Ethical Nonmonogamy | Polyamory, Love & Relationships

The Polyamorous Boogeyman

“She said she was afraid that I might find someone better than her and leave her behind.”

I’ve run into this concept a lot over the last few years of reading about, learning about, and befriending those practicing a non-monogamous lifestyle. There’s that titillating idea that we can be open to new relationships and bonds, but it still comes with the scary “what if?” passed down from lifetimes of comparisons, competitions, and insecurities.

That one sentence that I read in a chat room conversation with a man who is very carefully considering, discussing, and exploring the possiblity¬†of entering into a poly-style relationship with his wife made me think of how often I’ve heard similar fears, not just from monogamuggles like me, but from people who identify as polyamorous themselves.

And I realized it was like the polyamorous boogeyman. The nightmare scenario. The “I let my partner do this and it backfired in a most spectacular fashion” trope.

It happens. I know it happens. It’s happened to friends. Hell, it happened to me.

We can set up all these failsafes, right? Rules. Agreements. Protocols for relationships. Hierarchies. Check-ins. Vetoes. Family meetings. Counseling.

They’re like condoms for poly-style relationships. They might help keep you safe, but the only way to really be sure is abstinence from relationships entirely.

And we all know how great abstinence-only education works in preventing ….anything.

I don’t have a solution for this. I mean, I do. It’s trust. But trust isn’t foolproof. Especially if you’re in the habit of trusting fools.

I keep coming back to the same thought on this: the only person I can control is myself. I know my intentions in a relationship and I only get involved with people who exhibit the same reverence for honesty, communication, and integrity that I try to live up to in my own life.

So when he tells me he’s polyamorous, I believe him. I don’t entertain fantasies where he’ll suddenly choose me over anybody else because that is not the man I love. That is not the type of man I’d love. I wouldn’t respect a man who would treat the people he loved with that kind of disrespect.

I trust that the man I’m with would never do that. Not to me, nor anybody else he’s involved with.

So, I asked the guy in the chat room what his take was on his wife’s concern. Did he think it was a possibility? Was there a chance he’d meet someone else who would fit so well by his side that it would eclipse the years of love and commitment to his existing partner?

And he answered honestly, that it was a concern. That he couldn’t be sure, having never been in that situation, how he would feel or how he would handle it. Massive props to him, by the way, for being honest enough to admit that. I would trust someone who was willing to dig deeply enough to face an uncomfortable truth.

Sometimes the monsters under the bed are all in your head. Sometimes they’re not. The only way to know for sure is to put your feet on the ground and move forward.

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