Holding Hands

Challenging the idea of 'The One'

Our society points us towards monogamy in many overt, and many more subtle ways. Whether it’s on television, advertisements on the side of buses, or government policy, we’re taught how a relationship is meant to look. And then through childhood, teenage years and adulthood, we emulate it.

When we’re growing up, we’re often read fairy tales about princes and princesses; monogamous couples, who are destined to be together. These stories don’t change as we get older. Whatever forms of media you’re consuming, whether its television, film or literature, you will overwhelmingly consume monogamous narratives. Just as lesbian and gay representation in the media has only recently become normalised, and transgender representation still has a long way to go, non-monogamous representation is almost non-existent in mainstream media.

Marriage, although our relationship to it has changed drastically over the last hundred years, remains an integral part of romantic relationships. There is an expectation of marriage, even in relationships where neither person is religious. For couples with children, the benefits of marriage increase further still. Society, our media and our government are all fairly invested in each of us finding ‘the One’.

Non-monogamy doesn’t fit neatly into any of these narratives. You’ll find no polyamorous picture books at your local library, no television shows for teenagers normalising alternative relationship models. When swingers, poly folk and people in open relationships are given representation in the media, they’re often discussed derisively - and the majority of the myths we’ve busted tend to be used against them.

Keeping all of this in mind, its unsurprising that challenging monogamy, and the idea of your ‘one true love’ is difficult - everything around you is telling you the opposite! Getting your head around the idea that there doesn’t need to be one person for you can be very jarring, but it can also be incredibly liberating. We have an awful lot of expectations of our partners; they have to be able to meet all of our romantic, emotional and sexual needs, as we must be able to do for them. Part of non-monogamy is recognising that these expectations are slightly unrealistic.

Imagine only having a single friend that you could confide in and spend time with, and every time you came across a new person you wanted to hang out with you had to wave goodbye to the old one. For non-monogamous folk, the idea of having a single romantic or sexual partner may be just as odd as having a single platonic friend. It may not be practical for your partner to have to meet all of your needs and desires, and it’s not fair that you have to throw in the towel if they don’t get a full house.

Non-monogamy recognises that we are all complex, diverse individuals with rich internal lives. It recognises that finding a single person to ‘complete us’ is unrealistic, and that every relationship should be able to progress in any way the people involved choose it too. Polyamory is about allowing your partner the freedom to explore romantic and sexual relationships with other people, knowing that your love and commitment is shown through what you do, not what you deny yourselves. With swinging and open relationships, you allow your partner the freedom to have sex outside your relationship, knowing that your commitment isn’t shown through sexual fidelity.

Isn't this just cheating? Consensual and non-consensual non-monogamy