I think I might be polyamorous

ShyButHi

New member
Recently I came to the realisation that I might be polyamorous, but it is slightly confusing.

I am in a monogamous relationship, which is great. She is lovely. She has said she is monogamous (though is slightly bi and open to threesomes with other women, apparently). There is something I still just find odd about monogamy...

A bit of background

I grew up with split parents from about the age of 8. I am not religious. I'm white and was born in the UK. I never want kids (even considering a vasectomy), am heterosexual, and a bit of a progressive thinker. I like to think outside of the box that society often puts us in, and don't feel so attached to traditions in my country. I also have lots of interests and hobbies, and a good job. I view relationships as icing on the cake to an already fulfilling life.

Polyamory

The thing is, I don't understand why society puts us in this monogamous box. I mean, sure, I know religion often promotes it, so it is a cultural thing. I guess the idea of the family unit may be good for rearing children too; that makes sense. But what if you never want children, like me?

There is something odd to me about the concept of only being with one person, when I know that I am absolutely capable of loving more than one person. In my philosophical worldview, it actually seems normal and perhaps even natural for us as humans to be able to love more than one person.

Sexually speaking, I have also never thought there was anything wrong with being with multiple people (either more than 2 together, or just with multiple people separately) physically, either. Why is that so taboo? It seems taboo just because society deems it so. I see nothing wrong with it at all, and actually think it is a wonderful and special thing if two people (or possibly even more!) find each other attractive enough to want to be with each other sexually.

There is something wonderful to me about being lucky enough to find multiple people to be with. Every relationship is dynamic, different, and something to be cherished. It seems odd to me that in typical relationships (monogamy) you are tied down, to the point that you are not able or allowed to experience life with everyone that you like or may even love.

I know there can be challenges to this dynamic. It requires honesty, transparency and trust, but I do definitely think it is not only possible, but can be a wonderful and healthy thing, when everyone is on the same page.

What do you guys think?
 
Welcome to the forum.

I'm of the belief that people exist on a mono-poly spectrum same as a hetero-homo spectrum. Sure, some people are hiding or unaware of their gay or poly leanings because of societal conditioning, but many people are genuinely straight, or genuinely monogamous. It's got nothing to do with the other choices being "taboo," it's their natural orientation. For others, it's a choice. You can be poly, but choose to be monogamous with a person. Or you can have mono leanings, but find yourself in a poly situation that works. Or you can decide you're going to do polyamory, and even if you only love one person, you refuse to take down your dating sites.

People who are of a monogamous orientation don't feel "tied down" in monogamous relationships. They feel more peaceful, more free. They find toggling between partners stressful and alienating. For them, it creates too much detachment. On the other end of the spectrum are people who feel like their love withers with just one partner; they feel stifled in monogamy. It can be tough figuring out exactly where on the spectrum you sit, and I think it can be somewhat fluid throughout one's lifetime.

Of course, this forum leans poly, so lots of people here feel same as you. I've been on this forum for years and even though I'm no longer practicing poly, I find it great food for thought. Enjoy!
 
Why is that so taboo? It seems taboo just because society deems it so.

It could seem that way, at first. And maybe, fundamentally, it does still boil down to it being taboo, and as humans, we can't move away from that core value if our society promotes it.

However, I've been in a large network of people across the West for a few decades now who, through various aspects of their life, have rejected many societal norms and overcame rigid and/or traumatic backgrounds. I know people who are so unconventional, them having several romantic/sexual partners would probably be the most "normal" thing about them. But they still choose something much closer to monogamy.

Why? Because there are things inherent to the majority of polyamorous relationships that are burdensome and people often find they don't want to deal with them forever.

For instance, you speak about your ability to love several people, but have you thought about dealing with sexual and romantic competition yourself? Or what about when your partner wants other life partners and you aren't always first pick?
 
It could seem that way, at first. And maybe, fundamentally, it does still boil down to it being taboo, and as humans, we can't move away from that core value if our society promotes it.

However, I've been in a large network of people across the West for a few decades now who, through various aspects of their life, have rejected many societal norms and overcame rigid and/or traumatic backgrounds. I know people who are so unconventional, them having several romantic/sexual partners would probably be the most "normal" thing about them. But they still choose something much closer to monogamy.

Why? Because there are things inherent to the majority of polyamorous relationships that are burdensome and people often find they don't want to deal with them forever.

For instance, you speak about your ability to love several people, but have you thought about dealing with sexual and romantic competition yourself? Or what about when your partner wants other life partners and you aren't always first pick?

I have thought about these things, yes. Here are some of my thoughts...

