What’s So Wrong With “Opening Up”?
“The non-monogamous community is positively flooded with the stories of those who have transitioned into it from a previously monogamous life. So many of the questions and answers revolve around addressing couples who have been together for a while, who might be bored or might trust one another enough finally, and then decide adding a person two seems like a fantastic idea.
This often starts off with rule-making, can include things like veto power, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies, restrictions on more intense or emotional entanglements, or other such things. Those who have been polyamorous for a decade or so will often try to warn young or new couples away from these sorts of things, but they can rarely ever explain why their first tries at relationships were so awful.
You see, many people chalk up their painful experiences to growing in polyamory. In fact, this is not inherent to non-monogamy at all. In awhile you’ll learn about amatonormativity and its effects, as well as hear about the experiences of people (like myself) who have always been non-monogamous. You see, there are certain challenges people will face if non-monogamy is something they have to transition into.
For one thing all of their culturally-instilled ideas about love, sex, and relationships actually tend to get in the way of forming healthy relationships. Much of what many societies promote as being romantic behaviors are actually identical to warning signs of abuse. This is hard to grasp and its effects on the non-monogamous community are far-reaching. People don’t set out intending to be abusive or cruel, yet the memoirs The Husband Swap and The Game Changer actually show that good intentions are not always enough to prevent pain and suffering.
But take a closer look at those books. Those tales are similar for a reason. The problems encountered have less to do with polyamory, bad chemistry, or general ignorance. Louisa mentions that the quad formation with two established couples forming the base is one of the most precarious non-monogamous arrangements. And Franklin Veaux’s story of his wife establishing a veto on his relationships shows just how damaging trying to control someone else’s behavior can be.
The preexisting couple privilege damaged these relationships far before anything else could. But couple privilege only exists because of the emphasis and depictions of colonized ideals of romance in our cultures. And ownership of other human beings has been so present in many nations’ histories that it is not surprising that emotional ownership is still considered normal.
I know that might be hard to follow but I’ve included some articles below that will help you to begin to tease these issues apart.
There is one other important bit I’d like to point out. You and your partner will grow differently. No one ever grows at the same pace, not even twins! This is why it is so common for the original couple to split up after opening up their relationship. If you’ve fallen into a familiar pattern, if you’ve gotten used to hiding parts of yourself, if you’ve been monogamous in the ways that most people are monogamous then you will encounter some very hard walls to burst through.
And growing as individuals is one of the events that can make couples realize they aren’t on the same path. We’re told to hold on to love until we die but few people realize that suffocating those we love is not equal to holding onto love. People pick non-monogamy for the freedom it offers. But it’s not actually freedom if one person holds all the power.
It ends up as emotional slavery. It ends up catering to each parties’ fears instead of showcasing the possibilities. And it will all end in tears.
While the idea of transitions instead of endings is a non-monogamous ideal, the practice of it will be far and few between until the community at large acknowledges that these are problems with monogamous and romantic culture and not facets of polyamory itself.
That’s why we need Integrated Non-Monogamy. Many of us will end up having less than satisfactory experiences unless we actually advocate for more freedom. That also includes giving people the freedom to go on their own way. The way people normally talk about the people they know tells you all you need to know about how they view them. They think of them as being part of their life or in their life as opposed to simply walking the direction for a while.
Is it any wonder polyamory can hurt so incredibly much? When we’re taught to hold on so tightly, we have forgotten how to let go and let it be.
And that is actually a large reason abuse can be so prevalent and why it can be so difficult to leave. But we’ll go into more detail on that later on.”
#integratednonmonogamy #polyamory #amatonormativity