?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

What's Wrong With Monogamy

For most poly people out there, there's really nothing wrong with monogamy. Both mono and poly are valid relationship models, and everyone chooses the one which best fits them. I really wish I could wholeheartedly agree with this... however, I must admit that monogamy clashes with my ethics. And here's why:

It makes a person feel guilty about having a feeling that I consider to be one of the most important feelings of all. Our ability to connect with other people, to admire other people for their greatness, to be attracted to what we value (spiritually and physically), the ability to love – is probably our most vital characteristic in this life. Monogamy takes a somewhat controversial stance towards it – this property is considered wonderful in a person if he is single, but once he already has one romantic relationship, this very same property is labeled as extremely immoral and wrong. Well, newsflash, everyone: the ability to fall in love does not miraculously disappear when one finds a partner! OK, so maybe for some people it does. Maybe. For most of us, it does not; and polyamory finds this wonderful. In monogamy, however, it is usually considered very wrong to even be attracted to someone else – even if you never act upon these feelings. So, basically, if you're in a monogamous relationship, and there's this other person that you realize is absolutely awesome, then you should feel somewhat guilty. You should reject this realization. (Especially if it accompanies a realization that you love the way her eyes look when she smiles. Boy, if you even think that, you're in trouble, and you should be very ashamed of yourself. Monogamy usually asserts that it is OK to communicate with people of the opposite sex as long as you don't notice that they have a body at all, eyes included.)

And this is what ticks me off. For me, it's all very simple, really: Love is great. Sex is great. If a doctrine states that love and sex between two consenting adults is immoral, then that doctrine is wrong.

Note: some mono folks will say that in their eyes it is OK to be attracted to other people, as long as you don't have sex with them. Usually, however, there's a great deal of hypocrisy involved – the same people who state this as their belief get extremely pissed off if their partner actually admits to having such feelings.

I must stress that when I say "monogamy is wrong", I am nevertheless extremely tolerant to it. (OK, this world is monogamous, so I'd be in big trouble if I weren't tolerant…) I feel about it in about the same way as a vegetarian feels about eating murdered animals – he believes that it is wrong and people shouldn't do it, but he doesn't actually stop talking to all people who eat meat. Moreover, he doesn't start preaching about it at every meal; but he will also not try hard to avoid the topic. This belief is an important part of him, and he doesn't feel like he should hide it. This is more or less exactly how I feel about polyamory.
 

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Mar. 24th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
I Agree on some and disagree on others...
You started off right, and this is the best part "everyone chooses the one which best fits them" and not only that, we should accept it and not try to change others choices just cause they seem weird to us and against how we see life.

For example, I have no problem with gays/lesbians/bi or any other sexual choice people make. I'm happy for them that they found what makes them happy, but that does not mean i have a desire to be gay. Immediately i will be label "homophobic" for one reason or another.

It seems to me, and it's rather peculiar actually, but the ones who are supposedly the "open" are usually the most closed ones of us all. Why? i'll explain, you who are open to loving multiple partners and also give your partner that free will. Barely Tolerate those who have chosen a different way of seeing things.

I do agree with some of the points you made, but i'd like to say that it depends on the couple themselves. For example, i'll have no trouble saying to my girl "wow, she's hot!" cause most likely she would agree with me and would know that just cause i admire beauty, does not mean that i need to have sex with that person.

There are many aspects to life, we should accept each person for it and admire they way they chose for themselves as i'm sure it's been a journey they took to reach their own conclusions. Just as you have reached your own, someone else had different life and found a way that suits their personality. Both are Right!

Although i personally could never be poly, i respect and admire and i'm not jealous of your choice. I can even go as far as saying i'd never be able to be intimate with a girl, that i have no feelings for. I have tried, and was disgusted with myself as it to me felt as though i've reduced the meaning of intimacy. But as weird as it sounds to others, it is perfectly logical to me.
petite_lambda
Mar. 25th, 2009 07:17 am (UTC)
Re: I Agree on some and disagree on others...
Thank you for your comment, you raised many interesting points!

"we should accept it and not try to change others choices just cause they seem weird to us and against how we see life... There are many aspects to life, we should accept each person for it and admire they way they chose for themselves as i'm sure it's been a journey they took to reach their own conclusions. Just as you have reached your own, someone else had different life and found a way that suits their personality. Both are Right!"