If someone in the dynamic is thinking there is romantic competition, it likely won't last in my view, or at least won't be healthy. Anyone involved 'should' be open to see who they want as much as they want. That could potentially mean that you happen to see a person less and less, as they perhaps grow closer to someone else.

This to me is just normal in a way. Humans are dynamic and should be treated as so, similar to how someone can start feeling detached to their monogamous partner. In this instance, there just happens to be someone else involved, which in some people, can cause jealousy. A person will be with the person/s who they like being with the most, and that should be respected.

Preferably, the person who prefers being with someone else more should be honest and transparent about it. It is all about communication. While you yourself might not like it, you should not be selfish, and in a way it should be celebrated that they found someone they like even more.
 
I believe that there are evolutionary reasons for monogamy. As what was to become the human brain evolved, the time taken for that brain to develop its full potential also increased, even more so than the time taken to develop physically. (I’m thinking now of my 15-year old son who almost matches my 6’2" height and build, but in many ways is still a kid mentally.)

Add to that the initial trauma of childbirth pushing that large cranium out leading to mum not being best placed to provide the protections necessary. Humans evolved to keep that parents together as a unit to protect the offspring through that long developmental phase.
There are other solutions, like community child rearing, but the two-parent unit dominated, which in evolutionary terms means it was a better solution for survival.

Of course, at the time, life expectancy was lower. So there was no evolutionary pressure leading to serial monogamy either. It didn’t matter what you did after the children were reared, because you probably didn’t survive that long.

Now the threats are different and people continue to live fruitful lives long after the children have left the nest. There is not the same evolutionary pressures in the modern world, so no reason to maintain the status quo.
 
Sounds like you are poly 😀
 
Hello ShyButHi,

You are absolutely correct: Polyamory makes sense. Not that monogamy is bad, but when you assert that everyone in the whole world ought to be monogamous, then I have a problem with that. When it comes to morality, my only requirement is that whatever is done, is done with mutual consent.

You might find the book interesting, "Sex at Dawn: how we mate, why we stray, and what it means for modern relationships," by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. It's not dry at all, but it explores the evolution of humans, and the idea that humans tend to be naturally nonmonogamous. Monogamy is a recent development, an artificial construct.

Such are my thoughts,
Kevin T.
 
I believe that there are evolutionary reasons for monogamy. As what was to become the human brain evolved, the time taken for that brain to develop its full potential also increased, even more so than the time taken to develop physically. (I’m thinking now of my 15-year old son who almost matches my 6’2" height and build, but in many ways is still a kid mentally.)

Add to that the initial trauma of childbirth pushing that large cranium out leading to mum not being best placed to provide the protections necessary. Humans evolved to keep that parents together as a unit to protect the offspring through that long developmental phase. There are other solutions, like community child rearing, but the two-parent unit dominated, which in evolutionary terms means it was a better solution for survival.
I'd like to know what you've read to come up with this theory. From what I've learned, the scenario is quite different. Here is my understanding, in a very small nutshell.

Humans (as humans, never mind our beginnings as apes) survived through a million years living and raising their offspring in smallish tribal groups. Reproduction wasn't understood very well, and so while everyone knew who had a baby, they weren't sure how it got there, who the bio father was, or even how having sex related to conception and birth.

Therefore, the children belonged to and were "parented" by the whole tribe. The bio-mother would mostly breastfeed the baby, but even that job could be shared amongst good friends or relatives. Since the women were nursing the children well past infancy, I do believe the men went on longer hunting trips, while the women hunted for small game and gathered vegetables closer to home base. Then women invented horticulture and planted gardens by hand.

This kind of set-up is what was built into our DNA as humans, and to an extent, is how all primates operate.

The idea of one man having several wives was the next step on the social (not evolutionary) ladder. When agriculture was invented (large scale farms, using large animals to pull plows), massive stores of food began to be gathered in larger towns and cities (in Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, etc., as shown in the Biblical record), men got control of the stores of food and began to have an idea of personal ownership of goods. (Before this, goods were "owned" by the tribe.) Individual men wanted to pass down their goods to their own bio kids (i.e., sons). They wanted to have as many kids as possible, to pass down their goods to. Daughters were chattel, which could be traded to other men to forge social/economic bonds.

Finally, around the turn of the common era, some cultures began to leave polygyny behind (although it still very much exists today, especially in predominantly Muslim countries, and in high-control Christian cults in the West). Homosexual relationships were the norm in ancient Greece and Rome. A man would have one wife to breed, in order to be able to pass down his genes and belongings, but his M/M relationships were more socially important.

Eventually, because of the growing Christian idea of sex being bad, and chastity superior, things were reduced to MF monogamy as the ideal. I do not believe this was/is the most beneficial family unit in which to raise children. Of course, families stayed closer back in those days, so you would have more input from the extended family, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Nowadays, with the way people move around for work, the nuclear family has become common, but many don't think this is actually healthy for the children, and we still have the concept of "it takes a village to raise a child."

