October 2017
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polyamory vs. cheating


... the post you've all been waiting for! ;-)

When sexually cheating on a partner is a repeated behavior, I have sympathy only for the one cheated on, as I see the cheater as a liar. But the one-time-slip-up kind of cheating? Part of me finds it horrible and destructive and selfish, but a large part of me feels intense sympathy for the cheater. Maybe this is because I've had so many dreams about 'accidentally' cheating on Ben, because (in dream reality) I forgot I was with him. I know this isn't logical in real life, but my subconscious says that there is a kind of insanity, a kind of drug-rush, that can happen in almost the same way. Like a person dying of thirst might kill someone for water, no matter how much of a pacifist they might be. Don't get me wrong -- I still think it is a horrible thing to do, and not permissible or excusable in any way -- I just... feel for both parties. Especially when the cheater genuinely loved the person they cheated on.

I used to be absolutely petrified that I would accidentally cheat on Ben, or that someone might mistake me for having cheated. I could just see how that would crush him -- how I would have broken every line of trust, made every act of love seem like a lie. And I didn't even have a desire to cheat! For half the time I was having the dreams of 'accidentally' cheating, I didn't even have much of a sex drive, and certainly didn't know anyone nearby that I would even want to have sex with. I think that my subconscious was trying to tell me that I was not meant to be monogamous, and that fact was a time bomb in the structure of my relationship. Not that I would be 'forced' to cheat or any such ridiculous thing, but that if I fell in love with another person, it would have the potential to be destructive to my relationship rather than beautifully creative -- because the structure of my relationship made it so.

Some people have the mistaken concept that polyamory means cheating when nobody is allowed to get mad about it. Not so! Cheating breaks a polyamorous relationship just as it breaks a monogamous one. Cheating is promising a person something and then not giving it; in monogamy, it means telling a person that you won't share sex with anyone else, and then doing it anyway and turning your promise into a lie. Cheating hurts because it breaks trust, because it is the biggest lie you can tell. Cheating is breaking the rules, whichever those are. Monogamy and polyamory have different rules, and make different promises. It is just as possible to cheat in a polyamorous relationship! For instance, Ben and I have the promise that we will get the other person's approval before embarking on any romantic relationship, because we trust each other to have the wisdom and generosity to help us choose the right people. If we were to have an additional romantic relationship WITHOUT getting approval from the other, that would be breaking the rules of our relationship and cheating.

Some believe that cheating hurts because an individual only has 100 points of love they can give at a time, and if they give to two people then each person only gets 50 instead of 100 -- less than they deserve, less than they can live on. But love doesn't work like that! It's not measurable or divisible. When you give love back and forth it increases on both sides, it doesn't stay the same amount -- that's the magic of it. And your heart doesn't have role-slots to be filled by specific people -- you can love more than one person with your WHOLE heart. Sometimes one person might be drained or hurting and not have a lot of love to give, but that is true of a monogamous or polyamorous relationship, with one difference: in a polyamorous relationship, the hurting one has more than one lover to pour into them and help them get back on their feet. A person does have limits, but some people have a limit of several partners rather than one.

Because this post is kinda all over the place, have some links to help clarify: a site that answers common questions about / reactions to polyamory & why I am polyamorous.

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Comments
acid_burns ══╣╠══
I have a few things I'd love to share with you but I won't do it in public. Perhaps one day I'll send you an email.

belenen ══╣osculant╠══
I would be honored to read whatever you would like to share, lovey ♥
collectively ══╣White kitty╠══
Nicely done. I particularly like your last paragraph. I've never understood why it's perfectly acceptable to love both your parents, or all of your children, but romantic love is limited to only one person. It simply doesn't make sense!

Thank you for sharing.
belenen ══╣bisexuality╠══
thank YOU for your comment!
mental_jukie ══╣Drug Trip╠══
this post causes any number of thoughts to emerge... the most notable being the historical uses of marriage as a tool of political and socioeconomic progress and allegiance.

The idea of "romantic" love only came into popular culture over the last few hundred years, so of course humanity is conflicted and confused about the process.

