Cheers Sexy People,
I am overdue in answering two questions that came in from one of my readers that I have come to know and love.
My friend (whom I met through this blog, and lives on the other side of the world) is a polyamorous woman who is recently divorced, and currently has two lovers. She also had recently started working at a job at the time that she wrote me her questions (a few months ago). Here are her two questions:
“I’ve visited poly forums where some of them are talking about longevity of poly relationships. They are saying it’s very common that poly relationships only last for five years. One of them mentioned monogamous marriages now last about seven years. This has surprised me very much. Why five years? I’m planning to have my poly relationships with my two lovers for all of my life.
So it is normal that poly relationship last only about five years?”
The way I view it, the length of time a polyamorous relationship lasts can vary widely just as it can with a monogamous relationship. The length of a relationship can depend on the circumstances of each of the unique individuals whom are the participants, on their respective maturity levels, on the geography of how closely they live to one another, on whether or not they have children together to help potentially “bond” them together, and the list goes on. But again, the same can be said for monogamous relationships. One could argue that monogamous relationships might last longer due to the long-lasting tradition of trying to stay together “for the children” or in an effort to avoid the heartache, headache and cost of getting divorced, if they are married. Also one could argue that polyamorous relationships are more difficult to maintain since they are more complicated and not as well accepted into our society at large.
Speaking for me personally, I have been in a relationship with my husband since June of 2003, so almost twelve years. For the first two years, we were exclusive to each other. But for the last decade or so, we have had an open marriage to a certain extent, today identifying as polyamorous. My husband has a girlfriend that he has been in an ongoing relationship with for over five years now. Though their relationship dynamic has changed somewhat since she has gotten married and had a child, they still very much love each other and are affectionate with each other, thus still in a relationship. He has another close friend / girlfriend who moved to Texas, so due to proximity, they are at this point, just good friends. As for me, I have been in a relationship with my live-in boyfriend since September of 2010, so over four years now. We ALMOST broke up once, when he was considering “going monogamous” with a woman, but that did not work out. And in the end, I think he and I are closer for having gone through that difficult, tumultuous period. He has had two relatively serious relationships with other women while he and I were dating. One lasted about nine months, the other just under a year. Both of those women were not fully poly-friendly and did not truly respect or understand his relationship with me – this at least factored into those relationships not ultimately working out.
How about you folks, my other readers? What thoughts do you have about the longevity of polyamorous relationships? Feel free to speak from your own experience or philosophically. Thanks in advance for “helping a sister out” with your feedback!
Now to her second question:
“Why do monogamous people hate polyamory and polyamorous people?”
She goes on to describe her co-workers at her new job discussing in a hateful manner people who have multiple relationships. They said that women who engage in such relationships are “only for sex” and are essentially “prostitutes”, taking financial benefits in some form or another from the men. They spoke in a disrespectful tone towards women. She also went on to say that she found an American blogger who was speaking out against polyamory (among other things that he hated as well).
I thought this was very profound and well-stated by my friend:
“Monogamous people want to convert us to monogamy. Sometimes they use religion and sometimes law. They want to force. This is why in my country, we are a secretive community. It’s us who should hate them. But we don’t hate them. We respect their choice. We also don’t want to convert monogamous people to our lifestyle. I don’t understand the reason behind the hate.”
Very inspiring words. I too was in my former office working with colleagues when the word “swinger” came up. Several of my office mates started talking about the “dirty, filthy swingers” talking in a hateful way and in a “how could they do such a thing” way. I too kept my mouth shut, and frankly eventually quit that job, as I wanted to embrace my own authenticity more, and it was just time to move on. At the time, I thought that they also didn’t understand the concept of ethical non-monogamy and polyamory vs. swingers. Even though I don’t personally have an issue with those who swing (which means more recreational and hopefully safe sex with less focus on relationship bonding), it seems the word “swingers” definitely seems to get some people’s (usually monogamous) panties in a bunch, and not in a fun way. One of my friends thinks that the “haters” are partly acting out of jealousy, as they wish they could “have their cake and eat it too” but feel that is both impossible, as well as morally wrong. I believe that though jealousy might be a factor, what’s more likely is that the “haters” are also just acting out of ignorance – a lack of understanding and empathy for how other people choose to live.
