Thursday, August 23, 2007

Am I poly or mono if I am in a monogamous relationship?

Someone on the LiveJournal polyamory community posted this common question, as follows:

As my currently monogamous relationship grows, I am wondering how this affects my poly identity. My current partner is not poly, and that's not a problem for me. I'm trying to figure out [how] to negotiate my own identity. Because poly is something I can enjoy and grow from, I do see it's value and don't eliminate it as an option... but it isn't intrinsic to who I am or what I need. Does that mean I'm not poly? Am I a poly poser? :) Does anyone else shift between poly and mono relationships and if so do you always identify as poly?

I don't think this person is a poser at all. There is nothing inauthentic about her situation from what I can tell.

Indeed, many poly people see polyamory for themselves as an identity. I believe that being a poly person is not about what (or who - *g*) we are doing at any given time, but instead think it's more about what matters to us and what we are open to.

My personal definition of a polyamorist is a person with the desire and ability to love more than one person at at a time with openness and honesty with all involved. I don't consider a failure to embrace polyamory as essential to one's life to equate to a de facto monogamous identity. I can identify as a polyamorist and still choose under some circumstances to be in a monogamous relationship. A polyamorous nature and a monogamous relationship are not mutually exclusive.

Over the 12 years I've been a poly person, for a variety of reasons I've been through periods of time where I had only one partner. I'm not someone who collects partners simply because I'm a poly person. I approach my relationship configurations primarily from a perspective of what needs are or are not being met by the relationship or relationships I already have. If an important need arises and is going unmet, it is important to me that I be free to connect with others who might meet it.

It's also important to me to be able to act on a strong attraction if one comes along, since from my perspective, that person's entry into my life is a gift from the universe. But that doesn't happen all that often. If my needs are being met with my relationship(s) as they exist at present, I don't tend to go around looking for new partners.

Another way of putting it I've seen is that just like people who are gay don't stop being gay just because they aren't in a relationship with a same-sex partner, neither do poly people stop being poly people merely because they only have one partner, or none at all. I suppose this analogy works for me because I do identify as a poly person in terms of polyamory being an essential component of who I am. But I think it also applies to people who don't see themselves this way, so long as they still appreciate the benefits of polyamory and consider it an option.

1 comment:

Curvaceous Dee said...

A very interesting, and thoughtful, post.

...neither do poly people stop being poly people merely because they only have one partner, or none at all. Something I definitely agree with.

xx Dee