I happen to very passionately disagree with this view! First of all, it's interesting to note that expressing my disagreement was seen by you as "trying to change people's choices". Hey -- everyone has a right to choose for themselves, but everyone also has the right to argue with other people's choices! (Not only the right, mind you -- many times, it's a responsibility!)
All ethical systems, by definition, specify rules for right and wrong behavior. An ethical system that accepts everything as "Right" is not an ethical system!

And understanding does not at all imply agreeing. To give you an extreme example: I can understand (some of) the background and life of the terrorists who try to kill me -- I understand why they came to the conclusions they came. But it doesn't mean that I respect or accept their choices!
A less extreme example: suppose you're on the left side of our political spectrum (just for the sake of the argument). According to what you say, you should never try to argue with people who vote for "Ihud Leumi", because they had a "different journey and reached conclusions that suit their own life"... Do you really think so?

But, frankly, I don't think that you're really trying to say that "all beliefs and behaviors are equally valid, and arguing with them makes us closed-minded". I don't believe that you actually think it (correct me if I'm wrong!) What I think you were trying to say is more:
Any lifestyle that doesn't hurt other people should be considered ethically valid. Since monogamy is nobody's buisness but the couple involved, there's nothing wrong with it!
Did I understand you correctly?

Another point:
"I can even go as far as saying i'd never be able to be intimate with a girl, that i have no feelings for."
Oh, I'm completely with you on this one -- I've never had casual sex in my life, and I don't intend to. Don't think it works for me (although I have no ethical objections to it!). What surprised me is how you apparently think that sex without feelings has something to do with polyamory. Polyamory is the complete opposite of it... Is there a chance you're confusing poly with swinging?

"i'll have no trouble saying to my girl "wow, she's hot!" cause most likely she would agree with me and would know that just cause i admire beauty, does not mean that i need to have sex with that person"
Does "need" here mean "want"? Would it be okay with your girlfriend to know that you fantasize about someone else (even if you never intend to act by these fantasies)?
(Anonymous)
Mar. 25th, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
Re: I Agree on some and disagree on others...
Regarding the first section, you are correct, what i meant was exactly what you wrote "Any lifestyle that doesn't hurt other people should be considered ethically valid. Since monogamy is nobody's business but the couple involved, there's nothing wrong with it!
Did I understand you correctly?" (i have no idea how you made it into italics :P ) but that is exactly what i mean, what people do in their own private life as consenting adults, is their own business and should not concern anyone else as long as no one gets hurt.

As for polyamory/swinging, i think you mis-translated what i meant here. I never said or implied that polyamory/multi-partners has no feelings in it. Heck, even regular couples have sex without feeling

Regarding last part with "wow, she's hot!" then as long as don't intent to act on our fantasies (and i'm MORE then positive that my X had loads of her own, i'm not exactly HOT!) then i see nothing wrong in fantasizing or even wanting, as long as we don't "do" it.
petite_lambda
Apr. 6th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: I Agree on some and disagree on others...
what people do in their own private life as consenting adults, is their own business and should not concern anyone else as long as no one gets hurt
You must have guessed that if I put words in your mouth, that probably means I have an answer prepared :-)
And, btw, italics are just usual html tags -- they work here.

I have two points:
Firstly, some beliefs and behavior can still clash with my ethics, even if they are a personal decision that does not concern anyone else. There are two types of ethical disagreements:
(a) I believe something is BAD, and the other person believes it is GOOD
(b) I believe something is GOOD, and the other person believes it is BAD
Monogamy, for me, falls in the second category -- which is much, MUCH less severe than the first. As I said, I'm extremely tolerant to such things! All behavior that harms others (or violates their freedom) falls into the first category. It's not in the same league! But still -- a slight clash exists, and it's worth pointing out.

I'll give you another example of a "type (b)" clash. Imagine a woman who joins a religious sect. She adopts the belief that any criticism or doubt of her religion is from Satan... any time she has doubts in her heart, she must repent and beg the Lord for forgiveness. She accepts that curiosity is from Satan, too -- that it's her duty to do what the elders tell, and not use her own mind. Imagine that she actually believes this, and she indeed does what she's told, and tries to cast away "bad thoughts" if they appear.
She doesn't hurt anyone but herself. Moreover, as is usually the case with cult members, she claims to be very happy... So, would you say that her beliefs are in any way unethical?
I would! I believe that critical thinking and reliance on our own mind are GOOD; not just GOOD, but probably the most important things we have in this life. And any doctrine that calls them BAD is unethical.