Recently, I was invited to share my personal story of becoming polyamorous on a new project called the “YouShare Project”, and I received the following comment:
I appreciate you for sharing this post. Just as it was (and still is) with the LGBT community, it will take more people like you – with the courage to “come out” – telling their story and showing people that a different lifestyle doesn’t mean an immoral lifestyle. Especially not if you live it openly, honestly, and with the best intentions for those that you love and care about. I wish nothing but happiness for you and those you love!
What a lovely comment, and sentiment, from what might even be a monogamous person, and certainly an open-minded person. I spotted this beautiful video of a “coming out” story on YouShare as well from a young man named Michael. It is worth the time to watch such an honest and open young mind in his efforts to connect with and help others.
For further reading, here is a great article sent to me about “How To Deal With Highly Negative People”. It’s a great read, and a good one to keep handy as we all deal with the “haters” in our various walks of life, as well as “toxic” people:
Wishing you peace, love and happiness,
(and thrilling, fun sex too!)
If you would like to have an authentic, clarifying conversation with me so we can discuss ways to help you create loving, happy, secure, and exciting open relationships, feel free to learn more about my coaching services here. Then the button at the bottom of that page will offer you the opportunity to book a FREE Breakthrough Session with me – taking you directly into my calendar. I look forward to speaking with you!
In re: the first question- I have never ended any of my poly relationships. Relationships change over time, over distance- they don’t have to end. Even with lovers who have died, I still have that relationship.
James Hillman is a Jungian therapist. You can look up his books. His take on relationship is that it’s a story. I have a story about you, you have a story about me. As long as neither of us strays too far from the love story that the other has made up, (or you don’t run out of slack for each other) you’re golden.
Relationships fall apart when one partner’s reality doesn’t match the other partner’s fantasy anymore. This is the same in monogamy as well as in poly.
Part of my fantasy with each of my lovers is that we are friends primarily. Friendship is a forgiving base on which to build a loving relationship. That love engenders trust, trust allows us to grow ourselves in close proximity to one another.
I have IDd as poly for about 35 years.
Thank you so much for contributing your thoughts. Excellent point that relationships simple don’t have to end, and I love the relationship as a story analogy. The contrast of the reality vs. fantasy is great too. Best to you and your awesome polyamorous existence!
I see how you talked about how monogamous relationships last longer. However, if you look just at the average length of poly and mono long term relationships (5+ years) The average for poly skyrockets and mono tops out at 7 years. I forget the exact study.
The thing that brings poly relationships down in average to 5 years is the sheer number of relationships it takes to find those long term relationships. However, that works for our average above five years because we have more relationships than monos. So these numbers can be skewed either way. You can look at mono as being better when adding into account all relationship lengths. If you have more attempts at longterm relationships like polys, then it skews the polling in our favor. Polys have more attempts because they have to find just the right mix. You can make a better arguement for poly being long term if you don’t include the short term.
Interesting about the study that you read. If you ever find it, please feel free to share a link to it here. I’d be very interested to read it. That’s a great point how the numbers and statistics can get skewed. And it’s helpful too that you shined a light on that fact that as polyamorous people, we tend to make more attempts at longterm relationships. Thank you so much for adding your input to the conversation here. It is very valued. Best to you, Kitty.
As regards the first question: while we have not been poly the entire time, my wife and I have been together for almost thirteen years, married for eleven. While I have identified as poly my entire romantic life (now thirty-three years), my wife is new to it; she decided she wanted to try branching out in 2009.
As regards the second, I think there may be some ignorance involved. You mentioned the whole thing about “dirty, filthy swingers”, etc. I was talking to my psychiatrist yesterday, and the subject of a relationship my wife and I in that recently changed direction came up. I basically forgot that most people don’t know the difference between those two things, and so a few of his initial questions didn’t quite make sense to me (he was asking about emotional detachment and the like). It was only when I explained “yeah, I’m totally in love with him, that was the goal all along” did we get to the point where I realized he was confusing the two, and I spent the next half-hour outlining the differences between them and giving him a poly 101 crash course. (Thankfully, my therapist was already schooled in the basics. That one’s a keeper!)
