Poly Myths and Misconceptions
There are many myths and misconceptions about Polyamory and what it means “to be poly”. Here are a few of the questions and concepts which many poly people face when non-poly people try to understand the term “Polyamory” while coming from a stereotypical monogamous mindset:
First off: Group Sex!
Yes, having open and honest relationships with multiple people allows for the opportunity for group sex. However, similarly to monogamous relationship, you are no more likely to be able to talk your partner into hot orgies than before. Polyamorous relationships are not about sex. They are about creating long-lasting, loving relationships. In order to have group sex, you must have a relationship with multiple partners who actually want to have sex with each other. This is not very common, even within the Poly community. Additionally, not all poly people are bi or pansexual and few Poly relationships are group-partnered. Vees and N’s are far more common than triads, quads, and other similar configurations. All your partners should know about each other, and many of them may even be close friends; however, that does not mean that they all want to hop into bed together. Many Poly people who have had multi-person relationships have never had group sex. Many are not interested and some just have not had the right mix of partners.
Lots’o'Sex a.k.a. the “Playa” myth: With multiple partners, you must get laid a lot!
Not really. There might be more sexual variety, but that does not necessarily translate into more sex in general, nor does it in any way imply that the sex is casual, that there are no commitments or there is a lack of emotional intimacy. There are still a limited number of hours in the day, and we all have other obligations such as work, school, housework or children. Further, many of us just are not interested in sex 24 hours a day every day! Additionally, many have partners who do not live with us. Some partners may be long distance, living outside the city, state, or even the country. The reality is that with so many emotional relationships going on at once, we tend to spend more time processing relationships and our emotions, and not nearly as much time shagging as some of us may like. A common poly joke is “More sex? Hell, I spend so much time talking, I hardly ever get laid!”
You can take the best parts of 2 different people and create 1 perfect person!
This assumes that people are not whole people, but rather puzzle pieces designed for fitting into predetermined holes. It ignores the fact that people are whole and complete individuals unto themselves and that each relationship is its own unique and individual entity with needs of its own. You enjoy different qualities about different partners. One partner may enjoy dancing and another likes quiet evenings at home. Chances are that they have several qualities in common with each other since they all share something in common with you. You may also find some activity or interest you share with one partner is not present with another partner. You may also find that each relationship has different needs. You desire a particular quality only with a specific partner. For instance, some people think they need massive amounts of “alone time” or “me-time” and personal space. They tend to feel closed in or claustrophobic if they don’t have their own space. However, they might get into a relationship where a partner does not threaten or confine their need for “alone time” and they find they can be happy with less space or less time apart than they thought. Just because they may need X amount of hours of “me-time” with a particular partner, but they do not have the same need with a different partner. This does not say good or bad things about the relationship, it just shows how every relationship is different.
Poly people are “more evolved” or “more advanced”
Not so. Poly people have a different relationship style. That is all. It is no better or worse than any other relationship style. It is important for each person to figure out what is the best relationship style for them individually and respect others who may feel that a different style fits them better.
Love is limitless
Love–at least, romantic love–is not limitless. It is restricted by time, energy and resources. There are over seven billion people on the planet, and it is simply impossible, for both emotional and practical reasons, to form meaningful relationships with all of them! For that matter, I have never met anyone who could manage fifty, or even ten simultaneous relationships.
Love may be limitless in the abstract; however, in the concrete world of work, conflicting schedules and finite resources, it can be very limited. Put simply, there is a finite boundary on the number of people one can love and spend time with, and a finite boundary on emotional resources available.
Poly people do not get jealous
Anyone can feel jealousy under the right circumstances. Being polyamorous does not make you immune to jealousy. Poly people are equally prone to jealousy as those in monogamous relationships.
Jealousy is frequently a symptom of an underlying insecurity. The most effective way to handle jealousy is to solve the underlying problem that created it. Anyone, polyamorous or not, can experience doubt and insecurity, leading to jealousy. People in successful polyamorous relationships may not feel jealousy in the same situations as those accustomed to traditional relationship models. However, that does not mean that they do not ever experience jealousy. A good goal in any relationship is to strive to find healthy ways for dealing with insecurity and jealousy.
Polyamory can cure cheating
There is an abject difference between the mindset of a monogamous cheater and someone who is polyamorous. While there are polyamorous people who cheat and monogamous people who do not, in general, a person who cheats does not do so for the same reasons as a person who seeks multiple relationships.
Attempting to “fix” a relationship in which one person is cheating by making that relationship polyamorous is likely to be problematic. A person who cannot be trusted to behave with compassion and respect toward one person cannot be trusted to behave with compassion and respect toward more than one. Additionally, imposing a large-scale shift in expectations on a relationship that is already under pressure is likely to increase the stress on that relationship. Polyamory is best proposed when your relationship and your relationship skills are already strong.
That is not to say that it is impossible for people who have cheated to transition to ethical polyamory. Sometimes, a person who is polyamorous by nature or inclination may cheat because he or she is not aware that alternatives to monogamy exist. In such a case, it may be possible for a person who has cheated to adapt to the ethical framework of polyamory, once he or she becomes aware that such option exist.