for me to find a girlfriend.
This fellow is insecure, unfortunately and very self-conscious. That is a big reason he finds it difficult to find a girlfriend.
I wonder just how "new" of a girlfriend she is, and if she either waited too long to explain she is polyamorous or poly-curious, if he's calling her "my" girlfriend too quickly and she is telling him as soon as he needed to know, or if she just became curious? We have no way of knowing.
But we do know she has told him what she wants. He's afraid of losing her, but if someone is unwilling or unable to give a boyfriend or girlfriend what they want, they're usually going to lose them anyway. He should not agree to be polyamorous if he truly needs monogamy, but it sounds from his letter that it more of insecurity issue instead. Whether this woman continues to see him or not, he needs to address his feelings about himself.

There are "pudgy nerd" guys (and girls!) who are happily in polyamorous relationships, and are very much valued by their partners, some of whom are not pudgy or nerdy.

The larger issue presented in the letter is that we need to allow people to be themselves, without trying to force them through a narrow, hetero-monogamous doorway. Allowing people to be themselves and to have the relationships in which they'll best function will leave us all better off. That's one reason I stand up for full marriage equality.
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  1. Thankyou for your blog. I found it very informative in shaping my thinking about the marriage debate.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ross!


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