So I have this list. It’s official name is: Things to Not Give a Fuck About if You Want to Maintain Your Integrity and Sanity. In case it isn’t self explanatory, this list is something that is consciously evolving in my life as it represents themes, concepts, and ideas that are unhealthy, counterproductive, violent, and/or stupid as fuck… to me. I found a list necessary, as opposed to something less concrete, because of the deceptive nature of the items on it. See, most of the entries on this list are things that have been normalized or uplifted to the point that they represent common sense for a lot of other people (#1 on the list is actually: What some other people think about you and this list). This is an important tool in self-defining, maintaining knowledge of self, and cultivating my own principles. Because so many of us are bombarded by the pressure to conform or simply accept what is “handed to” us, I highly encourage you to create your own. Not only will you find your lower your level of fucks to give into a healthy range, you’ll think more critically about how you’re building relationships, meeting goals, and living your life.
Which brings me to how monogamy ended up on this list. Before I had the language to identify as polyamorous, before I had the wherewithal to fully understand what it meant to be someone’s partner, I knew that I didn’t buy the “one to one” relationship model. The assumption that I could only build a romantic connection with one other someone at a time felt limiting and restrictive almost immediately. Even during my years of angsty teenage infatuations, I was always open to the possibility of having more than one name to write over and over again in my notebooks. I chose not to ignore the dreaded way that having to choose made me feel. Another way to put it is: liking/loving one person never seemed relevant to liking/loving someone else. Perhaps it’s a chemical imbalance, but that distinction just isn’t very pronounced to me.
I knew that I felt this way, but I also knew that there were certain expectations in place that dictate how most people, define, and maintain relationships. With very few examples available, it took witnessing open relationships that worked, to gain the courage to align myself with polyamory openly. A friend of mine and her partner had agreed to see other people when they first started dating as teenagers. Over 10 years later it’s still working for them. Knowing them both so well, it became evident that their decision to be open wasn’t based on some egotistical need to fuck and finesse every potential boo. What I ultimately took and continue to carry with me from their partnership is that your relationship should reflect your own unique set of circumstances, personality, needs, and lifestyle.
Here’s where I was immediately prior to taking on a polyamorous identity for myself: I was just coming to terms with what my own personal brand of “queer” meant; I had known for years how peaceful and necessary I find regularly scheduled solitude; I wasn’t lonely or in dire need of companionship; I had entered a new realm of understanding and acceptance of my body that I was interested in exploring; and lastly, I had accumulated enough relationship experience, some of them (unintentionally) open and others monogamous, that I had a clearer idea of what kind of partner I wanted and how I saw them fitting into my life. I knew monogamy wouldn’t be a means to these ends.
Universally, honesty, commitment, respect, and communication are heralded as the foundational building blocks of any healthy relationship. But in this here era of “acting like a lady and thinking like a man” (whatever the fuck that means), we are only offered monogamy as a measure of these things. A dishonest partner is a cheating partner. The idea of commitment is directly tied to whether or not either partner is romantically involved with someone else. Respectful partners give their partners no reason to think they could be stepping outside of the sexual boundaries of their relationship. Communication requires clarity on what you’re doing, where you’re going, who you’re with, and when as proof that you’re faithful. Loyalty? It’s staying in the relationship and maintaining fidelity, no matter what. In some ideal world (certainly not mine), monogamy does all of the work that compatibility, maturity, and healthy communication are supposed to do.
Sometimes, folks are more committed to monogamy than they are to their partner and relationship. Chasing those dreams of true love has shifted from getting to know people and building bonds based on shared values and aspirations. Instead, it has been reduced to constant policing and managing how your boo is performing and embodying monogamy. In all of my years of dating, I’ve realized that monogamy (from both of us) alone didn’t add much to my relationships. It hadn’t made me feel any more secure. It didn’t stop my heart from being broken. It didn’t make me feel any more or less loved. It served no purpose except to satisfy someone else’s ego, give us a couple of unnecessary things to argue about, and fill me with regrets about not fucking with all of the other people I was interested in. So it has come to be that monogamy is on my list of things not to give a fuck about because I know better than to think that it’s key to a happy relationship.
I’m being very intentional about not going into detail about my exact relationship preferences, or imply that this is some “how to be poly” guide. One of the premises of this piece (and my List of Things to Not give a Fuck About) is that relationships should develop organically, at a pace you and your partner are comfortable with, and with boundaries and conditions that are mutually set between you in place. This means that for some people, monogamy is absolutely the best option based on their personality and emotional needs. But if you’ve never sat down with yourself to think critically about how and why you value certain practices in your relationship, you might be surprised to find that you actually aren’t in that number. And if you’re really pressed to explore open relationship models, you can obviously Google that shit.