I recently read an article by a writer who writes a relationship column about current relationship trends. A self-professed committed monogamist, this writer had interviewed a polyamorous person and was surprised to find that they supported monogamy. More than supported it actually, they believed it to be a natural relationship model.
What struck me was the writers surprise. I'm not sure why I was surprised by their surprise, but I was. I shouldn't have been since I have had many conversations with monogamous folks who are sadly ignorant about polyamory and polyamorous people. Many attack polyamory as unnatural or an excuse to be sexually promiscuous. Those same people are quite surprised when after attacking my polyamorous lifestyle I will then defend their monogamous lifestyle. Quite literally they can't wrap their head around the paradigm.
At the same time most of the polyamorous people I speak with are not only supportive of monogamy, but of most lifestyle choices. Sure there are the polyamorists who think monogamy is unnatural and look down upon it but they are the minority. Most agree that while they can function as polyamorous, there are those who can function only monogamously and trying to do otherwise would result in failure.
Why are polyamorous people tolerant if not respectful of other relationship types while monogamous people tend to be intolerant of polyamory?
I think it has to do with polyamory still being considered an alternative lifestyle. Most of us are raised with monogamy as the accepted model. TV shows display it, laws recognize it, and most aspects of our daily lives accept it as the norm. Think about it. When was the last time you filled out a form allowing you to list multiple spouses? Because it is somewhat programmed into our brains those of us who choose polyamory are by default accepting of other relationship models and lifestyles. Those who live monogamously largely do so because of programming or a desire for conformity. Of course there are those who make the choice for monogamy but for the most part I think that is rare.
This contemplation has led me to a new way of thinking. The next time I am faced with someone who argues that polyamory is not natural, will create chaos in the universe, and is the cause of everything from the failure of the nuclear family to global warming, I will take a different approach. Instead of trying to defend myself or prove their monogamous paradigm is flawed I will try much harder to realize why they feel that way. (Not that I usually argue the point but the perspective works for this article.) I will let them know that despite their lack of respect for my lifestyle, I not only respect theirs but will defend it as a viable model. Maybe that will defuse the conversation a bit and allow them to realize that we polyamorists aren't trying to change them and take over the world.
Polyamory is about loving multiple people, not world domination right?
So how do you react when your lifestyle choice, whatever it might be, is attacked or misunderstood aggressively?