The Luv Doc: Monogamous Leftovers
Polyamory, like communism, is much harder in practice than in theory
Dear Luv Doc,
A few days ago, my boyfriend dropped a really huge bombshell on me. He told me he wants to have an open relationship. At first I was really hurt about it, but after thinking about it for a while, I am not so sure I am totally against the idea. He said he truly loves me and values our relationship and wants me to be his primary partner, but that he feels it is unreasonable to expect people to sleep with the same person their whole lives. The thing is, we have a really great relationship – sex included – and we are really compatible in almost every way, but I can't get rid of the nagging feeling that this is wrong and that I should be enough for him. Is is too closed-minded of me to want to be the only one?
– Mono Polly
I have heard plenty of stories about successful long-term open relationships, but I have never actually witnessed one IRL. This doesn't, of course, mean they aren't possible or that they don't exist. It probably just means that I need to get out more. For all I know there are probably leprechauns and unicorns running buck-wild all over the place while I'm at home watching Peaky Blinders in my tighty whities. I will freely admit that Central Austin is a bit of a microcosm, but we definitely have our share of experimental types. In fact, I sort of nourish the fantasy that all those people riding those ridiculously tall bikes are all into polyamory and anarchy, but I have never chased one down to actually find out. I am not even sure how they get down from those fucking things.
Therefore, all I have to offer you is my extremely limited experience with open relationships, which is this: Every time I have ever been in an open relationship, it was just about to abruptly close, usually with lots of histrionics and heartbreak. OK, to be honest, I have never actually been in an open relationship, but my guess is that being in an open relationship takes a Herculean amount of personal self-confidence and trust. I am a super sensitive artist/fake doctor, so I don't honestly think I could deal with the idea that I might be runner-up instead of champion. While I prefer silver as a metal, I prefer gold as a medal.
So ... are you being closed-minded? Maybe, but if you are, you're not alone. The Advocate says that 4-5% of Americans participate in some form of ethical nonmonogamy. That means that 95% don't – at least not willingly. Here's my take: I have absolutely nothing against polyamory. I really think it's a swell idea, but like communism, it's much harder in practice than in theory. There's also nothing wrong with wanting to be "the one." So maybe this guy – as amazing as he is – is not your one, but my bet is that somewhere in that 95% of monogamous leftovers, someone is. You just have to find him somehow. That's scary, I know – maybe even scarier than being in a polyamorous relationship, but you deserve to be with someone who can't get enough of you and you alone.