Is it Time to Start Normalizing Polyamory?
In the LGBTQ+ community, bisexual people, like myself, are often stigmatized. There are a lot of negative stereotypes associated with bisexual men, one of which is that we can’t stay faithful to one significant other because we are sexually attracted to everyone we encounter. While this may not be entirely true, it’s not abnormal to feel aroused or sexually attracted to more than one person. It’s not even abnormal to have romantic feelings for more than one person.
Whenever we discover that our partners have been unfaithful, why do we see it as a failure on our part? Why do we feel that true love is defined by inhibiting our partners' desires for other people?
I used to believe in the concept of a soulmate; that there is someone in the world who was created just for me. A part of me still believes in that idea, but I’ve also grown to realize that the concept of a soulmate reinforces a dangerous set of beliefs; that our sole purpose in life is to find that one person and fall in love with them and that if we don’t find that person, we will never be fulfilled. I’ve come to find comfort in the fact that maybe we don’t have predestined soulmates and that some people are just more compatible with certain people more than they are with others.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve been casually dating the same person. We have yet to put a title on the relationship, but in a way, it allows us to be free agents. He enjoys going to leather bars, and while the leather scene isn’t particularly my cup of tea, I’ve gone with him before and I’ve had a good time. We openly communicate our kinks and fantasies and are able to talk about other people we find attractive without hurting each other’s feelings. Some might feel that prolonging the “talking” stage is unusual, but it works for us.
He and I also have mutual friends in non-monogamous arrangements, who all seem to be satisfied and fulfilled in their relationships.
With all of this said, a question remains: Is it time to start normalizing open relationships, as well as other forms of non-monogamy?
Just because someone wants to engage in sexual activity with someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean they love their significant other any less. Just because someone develops romantic feelings for someone else over time also doesn’t necessarily mean they love their significant other any less.
Open-relationships and other forms of non-monogamy are already quite common in the LGBTQ+ community. Most of the queer people I meet are in open sexual relationships, yet romantically committed to one person.
On an episode of Netflix original series “Explained,” author Dan Savage notes that he and his husband are in an open relationship. He recalls a time when someone told him that all three of their marriages were monogamous.
“This person was committed to monogamy,” Savage says, “not to any of the people they married.”
Non-monogamy isn’t exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve met a few heterosexual people who have expressed interest in the idea of an open relationship, including a female friend who said that the idea of being with “one dick for the rest of [her] life” isn’t ideal or realistic for her.
I also have a friend who admitted to being unfaithful to their significant other. They mentioned that they had not fallen out of love with their significant other, but they didn’t feel fulfilled sexually by one person alone. Although this is not a good example of healthy non-monogamy, the scenario shows that extra-relational sex doesn’t always reflect a failure on the part of the person who was cheated on.
It’s natural for humans to feel attracted to humans other than their significant others; so why are humans the only species that enforce monogamy?
Just because polyamory may not be your cup of tea doesn’t mean it’s an abnormal dynamic for others. Assuming the romantic or sexual relationship consists of two people who have established reasonable rules and have communicated their needs and desires with each other, then there’s no reason that a consensual non-monogamous relationship should warrant any stigma or criticism.