Monogamy is the expected ‘norm” in this society. I had never questioned that, yet it has rarely felt “normal” to me. I come from a family for which monogamy works. For my daughter, for my brothers, for my parents, for previous generations (at least from what I can tell), monogamous relationships work. For many of my friends, who are happy in traditional monogamous relationships, it is a perfectly well functioning paradigm.
I have had a grand total of three such relationships in my life. Although, the three months when I was eighteen hardly counts and my most recent relationship also does not truly fit the mold because his ex-wife was never emotionally out of the picture. So I have had one and that did not start out that way. I met my ex-husband when we were twenty-two years old. We were friends with benefits for eight years before we moved in together and became exclusive, then engaged, then married. We were married for fourteen years. We have been apart for three and a half and we are thankfully still friends but, no longer with benefits, too much water under that bridge to go back.
In my adolescence and throughout my twenties I was far from celibate but, I did not engage in the traditional relationship construct that is the norm in our society. I used to think that meant that there was something wrong with me. I am now reconsidering that perhaps it does not.
Many of my friends are polyamorous. They have relationships with more than one lover at one time. Some are married and most are happy. Being human of course, they are not perfectly blissful at all times but, it does seem to work for them. I have always believed that love is not a loaf of bread. If I love one person that does not mean that I have less for another.
One of the things I find uncomfortable about monogamy is that it is so easy to slip into the trap of sacrificing yourself on the altar of the relationship. The relationship itself becomes more important than the individuals in it. And it is too easy to slip into the behavior of taking responsibility for your partner’s happiness, rather than your own.
Polyamory has its own potential problems. My perception of the paradigm originally was that someone was undoubtedly being used, or that jealousy and eventual heartbreak was inevitable. I have since come to understand that the success of any relationship regardless of its construct is entirely dependent upon the character and commitment of those involved. All relationships take work, trust, communication and self-awareness. And of course, Love.