Toxic Monogamy Culture

Al99

Active member
My long distance girlfriend, Wendy, posted this on their local FB group - so thought I would share here as well. Some interesting thoughts.


"What I mean when I say "toxic monogamy culture":


the normalization of jealousy as an indicator of love

the idea that a sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities

the idea that you should meet your partner's every need. and if you don't, you're either inadequate or they're too needy

the idea that a sufficiently intense love should cause you to cease to be attracted to anyone else

the idea that commitment is synonymous with exclusivity

the idea that marriage and children are the only valid teleological justifications for being committed to a relationship

the idea that your insecurities are always your partner's responsibility to tip-toe around and never your responsibility to work on

the idea that your value to a partner is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy they spend on you. and it is in zero-sum competition with everything else they value in life

the idea that being of value to a partner should always make up a large chunk of how you value yourself
 

icesong

Member
I've seen this floating around FB - there are a few of them that I definitely see people try and live even in poly situations, though. Not that it works out well when they do...

  1. the idea that a sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities
  2. the idea that marriage and children are the only valid teleological justifications for being committed to a relationship
  3. the idea that your insecurities are always your partner's responsibility to tip-toe around and never your responsibility to work on
  4. the idea that being of value to a partner should always make up a large chunk of how you value yourself

I mean, I'm pretty guilty of #1 and #3 sometimes, and even #4, honestly...
 

madgrey

New member
the idea that your insecurities are always your partner's responsibility to tip-toe around and never your responsibility to work on

Oh gosh, this. It leads to so much non-communication and wishful lying, even in Monogamyland.

There's a subtle but ESSENTIAL difference between delivering information gently, and sugarcoating it into non-existence in a misguided attempt to protect a partner's feelings.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
My pet peeves:
  • the normalization of jealousy as an indicator of love
  • the idea that a sufficiently intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities
  • the idea that a sufficiently intense love should cause you to cease to be attracted to anyone else
  • the idea that commitment is synonymous with exclusivity
Good post, Al.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Good list as food for thought or discussion starter. Thanks, Al.

IME, it's not limited to monogamy though. It could appear in polyamory. Like we often see the struggle in primary-secondary models there where primary wants to retain a lot of those things. It's not so much about the relationship model but the person's beliefs or way of going.

It made me think of "possessive" vs "participatory" relating. I have seen lot people approach their relationships as having a relationship like they have a thing, a sweater, a possession. They come to it like "what do I have, what do I get" or similar.

I've met less people approach their relationships as participatory like "How do I participate? How do I share time, energy, attention, etc?"

When viewed through a participatory lens, reading that list becomes something like
  • I participate in relationships like my jealousy indicates my level of love
  • I participate in relationships like intense love is enough to overcome any practical incompatibilities
  • I participate in relationships like I should meet my partner's every need. And if I don't I'm either inadequate or they're too needy
  • I participate in relationships like a sufficiently intense love should cause me to cease to be attracted to anyone else
  • I participate in relationships like commitment is synonymous with exclusivity
  • I participate in relationships like marriage and children are the only valid teleological justifications for being committed to a relationship
  • I participate in relationships like my insecurities are always my partner's responsibility to tip-toe around and never my responsibility to work on
  • I participate in relationships like my partner's insecurities are always my responsibility to tip-toe around and never their responsibility to work on
  • I participate in relationships like my value to a partner is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy they spend on me and it is in zero-sum competition with everything else they value in life
  • I participate in relationships like a large chunk of how I value myself depends on how much my partner values me.
When framed that way, it makes me go "Dang, if you participate like THAT, I'm not sure I want to participate in anything with you."

Or perhaps one would reflect and go "Dang, that's how I participate in my relationships? Maybe I need to work on my stuff first before I try to participate in dating someone new."

But nope. What I usually hear is stuff like "I wish I had a BF, I wish I had a GF" much like "I wish I had a sweater." The wished for partner is supposed to come bring all the warm and fuzzies to fix everything.

Galagirl
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
What I usually hear is stuff like "I wish I had a BF, I wish I had a GF" much like "I wish I had a sweater." The wished for partner is supposed to come bring all the warm and fuzzies to fix everything
Again, this is part of codependent thinking - looking to outside sources (esp. a love partner) for navigational cues instead of steering the ship from the helm.
 

Al99

Active member
Good list as food for thought or discussion starter.

Which was my intent. :)

I did appreciate Karen's comments on codependency, though - and very much agree with the issues inherent in looking to others for fulfillment, rather than working on on selves.

Or as Galagirl put it -
It made me think of "possessive" vs "participatory" relating.

I wonder if codependent thinking is more common in monogamy than polyamory because in mono relationships we are focused on just one other partner? Or not - because if we are poly, we simply have more choices of people to focus on? :)
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
I wonder if codependent thinking is more common in monogamy than polyamory because in mono relationships we are focused on just one other partner? Or not - because if we are poly, we simply have more choices of people to focus on? :)
Codependent thinking has to do with how you navigate, not how many other boats (people) are in your ocean. People who lean co-dependent operate that way in most of their relationships, the partner relationship being only the most obvious and often the most problematic. Co-dependent thinkers use the same relationship operating system with their parters as they do with their children, their co-workers, their relatives, etc. My anecdotal observation online and in everyday life is that codependent thinking is just as common in poly as it is in mono.
 
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tdh

New member
Codependent thinking has to do with how you navigate, not how many other boats (people) are in your ocean. People who lean co-dependent operate that way in most of their relationships, the partner relationship being only the most obvious and often the most problematic. Co-dependent thinkers use the same relationship operating system with their parters as they do with their children, their co-workers, their relatives, etc. My anecdotal observation online and in everyday life is that codependent thinking is just as common in poly as it is in mono.
Just to add to this a bit, the ideal of polyamory is interdependence amount partners. Codependency is more popular in pop culture like the phrase "Happy Wife, Happy Life" (pet peeve) or most Romantic comedies (a personal guilty pleasure) which is probably why people associate it with monogamy. But it can exist in all relationship types depending on the dynamic of the partners or how one partner thinks of their partners.

Interdependence though isn't a poly only attribute either but there is more encouraging of learning and growing in the community and/or literature. It also doesn't make good TV/movie drama to be interdependent. But for most people, regardless of relationship type, this takes a lot of time and effort. Not everyone grows up with an example of interdependence love monogamous or non-monogamous.

Think calling this a monogamy specific problem is kind of like contrasting "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" vs "More than two" but ignoring all other dating/self help books out there. While they are both mainstream books in their cultures, they do not speak to all experiences in the spectrum.

On another note "the normalization of jealousy as an indicator of love" is something I run into as someone who also identifies with compersion. Partners end to be surprised I get excited for them to have good partners and I don't get a little territorial or jealous around other partners especially male partners. My 2 general feelings I sometimes poorly explain is, "I get excited to know you and I are both happy" and "They could fall in love can happen the same way regardless of sexual orientation/organ. Why should that affect our relationship?" Don't expect them to feel this way but in terms of love, jealousy as a showing of care is modeled a lot in American culture.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Good point tdh, interdependence is the ideal of polyamory, and is the next step after independence (which, in turn, is the next step after codependency). Also, the normalization of jealousy, as an indicator of love, is widespread in Western society.
 

FallenAngelina

Active member
.... jealousy as a showing of care is modeled a lot in American culture.
I wonder, in which culture is it not? I'm not sure that this is an American or even a Western culture thing. In which part of the world is this not the norm?
 
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