Does Monogamy Create Insecurity? Does Polyamory?
This is in response to a friend who posted a link about whether monogamy makes us insecure. Great question. Short answer: no. Here’s where I go with it:
Monogamy doesn’t “make” us insecure. Opening a relationship, or polyamory, doesn’t, either. We experience insecurity, because we want to attach to an idea of security, certainty, guaranteed outcome. No relationship model can cure us of that; only the practice of loving differently. Loving ourselves, and others, without attempting to control outcome. Becoming love, rather than hoping, manipulating, working, to receive love from some outside source.
Any relationship model can become a deep path to love, intimacy, and spiritual growth… IF it is chosen intentionally, and if choices and agreements made within it, are chosen consciously. Where monogamy – and polyamory, and anything else – gets us in trouble, is when we have a set of unspoken, unexamined expectations for what that thing means.
Some of the insecurity we experience, comes from these places where my unspoken expectations, and yours, don’t match up. I’m surprised by something you do, because it doesn’t fit into the rules I had tucked away in my head about how you’re supposed to behave. And, I may be assuming that I have a say over your behavior, your choices, your body, because we are in relationship and we are in love and therefore that means… that you never, ever desire anyone else. That you tell me everything you’re doing, all the time. That you should be endlessly available to me, whenever I want. That you will have dinner with me every night for the rest of your life. Etc.
In my life, my work as a coach and teacher, and my practice, I am in a continual practice of looking for unspoken agreements. Unexamined expectations. Unearthing those, and then bringing them into the light so we actually can choose how we want to be with each other, as sovereign, conscious beings with choice.
I come from this place: I own my body. Fully. I own my time. I own my heart, and my resources (energy, money, presence). You own yours! Fully! And, I own my feelings. You don’t create them, in me. You are not responsible for them.
If we are in loving, committed, long-term relationship, that still remains true. I am never entitled to your body, your time, your presence. Nor you, to mine. It is a gift. Every. Single. Moment. And: there is a third thing, this relationship we are creating together. Which we are each choosing to create, moment to moment, year after year, whether we are actively engaged with one another, or distantly in connection and in relationship through memory, thought, and feelings.
What this means for me, is that because I know that I have choice, and that you have choice, I continually come from a place of gratitude. Every interaction is a gift! A place of choosing. I can release this urge to feel secure through owning. Through attempting to control. And because I am a sovereign, conscious being with choice, I own my feelings. I own my own shadows. I honor that you own yours, and I trust you to deal with them your own way.
It’s a game changer, whether you choose polyamory, openness, monogamy, or any other relationship model.
“Jealousy” and insecurity become my teachers. They show me the places I don’t yet live myself fully.
Monogamy is not a guarantee of endless security, happily ever after, never feeling jealous or insecure. Neither is poly! Neither is life. And yet, I can choose commitment, trust, connection, deep intimacy… knowing that insecurity come right along with that. Because I’m human. I have shadows, I have places in my psyche and my body that remain unexamined, unloved. Including, fear of loss. That is the greatest source of our “insecurity.”
My “security” in the face of insecurity, in the face of the unknown, lies in knowing that I AM love. I can’t lose it. I am always connected, I always belong. I can share that being love, with you, and you with me. We can express it with these beautiful, strong, soft, fragile, quirky, unique mammal bodies that we as humans get to inhabit. We can explore erotiic expression, together. We can create pleasure together, and joy, and release, and delight. We can ask for what we want! We can choose to spend time apart! With other people! Whom we may or may not ALSO love – intimately, romantically, familially, or otherwise. And we can choose to then come back together. In gratitude. Bringing the gift of our presence. Knowing that we are choosing in this moment, and that is all we really have.
Because, even with the best of relationship agreements, there is this: Eeery relationship we ever have, will “end.” It will transition, whether through death or life or circumstance.
We can ignore this, we can be in denial… for a time. Or, we can feel it, know it, dance with it, play with it, and choose. Choose to speak out loud what it is that we want, whether nor not it looks like what our culture wants us to want. Make agreements based on what each of us truly wants, and not on other people’s expectations or ideals for us. Choose to love freely, openly, in this moment. And over time, to choose each other again. And again. And again. Whether that is monogamy or polyamory, with one partner, or more than one, or many. Regardless of what name we put to how we love.
It’s a beautiful dream, “security.” It’s hard to let go of it, but it is the only path that allows for change, and change allows growth, expansion, possibility. When we can learn to be in this place of openness, of not knowing, then the parts of us that tell us stories about” insecurity,” become our greatest guides and our greatest partners in this great dance with the Unknown.
All that sounds great, Anne… but how do I learn how to DO that?