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What has contentedness with monogamy got to do with polyamory? April 18, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory, Skepticism and atheism.
Tags: , , , ,

I’m happy with my relationships.  Not directly related to this, however, is the fact that I’m not looking to meet anyone right now.  That is, I’m not actively seeking new partners right now, but its not merely because I’m happy.

There are women I’m interested in, to varying degrees, with whom I interact somewhat frequently but I either do not have any reason to believe my interest is reciprocated, or I know that this interest is not, in fact, reciprocated.  But I’m OK with that, because I’m not really looking anyway.  That may change at some point, but right now I’m content with the number of relationships I have.

Yesterday I was reflecting on this happiness and this contentment and it occurred to me that this was a feeling I had had while monogamous, in the past.  There were times, when exclusively committed to a girlfriend, where I had periods of genuine happiness with my life and contentedness with the nature of my relationship.  And this, in context to where I am now, made me realize two things about some of the reactions I hear from monogamous people upon being confronted with the possibility of polyamory.

The first is that that sense of happiness, when in a monogamous relationship,  does not imply that a person is built for monogamy, necessarily.  That would be mis-attributing the source of the happiness to the structure, rather than the contents, of their relationship.  Such a person, being happy and content with their monogamous relationship, could still pursue polyamory and be equally (and possibly more) satisfied with that alternative to sexual and romantic exclusivity.  The feeling of contentment with one’s relationships does not have to mean that one must merely tread the cultural water of mono-normativity, because perhaps being content, or even happy, is not always enough to stop the pursuit of each.  There are many potentialities in life which too many people miss because they are merely content where they are.  Perhaps they are capable of more, and don’t pursue more because they are merely ‘content’ or ‘happy enough.’

I call ‘bullshit’ on that.

A monogamous person who is happy with their partner may, in other words, be interested in other people but much like with other aspects of our lives (such as where faith comes in), be subject to confirmation bias when it comes to attributing that contentment to their exclusive relationship per se.  That is, they remember all the great aspect of the commitment they have (remember, commitment does not imply exclusivity), but forget all the times they have desires to love—erotically, romantically, etc—another person.  They feel a general contentment but may be mis-appropriating that contentment to the nature of the relationship, rather than the person they are with.  And being with other people does not (necessarily) take anything away from that great relationship, now does it?

If you answered yes, you are delusional.  Exclusivity does not a better relationship make, and loving two (or more) people does not necessarily diminish the love you have for any one of them.  If you really believe that then I will file you next to the creationists in terms of being un-attached to reality.

While I’m not actively pursuing anyone right now, or even feel a strong impulse to do so, I may in the future.  Hell, I might start doing so tomorrow, for all I know.   And this does not necessarily mean that my relationships are broken or that I’m lacking anything from my current partners, it just may mean that I might meet someone really awesome (as I did when I met Gina) or that variety in itself may be valuable to me (it is, just not all the time).

In short, I’m open to the fact that what I may want, need, etc will probably change throughout my life, and I want to keep my life open to all those possibilities out there (and, more importantly, I want to keep those opportunities open for those close to me).  And if someone else, say some monogamous person I’m explaining polyamory to, were to take their contentment at any given time  as a sign that the structure of their relationship is the cause of that contentment, then they are making a leap in logic which is not warranted.

The awesomeness of people bring us happiness and contentment, not how many of them you are romantically/sexually involved with.  How can adding more awesome people to your life be anything but, well, awesome?

I am not content because I’m polyamorous (again, per se), I’m content because the people I’m closest to are amazing, beautiful, and satisfying people.  In my case there just happen to be two of them who are willing to share me, but if their happened to just be one (or three) that would be awesome and contentment-inspiring.  But if I were monogamous, perhaps still married to Ginny, knowing and being around someone like Gina and wanting her constantly would NOT be a position of contentment for me.  And if I were monogamous thusly and intended to stay that way, I would therefore have to avoid being around someone like Gina (who I just can’t help but love) if I wanted to maintain the illusion of perpetual contentment with my hypothetical monogamy.

And this is what I think many monogamous people are doing; they are content often (perhaps very often), attribute that contentment to the exclusivity itself (hopefully tying it to the awesomeness of their partner), and ignoring or pretending that their extra-relationship desires don’t exist or would destroy that contentment by some magic unknown to me.  So they go on convincing themselves that monogamy is better for them, that polyamory would not work for them, etc while the truth very well may be that they would be happier being polyamorous if they were just willing to do the work.

This is why polyamory is superior.  Not because being with more than one person is better per se, but because being polyamorous, even while only involved with one person at any given time, allows open-ended pursuits of happiness and contentment rather than keeping us deluded that we are content in circumstances where we are unnecessarily limited, romantically and sexually.

Are you content with your monogamous relationship? Fine, what does that have to do with polyamory?



1. farah - November 11, 2015

you polys have issues.Am monogamous and am content that way not because I havent found another awesome great guy ,I know alot of interesting awesome great guys .but I dont persue them because its simply not something that I need because am emorionally fully satisfied to the level that the persuit seems to me soo trivial .Polys seem to have this “I am missing something ” “I have just got to have it “kind of mentality that makes hard for them tk control their impulses no matter how emotiolly happy they are in a current relatiobship .So unlike many people usually argue , I dont think all polys motivation is insatisfaction with partners, but about their mentality

shaunphilly - November 11, 2015

It’s almost like you didn’t even read the post….

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