Now, with further social changes, marginalized groups demanding more rights, scientific advances in birth control, and the lessening of the power of Abrahamic religion on social values, the tides have shifted again. Early marriage is out. People are delaying or forgoing childbirth. We are too crowded on this planet. The idea of being fruitful and multiplying is passe. Sperm counts have dropped by 50%.

Men don't own women. Women are more able to choose to have kids or not, have multiple partners or not. Homosexuality is again becoming more popular (which could also slow the birth rate). Women can own property and pass goods down to their own children, girls included.

And voila! Modern polyamory was born. An ancient concept, built into our DNA, is now again conceivable and workable.
 
Thanks, but I wasn't necessarily referring to homo sapiens alone.
 
I'd like to know what you've read to come up with this theory.
This would be based on reading I did years ago. It does seem to have been a pretty widely accepted theory at the time see this review article from
Peer reviewed journal evolutionary anthropology.


My info may be challenged more recent articles seem to suggest that partner scarcity is more of a driving force:

 
You did say "humans (as humans)" so I figured my answer was appropriate.
As I said, this was the theory in a nutshell, but thanks for the nitpick. ;)
 
This would be based on reading I did years ago. It does seem to have been a pretty widely accepted theory at the time see this review article from
Peer reviewed journal evolutionary anthropology.


My info may be challenged more recent articles seem to suggest that partner scarcity is more of a driving force:

I don't like the use of the term cuckoldry in reference to the behaviors of ancient humans. That seems to be a misplaced value judgment.

I am reading the readable article (the one I don't need an account for). I am not sure, but it seems to assume that monogamy was the norm in ancient stone age societies, whereas anthropological and historical research indicates that promiscuity of both sexes was the norm. I might post again when I finish the article.

I think of one report of a (current or very recent) traditional African group where reproduction is not fully understood, and it is thought that adding more variety of sperm into a pregnant woman's vagina will result in a stronger offspring. All the men she has sex with during her pregnancy are considered fathers of the baby. Therefore she has the investment of not just one, but several men, in the well-being of her baby. (On the surface, more fun sex for everyone. No "cuckolding." Every male is legit her mate and the father of the child to come.)

That is just one tiny example in favor of "my" theory.

Today, in non-human primates and birds, species assumed to be monogamous are found to be not. DNA research has allowed us to see that while some females may seem to be monogamous, or at least, in a group of females who all only mate with one "alpha" male, in fact, have successfully mated with other males (from other family groups). And this, of course, would add to the gene pool, making it stronger. Every warm-blooded animal species you can think of, from chimpanzees to swans, many assumed to be monogamous or polygynous, has been studied (leaving out really rare uncaptured animals, I suppose).

The religious evidence we have from much more recent post-stone age times (as written language was first developing, and when images were being carved and painted of goddesses, heroines, gods and heroes) show that females often had multiple partners (prior to the rise of the patriarchy). The quoted scientific research report seems to focus on the male sexual drive and not take into account the benefit to individuals and to their societies for women to mate with multiple men, not acknowledge how they were eventually forced out of doing this by the stronger men's violent actions, leading to the (IMO) actual detriment of a healthy society. "Mate guarding" leads to the injury and death of "lesser" males, to their inability to reproduce, to the rape of females, to the whole concept of ownership of another human being (slavery), and many other issues, too numerous to list, as should be obvious.
 
Just to get back to your original question, OP...it sounds like polyamory / ethical non-monogamy is an appealing philosophy to you (as it is to me and most people on this forum).

However, your issue is that you have mostly monogamous partner who will likely be deeply hurt if you want to date / have sex with / fall in love with other people. You might end up losing her if you choose to live your polyamorous values.

Overcoming societal expectations isn't really what the issue would be; it's whether your partner would want to join you in exploring polyamory, and if she doesn't, whether you would want to part ways with her or not.

You should probably talk with your partner in depth about this.
 
I'd like to know what you've read to come up with this theory. From what I've learned, the scenario is quite different. Here is my understanding, in a very small nutshell.

Humans (as humans, never mind our beginnings as apes) survived through a million years living and raising their offspring in smallish tribal groups. Reproduction wasn't understood very well, and so while everyone knew who had a baby, they weren't sure how it got there, who the bio father was, or even how having sex related to conception and birth.

Therefore, the children belonged to and were "parented" by the whole tribe. The bio-mother would mostly breastfeed the baby, but even that job could be shared amongst good friends or relatives. Since the women were nursing the children well past infancy, I do believe the men went on longer hunting trips, while the women hunted for small game and gathered vegetables closer to home base. Then women invented horticulture and planted gardens by hand.

