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Polyamory is not Monogamy Several Times

There is a certain drive to make polyamory relatable or palatable to the mainstream that makes folks say "yes we're just like monogamous people/relationships, except we have more of them at once!" but often, that isn't true. When folks are in closed, multiple-escalator dynamics like triads or quads that intend to nest together, then yes, we are in "like monogamy but more people" land, but as you'll know if you've been here very long, that's not a majority of polyamorous people or relationships. I think the cultural expectation of what a relationship “must” be shocks people when they hear that polyamorous people have larger number of partners than they expect. Some connections are not trying to be monogamy several times over- they are not climbing the relationship escalator. (The relationship escalator, as you may recall, is the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage" expected progression of relationships.)

It’s valid to have several escalator relationships or to be seeking that out of your connections - to want big sections of the escalator in order to feel a certain way - but a lot of times when we’ve been doing polyamory a long time, some of our relationships just are different. (Whether or not we're officially relationship anarchists, a big subsection of long term polyamorists land in fewer rules, choose-your-own connection land that borrows from those ideals.) For example, my girlfriend has 5 partners. If she were on the escalator with all of us she would not possibly have hours in the day to be a decent partner even just doing that, never mind that she works full time.

But love, care, and honesty about the connection we’re engaging in is sincerely more important than being on a trajectory toward “seriousness” in a traditional sense. And so these relationships work for us. Love and commitment aren’t defined by exclusivity or exact amounts of time. But for someone who expresses them best that way, my girlfriend would be a bad fit as a partner. (I might be too - my kids are my primary commitment and they take a lot of time that I won’t give a romance.) Trying to argue that our relationships are “just like monogamous ones, but we have more” only makes sense for some people - most polyamorous relationships I know actually aren’t that much like monogamous ones, except it’s caring and loving and healthy ones take a lot of talking. Do what makes sense for you, not what's most palatable for other people.


Check out the EVENTS page for classes coming up and my local Day of Visibility for Non-monogamy event (which I'm hosting) - two classes in the next two weeks and three this summer. Two new Support Groups are launching in September - one for Parents and one for folks New to Polyamory, so fill out the contact form or email me to get more information about them! We have limited space in both still.

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