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Friday, July 23, 2010

Which came first, the poly or the mono?


For me this conversation falls into the "Say What?" category.

While conversing with a group of polyfolk the topic of whether or not people were "out" to family and friends came up. There was some discussion about when it was appropriate to come out, and to whom. Concerns about discrimination came up and there were even a couple of people who felt they had been terminated from their jobs due to their lifestyle.

The topic then morphed a bit into responses people get from others when they do come out. The common responses like "That's just sleeping around" were tossed about for a while and discussed. Then someone mentioned they had gotten the response "Well, how do you know you are poly?".

That's when one gentleman made a very interesting comment. "How can you know you are monogamous unless you have tried polyamory?"

At which point someone else made the comment, "You have to be gay first before you can know you are straight."

Although my initial reaction was to call the local insane asylum, I got to thinking while I searched for the phone number. They actually do have a point. I don't know I dislike beets until I eat some. I don't know a prostate exam is unpleasant until I have one. So how can I know I'm poly unless I have tried to be monogamous?

Again, while I do think they have a point, I think the reasoning is a bit extreme. Let's look at an example. With the logic above I could say "How do you know you don't like BDSM unless you have tried it?".
Simple, when I was little I fell off my bike and skinned my knee. It hurt and I didn't like it. I cut my finger on a piece of metal and didn't like it. When I was bad I got spanked and guess what, I didn't like that either. From those experiences I can make a pretty good guess that someone taking a flogger to me isn't something I am going to enjoy let alone enjoy on a regular basis. I don't need to try it to know I'm not interested. I can make what I hope is an informed decision for myself based on other experiences in my life.

The logic also fails, in my opinion, when we start to include emotions and feelings in the equation. Being a young boy and having never had a relationship before there were things I inherently knew. Looking at a cute girl in school created a definite physical response in my body. It didn't matter I didn’t know what to do with the excited part, I still knew it was excited. Looking at the other guys on the baseball team didn't create that same response. Looking at that same girl I had a strong urge to touch her. Again, not something I was interested in with the other guys. (Okay, maybe one or two of them). So did I need to actually have a physical relationship with both sexes to realize which I preferred? I don't think so. Heck, I hadn't had a physical relationship with anyone and still had a pretty good idea which sex I preferred.

What do you think? Do you have to try monogamy to know you are poly? Conversely, do you have to try poly to know you are monogamous? And what about sexuality? Do you have to have sex with both sexes to know which one you prefer?

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