I think whatever kind of relationships work for individuals is how they should live. I mean, nothing turns a relationship faster than turning lovers into relatives.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
That's an interesting take! thanks for the comment. ;-)
growing_wise ══╣V for Vendetta :: No certainty only oppo╠══
I'm probably jaded.
I think your definition and explanation of these topics is good ... for you, and for other people who can be honest and true with their hearts and intentions. However, in my experience not everyone is like that. Some people ask for 'open relationships' simply because they aren't happy being monogamous, and want to have their cake and eat it too (so to speak). Some people cheat on their monogamous partner because they aren't fulfilled in their relationship but they don't want to admit it. Some people cheat just for the thrill of doing something 'taboo'. Some people cheat as a way to end the relationship because they don't have the courage to just confront their partner honestly.
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
Re: I'm probably jaded.
don't get me wrong! I think you are quite right about some monogamous cheaters claiming that they are or want to be polyamorous when they do not have the capacity for that, because polyamory REQUIRES openness and honesty about all relationships. And I have no idea why people cheat -- I can imagine some reasons but I am sure there are many more -- all I know is, the desire to cheat is not at all the same as the desire to have multiple honest relationships.

I am not at all saying that people cheat because they are meant for polyamorous relationships. I was afraid it would come across that way because of how I expressed my personal fears during a monogamous relationship, but I assure you that is NOT the case. Cheating is lying and it is never okay or justified in any way. There is always another option.
fionavere ══╣╠══
Good points all, and very well said. I would also add that while one's capacity for love is virtually limitless, one's time and energy is certainly not without limits. That's one way I think many polyamorous people get themselves into trouble so to speak. I don't think there's a magic number of how many partners one can have before it just gets ridiculous as far as time, energy, and scheduling; but I do think there HAS to be a limit as to how many people any one person can be romantically involved with at one time. That limit may not be the same for everyone, for some people it's just one, but there's still a limit nonetheless.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
oh absolutely, every person has a limit, and it is different for each person. ;-)
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
Thanks for this post, it's true that cheating and polyamory are worlds apart. The way I understand polyamory, permission must be sought from all parties and all must be comfortable with the addtional relationship, the nature of it and approve of that extra person or persons. It is NOT cheating where no one is allowed to get mad! Honesty and trust is of huge importance in a polyamorous relationship and that doesn't usually go hand in hand with cheating.

I personally am monogamous because my personality is just not geared toward polyamory. That said, just beecause I chose to only be in a romantic relationship with one person, that doesn't mean that I can't love others with all my heart and have only enough love for one person. I love them just as much as Evan, only differently.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I think that the writer of the site I linked to put it really well:

Many people seem to be naturally inclined, whether by learning or by hard wiring, to need only one person in their life. Such people experience a drive to seek out romantic companionship, but once they have found that romantic companionship, that drive disappears. It's as if the need to seek out intimacy is switched off; the drive is satisfied, and the person is content to settle down with his or her partner.

For other people, this is not the case. People who are poly by nature experience the same drive, the same need to seek out intimacy and romantic relationships, but once such a person has found a partner, that drive is not switched off. A poly person is still driven to seek out intimate romantic relationships.


and I definitely know what you mean about love in non-romantic relationships being with your whole heart also! Monogamy is not about having a scarcity of love and polyamory is not about having an abundance of it -- it's just a different relationship style. ;-)
austentatious ══╣╠══
because an individual only has 100 points of love they can give at a time

I HATE THIS. I've always been a person who feels really strongly about almost EVERYTHING, including my relationships. Other people say that a person only has "one great love" or some sort of specific quantity of love that they can give, and once it's gone, it's gone. I can't think of anything more ridiculous. I've had a great love, and I'll have more, and I absolutely don't believe that I will one day use up love. Love only keeps growing.

belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
AMEN sistah! ;-)
wallbrat ══╣╠══
Very nice. If you were here I'd be bowing to you right now. *grins*
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
hee hee, thank you!
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.