Assumptions and Compulsory Monogamy
A tweet thread by Remodeled Love (@RemodeledLove) went viral last week. It reads “Dear GenZ Polyamorous Folks, Please stop with the messaging that you have to be perfect to try polyamory. Some of us had a lot more compulsory monogamy to deconstruct while taking this leap. 1/” and continues “Y’all are a very woke generation, and I’m eternally grateful to the ways you’ve deconstructed gender, sexuality, relationship models, and more…but that also gives you a LOT of privilege over those of us who had absolutely zero access to the internet, content, resources, /” and “or a dope support system. Plus, some of us spent DECADES inside monogamy before even hearing there was another option. /”
Up until this point, I am with them. Although I, a Millennial, had what they are classifying as a Gen Z experience regarding at least having the internet to find resources and a support system when I had trouble finding it in person, I also had the benefit of being in a large city full of early adopters, and ‘getting in on the ground floor’ so to speak as a lot of polyamorous community coalesced. I recognize that many people my age and almost no one older than me outside of folks who were doing very alternative or very communal ways of living anyway had a notion of this lovestyle or way of living their lives, and so even once they heard of it and the idea ‘clicked,’ they had a decade or two under their belt of immersion in all the negative habits of toxic monogamy culture (not all monogamy is toxic monogamy, but toxic monogamy culture is prevalent, just like not all masculinity is toxic but toxic masculinity is common and harms everyone), and they needed to do a good deal of work to get out from under that. It is a decidedly different experience generationally, both because of the different culture folks grew up in and because of the different reactions of folks’ social groups when they come out. The stakes are different.
The Remodeled Love poster loses me at this point, because they begin arguing that part of deprogramming from toxic monogamy culture is engaging in the versions of non-monogamy most likely to harm people, like one penis policies and don’t ask don’t tell and extreme couple’s privilege codified; and say that it’s wrong to tell people that they shouldn’t practice nonmonogamy that way. I think that both the hypothetical educator they’re talking to, who is “telling folks they’re ‘not ready’ for polyamory because they need certain crutches” because they “experienced greater cultural miseducation,” and the author of the thread are a little wrong. You can tell people “These are the dangers of these crutches and I don’t recommend them for reasons A, B, and C,” without telling people “you can’t be polyamorous,” or “your polyamory doesn’t count.” You can tell them “Usually people only use this rule for a very limited period of time as a stepping stone to greater security and if you don’t feel that way when you re-evaluate in 3 or 6 months you might want to get a polyfriendly therapist to help you talk out what need you feel this is meeting.” There’s plenty of advice that invalidates the bad coping mechanisms, that the writer of the post admits are bad, without shaming the people or invalidating them.
Giving them time and space to adjust is important and not to be undervalued, but also… the skills you need for polyamory are mostly the same skills you need for monogamy, just more times. It’s making all your relationships stronger and healthier. Having been monogamous for that many more years, should, ideally, have made them good at talking to each other. If they aren’t these are skills they need before they add more people to the mix. It has nothing to do with how they do it, if more penises are involved, how many couple-saving rules they think they’ve implemented, or what they choose not to ask. Relationship broken: add people pretty much never works, so trying to make it work by toxic or non-toxic means will be equally challenging.
You can find the podcast at readyforpolyamory.fireside.fm, you can join us on facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/readyforpolyamory, follow on Twitter @lauracb88 & instagram @readyforpolyamory, and if you'd like to support us financially we're on Patreon at www.patreon.com/readyforpolyamory and ko-fi at ko-fi.com/readyforpolyamory.