Of course that’s not the ONLY thing; “different is bad, mmmkay?” rules a lot of roosts. But I do think that there are a lot of folks out there who believe the whole “just for the sex” thing, and for me, metamours are mostly about family. Having extra support around is a wonderful thing at times, even when everyone else involved is just as messed up as you are. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your history and thoughts here on this topic. It’s extremely helpful for the community, and I appreciate it greatly. Congrats on practicing polyamory for such an extended period of time. Sometimes, it is not easy to do, and I commend you for it. Sadly, I am not surprised to hear that you had to give a poly 101 crash course to your psychiatrist. When I sought therapy, I purposely sought out poly-friendly therapists so that I could avoid both judgement as well as having to explain who I am, and why I do what I do. Hahahaha on “different is bad, mmmmkay?”! Thanks for the levity. I believe that there is alot of ignorance out there, and people tend to not like “different.” I prefer when my metamours feel like family or close friends as well. To me, polyamory can simply be a different way to build a modern family.
Wow as usual, Love Love Love your post.. you in part, prompted me to write a post on my poly blog. APolyHeart.blogspot.com I very much agree with you on factors related to the longevity of poly relationships. Thanks again for sharing your life and loves with us.
Thank you so much, Angel Barbie for the kind words, as usual. You are so awesome! I am glad that I inspired you to write a post yourself, and I look forward to reading it. Thanks for continuing the conversation both here, and on your own blog. You are most welcome. I enjoy sharing my “unusual” life with this amazing community. Much love back at ya, sister! Love, Kitty
I have been in an open marriage for over 40 years. My longest other poly relationship sadly lasted only 5 years. However, we seem to have gotten past all animosity and are friends now, so in that sense a relationship still exists.
Regarding polyphobic haters, I just had an exchange with one about a poly article, and his comment about it. The bottom line was that what they read was not what was written according to my viewpoint. As long as we are seeing different things when we read the same thing, no sane conversation can happen. I told them as much, and said goodbye. Sometimes we just have to let them believe whatever they insist on believing.
Wow, an open marriage for over 40 years! That’s most impressive! Congratulations to you and wife. It’s also great to hear that you are still friends with your former lover. I love it when that can happen, as you both still probably have enjoyable feelings towards one another, and enjoy who each other fundamentally. I agree that there are people on this spinning blue ball that want to interpret things however they want to interpret them, even when they skew it negatively, misconstruing what was said. Best to move on in those situations as you did after you said your peace. Well done! No sense banging your head against the wall with people who don’t want to listen.
A couple of good questions asked. My poly relationship lasted 20+ years before it dissolved and while I’ll admit that “internal pressures” caused us to think about breaking up sooner, well, we just hung in there because of the commitment we had to and for each other; to me, I was just as married to the two women in our group as I was my wife so making it last as long as possible ust made sense.
Haters… funny people. Over the years, I came to has some sympathy for their narrow and ancient views on marriage and relationships because I found that one has to make a decision on which is more important: Living and loving by someone else’s old-assed rules or doing it in a way that was unique to us and allowed us to grow as a couple and as individuals so that we made our own happiness. The haters I knew had more problems in their relationships – and if they even had one – than we did so when they’d bring the hate our way, I’d kinda scoff at them and point out that if our way of doing things was so wrong, why are we still together… but you’re back on the market looking for someone – again?
Always good to see you and your words here, kdaddy23. You always have insightful and valuable “from the trenches” things to add. It’s nice to point out that there is commitment in polyamorous relationships just as in monogamous relationships. Even if the law doesn’t allow us to legally marry more than one right now, it is so true that we can feel just as married. What a beautiful thing that can be.
This was beautifully stated:
“…one has to make a decision which is more important: Living and loving by someone else’s old-assed rules or doing it in a way that was unique to us and allowed us to grow as a couple and as individuals so that we made our own happiness.”
