Poly: Choice or Predisposition?

northhome

New member
So, what do you think, are you born poly or do you choose to be poly?

From what I've seen of babies (both my own and others) I'd say we're all born with the capacity to love many people. How we then choose to express our love is simply a matter of socialisation and personal choice. Some do it one way, some do it another, some (sadly) don't do it at all....
 

Spock

New member
That one confuses me too...I do NOT develop "feelings" for people easily (it's happened twice in my life - once with MrS, and again with Dude) but still considered myself poly even when I was with MrS (and various FWBs :D). (To be perfectly honest, however, I can definitely experience "sexual attraction" for people that I don't have "feelings" for - which is not universal.)


Why is it confusing, though?

They just don't identify as poly and use the fact that they don't love often/easily as the justification.

What if 'feelings' includes 'sexual attraction'?

So that if you don't develop sexual nor emotional attraction to many people, you self identify as mono, and if you do then you are poly.
 
That one confuses me too...I do NOT develop "feelings" for people easily (it's happened twice in my life - once with MrS, and again with Dude) but still considered myself poly even when I was with MrS (and various FWBs :D). (To be perfectly honest, however, I can definitely experience "sexual attraction" for people that I don't have "feelings" for - which is not universal.)

It confuses me too. I don't at all understand why falling in love easily or not makes a difference to what relationship structure a person chooses to adopt.

I develop feelings for people very easily. I have crushes regularly and there are others who I just love.

I choose not to have poly relationships because I have doubts about my ability to fit that relationship structure into my life as it is now without having to compromise on my ethics.

Unless/until my life changes in a way that leads me to feel differently, I will continue to have monogamous romantic relationships and fall in love regularly. :D
 

Spock

New member
Is this a semantic definition of poly vs mono?

Where poly means multiple relationships vs single relationships?

Why not switch to saying 'best friends' instead?

So the original point would be:
...I've heard some mono people say they're mono because it's rare for them to have a best friend, let alone more than one at the same time. That reason doesn't make sense to me at all...

I can want as many best friends as I can imagine, a best friend on every floor of my building and every aisle of my floor and I would happily be poly.

However, the effort needed to cultivate said friendships is so high that I cannot really have more than one or two best friends.

So even if I can imagine how wonderful poly is, I can't envision accomplishing it; ergo, it is rare for me 'develop feelings', and therefore best friends, let alone loves or lovers.

Imagine something that is difficult and time consuming and hard to do, and now imagine doing it multiple times; that is poly to a mono person, or at least me.

I know! College degrees; most people think of it as a huge investment in time, resources, effort, and energy.

Could you say that you would try to have two or three college degrees simultaneously?
 

northhome

New member
However, the effort needed to cultivate said friendships is so high that I cannot really have more than one or two best friends.

If having a good friend is an effort for you, then I totally understand that you need to make sure you don't have too many of them. If you do, you'll run out of energy.

There are people who find that having friends is no effort at all, that it in fact it gives them energy. So the problem is not about running out of energy, it's more about managing time and resources.

It probably all comes down to how you relate to other people.
 

Spock

New member
That would be awesome! I would love to be a professional student.

I know, not the point.

But it is :)

Some people can do it, others can't. I can probably pull off a dual degree.

Another example is having kids. I've seen teachers apparently effortlessly direct 10s of students and get them all acting compliantly for hours with nary a meltdown or a screaming fit, and I struggle to manage my two kids without exploding.

So those people who can't imagine being mono, imagine having to manage 10 kids at once, or 3 college degrees at once, or cooking three separate meals at once; whatever it is that taxes you that you can't do it without frustration and disappointment, and imagine a relationship being like that.
 

Tonberry

New member
I can totally imagine being mono. I've had enough people tell me about how when they love someone, it "turns off" their ability to be attracted to new people in a romantic way. I get that part.

What people are talking about finding weirder is those who say they can be in love with more than one person, but because it's not often, they identify as mono.

I think a better analogy would be sexual orientation. (In my opinion polyamory is a relationship orientation, while polygamy is a relationship practice. So you can be polyamorous in a monogamous relationship or the other way around).
Anyway, my analogy would be, say, a female who can be attracted to another female physically and romantically, but very rarely. They're more likely to be attracted to males. They might identify as straight despite having some same-sex attraction, because it's so rare, she might feel like lying if she said "I'm bi" but then never met a woman she's attracted to in 10 years, and her friends could accuse her of pretending to be bi just for the attention.

