Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at polymeansmany.com
This month’s Poly Means Many topic is on types of non-monogamy, which means there is a hell of a lot to write about.
In the dominant, monogamous model, there are, generally speaking very few options. In short, you’re either in a relationship with one person or you’re not. The only real workaround is cheating, which is something that never really appealed to me.
So once I quit monogamy, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I knew, very clearly that monogamy wasn’t for me, but it was hard to find an alternative. I went for “single but hooked up with people” which wasn’t particularly satisfying as I wanted something that wasn’t “a relationship” (the wording used by the mono mainstream to describe only a very specific type of relationship) but was also fulfilling.
And when I discovered poly, a whole gamut of options were available.
I’ve always found it difficult to define polyamory and locate it within the veritable rainbow of non-monogamous options. It’s complicated, and I’m not even going to try here. Non-monogamy is easier: it’s anything but that dominant mono model. My somewhat unrewarding random humps of days gone by therefore fall under the umbrella of non-monogamy, but they were also not poly. Likewise, the rather more rewarding random humps I sometimes entertain are not poly, but very definitely non-monogamous.
Hierarchy is another big deciding factor in exploring your options. The PMM bloggers have explored hierarchy before before I joined, so I may as well weigh in with my thoughts. I’m sure hierarchical relationships–those with, for example, primary and secondary partners–work for some people, but they never worked for me. I’m very resistant to hierarchies, wriggling like a cat on the way to the vet at the mere sniff of structure. I was in a hierarchical relationship once and it made me thoroughly miserable. It didn’t help that those partners repeatedly, apropos of nothing, felt it necessary to continue to remind me I was a “secondary”. Needless to say, that relationship did not last. However, I don’t doubt that this sort of structure is something which works for a lot of people, and I’m happy for anyone who’s found a way of making things work.
With non-monogamy, ultimately anything is possible. All it requires is a bit of imagination and a lot of consensual communication. It also requires a lot of self-examination. What is it that you want?
For me, what I wanted was to be able to love freely, free from the constraints of what was expected and free to follow my heart. I love. I love a lot of people in a lot of different ways, and I found my freedom.