Also great point that sometimes the “haters” can be saying hypocritical things as they may not have healthy relationships or any romantic relationships to speak of themselves at all.
Rock on, kdaddy23!
The haters hate because of the reason you mentioned but also because they believe that being monogamous is the best and only way to be. We know that it isn’t, that we can be married and non-monogamous AND prosper in this – but they don’t believe (a) that it should be done and (b) that it can’t be done.
And if you really wanna have some fun at their expense, ask them why… and then see the flaws in their logic and that their thoughts aren’t really their own – it’s what they were told to believe and that it’s the only way to behave. You can get them to see the fact that the logic of monogamy is flawed… yet they will almost always believe that being monogamous is right even when they see that being non-monogamous can work just as well.
All very well stated. It goes to show that there are many who won’t or feel they can’t question what they were taught. To me, it feels a bit like just blinding believing whatever you are told. But why? Why not seek the answers for yourself. And also, why spend the time judging others? If others are happy and not hurting anyone else, what’s the point? People can be cray-cray, and just so negative sometimes. It tests your will some days to be your own person. But it is so worth it in the end.
Yeah, some of us just blindly accept what we’re told about this – and that says something about us as social animals that I find interesting. We get the haters because our beliefs in this clash with theirs and they think their way is the right and only way. Sure, they can point out all of the things that can go wrong and, to that end, they’re right… but they assume that being non-monogamous can’t be done without screwing the pooch in the process… because they’re taught to believe that it can’t be done, not to mention that a lot of people fail at being open and/or poly because they don’t know how to do it AND because we’re taught that it can’t and shouldn’t be done.
Vicious circle, right? It still comes down to deciding which is more important: Obeying the rules or taking the initiative to make your marriage the best it can be and even if the rules have to be bent, twisted, or downright broken to accomplish the goal.
Those of us who can be open and/or poly understand which is more important – what “we” have going for us, our goals for our mutual happiness and as individuals and not so much the rules that say we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.
There is a reason why I tell people who are thinking about being poly that before they can get there, they have to unlearn everything they’ve learned about life, love, sex, and relationships so they can learn a very different way to do these things. The haters don’t understand this… but folks like us do.
The question about how long relationships last is an interesting one more because I’m curious about why it is being asked in the first place. I’m not criticizing the reader who asked the question. But I’m wondering about the measurements our society might be using to judge whether mono is better than poly or vice versa because of how long relationships last.
The bottom line is, as you and other readers have pointed out, relationships have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They just are. Poly people have relationships that are very much like mono relationships. Just like we buy groceries and take care of the kids and all that other stuff that is just the same. Maybe if we could let go of the statistical comparisons to validate or invalidate our or others experience, we’d all be happier.
Interestingly enough, most people we’ve run into in our social/work circles have been very supportive. We get the occasional “I couldn’t do that” and, yes, we’ve had the moralizing, but for the most part people are accepting or curious. Maybe this is a Canadian experience where we have a little less “hook” into the moral / religious hard line?
Then again, I often think that North American society is *really* hung up on sexuality and not in a good way. So anything outside of straight piv mono sex generates discomfort, anxiety, and maybe some feeling of self-doubt or insecurity. That stuff comes out sideways so people who live outside of your comfort zone become easy targets to make you feel better about your stuff. Thus people talking down about a woman only wanting sex or calling her a prostitute (huh?).
There are two major flaws with that. One is that there’s still this BIG problem with women wanting sex (even if we polys know that isn’t what poly is about). Makes people uncomfortable to admit that it might be okay for women to be sexual beings. So makes it really easy to shame women when we want to feel more powerful or in control of a situation.
And there’s a certain amount of enlightenment required to accept and understand what it means to be a sex worker. Calling someone a prostitute to insult them is just rude and ignorant on so many levels.
So to your reader, I’d remind her that none of this is about her. It is about people who are afraid and uncomfortable and instead of dealing with their own emotions they are dumping them on you. You don’t have to let their crap stick to you.
