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Sex + Relationships

Misconceptions Surrounding Non-Monogamous Relationships

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Romantic relationship practices today are largely centered around monogamy, the act of having a relationship with one partner at a time. Finding “the one”, a “soulmate”, or a “life partner” are of subsequently high priority in the world of romance. Such ideals have proved to be limiting in these spheres, leaving little room for other types of relationships to exist equally. 

On the other end of the spectrum, exists non-monogamous relationships. Polyamory, the practice of engaging in multiple romantic relationships, is of particular significance in this context. Our understanding of relationships is predominantly influenced by Western ideals whereby historically monogamy has been practiced in romantic relationships. This is rooted in ideas of exclusivity and fidelity which provide motivation and justification for monogamy. Whilst the purpose of this article is not to deconstruct the monogamous conception of romantic love in Western cultures, it is a relevant inception in the conversation of polyamorous relationships and the fallacies surrounding it. Because of this, it must be noted. 

The most common misconception of polyamory is that they are more casual relationships with little romance and intimacy. This is false. Polyamorous relationships are as intimate and romantic as monogamous relationships are. There is no shortage of emotion and romantic connection in polyamory.

The notion that polyamorous people lack intimacy in their relationships is derived from the idea that they are sex-driven and want to engage in sexual activity with multiple people at different times. Again, polyamorous relationships can be deep and meaningful. They are not limited to sex and the physical aspects of relationships. More so, there are people in polyamorous relationships who identify as asexual and are uninterested in sexual engagement. 

Sex in polyamorous relationships is not limited to orgies and partner-swapping.  Contrary to what many people believe, sexual activity in polyamorous relationships can also be intimate, sensual, and romantic. 

Additionally, many people assume that polyamorous relationships are for those who are unable to commit and therefore seek to explore and engage with multiple people. This is not usually a reason as to why people enter into polyamorous relationships. Poly people are still able to commit to their respective romantic partners, but they may navigate commitment in a way that differs from the norm as they are not only committed to one person. 

Despite polyamorous relationships including multiple people, they are not just open relationships whereby those involved are automatically allowed to engage with any other person sexually and romantically. Some polyamorous people may have open relationships, much like how some monogamous people may have open relationships. However, polyamorous relationships and open relationships are not interdependent concepts. 

Polyamorous relationships, much like monogamous relationships, can be beautiful and special. Polyamory has respect, open communication, and consent at its core. Polyamorous people convey love on their own terms. 

The current mold of relationships which society dictates to us is outdated and in need of reform. It’s necessary that we dissect ideologies, those concerning relationships in this context, which prohibit us from maturing as a society. Although polyamorous relationships deter from the norm, they are still deserving of respect and social acceptance. Relationships and being interconnected with others are intrinsic to how we operate in social spheres. How we choose to operate is our choice and will be unique to every individual, and that’s okay. 

References:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/05568641.2018.1450642

https://www.self.com/story/polyamorous-relationship

https://www.glamour.com/story/7-polyamory-myths-its-time-to-stop-believing

I’m a 3rd year student at UCT studying a BA with majors in Linguistics and Media & Writing. My passions/hobbies include discourse surrounding social justice reform and human rights issues, critical thinking, my relationship with God, spirituality, music (all kinds) and dancing.
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