There are so many unjustified assumptions about polyamory that come from a place of misunderstanding and cultural conditioning. In the United States, monogamy is upheld as the perfect norm, as having more than one partner is often met with negative commentary, slut shaming, and the label of promiscuity. It is through this lens that the idea of one partner being able to fulfill all your needs is spread amongst children, youth, and adults. And though there are couples that have successfully practiced monogamy, polyamorous couples have also experienced success and longevity in both emotional fulfillment and sexual health.
Contrary to popular belief, it is rare for any relationship to be completely monogamous. The rates of cheating amongst “monogamists” continue to skyrocket, and it seems that people are running from the idea that polyamory is also a productive alternative for love. But non-monogamy and polyamory are not one in the same, as polyamory is rooted in the philosophy of honesty and transparency in all acts of love, sex included. It is not free love without rules. It’s a system in which people make agreements to accommodate loving more than one person to keep everyone safe and happy.
There are various classifications that describe the many types of relationships practiced by polyamorists. There are primary relationships, which include people that you live with in marriage-like arrangements. There are secondary relationships, which include people that you love but with whom you don’t live. And there are tertiary relationships, which include people with whom you enjoy sex but don’t necessarily love.
In each of these relationships, there are sexual health rules that are applied to keep all of your partners safe. For example, many people in long-term primary and secondary relationships will agree to practice safe oral sex and sexual intercourse with any tertiary partners. Or people in long-term primary relationships may apply those same rules to secondary relationships. Whatever the agreement, it is upheld by all partners, as preventing disease-spread is always a high priority for polyamorists and the ethics that they apply to non-monogamy.
In contrast, non-monogamy is a lifestyle enjoyed by many that doesn’t have set rules or ethical requirements. Cheaters are welcome, and any other individuals who are practicing love and sex in deceit. It shelters people from acknowledging that monogamy isn’t working for them, and often prevents the individual from experiencing meaningful relationships with other people who feel the same way. When there isn’t transparency, honesty, or ethical standards, many partners are left in the dark about what their partners are doing and thus making decisions regarding their hearts, bodies, and health with incomplete information.
The key to preserving healthy hearts, minds, and bodies is honesty and open communication. Polyamory offers ethical paths for non-monogamists who are willing to recognize that loving or desiring more than one person doesn’t have to be done in the dark. When it comes to the sexual health of you and your partner(s), it is better to share love and enjoy sex in transparency, rather than jeopardize everyone´s health and live in deceit.