Even though the majority of couples strive for monogamy these days, it's a fairly new concept in the animal kingdom. In fact, many experts claim that human beings weren't born to be monogamous, and that monogamy is nothing more than a socially-constructed idea that we've placed on ourselves and our partners. Elisabeth Sheff, Ph.D., educational consultant and author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, says that monogamy isn't inherently "natural" for humans in the way that eating, breathing, and wanting to protect our children is. It's not that monogamy is wrong or bad for us: It's just that we may not be evolutionarily suited to sleep with just one person for the rest of our lives.
Which is why people who choose to be in non-monogamous relationships might be onto something. Up to 60 percent of all married folks in the U.S. will be unfaithful at some point in their relationship, so why not reconstruct the whole idea of sexual openness and throw the frightening idea of cheating out the window? Easier said than done, though, because we've been programmed from a young age to find one person and want to possess their sexuality, and that can be a tough mold to break out of.
As a result, couples who choose to be monogamous can sometimes have a hard time understanding non-monogamy. They might find non-monogamous relationships to be totally bizarre, or they look at them with a mixture of curiosity, apprehension, and even envy. Whatever the case may be, there are a lot of thoughts that definitely play out in their mind.
1. "Yeah, As If That's Actually Working Out For You..."
I suppose you could call this stage "Denial." Monogamous people are so used to the conventional ways of going about a relationship that they can have serious doubts that anything else will really work. So when they encounter a non-monogamous couple, the first thing that comes to mind is pure, unadulterated skepticism. A lot of this comes from the sheer fact that monogamous couples may not know a lot about non-monogamous relationships. They tend to think it's just a sexual free-for-all, but they're missing out on the fact that there is actually a lot of work, healthy communication, and boundary-setting that happens in non-monogamous relationships.
2. "You're A Bunch Of Weirdos"
It's easy for us to label something foreign in our heads as "weird." When you think of polyamory, you might also conjure up an image in your mind of one dude with four submissive wives, but the kind of polyamory that's out there today usually isn't anything like that.
In fact, studies show that many polyamorous individuals in the U.S. are highly educated, holding more masters or doctoral degrees than the average American population. They're not just a bunch of hippies who are merely trying to get as much action as possible — they are often just smart people, trying to live an honest lifestyle. It's hard to realize that, however, due to all the stigma that still resides around a non-monogamous way of life.
3. "The Only Reason You're Not Monogamous Is Because You Have Trouble Committing"
When you don't understand people's life choices, the first thing you do is try to come up with reasons why they would possibly engage in such "odd" behavior. Non-monogamous relationships don't make much sense at all to people who aren't accustomed to the idea, so they immediately think there has to be some kind of commitment-phobia happening. After all, being in love and being devoted to each other means only having sex together, right?
Well, that's not the case for everyone. Many people find that they can be in love with one person but simultaneously explore their sexuality with others in a way that makes both them and their SO comfortable — and even results in more commitment to their partner.
4. "Your Sex Life Is Probably Way More Exciting Than Mine"
We're always thinking about sex. So when we see a non-monogamous couple, all we can think about is how much and what kind of sex they're having (which is a little bit creepy but, hey, we're highly sexual creatures at the end of the day). Granted, non-monogamous people probably are enjoying an exciting sex life. The more novelty there is in the bedroom, the more satisfied we tend to be, after all. That doesn't necessarily mean that their sex lives are inherently better than all of ours, though. It all depends.
5. "You're So Lucky."
You probably won't hear many monogamous people admit this to anyone out-loud, but when you meet a non-monogamous person, there is always a small part of you that is burning up with jealousy. Because, let's get real, no matter how much you love your partner, if you've been together for a long time, you're bound to face some kind of boredom in the bedroom.
Our minds tend to wander every now and again to somebody else we find attractive, and that's perfectly normal; a healthy dose of sexual fantasies never did anyone harm, but sometimes you also wish you could act on them. So when monogamous folks picture the kind of fun non-monogamous people are having, it's not unlikely that they experience some kind of envy in their heads, even if they won't verbalize it.
6. "I'm Pretty Sure You're Our Future"
In a way, engaging in non-monogamous relationships may be the best way to return to our roots as humans. Polyamory was a pretty typical way for hunter-gatherers to live, and it was the norm in ancient Greece and Egypt as well. But because monogamy has become the most conventional way to go about love today, many monogamists see polyamory as a futuristic concept that will only come to fruition when we all achieve enlightenment and can stop feeling jealous. Many of us may believe that one day, we'll live in a world where monogamy isn't viewed by mainstream culture as the only way to be happy in a relationship.
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