Monogamy or Polyamory? A hot topic, and one that is contested with religious fervour.
In fact, monogamy and marriage do indeed have their roots in religion. Being in an exclusive relationship and a marriage is a central tenet of most monotheistic religions. Hence, it’s no wonder that any relationship that operates outside of monogamy is aggressively protested against by those of a religious orientation.
What is more surprising is the indignation that many who see themselves as ‘poly’ have for monogamous relationships, and their strong identification with polyamory and it’s belief system. It may sound a bit over-the-top to talk about polyamory having a belief system, but among many this is certainly the case.
This belief system typically includes the ideas that all monogamy is rooted in fear, jealousy and the need to control, and is therefore less ‘evolved’ as a form of relationship. It also includes the idea that monogamy is restrictive and limiting in ways that polyamory isn’t.
Of course, we can look at countless relationships in the public eye, or even within the relationships of our own friendship circles, to see that these ideas aren’t without any founding. Our society and it’s relationships are plagued by fear, jealousy and the need to control, and the vast majority of these relationships are monogamous.
Less prominent are polyamorous relationships, and as a consequence less problems are visible. To most, polyamorous relationships are unheard of.
If you ever hear about polyamorous relationships from a ‘poly’ advocate they will sound like the most glorious, spiritually open and fulfilling relationships. You’ll be preached to in much the same way as a priest would acclaim the virtues of marriage.
From my perspective, as someone who has been in many polyamorous relationships and is now enjoying the fruits of what monogamy has to offer, and as someone who has many friends in the ‘poly’ camp, I feel I have a fairly grounded perspective on the topic.
I believe in neither monogamy nor polyamory absolutely. I am religious about neither.
I also believe one or the other may be more or less natural for different people, and that this can change over different periods of your lifespan. I’m also very much open to the possibility that I might switch camps again, as I have in the past, and I’m okay with that possibility too.
In fact, within my current relationship we’ve had open discussions about exploring polyamory, but ultimately came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t facilitate a deeper connection between us at this time, nor would it make us feel any more free.
Actually, it is this concept of freedom that I’d really like to discuss.
Freedom is one of the primary things that ‘poly’ advocates evangelise about, and, at least on a surface level, polyamory does seem more free. After all, you can see and have sex with whoever you want, whenever you want!
What could be freer than that?
Allow me to divulge into how polyamory might not be the option that embodies the most freedom for you, particularly if you are part and parcel of the men’s self-development movement, which, if you’re reading this, you probably are!
You see, my personal experience of polyamory was one of vastly less freedom than what I experience now. I don’t regret it at all (other than a few of the hearts I broke along the way). In fact, it helped me to grow and be unashamed about my sexuality. It’s just that, I became consumed by it.
I became consumed by it in much the same way I see others consumed by it now.
I have many friends working in or learning to grow within the men’s self-development movement, which has a strong leaning toward polyamorous relationships, and often a very skewed version of polyamory. Consciously or unconsciously they have come to be identified with the ideals and morals associated with that world, just as I did.
Some of those ideals being that you mustn’t succumb to monogamy for that would be succumbing to what society wants, that monogamy is a construct that is fundamentally misaligned with our evolutionary past, and that you must act on your desires consistently and without failure.
The problem is of course that if you strongly attach and identify with this set of beliefs and morals, you become boxed in. You cannot operate outside it, in much the same way as a religious person becomes boxed into living in accordance with their religious ideology.
Just as if you attach and identify yourself to Islam you must pray 5 times a day, must fast during Ramadan, must give to charity, and must complete a pilgrimage to Mecca, so must you live up to the ideals of the world of polyamory and the men’s self-development movement if you attach and identify yourself here.
What this means practically is that you must resist the desire to give all of yourself to one woman, even if it feels right, and you must always pursue your sexual desires without fail with every woman you have an attraction for.
Now, having found myself in this predicament in my mid-twenties I can tell you that what started out as something that felt liberating, fun and exciting, soon became a prison sentence.
I can’t begin to tell you how difficult, time consuming and energy sapping it was to pursue every woman I felt a strong attraction to. God knows that there aren’t enough hours in the day for that!
And resisting the temptation to put too many of my eggs in one basket and spend more of my time with one woman proved just as taxing. It felt like I was often swimming against the tide of my emotion, drowning in my own resistance.
You may think that I was a unique case but I assure you I wasn’t. I see this same pattern play out time and again in the men’s self-development movement. Deeper connections are forgone again and again in favour the next sexual exploit. Men become so lost in the concepts that they dissociate from the depth of their emotions.
And what’s worse, ego becomes involved!