This kind of set-up is what was built into our DNA as humans, and to an extent, is how all primates operate.

The idea of one man having several wives was the next step on the social (not evolutionary) ladder. When agriculture was invented (large scale farms, using large animals to pull plows), massive stores of food began to be gathered in larger towns and cities (in Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, etc., as shown in the Biblical record), men got control of the stores of food and began to have an idea of personal ownership of goods. (Before this, goods were "owned" by the tribe.) Individual men wanted to pass down their goods to their own bio kids (i.e., sons). They wanted to have as many kids as possible, to pass down their goods to. Daughters were chattel, which could be traded to other men to forge social/economic bonds.

Finally, around the turn of the common era, some cultures began to leave polygyny behind (although it still very much exists today, especially in predominantly Muslim countries, and in high-control Christian cults in the West). Homosexual relationships were the norm in ancient Greece and Rome. A man would have one wife to breed, in order to be able to pass down his genes and belongings, but his M/M relationships were more socially important.

Eventually, because of the growing Christian idea of sex being bad, and chastity superior, things were reduced to MF monogamy as the ideal. I do not believe this was/is the most beneficial family unit in which to raise children. Of course, families stayed closer back in those days, so you would have more input from the extended family, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Nowadays, with the way people move around for work, the nuclear family has become common, but many don't think this is actually healthy for the children, and we still have the concept of "it takes a village to raise a child."

Now, with further social changes, marginalized groups demanding more rights, scientific advances in birth control, and the lessening of the power of Abrahamic religion on social values, the tides have shifted again. Early marriage is out. People are delaying or forgoing childbirth. We are too crowded on this planet. The idea of being fruitful and multiplying is passe. Sperm counts have dropped by 50%.

Men don't own women. Women are more able to choose to have kids or not, have multiple partners or not. Homosexuality is again becoming more popular (which could also slow the birth rate). Women can own property and pass goods down to their own children, girls included.

And voila! Modern polyamory was born. An ancient concept, built into our DNA, is now again conceivable and workable.

I like how you think. I too like to look back to our beginnings and try and make sense of it, based on how we evolved, including how we have evolved culturally and societally.

Based on how we used to live many thousands of years ago, and even to this day in many cultures, it makes sense to me that a lot of these monogamous dynamics are actually a very modern take (in the grand scheme of human evolution) and likely just arose because of how society had changed, due to religion and perhaps due to other systems humans have created in the recent few thousand years. Perhaps the family unit, in regards to law, property, food distribution, finances etc., is systemically just a bit easier to deal with. In other words, I think it is mainly just a human-manufactured dynamic and that monogamy isn't actually in line with the natural way of things.

Now I think a lot of people are realising (particularly those who are not religious, and are progressive thinkers who are also educated or like to educate themselves without bias and can think critically) that monogamy is not actually necessarily where we came from, or what is natural. When we remove the modern way of thinking, and think about how things used to be, and what lines up with nature, it is actually quite normal to have multiple partners and/or to have sex with multiple people.
 
Just to get back to your original question, OP...it sounds like polyamory / ethical non-monogamy is an appealing philosophy to you (as it is to me and most people on this forum).

However, your issue is that you have mostly monogamous partner who will likely be deeply hurt if you want to date / have sex with / fall in love with other people. You might end up losing her if you choose to live your polyamorous values.

Overcoming societal expectations isn't really what the issue would be; it's whether your partner would want to join you in exploring polyamory, and if she doesn't, whether you would want to part ways with her or not.

You should probably talk with your partner in depth about this.

For me, it is kind of more than something which is simply "appealing." It really is more like a philosophy of life, based on how I view the world. It is, to me, the natural way things should be...

Anyway, it is okay though. We are open about things, especially me, as I like to voice my thoughts openly in general. She sometimes thinks I can be overly blunt, but she has said one of the reasons she really liked me in the first place was because of how super open and honest I was about things.

I wouldn't choose to live by my polyamorous values while in a monogamous relationship with someone who doesn't align with those values. That would be wrong and also go against my own values, because I respect other peoples values too much to do something like that.

My initial thoughts are really just to continue as normal and maybe inject some other people into the equation when it comes to sexual stuff, as she is open to that. I do feel as though she might not be as active as me there. I still need to talk to her about that.

When it comes to actually being open to forming a relationship with someone else (if I happened to meet someone I particularly had an interest in) then I would have to refrain from forming that kind of relationship, as I respect her values. If I find in the end it is too hard to do that, because I find myself wanting a more open life regarding relationships, then unfortunately, the relationship would have to end.
 
Back
Top