Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pleasantly Surprising Things About Non-Monogamy

I committed to non-monogamy as a thing quite a while ago after years of being "poly friendly."  "Poly friendly" is when a person seeks out monogamous relationships, but is open to poly relationships should they occur.  About a year ago all of my personal ad websites--and dealings with prospective partners--began making it clear that I am no longer interested in monogamous relationships.

This has led to some effects that I didn't expect:
  1. I am less picky with my partners. I used to have a rather strict five-years-either-way age limit... so at 27, my "bubble" would have been around 22-32, not taking into account things like birthdays being at weird times of the year.  I don't worry about that anymore because if I do pine for somebody closer to my own age, I can go find one.  I used to be less open to dating women, because although I am bi/pansexual I have a preference for men and was always worried that I'd wind up meeting a guy I liked better.  Now that I have given my permission to be with multiple people, I don't worry about that because finding a man doesn't mean breaking up with a woman.  I also don't worry about things like being unable/unwilling to fulfill a partner's sexual needs, or vice versa... for example, there's a woman who I am interested in who is really into age play... something I generally really dislike... and I feel like I can actually pursue that relationship because she can seek those needs elsewhere.
  2. I am also more picky with my partners.
    Wait, both?  How?  The answer is that although I am less picky about things that relate to the "grass is greener" problem or artificially installed preferences, I am less likely to settle for people who I really shouldn't settle for... people who have profoundly different values, for example, or who have serious mental issues that I am not equipped to deal with, or who I know don't actually support my gender identity, or who I am for whatever reason just not attracted to.  The reason here is this:  I have given up the mythology of needing to find that one person who has everything I need, so I don't need to settle for people who have everything I need but also have a lot of stuff I don't want.
  3. I am less stressed out about the concept of long-distance relationships.
    I've successfully pulled off long-distance relationships, although they did involve cheating on the part of the other partner (it actually didn't bother me that much, the epiphany of which is a reason I realized I was philosophically equipped to be non-monogamous anyway), but they involved a certain amount of pain as well.  I'm less worried about that and am more likely to be open to long-distance relationships because we can both find people closer if we have more immediate needs.
  4. I no longer carry the vestigial belief that I can own a person's heart, meaning I am less likely to feel terribly burned by rejection.
    One of my historical problems has been jealousy... not necessarily within a relationship (see number 3 about how indifferent I was to being cheated on), but the first time I ever went to a psychiatrist at an age old enough to understand what that was was because I was rejected by somebody who I was very attached to, who then went on to date somebody I knew.  I was incredibly jealous of her and angry at him to the point of being very, very hurt for a very, very long time and had a very "why her but not me" attitude about it.  That sort of thing doesn't happen the same way anymore, because I'm just less possessive.  I don't fixate on one person.
  5. I no longer believe that there is a necessary time frame for a relationship to be considered successful.
    I am used to hearing people refer to relationships as having "failed" when they end.  A divorce is a "failure."  A breakup is a "failure."  They aren't "failures," though.  Relationships don't have to last forever to be successful.  Because of that change, I feel better about my exes (most of them) as well as the breakups I've been through.
  6.  I am significantly less lonely.
    I had to think about this for a while because I would have expected to be more lonely, being a single non-monogamous guy.  And part of it is probably just incidental... I have better relationships with my friends and family, more hobbies, a loyal and loving dog, so I don't need a romantic relationship to be happy.  But there's definitely a non-monogamous element to it, as well, which is this:  I don't feel like there's one person out there for me anymore, so I'm not always pining over that one somebody.  When I was committed to monogamy as well as when I was "poly-open" but looking for monogamous relationships, I had that mythology in my head and it really made things feel hopeless for me.  Now I'm more along for the ride than in it for an idealistic purpose, and that makes me feel a lot better.
There are more, and I don't mean to suggest that all people should be polyamorous or non-monogamous.  But for me, there have been a lot of pleasantly surprising effects.