Some of us feel most fulfilled sexually and intimately in monogamous relationships, and some reject this model as limited and unnatural, choosing polyamory.
Due to myths about polyamory, many are caught in between where they believe it’s a choice between “settling down” with the “right person” or casual encounters.
But do you have to give up sexual variety and fun flings in order to have fulfilling, deep relationships? Do you have to give up the love of your life to have sex with more people?
Polyamory—loving many people at once—is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice that more and more people are “coming out” about. Mainstream media and institutions are including it as a valid expression of sexuality and relationships.
Polyamory is nothing new yet polyamory myths persist. It has long been practiced discreetly or as part of the sexual liberation underground. More couples than we know have “an arrangement.” Instead of breaking up when the thrill wears off twenty years down the road, they merely open the door discreetly to take lovers without losing the friendship and home and family they have built together. Cultures throughout history have different marital definitions.
Even as we become more progressive and less prudish as a society, there are still lots of misconceptions about polyamory.
7 Common Myths about Polyamory
1. Polyamory is just a fancy word for lying and cheating.
Polyamory is by definition transparent, open-minded, and honest.
It’s hard to cheat and lie when your partner knows you are married or when you and your lover both sleep with your wife at the same time!
2. Polyamory is for people who are afraid of commitment.
Sometimes. But lots of monogamous folks are afraid of commitment, and lots of polyamorous people juggle several commitments.
Choosing between people is not synonymous with commitment.
Having casual sex with many lovers at once or one at a time, but not entering into a relationship with any of them, could be perceived as fear of commitment, too. And maybe it is.
But maybe commitment is not always necessary, better, or right—what if she values her independence, or wants to finish medical school before getting involved? Yes, she’s then “afraid of commitment” because finishing her degree is the most important thing.
People need to choose commitment when they want to and when it’s right for them, period.
3. Polyamory is bad for women.
Some cultures practice polygamy, where the man is allowed to have many wives, but the wife is put to death if she commits adultery.
Yeah, that’s bad for women.
But polyamory is egalitarian and is not an arrangement where the man can cheat and the woman has to put up with it. It’s a movement that acknowledges equality and female sexuality.
4. You have to be a 10 to attract many lovers.
The vast majority of adults around the world have or have had or will have sex. This includes young and old people, tall and short, athletes and people with disabilities, brunettes and blondes, skinny and curvy—all people. Sex is about attraction, yes, in part, but there are many other aspects of sex.
Sex appeal itself is not just about being a perfect physical specimen. Do “hot” people get laid more than average people? Sometimes, and sometimes not.
5. Polyamory is mostly about sex.
This polyamory myth is false. Lots of people who aren’t polyamorous have more sex and more sexual partners. Every person is unique. While this is a big part of being polyamorous, there are many more “abouts.” It might be about being bisexual and thus not being fair to have one partner. It might be about pragmatic stuff like child raising, community gardening, artist colonies—the list goes on.
Some poly people are celibate and some celibate people are poly—wrap your head around that! But it takes all kinds. Everyone is different.
6. Polyamorous people have more STIs.
It might seem like a natural conclusion on the surface that people who sleep with more people have more sexually transmitted diseases. But in fact, study after study shows that polyamorous people have a lower rate of STIs than other people.
It makes sense once you dive deeper because if you have a partner at home, you will both be extra cautious about not bringing anything home. Poly people are super conscientious about condoms and fluid bonding is only for their primary partner, or for no one!
It can also be easier to talk about safe sex when you are dating and poly, simply because you have more practice communicating on the topic.
7. Polyamory is good for everyone.
On the flip side, acknowledging that polyamory is good doesn’t mean it’s the answer to everyone’s problems, or that everyone can find it fulfilling if only they open their mind. It doesn’t solve every pain or mistake or offer everyone the solution to loneliness or a bad sex life.
Just because it is “natural” doesn’t mean everyone thrives. Our instinct to belong to one person can be very strong and isn’t always “wrong.” It’s also natural to want a parallel partner to go through life events with and some people don’t feel that sexual desire is enough reason to break that bond.
What myths about polyamory have you encountered?