Or someone who rarely experiences sexual attraction at all could identify as asexual even though they're actually demisexual or grey-a.

So I find it useful to think of it in terms of "rounding up". They might have some small poly tendencies, but they're unlikely to ever affect their lifestyle, and so it might feel counterproductive to identify as poly, since it reduces their prospects with mono partners, and probably will never come up (and if it does they might prefer not to act on it anyways).
 

Eponine

New member
I can want as many best friends as I can imagine, a best friend on every floor of my building and every aisle of my floor and I would happily be poly.

However, the effort needed to cultivate said friendships is so high that I cannot really have more than one or two best friends.

So even if I can imagine how wonderful poly is, I can't envision accomplishing it; ergo, it is rare for me 'develop feelings', and therefore best friends, let alone loves or lovers.

Imagine something that is difficult and time consuming and hard to do, and now imagine doing it multiple times; that is poly to a mono person, or at least me.
To me, "I rarely develop feelings" doesn't necessarily equal "it's difficult and time-consuming for me to maintain relationships". I don't develop feelings as often as most people, but once I connect with a right person, maintaining a relationship is almost effortless because we're highly compatible (I don't develop feelings for people who don't share my core values and relationship views). So I can understand being mono because it takes too much effort to cultivate and maintain relationships, but I don't understand being mono because you rarely develop feelings. I guess it's probably not the only reason those people choose mono though.
 
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Spock

New member
To me, "I rarely develop feelings" doesn't necessarily equal "it's difficult and time-consuming for me to maintain relationships". I don't develop feelings as often as most people, but once I connect with a right person, maintaining a relationship is almost effortless because we're highly compatible (I don't develop feelings for people who don't share my core values and relationship views). So I can understand being mono because it takes too much effort to cultivate and maintain relationships, but I don't understand being mono because you rarely develop feelings. I guess it's probably not the only reason those people choose mono though.

You're right that it's not synonymous, I'm just pointing out it's a possibility.

Another possibility is that you can connect with people who are completely incompatible. A quirk of attraction can mean you fall for people who are, for whatever reason, in a self-destructive, self-hating mode of their life so that you can love them all you want but can't get involved without also destroying yourself.

You can then tamp down said attraction because you aren't highly compatible, but from judging posts in this forum and other forums, a lot of people can't and proceed to have destructive relationships form that hurt everyone.
 

northhome

New member
Another possibility is that you can connect with people who are completely incompatible. A quirk of attraction can mean you fall for people who are, for whatever reason, in a self-destructive, self-hating mode of their life so that you can love them all you want but can't get involved without also destroying yourself.

Been there, done that. Slowly but surely getting the hang of it and making smarter choices. When I stop the 'I'm the rescuer' gig it makes a huge difference (especially in the energy loss department).
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I've heard some mono people say they're mono because it's rare for them to develop feelings for even one person, let alone more than one at the same time. That reason doesn't make sense to me at all. No matter how rarely I'm attracted to people, a mono relationship would still be denying my autonomy. Whether I end up having multiple partners or not isn't important, but I need to know I'm free to love whomever I want.

By the same token, putting a mono person in a poly relationship would be negating their autonomy. It would deny their right to choose a mono lifestyle.

I think a lot of people have baggage from being "forced" into mono relationships before they knew there was an alternative. Thus, they see monogamy as forcing people to have only one partner, against their will. They seem to deny the fact that choosing mono relationships is just as much an expression of autonomy as choosing poly relationships.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
however I think that everyone has the inate capacity to love more than one person

Pardon my rudeness, but I think this is crap.

It's as bad as saying "everyone has the innate capacity to love the opposite sex, they just have to find the right person."

In essence, it completely denies the feelings and reality of people who consciously identify as mono. It's saying that they're deluded about their own feelings, and that you know better than they do what they are and are not capable of.
 

nycindie

Active member
I think that everyone has the inate capacity to love more than one person.
Pardon my rudeness, but I think this is crap.

It's as bad as saying "everyone has the innate capacity to love the opposite sex, they just have to find the right person."

