Poly vs. Open vs. Monogamous: My primary’s take

A girl I know posted a note on Fetlife (the kinky social network) today about how, due to the large, vocal poly community on that site, she sometimes feels bad about being monogamous, even though she feels that monogamy is a more comfortable choice for her. In the comments, people were talking about the differences between poly and monogamy. Since Mike and I are neither of those things, he chimed in to explain his thoughts on the matter. I agreed with what he said and thought it was a good explanation of our relationship.

It is ok if you’re not poly.

I’m not poly either, by the narrower definition most often used. I am non-monogamous. I am poly in a broad sense, meaning that I love multiple people, in different ways and to different degrees.

But so as not to confuse the issue with the narrower definition of “poly,” I refer to myself as non-monogamous. I have a primary partner in Beth, and she is primary in my romantic affection, and in her status in my life. Other people can have multiple strong, romantic connections, but for me I simply prefer life with one primary partner to grow old with, and other playmates whom I love to a lesser degree (as close friends).

Even if you couldn’t do that kind of non-monogamy, that’s ok, too. Not everyone is alike, and no two people have the same desires and needs.

The main reason people “can’t” be non-monogamous is because they can’t get past the jealousy issue. And I do strongly believe that jealousy is a nasty, rotten emotion that causes damage and wreaks havok in any kind of relationship, even if it’s monogamous. Perhaps particularly if it’s monogamous.

And since I think jealousy is so destructive, not just to relationships but to a person at the core, I think it’s worthwhile to try to eradicate jealousy if at all possible. It is a long and difficult road, but it is worthwhile if it can be done.

But some people just can’t. Two things I’d advise: I don’t think you should beat yourself up if you can’t. And I don’t think you are defective. It means you are human. It IS hard-wired into us to be jealous over the idea that someone we love is spending intimate time with someone else. So if you can never be at peace with that, then you’re human and that’s ok.

The only thing I would caution is to do your best to prevent jealousy from causing you to cling on so tightly to people that you end up making them want to get away. And be careful not to let jealous emotions give you too much pain or cause you to attack your own self-worth.

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3 thoughts on “Poly vs. Open vs. Monogamous: My primary’s take

  1. I think it’s sad that we spend so much time discussing the differences between monogamy and non-monogamy, instead of focusing on the many, many similarities. In fact, I would argue there are more similarities than differences! One of the reasons I write about this on my blog is to bridge this gap.

  2. Oh, and to clarify, I LOVE what you’ve done here and what you’ve written. I think this post is brilliant! My earlier comment was aimed at the people on FL who were talking about the differences between mono and poly. Not having seen the particular discussion, I’m sure it was civilized. I’m more bothered by the fact that we are so quick to look for differences, rather than celebrating our commonalities! I also love that you acknowledge that very few people fit neatly in any one “box” – to try to do so feels like folly!

    But again, great post, and I look forward to reading more of your blog!

    • Thank you so much; that’s great to hear!
      Sadly, things in general over on Fetlife can get a big contentious about the mono vs. poly debate, but this particular thread was pretty nice and civil 🙂

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