I keep hearing (or reading) from people that non-monogamy is hurtful, bad or simply another way to cheat on your spouse. Nothing is further from the truth for those who are truly and consensually non-monogamous.
I’m not speaking of the polygamy of some extremists of the Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints). I’m certainly not speaking about any OTHER form of non-monogamy that forces women into essentially the role of a supposed “harem.” Nor am I even talking about the idiots who get caught cheating and try to tell their significant others that “it’s OK, because I’m polyamorous and you don’t have to be.” Sadly, I’ve known one couple in which the woman, when caught cheating, attempted this excuse. She even went so far as to take her husband to a polyamory discussion group. When there, she was horrendously shocked that the entire group agreed with her husband that it was CHEATING.
I will admit that even my family confused this, although I “came out” to them (well, no, I was forced “out” by my ex’s inability to be discreet). My ex-brother-in-law (sister’s ex) cheated on their monogamous marriage (how do I know it was monogamous? My family takes vows before God very seriously, and their marriage included the traditional swearing to be monogamous. Because MY marriage vows did not include that, and also did not include “as long as we both shall live,” but rather “as long as love shall last” I personally have not broken my vows.) My sister hid that she was divorcing him from me for over six months, until my mother essentially broke the news. She was convinced I would side with her ex, because I was non-monogamous. He did exactly three things that make him an oathbreaker (I will not use any other epithets, as my sister and her ex have quite impressively chosen AND FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH IT that they would NEVER use their children to hurt each other, nor would they allow negative commentary about the other ex to be spoken in front of their children). Those things were: A) He broke the vow of monogamy; B) he broke the vow of “until death do us part;” and C) being Christian, he committed sexual immorality (i.e. adultery).
Polyamory, and other forms of consensual non-monogamy for that matter, require EVERYONE in a relationship to not only know what exactly is going on, but has given full, active and complete approval of what is going on. Most people who are truly consensually non-monogamous do NOT hide their relationships from their significant other(s), unless that is part of the agreed upon rules. For me, I am not interested in that latter type. If I cannot check with the significant other(s) of a person who wants to date me, if I can’t have a clear discussion of the rules of that relationship, I am NOT interested in anything further. (Why? Because IN MY EXPERIENCE more often than not, the person claiming that the significant other just “doesn’t want to know about it” is frankly LYING to me and cheating on their spouse – YMMV) I will not KNOWINGLY assist someone who is cheating on their spouse.
One of the reasons that consensual non-monogamy can be healthy is that it requires two very important qualities to ANY relationship: 1) Honesty; 2) Communication. If you cannot be honest to someone you claim to love, and if you cannot communicate with them (whether it is about your needs or your feelings or anything else doesn’t matter….it’s the communication that matters), then you have no business being in a relationship with that person (or anyone, for that matter, because you have far too much to fix in your own head to be able to have a healthy relationship).
I have seen my VERY monogamous parents both succeed AND fail at those two qualities of a healthy relationship. As of August 6, this year, they will have been married for 56 years. So, I am well aware that any relationship occasionally has problems with those two qualities. In fact, my parents are my guide to healthy relationships, being both good role models and bad role models for them. I’d like to think I learned from their mistakes as well as learning from those things they did right. I do know for a fact that the quality that makes their relationship work is COMMITMENT. Again, this is a relationship quality that should be found in BOTH non-monogamous AND monogamous relationships.
People that claim non-monogamous relationships are unhealthy and hurtful more often than not have had either a relationship with a manipulative user who hid behind the word non-monogamy or have never met anyone who has had a healthy non-monogamous relationship.
There is JUST as large of a percentage of fuckups in the non-monogamous population as there is in the monogamous population. Every group in humanity’s wide variation has their associated fuckups. But somehow, someone who is non-monogamous fucking up must mean that the entire population of non-monogamous people must also be fuckups. We don’t blame all monogamous people for the mistakes (and some of them are HUGE) of a few, why should we be blamed as a whole for a few absolute idiots?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I will NEVER force any person to become non-monogamous. And I am clear from the ABSOLUTE BEGINNING of any relationship that I am polyamorous, and will explain it to someone who does not understand. I have ended a few relationships simply because the person was monogamous, and could never be comfortable or trust someone who was non-monogamous.
Again, it is those two qualities of honesty and communication.