In essence, it completely denies the feelings and reality of people who consciously identify as mono. It's saying that they're deluded about their own feelings, and that you know better than they do what they are and are not capable of.

I disagree, SC. Having a capacity for something, or "a mental, emotional, or physical ability or power to do, experience, or understand something" doesn't take away choice. Just because a human being has numerous potential choices in front of them and an ability take part in them does not preclude them from identifying as they choose. We humans all have the capacity to kill someone, but whether we do or not is up to us. Personally, I think the idea that we are wired one way or another is crap. We have a potential for many choices and what feels right to us is formed by many elements, such as our personality, what we are taught is acceptable, familial and societal influences, and how comfortable we are with certain choices. Think of the people raised in societies where polyandry is part of the culture, such as the Na of China. Culturally it is taught to them that having multiple partners is a-okay. Just because the majority of people in that culture live that way, does it mean they are wired for only poly? Does it mean that no one in their culture ever desires monogamy? Would saying that a Na person has the capacity to be monogamous insulting to their cultural identity that promotes and encourages having multiple relationships? I don't think so.

As I see it, the smorgasbord of possibilities are out there and the capacity to take part in them is inside us, but various factors sway us one way or another as we develop emotionally, intellectually, and physiologically.

I also think that comparing a structure for relationships to one's sexual orientation is crap. One is just a way to approach having relationships, while the other is who one is attracted to based on the internal interpretations of gender identity/biological sex/gender expression of oneself and the person to whom one is attracted. Much more complex than the question of how many people you feel comfortable having relationships with, IMHO.
 

LadyLigeia

New member
Both

Honestly, I think it's both. I remember watching "Dawson's Creek" with my cousins as a child and I couldn't decide whether I would rather date Dawson or Pacey. I remember asking, "Why can't I date them both?" My cousin said, "Because that is a threesome and those are not good!"

Of course, that set my mind reeling...
 

YouAreHere

Active member
I think monogamy-as-preferred-relationship-style and monogamy-as-I-only-love-one-person-with-romantic-intensity tend to be conflated.

For the latter, I pretty much agree with SC on this one. Maybe it's a spectrum, but to say that we all have the innate ability to love more than one, could we then transpose that onto the gay/bi/straight spectrum and say we all have the innate ability to love someone of the same gender? Some may have that ability. Others? Not so much.

The relationship structure? Regardless of how *I* love? Yes, I believe that there's an ability to conform to certain structures, and I think that this is the societal part. It may not be my preferred relationship structure, but as long as my needs are met, then I'm good with it.

When we use the same word for personal romantic relations AND preferred relationship style, there's bound to be conflict and confusion. And that's one place where the social norm DOES fail us - the nature of de facto monogamy is that it doesn't HAVE to differentiate the two, and that's too bad.
 

Myrrhine1

New member
For me, realizing that I was in love with two people at the same time was a big eye-opener about my own sexuality and my identity. In my circumstances, I was not in multiple relationships at that time, but my feelings for the other person did not lessen one bit after over a year of almost no contact.

I feel that polyamory is part of sexual identity and therefore not a choice. I can't help my romantic or sexual attraction to more than one person at a time, but I can choose whether or not to engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with more than one person.
 

Ariakas

Bosun
It can be both
It may be both
It can be one.. or the other.. or maybe neither..

There is no one answer fits all. My parents were monogamous.. period
I wasn't..

I have friends who grew up in poly families..
she is monogamous..
he isn't

See a pattern?...:)
 

vanquish

New member
This all goes back to the nature vs. nurture debate.

One side can say, "Look. I like who I like. I'm a female for whom males are not arousing in the least. Trying to be heterosexual would fail and it's insulting that you'd tell me I should try."

The other side can point to the fact that some people "try" polyamory and are surprised that they like it. Or they "try" polyamory and don't. "Try" being analogous with making a choice.

But is that truly making a choice or is it allowing yourself to discover who you were, but didn't give yourself the chance to be (because of internal or societal influences)?

Theoretically, it makes sense that anyone could be attracted to any type of relationship style given the right circumstances. Does that mean that we all have an innate poly nature, but it is changed by society?

I really don't think there will ever be an answer. And I'm fine with that.
 
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