The Problem With Polyamory From Someone Who’s Tried It

When I was younger, I experimented with polyamorous relationships. Time after time, those relationships were special, and to a point, they were life-changing. However, they all seemed to be fundamentally flawed. As great as the perks of being in a polyamorous relationship were, I had to admit they weren’t for me. I hesitate to say that polyamory is bad, but it was for me.

In a nutshell, the problem that killed that idea for me was human nature itself. On paper and in person, being with multiple people simultaneously can mean more sex, lower bills (if you’re cohabitating and splitting costs), and a pretty kinky lifestyle. It makes you feel like a rebel at times, because, hey, it’s not the norm. It’s true that in a poly relationship, you’re never alone. In bigger “families,” there’s actually a community feeling to it. And yet, I’ve found that polyamory just felt bad and wrong for a number of reasons. Here’s why I moved on to monogamy.

  1. Jealousy. Just about every poly relationship that I’ve ever had included jealousy issues. When you’re in love with someone, you usually will want them all to yourself, and even if you aren’t the jealous type, it’s often emotionally hard to know that you aren’t the only one they care about. In my experience, I’ve seen major fights break out about who’s sleeping with who. At times, the person who gets most vocal about being jealous usually ends up convincing at least one of the individuals to pair off with them. This, of course, ends up wrecking the entire dynamic of the relationship itself.
  2. There’s often a power play going on. This is one of the biggest reasons polyamory was so bad for me. While I was the only female in a number of the poly relationships I had, there have also been a number of poly relationships where I was one of multiple women who were all with one man. In fact, I was also in a poly relationship where I was one of six women dating another woman. Regardless of what the gender dynamics were in each relationship, it’s undeniable that there was a serious power play issue that would come out in one way or another. With a number of poly relationships, partners were ranked. There was a “main chick” or a “main guy” and everyone else was second banana… or lower. As you can imagine, this caused serious tension between everyone in the relationship. At times, people would throw tantrums, undercut one another, or even outright fight with one another over who gets to be with who. When this happens, it usually means that the entire relationship, for everyone, is about to go downhill fast.
  3. They’re naturally unfair. Even when poly relationships don’t involve ranks by name, there’s still going to be a tendency for one partner to get more out of the relationship than the others. This means that there’s always going to be a bit of unfairness going on, and that it often will result in people trying to “poach” time or resources from other people – either consciously or unconsciously. For some, this can lead to a phenomenon of being dumped with no warning from others, over the smallest of transgressions.
  4. They can change who you are as a person — and not in a good way. The funny thing about poly relationships is that they often make you see people as disposable. When you always have another option, you stop putting in the amount of effort you should put into a relationship. It tends to bring out the worst in you.  Instead of trying to fight for a relationship, you’ll end up just flippantly shrugging off issues and running off to another partner just because you can, and because it’s harder to care about people when you can just as easily throw them away and get a replacement.
  5. You can still feel very alone even when you’re with multiple people. If you’ve ever been to a party filled with people and felt totally, utterly alone, you already should know that being with people doesn’t equate to feeling socially fulfilled. The truth is that in a poly relationship, your partner(s)’s attention will be divided among multiple people at all times, and that means you might end up being the odd man or woman out on occasion. Trust me when I say that being the oddball in your own relationship hurts more than a breakup itself.
  6. Really, it is human nature. Though there’s definitely a case for saying that humans are naturally polyamorous, when it actually comes to settling down, we all want to come home to someone who sees us as our one and only. We, as human beings, love the idea of being the center of attention when we are with someone, and we do naturally get jealous. The truth is that every partner that is added to a relationship adds more potential for drama, and in the vast majority of cases, that drama is just not worth it in the long run.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.