Polyamory is a lot more common than you might think. About five percent of all Americans identify as polyamorous. So how does “polyamory” work? The fact is that it takes lots of communication to navigate polyamory. Even though it’s become more common, there are still a lot of misconceptions and preconceived notions about the polyamorous. So here are some Polyamory myths debunked.
Myth: Polyamory and Polygamy are the Same Thing
In short: No, they’re not. So let’s get something straight: Polygamy is the practice — often religious in nature — of plural marriage. This can be further divided into polyandry (one woman with many husbands) or polygyny (one man with many wives). It is possible for a polyamorous relationship to involve married partners, but it is definitely not about plural marriage (which is presently illegal).
Myth: Polyamory is Just Cheating
In a polyamorous relationship it is still possible for betrayals of trust. In a functioning, healthy polyamorous relationship, there is a necessity to go to great lengths to be completely open and honest. Such intense communication precludes infidelity, if strictly adhered to. In a poly-relationship, everyone who is involved is aware of everyone else. This creates an atmosphere of trust.
Myth: Everyone Involved Must Be Polyamorous
Not necessarily. It is possible for someone to be involved with an individual who is polyamorous and not be poly oneself. Obviously, in a healthy poly-relationship, the individual who does not practice polyamory would still be aware of his or her partner’s other partners, but that doesn’t mean that they must practice it themselves.
Myth: Everyone has Sex With Everyone Else
Polyamory can involve a wide range of different types of relationships, from the intimate to the platonic. But a polyamorous arrangement doesn’t require everyone to have sexual or even romantic connections to any other person in the polyamorous group. The group can come in many different shapes and sizes. The commonalities in these relationships are trust and communication.
Myth: You Cannot Be Jealous if You Are Polyamorous
Jealousy is a natural inclination. One of the biggest misconceptions about polyamory is that it somehow magically eradicates jealousy. The ultimate goal for people in poly-relationships is happiness of one’s partners. This concept is called “Compersion.”
Myth: Polyamory Isn’t Real Love
In this day in age, our society insists on the idea of real love being between two people, and two people, only. Our partners are expected to fulfill every need and desire that we have. But this is unrealistic: one person cannot possibly be everything. We need family and friendships to fill in the gaps. In a polyamorous relationship, there are multiple romantic partners who can fill a myriad of needs. Just as it is possible for us to have many friends, it is equally possible for us to love more than one person at a time.
Myth: Polyamory is a Fetish, like BDSM
There seems to be a stereotype that links polyamory with the BDSM and fetish community. (BDSM stands for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism). However it is not inherently linked to the fetish community, and being polyamorous is not the same thing as being a swinger.
Myth: Polyamory Cannot Last Long Term
It is impossible whether any relationship will last forever, but a polyamorous relationship has just as good a chance at lasting as does a monogamous one. Polyamory simply requires that everyone remain completely honest. When a polyamorous unit fails, that does not automatically mean that everyone involved goes their separate ways.
According to Psychology Today: “There is no evidence that monogamy is better in terms of relationship longevity, happiness, health, sexual satisfaction, or emotional intimacy.” The article also states that there is no evidence that polyamory works better. All one can really do is what feels best, and works. Interestingly, children that are raised in consensually non-monogamous families do at least as well as children raised in monogamous households. Each must follow one’s heart, for the health and happiness of yourself, your partner(s) and your children.