Same thing with monogamy: I say love is GOOD, monogamy says (in some situations) that love is BAD. A "type (b)" ethics clash.

[continued...]
(Anonymous)
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
With your second example i agree...
People who let others tell them how to live and think, are idiots who hurt themselves and they actually also hurt others who knew them before the change. Those are usually people who are afraid to take a responsibility on their own life and actions, and prefer to let some idiot tell them how they should live.

Unfortunately most people are like that, cause that's how we always get raised. But it will change during time, as religious is losing it's grasp on new generations. The only "new" generation suffering from this idioticy, are those who get raised into it but even they evolve as they are surrounded by real life.

Disagree with you completely and utterly regarding monogamy, it's in no way saying that LOVE is BAD! it says LOVE is AMAZING and it should be respected and honored. It says that when you reduce it's essence and meaning, then it's no longer love, but lust. Emotions that come from the groin and not from the heart.
petite_lambda
May. 4th, 2009 08:51 am (UTC)
I answered this here -- it's the same topic, let's keep it in one thread :-)
petite_lambda
Apr. 6th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: I Agree on some and disagree on others...
Secondly, I want to dispute you second point: of course monogamy hurts people! Quite a lot!

Unrealistic expectations, in general, are bad and dangerous -- because they cause a lot of unjustified resentment when they are not met. The myth of monogamy says that once you find the One True Love, that person should be everything you ever want. If you find yourself longing for someone else... well, by implication, this must mean there's something wrong with you (or your partner, or your relationship). And this belief causes a lot of damage! (This line of thinking is probably not very relevant to you, personally, Sefy -- but it screws up the lives of a lot of people).

Fact: people are not monogamous by nature. Most of us will occasionally be attracted to other people and interested in them, even while in a committed relationship. According to conservative statistics, most of us will sooner or later act on such feelings. People and relationships will suffer in both cases.
Monogamy says that if you're in a relationship and you fall for someone else, you have to give one of them up. Either you have to break up with your partner, or you have to try to forget the shiny new crush. Both options HURT LIKE HELL -- not only to the person who has to make this decision, but to all the people involved.
Sometimes people break up with their partners, because they convince themselves that they don't love them anymore, when it's actually not true (since they fell for someone else, and monogamy says they can love only one person -- it follows they don't love the previous one anymore!) And it's a real shame -- because the decision is taken under the influence of a crush (not thinking clearly at all!) -- and the new relationship can turn out to be a fleeting thing... but then, the old one is already in ruins, and it's too late! Everyone suffers.
More commonly, the new relationship is ditched -- and it's a heartbreak. A smaller one, but it still hurts. Such heartbreaks can cause long lasting damage. Resentment builds up -- especially due to the fact that it's not something you can share with your partner, you have to overcome it by yourself.

Speaking of which: monogamy adds barriers to intimacy. There are important things (that sometimes feel like most important in the world!) that you cannot share with your partner. Now you have a secret, you hide something... so you feel guilty. That's never good!

***

From what I understood from our phone conversation, you're OK with some feelings that your partner can have for other men. It all depends on what feelings.
Feeling that the guy is really hot and she enjoys fantasizing about sex with him? Totally OK with you! Feeling that the guy is really smart and funny, and understands her and teaches her new ways to look at life and people? Totally OK with you as well! Now, how about the combination of the above? Would that be OK, too? Or the feeling that she misses him if she doesn't see him for a whole week? Or, if she catches herself thinking about him often when he's not around? This last one is NOT OK with you, from what I understood (even if it's not coupled with any of the previous ones). I'm curious to try and define this area of "OK/not OK with you" more precisely...

Your feelings about this are waaay more liberal than most people, from what I know. Most people would not be OK with any of the above, so some degree (even the second one alone). Good for you and your partners! :-)
(Anonymous)
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
This is where we disagree...
It's not monogamy that ruins people's life, it's the fact they are confusing hormones and lust and physical desire, with heart emotions and that's where it is wrong. That is when things get bad, also from history itself, you would be wrong as human nature is NOT polygamous. Sure you can find examples to show SOME behavior as such but not a lot of it, but the majority of history from ancient times will find couples and not multiple partners.

