5 Destructive Misconceptions about Non-Monogamy

Misconception: Non-Monogamy is Cheating

The word “cheating” implies breaking rules or doing something illicit. Non-monogamy is not cheating, because everyone involved in the relationship is aware of, and consents to, the other relationships. If my husband knows I have a boyfriend and is even happy that I do, I am not, by definition, cheating on him. If, however, I pursue another relationship without his knowledge — knowledge, not permission — that would be cheating, because I am trying to keep it from him or hide my activity.

Misconception: Non-Monogamy Equals Promiscuity

Being promiscuous means, generally, having sexual contact with multiple people on a casual basis. I am in no way saying that promiscuity is bad or immoral. I have no issue with it. Sex is fun, and as long as it’s practiced safely and consensually, there is no reason not to enjoy it in whatever way pleases you. But ethical or consensual non-monogamy — and, more specifically, polyamory — is not about going out and having sex with as many people as possible. Non-monogamy is about developing relationships, including romantic feelings, with more than one individual. A polyamorous individual may have sex with just two or three others — the same two or three others — repeatedly.

Misconception: Non-Monogamy is about Trying to Have it All

Non-monogamy is not about having your cake and eating it too. The idea behind non-monogamy isn’t “leave the wife at home with the kids and get your jollies with someone younger and prettier.” Non-monogamy is about forging connections and relationships with multiple individuals. None of the people you’re in a non-monogamous relationship with is more or less important than any other, and none is disposable, an object, or a toy.

Relationships are not easy. Maintaining a good, stable partnership takes work, communication, patience, and love. In ethical non-monogamy, this is true of each relationship an individual undertakes. Non-monogamy and polyamory are not meant to simplify life by giving you free reign to go out and act on every urge you have. They are about cultivating multiple romantic relationships such that everyone involved feels fulfilled and needed — and wanted.

Misconception: Practitioners of Non-Monogamy Think Non-Monogamy is Superior to Monogamy

Monogamy is the cultural norm in the West, and for most people, it seems to be the preferable state as well. Whether this is due to the social conditioning of our society, human nature, religion, or some combination, there is nothing wrong with a healthy, stable, monogamous relationship. If two people love each other and want to love only each other, and both are happy and fulfilled this way, that’s wonderful. Similarly, if two people love each other, and each of those two people also loves another person, and they are happy and fulfilled this way, that is also wonderful. There is no moral high ground here, nor am I trying to convince anyone that they’re wrong and I’m right.

Misconception: Non-Monogamy is a Threat to Monogamy

Ethical non-monogamy hinges on everyone involved being aware of and agreeing to the model. If you are monogamous and want to keep it that way, an ethically non-monogamous person is not going to try to infiltrate your relationship or get between you and your partner. And if you want to be monogamous and your partner does not (or vice versa), this is something to work out between you, not something to “blame” on external forces. My decision to order my life a certain way does not invalidate your decision to order yours in a different way. What works for one person or one couple or one group does not necessarily work the same way for another. That doesn’t mean one is inherently wrong or better, just that there is endless variety among human beings.

Have questions about non-monogamy or polyamory? See my other posts on the subject or share your thoughts here.

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Madison Barry writes BDSM-themed erotic novels and stories. Find her on Amazon, Smashwords, or your favorite ebook retailer, or check out her website at www.madisonbarryauthor.com. Subscribe to her Patreon to support her writing and gain access to exclusive photos and stories.