Sadly, it’s pretty much impossible for most men to engage in a huge number of sexual exploits without the ego creeping in the back door and feeling overly satisfied with a series of experiences that are largely meaningless.
I noticed this first in myself when I was in midst of having sex with a beautiful woman, and a thought popped into my head about telling a friend about it. At this point I caught myself, and realised something was really, really wrong.
During one of the peak experiences I am capable of having as a human being, an intimate, sensual moment of deep connection, I was busy thinking about bragging to my friends. Something wasn’t right!
Upon recognising this I decided to become celibate for a year to wash myself clean of the identification with someone who had a lot of sexual adventures, and all the bragging that went along with it. This was a difficult experience but it was valuable, it dissolved this identification and everything that surrounded it.
Unfortunately, most who find themselves in this position won’t have the fortitude to turn back. They’ve traveled so far down the road of ego gratification they probably couldn’t even find their way home if they tried.
In recent times, upon bumping into guys involved in the men’s self-development movement, I’ve been bombarded with photo’s of sexual exploits. In these cases, it’s more that just a momentary thought that’s distracting them from the depth of a sexual encounter, it’s the need to pull out their phone, turn on the camera and take masses of photos with the specific intention of showing them off to other men.
And so, here is the final nail in the coffin of limiting one’s freedom; the attachment to bragging about your accomplishments and painting the picture of yourself as a man who is riding the wave of his sexual desires. This in itself is another tax on ones energy and freedom, the necessity to show yourself to be important or different somehow.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying polyamory has to be like this. I’m just saying for many men, it is.
And of course, take this with a pinch of salt since my perspective is inevitably skewed by those I’ve become associated with, those being guys within the world of men’s self-development. Perhaps in the world of tantra things are much different (though I’ve also heard a couple of horror stories from that camp too).
The point being, the freedom that polyamory supposedly provides can often turn out to be a ball and chain. And, in contrast, the connection I currently have with my monogamous relationship, is, in my experience, much more free.
Nothing is repressed or restricted, I appreciate each and every woman I come across in my day-to-day life for the beauty they have. We may even exchange some words and energy and even attraction, but I am liberated from the need to make it into more than that. The constant chase has been laid to rest.
All my sexual needs are met by my girlfriend, and the sex is as fresh as it was almost three years ago when we first met. It may be the same woman I have sex with time and again, but the sex changes again and again with the changing tide and flow of our relationship. In fact, the sex now is unrecognisable from the sex when we first met, orders of magnitude better!
Maybe one day I’ll want more. As I say I’m open to the possibility, but right now I’m about as satisfied as I can possibly be. What’s more, my strongest desire is being met, that being the desire for deep, deep connection.
In all my years invested in polyamory I never managed to experience a connection even close to the depth of what I experience now. Maybe that’s just by chance, maybe it is possible to do so. I wouldn’t argue against it. But in my personal experience this is the deepest connection I’ve ever had, by a long way, and I got their through monogamy.
What does all this mean for me now?
It means I have more time on my hands… much, much more!
It means I have more energy, my cognitive bandwidth is not constantly stretched by the possibilities of pursuing every woman under the sun.
It means I have more freedom!
What I have chosen to do with that freedom is to invest time in all the other important areas of my life; my work life, my business, my purpose, my passions, my family relations, my personal development. All of the areas that came to be stagnant when I was chasing one woman after another.
I see this in others too, guys who have cultivated the ability to charm the pants off a nun from a 100 yards but can’t even hold down a job, still live with their parents and have nothing else going on in their lives. The fear of placing all their efforts in one relationship has been superseded by the willingness to place all of their efforts in multiple sexual exploits, leaving no time for much else.
This isn’t freedom! It’s enslavement masquerading as freedom.
Rather than tie yourself down to one particular belief system or one particular ideology, be open to every possibility.
Be open to the possibility of giving yourself to every sexual opportunity available. And be open to the possibility of giving all of your heart to just one person, and not more.
Neither is better or worse, or right or wrong.
There is only what’s best for you in this moment of your life. And in order to discover what is best for you in this moment you must be open to every possibility and rigidly attached to none.
The rigid attachment to one belief system is incarceration.
The openness to every possibility is freedom.
Want to get your dating life handled?Sebastian Callow is a personal dating coach for men in London. Unlike other dating services he provides a practical, real-life coaching experience that actually involves meeting and interacting with women in everyday situations. Sebastian helps men develop the comfort and ease to express themselves with raw honesty. If you're unhappy with your dating life and you're hungry for change, the Personal Coaching Course could be exactly what you need.