You can love multiple people, i love my parents, my sister, i care for my friends and i also care for people i don't even know. But it is not the same "LOVE" you have for a partner. I can even prove it on you, you do NOT have the same feelings to other people as you do for your partner. You may care, you may feel, you may lust for others. But you do not have the same kind of love you do for a partner.

People today don't want love, they don't really care about love. Cause love requires time and patience and getting to know someone, and we are living in the fast lane and all that love "crap" takes too much effort. So people go for lust, they go for hormones and think it's love. Attraction isn't Love, Friendship isn't Love. If a person has no control over their hormones, then they are simply not adults but little kids who cry when they lose a toy.

I'm a logical person and emotional as well, i know how to mix and think what is right and wrong. My Logic and Emotion both agreed a partner can have friends, she can care for those friends. Heck it is possible she may have a crush on someone as well, but the rule is broken when she loves that person. I'm not talking about crush like a little kid, i'm talking about full emotional heartfelt love

Why that is the limit? cause my logic and emotion say that if she loves someone, then she is lacking something from me and instead of her opening up as she would normally, she develops feelings for another. Most monogamous people CAN forgive cheating, why? cause in a way they can understand it. But they will NOT forgive when it is LOVE cause it means indeed the relationship is not fulfilling.

It's not monogamy that creates stupid rules, it's people who are a jealous and untrusting that create the stupid rules. If someone in a relationship does not open up to their partner and letting them feel at ease to talk about everything, then they don't really love them. They simply possess them, they feel as if they own them and that is a mistake.

That's where the sentence: If you love someone, let them go. If they don't come back, they were never yours...
petite_lambda
May. 4th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
I'm at a loss trying to understand your definitions of love/ LOVE/crush/lust, and the differences between them -- especially the first two.
You may care, you may feel, you may lust for others. But you do not have the same kind of love you do for a partner.

Of course not. I don't have the same love for Danny as for my mother, or for N. (a guy I'm in love with). Because, you know, they are all different people. I didn't understand what does it prove. Right, I don't have the same feelings for N. as I do for Danny... and the other way around, I don't have the same feelings for Danny as I do for N. Which one of these "loves" is "the real one", according to you, and how do you determine it?

I suspect that your definitions (as all mono people) are as follows: the exact same feelings are called LOVE when you experience them towards your partner, and are called other names (with a negative conotation, usually) when you feel them towards someone else.

If you want to argue with that, I challenge you to explain me the difference between love and LOVE. Just explain what you mean by these words (without using them in your explanation!)
For example, here's a very incomplete list of what I might mean when I say I love someone:
* I'm deeply interested in how their mind works, and want to know everything that happened to them and what they thought/felt about it.
* I care about them -- their happiness makes me happy, and their pain hurts me.
* I think/fantasize about them a lot.
* I want to be physically intimate with them (hug, kiss, caress, make love).
* I really miss them when they're not around.
* I want to share my soul with them.
* I'm blissfully happy to see them each time.
* In their presence, I feel complete and confident. I know that they know me for who I am, and understand me 100%.
* I'd give up my life for them, if I had to (for all that such hypothetical questions are worth...).
* They are just so amazing that it almost hurts to look at them... how can someone be so wise and so kind and so... generally awesome.
* When I hear their voice I shiver, my heart beats faster, I can't think clearly and I panic.
* I'm panically afraid of doing/saying something stupid... afraid of not being understood, afraid that they don't like me, etc.

I could go on and on. The list includes some important characteristics of what I call love, but it's none of them by itself is necessary or sufficient. Also, some of them contradict others, and some have to do more with a crush than with love. But my point is this: all these feelings, no matter how you call them, are positive. For me, they are GOOD. Monogamy calls them BAD. This is WRONG.

But they will NOT forgive when it is LOVE cause it means indeed the relationship is not fulfilling.
I have a deep, fulfilling relationship and I still love other people. And I know al lot of couples/triads/other configurations who all have deep, loving, fulfilling relationships with more than one person. So it's just not true!
This is exactly the kind of thinking that causes a lot of hurt: "If I love someone else, it has to mean that there's something wrong with my relationship". It's not true -- but if you think that way, than it will certainly become true... and everyone will get hurt.

By the way, when I said that people are not naturally monogamous, I meant sexual monogamy, not social monogamy. True, in most societies throughout history people lived in couples -- but they slept around, as they still do. Same thing with virtually all animals -- many are socially monogamous, but they cheat on their partners.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )