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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Accidental monogamy?

As usual, it was a conversation with someone that got my brain to working. It went something like this. . .

Them: "So do you have a girlfriend"
"Yep, but I’m poly"
"You're what?"
"Polyamorous. As in someone who has multiple loves."
"So you have more than one girlfriend?"
"Nope, just one right now. But I could have more."
"Well you aren't poly then! You are monogamous! Duh!"

At which point my brain said "You are accidentally monogamous!"
Being someone with a tendency to blurt things, of course that was what I said. The result was more of a Twilight Zone conversation than I could put down here, so I won't.

But the whole "Accidental Monogamist" idea really stuck in my head for a while. Over the years I've even heard a few related comments like "There is no such thing as a single poly!" or "How can you be single and be poly?" or my favorite "You are poly and you are single? What the hell is wrong with you? You can sleep with anyone you want!"

But I think there is another kind of accidental monogamy when you are a polyamorist. It is that thing that happens when you and your SO end up with only one another for a while. It isn't by design, it just happens. Before you know it though, you are essentially monogamous. You plan all your time together and aren't even really looking for OSO's any longer. And when one day one of you does find a new OSO, you realize feelings of jealousy or ownership. Suddenly, poly isn't looking so attractive anymore.
You have become an Accidental Monogamist.

Most likely things will be okay after some struggling with emotions. It isn't like you hadn't been there before, right?

So my questions of the day are. . . .

-Is it possible to be a single poly? Personally I don't see anything wrong with being a single poly so I not only believe it is possible, I think sometimes it is preferable.

-If you call yourself poly but aren't dating anyone, are you still poly? I think so since it is a feeling or state of mind. That would be like saying "I am male." but since nobody is looking down my pants, maybe I'm not?

-Have you ever ended up accidentally monogamous? Is that a bad thing? How did you shift back to poly after accidental monogamy, or did it just come naturally?


  1. Maybe it's no fair, but I "highjacked" your thread idea, and we're having a nice conversation about the questions you posed over at the Utah Polyamory society. Thanks for asking such thought provoking questions.

  2. Jim,
    I'm glad you are enjoying my articles!

    Thanks for letting me know about the "hijacking". As mentioned in my blog disclaimer that is perfectly okay :)

    If you would like to point folks to this blog with a link please do. I'll be glad to post a link back to any public sites.

    I am also on FaceBook as Polyamory Paradigm and open to all friend requests there.

    Thanks again,

  3. I believe that it is possible to be single and Poly. The difficult part about being a Single Poly, (SP), is that someone who lives in the paradigm of monogamy perceives the SP as being SM, Single Monogamous. Someone who starts dating a SP might have difficulty believing that the SP would ever go back to the poly paradigm, because they appear to be in the monogamy paradigm.

    I like to think that it is preferable to being Single Poly, because I am often single, but poly. What I like about it is that I can date several people, and help those that I date see that we can all be friends. I like to have the men I date, have a chance to have an experience of what Poly feels like. Several years ago, one of my male friends who was waiting for me to make a choice between three men, had a group dinner with the four of us. For me it felt like a nice date with all of the men that were currently significant to me. I liked that the three men could gather together, with me, and have the experience of what it is like to love, care, and connect in a small loving group. We did not have sex; we were just experiencing what it is like to live in a small community and feel a sweetness of sharing our caring.

    I agree that if a person is Poly, but not dating, they are still Poly. I was married for sixteen years, with one partner, living in the illusion of monogamy. That did not change the fact that I was still Poly during that time. During that time, when my husband was in his "cheating" stage, I tried to create a safe space for the two of us to have other lovers. His monogamous paradigm forbid him and us from having an open marriage. I knew that I was capable of loving more than one person, but by definition, the marriage had to appear monogamous and with a level of exclusivity. I never felt the marriage needed to end because another person outside of the marriage had a need to seduce my husband into an exclusive relationship, eliminating me as a significant partner. I had to accept that he was not capable of having multiple partners in on open and honest context. We ended the marriage based on demands by his OSO (not in the Poly context) to divorce me.

    In my current relationship, there is a regular flow of accidental monogamy. I cannot say that I do not like the calm periods of accidental monogamy. There is a little rest period at this house during those times. It feels like my partner appreciates me more, and gives me more of his attention. We take time honing our communication skills.

    The transition from having no OSOs to having an OSO or two, is not always easy. Sometimes it is difficult if the new OSO is really a serial monogamist and represents that they are Poly. This opens the relationship for lies and deception. Other times, because of honesty, communication, and collective past Poly lifestyles, the new OSOs become significant and integral partners in this Poly relationship.

    I like to think that the transition is smooth, but it always comes with a new set of people, communication skills, awarenesses, and integrity.

  4. Kameshwari,
    You are so right that when a Single Poly starts dating their dates often don't believe they will go back to Polyamory. I was going to mention that in the article and forgot about it. Thanks for bringing it up!

    I completely understand what you mean about the calm periods and I have enjoyed them as well.

    You raise some great points, thanks so much for the comment :)