To Date or Not To Date: Monogamous People

As a single polyamorous person, I’ve read and heard a lot of advice and preferences from other poly folk about the dating world. One phrase I’ve come across quite a few times is, “I don’t date monogamous people.”

I’ve never quite liked it. First off, so many polyamorous people lived monogamous lives up until a certain point. Isn’t it possible that the currently monogamous person you find yourself attracted to possibly has the capacity to be polyamorous, just as you did? If not, could you at least credit them with the emotional intelligence (you are attracted to them, right?!) to decide whether a polyamorous partner is something they could be happy with, be understanding of? If they say no, then that’s that, if they say yes, who knows what could happen? A relationship only exists for as long as both partners want it, and I trust the people I love to let me know if they no longer want it. If we both do – let’s!

Secondly, I’ve always believed that we can’t help who we fall in love with, and that as long as you love someone, and they love you, most obstacles can be overcome. It can be hard, but aren’t relationships always hard at some point? That’s the challenge of relationships, isn’t it? Relish the joy and ecstasy of being in love with someone at the cost of often having to reconcile the fact that you are, in the end, two individual beings with different needs and wants. Relationships are full of compromises; some are big, some are small. This is a big one.

But perhaps I only feel all of this because I am an optimist. When it comes down to it, this is one of those obstacles that is much harder for one partner than the other. Monogamous people often try to do things to prevent their partner (and themselves) from falling in love with someone else and leaving the relationship; polyamorists need to be allowed to love others. Because most romantic pairs are scrutinized under a monogamous light, a polyamorist who dates a monogamist could, in times of duress, be seen as someone who is “getting more than they’re giving,” in the relationship, even if it’s not true. Societal standards are tricky that way.

Perhaps people who choose not to date monogamists simply don’t want to invite the possibility of that being a perceived dynamic. They don’t want to potentially set themselves up to be “the bad guy.” Or, perhaps they simply find it easier to date people who have already explored themselves and their capacity for love, and people who identify as polyamorous have usually at least started that journey. I, ever optimistic, like to think that I fall for people who are capable of deciding whether they want a relationship with me, a polyamorist and ethical slut, or not. I expect them to know what they want, be able to communicate what they want, and decide if I fit that.

Maybe I have high standards, after all.

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  1. What a great insightful post Shannon and so, so appropriately timed for me! Thank you!

    When it comes to the early dynamics of a potential Significant Other for poly’s like yourself and me, there is a logical inevitable hiccup that will occur/is going to occur. Why is it GOING to occur? Because me, as an authentic polyamorous person, she (the potential Significant Other) will very soon find out that I am poly, I have no serious desire to change that, and our potential/possible future COULD be jeopardized due to “my place” versus her place.

    Now, as you’ve so beautifully revealed in this post Shannon, as Poly’s you and I should really humbly remember the place(s) we’ve come from! And we should NOT allow ourselves to fall into the trap of Poly-arrogance. Years ago I caught myself falling into that trap because I’d run into or have special early “encounters” with WONDERFUL potential SO’s (Significant Others) only to soon find out that they are monogamous. I’d say, since 2007 when my last SO and I ended our future together, 4-out-of-4 “potential” SO’s since then have quickly ended a possible ‘intimate’ future together from the Sword of Monogamy.

    One may ask why would a friendship have to end? And I’d say you are absolutely CORRECT!? WHY? And then I’d explain, because 9-out-of-10 times the monogamous person/woman focused most ALL of their/her time, energy, and hopes/expectations on ONE potential man/SO. Therefore, Shannon, it has been my experience that we are sometimes at a disadvantage by being so openly authentic about who we are. When we Poly’s our out & about, should we wear a huge cardboard sign across our necks that say “Hi. I’m Polyamorous. Proceed with Caution!” Or divulge things when appropriate and in an appropriate time-frame? I always choose the latter, but sometimes I have my doubts. Why doubts? Because sometimes I MISS being in a strongly connected relationship with a Dear close Friend, Lover, Soul MateS. I’m human.

    These implications Shannon you’ve touched on in this post, can be frustrating sometimes, I think, for Poly’s. Because we are a small (but hopefully growing) minority — and I despise sometimes the inherited(?) elitism our minority life-choice carries. We can’t really change or push monogamous potentials for our own benefits and wants; that wouldn’t be in the spirit of polyamory would it?

