What Monogamous Couples Can Learn From Polyamory

Open relationships are practically the new normal, but while this relationship style isn’t for everyone, there are a lot monogamous couples can learn from their free-loving peers.

Accepting that attraction towards other people is natural You can be the most monogamous person in the world and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll still find other people attractive from time to time. Classic romance stories would have us believe that when you find “The One,” you’ll never have eyes for anyone else. Unless you’re a hermit, that’s pretty unlikely. The key to dealing with wandering eyes is accepting it as a totally normal part of the human experience and counting actions as the important thing.

Adding ‘compersion’ into your vocabulary In the world of polyamory, the opposite of jealousy in compersion — the feeling of happiness that comes from seeing your partner happy with someone else. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be psyched to see your monogamous partner making out with someone else, the same feeling can translate to other things that can arouse jealousy, even in the context of a monogamous relationship. Ever felt jealous of the joy your partner gets from their friends, hobbies, or career? Practicing compersion is a great exercise in celebrating things that might otherwise incite jealousy for the wonderful reason that they bring your partner happiness.

Developing skills to deal with jealousy No relationship is all sunshine and rainbows and while polyamorous people agree to share their love openly, jealousy can still be a challenge. For that reason, they might be the experts on avoiding the green-eyed monster. Open communication, acceptance of emotions, practicing compersion, and finding security in one’s own self-worth are all ways polyamorists deal with jealousy in more healthy ways than what might come naturally.

The power of direct and honest communication This may be the most important skill needed for a healthy open relationship and it should go without saying that it’s vital to any good relationship, open or not. Speaking honestly and lovingly with a partner is something worth learning for anyone invested in fostering openness and trust with their beloved. In polyamory, the consequences of bad communication might be more noticeable, which is why it’s even more important for monogamous couples to practice these skills — the warning signs might not be clear until it’s too late.

Being completely honest with yourselves and each other We spend most of our lives repressing the thoughts we deem to be inappropriate or shameful, often denying, even to ourselves, how we truly feel. That’s a lot of repressed people walking around, not letting out their innermost thoughts and feelings. Polyamory is one way that people are uncovering and embracing those once-judged parts of themselves and it’s an inspiring example of how to own your desires, even in a society that shuns them. Sharing those feelings with others can be scary, but it’s also incredibly liberating.

Negotiating boundaries It depends on the relationship, some being more liberal than others, but most polyamorists will at least talk about respective boundaries, even if they have no ‘rules’ in place. Being aware of your needs and expressing requests to have those needs met is an incredibly important tool and one that is always beneficial, no matter what relationship structure you choose.

There are alternatives and every relationship is a choice Sometimes it’s easy to stay in a relationship, or in a particular relationship structure, simply because that’s what you’ve always done. By straying from the status quo, polyamorous relationships are a reminder that each of us has complete freedom to choose whatever works for us. You don’t have to do what you’ve always done if it doesn’t serve you, and there’s always the opportunity to choose something else.

We are social creatures The temptation to get sucked into a relationship at the sacrifice of all else is one that many of us succumb to because, you know, it feels good. But, taking the example of multiple relationships into account, we need more than that to function healthily. You might not have other romantic relationships but you have other people to share yourself with.

One person can’t fulfill all your needs This is a maxim so often repeated in polyamorous circles that it’s practically the secret code word to the poly community. It seems obvious when you think about it but it’s sometimes harder to live by than it looks. By forming relationships with more than one person, polyamorists expose themselves to a wide variety of influences. This is possible in a monogamous relationship too, by fostering relationships outside your romantic partner. Don’t get too hung up on the roles in your life your partner can’t fulfill. Maybe there’s an overlooked friend who fits that role perfectly.

Your self-worth doesn’t depend on your partner It can be so easy to fall into the habit of seeing yourself through your partner’s eyes. When this is taken to its furthest point, it becomes an unhealthy codependency in which your life is determined by what your partner thinks of you (or what you think they think). It’s much more difficult to fall into this trap when you have more than one partner and your independence is more apparent. Monogamous couples would do well to remember their independence and their worth outside of their relationships. Practicing self-care, spending time alone and having separate friends and hobbies can be a great way to balance the influence of a partner and invest in your first love: yourself.

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