Five myths about polyamory -- and why they persist

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2. Poly people are religious nutters with prairie dresses and tons of kids.
Watching fundamentalist Mormon polygamist sects on the telly -- either on a reality show like Sister Wives or on the nine o'clock news -- is a lot like picking at a big scab; it's painful, but you can't stop doing it. Polygamists -- or more accurately, polygynists -- who practice a one-man-multiple-spiritual-wife dynamic for religious reasons is not the same as people who have polyamorous relationships because there is a distinct lack of godliness and long, gingham dresses -- and a distinct surplus of personal choices, sexual orientations and freedoms from default hierarchical structures.

Why does this myth persist?
Because some major media outlets choose to portray the more salacious aspects of everything, including multiple-partner relationships because the everyday lives of poly folks aren't all that interesting.

1. Polyamory is unnatural; humans are meant to be monogamous.
Monogamy is the current default relationship setting in our culture, but this wasn't always the case. Relationships and marriage have both changed in significant ways since the dawn of humanity, and those nutty hominids getting all freaky-deeky back in the stone ages didn't seem to be hurting anyone; after all, homo sapiens survived and thrived, right? Humans are naturally inclined toward pair-bonding for survival and procreation, but sexual fidelity is a fairly contemporary concept based on parentage, property and inheritance laws. Genetically speaking, monogamy isn't any more natural than polyamory, and feelings of love and sexual desire aren't finite resources, despite current social mores.

If there is a case to be made that monogamy is natural and right, then it seems to be purely theoretical at this point since divorce rates so high and everyone knows someone who has been effected by infidelity either directly or indirectly -- and usually not for the better. Perhaps it's a logic-defying feat to consider that it's possible to love or have booty-bangs with more than one person at the same time and be honest and upfront about it with everyone involved and not have to hire an attorney, screw your partner and your kids, but having polyamory as a valid lifestyle option couldn't possibly fuck up relationships and marriages any more than the constraints and expectations of monogamy already have.

Why does this myth persist?
Because when people are taught from an early age that monogamy is what is expected, then it's difficult to put that idea aside and explore other options to get your needs met, and taking more emotional risks is scary. It can be argued that no one gets all of their needs met all of the time, but getting more of them met more of the time has risks--and rewards.

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My husband and I are currently in a relationship with another man and these myths are exactly what we've run into within our trio and the general public.  Thank you for the candid explanations and straightforward responses to each.

James McVaney
James McVaney

Why yes I have. Myth # 5 is actually not a myth in my experience. I've only ever seen or been around people who are down with wwm situations only.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Be my Poly Valentine, Jenny.


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