    What a conundrum, huh? LOL

  2. Oh, I sooo appreciate your candor and your thought process. Maybe it’s the optimist in me that believes if you share complete honesty with whomever you choose to open your life with things will work out the way they should. I’m glad Professor Taboo chose to pimp you on my blog this morning. By the way, you’re more than welcome to pimp some other deserving person if you’d like to join is sharing the blog love. 🙂

  3. Seeking Advice

     /  January 27, 2014

    Great article. I came across your blog while I was looking for advice on this matter. I am someone who believes in polyamory/open relationships since forever. I was NEVER a monogamist. I have also adopted the policy of not dating monogamous people. My approach was to become friends with them, but not get romantic unless they become polyamorists as well. [I have some optimism like yours, but I would make sure they are polyamorists beforehand.]

    Unfortunately, this has never happened with me. And I have never been in a romantic relationship as a result (I am 27 yrs. old). Since I have never been into monogamy, I don’t have a good understanding of how monogamous people think. And so, I have great difficulty relating to monogamous people in order to help me walk them through the transition. It seems that I cannot relate to their experience of relationships at all!!

    I am currently interested in a girl who is monogamous. She seems more accepting of polyamory than any other girl I knew before. She tells me: “I think polyamory is admirable!”. She even describes herself as “not the jealous type”. On the other hand, she says that this would not work for her, because she wants to feel “special” in a relationship (which means -I assume- that she wants to be the only romantic partner).

    I am really interested to hear your thoughts (as someone who used to be monogamous) on how to navigate these sorts of situations.

    Why is feeling special so important? And more importantly, why is it that ‘exclusive’ equals ‘special’?!

    I also feel that maybe I should just give in and accept a closed relationship, since that is better than being single indefinitely, since the chances are very slim I will meet any polyamorous people any time soon.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Seeking Advice

     /  January 27, 2014

    To give a more complete picture of my experience, I feel that I have been “authentic” as Professor Taboo describes, and I have been honest and real with all the people I know about my views and approach to relationships. But I feel that I have been paying the price dearly. What’s the point in being authentic in my approach to relationships, if I am not able to be in any?

    But my concern is that I feel that if I compromise and agree to a closed relationship, that I cannot love that girl wholeheartedly. I mean, how can I love wholeheartedly when I am expected to give up on an authentic aspect of my personality?

    I would also find it hard to believe that her love for me is authentic (we are not ‘in love’ yet, although feelings might develop in the course of a relationship, as it would happen in any healthy relationship). But what kind of love would she have for me, if she wasn’t letting that aspect of myself to be expressed?

    • Hey Seeking,

      Sorry it’s taken so long for me to respond – I’ve been offline for a while with work and other things.

      I’m no professional advice giver, but if you’re comfortable receiving advice from myself, to do or not do with as you please, I’ll offer it:

      1.) Don’t assume anything. Including when she (or anyone) says she wants to feel “special” in a relationship, and you assume it means she wants monogamy. Instead, take this opportunity to ask what that means, and try to open her (or anyone’s) eyes to the many ways a person can be made to feel special. I’m not encouraging you to try to convince her to be nonmonogamous, just to broaden her perspective and get her to think. That is how I navigate situations like yours.

      2.) Feeling special feels nice. For some, depending on how badly they actually want it or on how badly they’ve been told they want it by outside influences, feeling special is very important. It was once more important to me than it is now, even.

      3.) We’ve all been told that exclusive = special by thousands of stories, songs, ceremonies, etc. etc. It’s hard to convince people otherwise, but not impossible, if you let them see it for themselves.

      Lastly, as your second comment suggests, to sacrifice authenticity simply to be in relationships kind of negates the point of being in a relationship. I’d recommend that you worry less about finding polyamorous people, and spend more time doing the things you love and meeting people you may come to love. As I said in my post, I date people who aren’t polyamorous, because I trust them to decide for themselves whether or not the accept who I am and still want to be with me. I have never in my life dated someone who identified as polyamorous – you don’t have to, either.

  5. That’s an expert answer to an intsereting question


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