6 Ways Polyamory Beats Monogamy

by Heather E. Newman

On a late summer night a number of years ago, I watched my then sort-of boyfriend kiss his other girlfriend. I stood there in the dark as he pulled her close and made out with her a moment, before stepping away and flashing me a sheepish grin. It was a Thursday night, and everything I thought I knew about relationships was out the window.

I spent the next few days getting to know this girl that my boyfriend had loved. The three of us spent long afternoons in the sun listening to music and talking about sustainable living. It felt nice. And a few weeks after our first weekend together, we found ourselves together again. The only experience with polyamory I had before that was dating a guy who had been in an open marriage. This was different.

Over the next few months, we continued to date, and I met someone who lived closer to my home. Soon, he and I were seeing each other a few nights a week, and I was spending weekends with my other lovers. As it often happens, eventually, parts of those relationships changed and dropped off. I found myself alone, but also newly aware that there was a different approach to relationships — one that works for me. Here’s why polyamory beats monogamy for me.

1. Polyamory Has Lead To The Most Honest Relationships I’ve Ever Had

Polyamorous relationships generally come along with better, broader communication than monogamous ones. That’s not to say that monogamous relationships are inherently dishonest, but that polyamory, or really any sort of ethical non-monogamy, forces people to have more conversations about partners, sexuality, and personal health.

Monogamy can be tricky. I know many people who talk about their partners cheating, or who go out to explore things themselves without letting the other person know. In poly arrangements, it’s known that there are other partners possible, and conversations about STIs and safety are much more common and become easier to have.

One of the reasons that polyamory is appealing to people is that it allows you to experience different things with different people. It’s OK to have a conversation with your partner about wanting to explore something with someone else in addition. Those conversations are hard, but as you navigate them, it becomes more natural to own your desires and needs — and you can work to actualize them.

2. I Have More Of My Own Space

When I was younger, I spent most of my time in serious, monogamous, capital-R Relationships. I moved out of my parents’ house and immediately moved in with a boyfriend. It wasn’t until I was much older and facing divorce that I found myself living on my own. What seemed scary in the first few months grew more comfortable, and I found that I love having my own place. I can come home from work and unwind without having to worry about sharing the couch or the speakers with someone else.

Of course, you can be in a non-monogamous relationship where you live with your partner(s), but for me, being poly has meant carving out more space for myself, since I don't have to be everything to my partners.

3. ... But There’s Also Usually Good Company

While I enjoy the time I get to myself, I also like a lot of company. Having multiple relationships means there is always someone to spend time with. I have partners in various creative and freelance fields, where long days at work and trips to other places are common. It can be lonely when your boyfriend is across the globe for a week, but it also means I can spend time with my other partners, and be fully present.

4. Different Needs Are Met By Different People

This won’t be shocking, but everyone is different. I’ve had boyfriends who loved going to live music festivals and dancing in open fields. I’ve had others who find that to be about as fun as a root canal without novocain, but who love reading as much as I do. Having more than one romantic partner means that I can explore different sides of my personality with people that enjoy the same things. I find that I don’t feel unfulfilled the way I might if I had a partner who never wanted to do the things I found fun.

5. I’ve Become Better At Handling Conflict

No relationship is immune to conflict, and though poly relationships usually have a ton of communication, fights happen. Disagreements in poly relationships can be trickier than those in monogamous ones — there are more people with feelings on the line. Sometimes, you just can’t make everyone happy.

For folks in poly relationships, it’s imperative that we are able to see a conflict from more than two sides. Learning to see things through multiple lenses has made it much easier for me to shift perspective in other areas of my life, especially when it comes to disagreements and power struggles.

6. It Creates More Room For Love In My Life

We’ve been raised to chase an idea of finding The One; someone who will love us more than anyone else, and someone we can love in return. What I’ve realized is that when we chase that exclusive interpretation of love, finding it and hanging onto it becomes all-encompassing. Once I started to get comfortable with the idea that I could love more than one person, I realized I was more open to finding love in all of my various relationships, from the romantic to the platonic.

I can allow my relationships to take the form that seems most natural to them — and to be open to whatever that is. And yes, sometimes there are threesomes.

Images: Heather Newman