302 — Challenging Polyamory Concepts for Advanced Students
Critical review of polyamorous ideals
We all know that many people do polyamory differently, but there are a few common ideas and concepts that are often spouted as gospel, particularly to those who are new to non-monogamy. But for those who have already broken down some of the ingrained ideas about compulsory monogamy, there’s no excuse to stop learning and growing in your personal journey.
This week we’re talking about a few different common polyamorous aphorisms and how we can challenge them:
- “Insecurities or concerns about a newly polyamorous partner are your own problem.” This topic often comes up when someone who might be newer to polyamory asks a discussion forum for help. Consider:
- What if it actually is their partner being bad?
- What if they’re not comfortable with their partner or don’t feel enthusiastic about polyamory?
2. “ Comparisons, competition, and jealousy are bad.” We have a lot of internalized jealousy as a humans, and this can manifest as controlling behavior, and in turn makes us shy away from comparisons and competition. However, these aren’t always bad:
- Comparing yourself to a metamour in order to improve yourself isn’t a bad thing.
- Feeling jealous can help you realize that something is missing in your life and figure out what it is.
- Comparing partners to each other can help you see if you’re being treated the way you deserve.
3. “Humans evolved to be polyamorous; it’s a natural state.” This way of thinking sometimes may do more harm than good:
- While interesting, evolutionary psychology is full of guesses and assumptions. It shouldn’t always be taken as the end all be all.
- Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good.
- Similarly, just because something is a new phenomenon doesn’t mean it’s bad.
4. “Only egalitarian and non-hierarchical polyamory is healthy.” Historical polyamory was pretty hierarchical, but moving towards anti-hierarchy isn’t necessarily the answer:
- Lots of people struggle to make all their relationships equal, novices and experienced polyamorous people alike. Such a thing is not only impractical, but also often undesirable.
- We don’t spend equal energy on all friends and family members, so doing so for all romantic partners isn’t feasible either.
- Trying to pretend all relationships are equal may lead to “sneakiarchy,” or may misrepresent ourselves to new partners, even if that’s not our intention.
5. “You must communicate every single thing and be an open book.” Sometimes it’s uncomfortable being open when we’re new to non-monogamy, but it can also be disastrous to share too much:
- Separating areas of your lives keeps you interested in each other and gives you something to talk about with each other.
- Respecting your partners’ privacy is vital and some people aren’t comfortable with having certain areas of their lives shared with others.
Make sure to give the full episode a listen to catch all of the conversation about these different concepts!