I think I might have gone on enough here but what is this about an “immoral” life style? Are infidelity and cheating so normalized that they aren’t immoral anymore? Is living in a life-long marriage where nobody is happy any more moral? Just sayin…
This is just an awesome response with valuable and varied insights. Thank you so much for taking the time to contribute to the conversation here. I actually wondered the same thing about why the question about the longevity of relationships. But since it was asked, I knew there must be others out there wondering, so I wanted to address it. Great point about how society measures the validity of other’s relationships. Who gives them the right, eh?
What you wrote reminded me to Dr. Seuss’ story of “The Star-Bellied Sneeches.” There are two groups: one with stars on their bellies and one that does not. And each likes to point out the differences between the two. And each wants to have a sense of belonging. It ends up creating animosity, confusion and more separateness. In the end, they finally realize that they are all connected and can have a group sense of belonging, regardless if they have stars on their bellies or not. I always loved that story since I was a wee tot. And I find the same here. Why do we need to point out the differences among us? Isn’t it more loving and compassionate to point out the similarities? Does that not foster more tolerance and understanding? Hmmmm.
We have found some support and acceptance here in America with our social circles – with some people in great volumes! But there are others that seem confused or seem to like to pretend it is not happening. And even others who first say “I couldn’t do that.” And then later make a “pass” at my husband! Haha! So maybe we opened their minds to new ideas just a little.
I agree that we are hung up unnecessarily on sexuality. I definitely see the “discomfort, anxiety, and maybe some feeling of self-doubt or insecurity” sometimes. I think sometimes that is why our poly-ness can make others uncomfortable. It can make others doubt themselves, their relationships or their sexuality, unnecessarily. To each his own, I say, let’s all find our little piece of happiness any way we can, and remember we are all connected.
This statement I found to be very insightful:
“That stuff comes out sideways so people who live outside of your comfort zone become easy targets to make you feel better about your stuff. Thus people talking down about a woman only wanting sex or calling her a prostitute (huh?).”
I for one really enjoy sex, and enjoy that fact that I enjoy sex. Why is it different when a man wants sex versus a woman? I hope in my lifetime that there is more equality between men and women and how we are both perceived. In that sense, I guess I am a feminist. I used to feel shame about sex and my sexuality. Now, I like to think most of that is a thing of the past. I wish the same for women everywhere, including the lovely woman who asked me these questions.
“And there’s a certain amount of enlightenment required to accept and understand what it means to be a sex worker. Calling someone a prostitute to insult them is just rude and ignorant on so many levels. So to your reader, I’d remind her that none of this is about her. It is about people who are afraid and uncomfortable and instead of dealing with their own emotions, they are dumping them on you. You don’t have to let their crap stick to you.”
“I think I might have gone on enough here but what is this about an “immoral” life style? Are infidelity and cheating so normalized that they aren’t immoral anymore? Is living in a life-long marriage where nobody is happy any more moral? Just sayin…”
Double RIGHT? Wow! I could NOT agree more! Just sayin for sure!
Love you and your amazing words and how you put things! You are awesome!
“Why do we need to point out the differences among us? Isn’t it more loving and compassionate to point out the similarities? Does that not foster more tolerance and understanding?”
I have my own blog on polyamorynetwork.com with an entry about the marginalization of open relationships from polyamory that your comment brought to mind. You can read the entire entry at https://www.polyamorynetwork.com/private/blogs/1296/47/marginalization-of-open-relation, but here is a comment I made about it:
Just as there are many different types of polyamory, there are different types of open relationships. My type of poly has equality among the partners, allowing each of them to develop whatever loving relationships they desire. Someone else may have a poly relationship that only allows one member to develop additional relationships. They have their agreements, and I have mine. I don’t belittle their or anyone else’s relationship style. So why should I stand for my style to be belittled, and marginalized.?
I will go read your article. Thanks for linking to it, and sharing it here. My poly relationships work the same way as yours: there is equality among the partners. I actually don’t really understand the “I can do this, but you can’t” school of thought. But to each his own. Everyone gets to make their own choices in life, and we should learn to respect them. Amen!