I don’t believe in ‘the one.’
In a society where phrases like “I don’t mind if someone’s gay, as long as they don’t force it down my throat” abound, any mention of relationship structures outside hetero-monogamy are seen as other.
Monogamy is the standard, so non-monogamy is different and therefore threatening, weird, or icky.
I was chatting with a friend from work as we left a meeting about a guy I’d been on a few dates with. Another coworker overheard and asked if I thought he might be the one. I accidentally deflated her entire worldview when I said immediately, “Oh, no, I don’t believe in ‘the one.’”
To that coworker, she and her husband are soulmates and meant to be. And that is totally fine — for her. But for me, I’m non-monogamous and don’t expect to find one person who meets all my needs or who gets all their needs met by me.
I think this coworker’s head would probably explode if I tried to explain that to her. Or even if she knew I was queer. I hope she doesn’t read my book.
Discussing non-monogamy with monogamists
When the standard is monogamy, it takes work to undo the subconscious beliefs about relationships that society sets as the norm.
I recently facilitated a discussion in a local bisexual support group and had to take care to speak about non-monogamy in a neutral way. Because it is neutral. It’s just as normal as monogamy, but sometimes it feels like talking about non-monogamy makes monogamists feel like they’re doing something wrong or not living up to their full relationship potential.
For me, non-monogamy is a great fit for a relationship structure that feels right and is comfortable. For monogamists, non-monogamy makes no sense.
I want everyone to feel confident and comfortable in their relationship structure no matter what it is. But when the standard is monogamy, it takes work to undo the subconscious beliefs about relationships that society sets as the norm.
The goal of my discussion was to educate about non-monogamy in a way that allowed everyone in the group, monogamous or not, to openly discuss and evaluate their beliefs about relationships. I wanted the non-monogamists to feel seen and heard, and I wanted the monogamists to come away understanding that non-monogamy is valid and non-threatening.
Unpacking non-monogamy stereotypes
An ethical non-monogamist will make zero moves on a person in a monogamous relationship.
There are a lot of harmful stereotypes about non-monogamy out there, and I try to lead by a healthy example to bust the myths. Here are a few common ones:
- Non-monogamists just can’t commit. We totally commit. We even commit to multiple people at once sometimes.
- Non-monogamists just want to have a bunch of sex. I mean, sometimes we do enjoy having casual sex with multiple partners. That’s not necessarily bad. Sex is pretty great, if you like it. Also, don’t monogamists also enjoy having a bunch of sex?
- Non-monogamists are out to steal your partner. An ethical non-monogamist will make zero moves on a person in a monogamous relationship.
- Non-monogamists are constantly having orgies and threesomes. Do you know how much work that is? We want to eat snacks in bed while one partner cleans the bathroom and another partner brushes our hair. Group sex is for special occasions.
- Non-monogamy isn’t safe for work, children, or media. Non-monogamy is neutral and kids inherently understand it when it’s presented to them through healthy examples (like in the media!).