Polyamory has been around longer than its moniker, but there are still many myths and misunderstandings about the lifestyle that confuses and keeps people from exploring its possibilities.
Truths and Fallicies of Polyamory
Less than half a percent of the population are poly.
False. Experts estimate that about five percent of people are practicing polyamory today. It’s true that it’s difficult to calculate numbers on a subject that we’re only just beginning to get comfortable with. But that doesn’t mean that there are less than we think—it means AT LEAST five percent, and probably many more.
They used to call polyamory “swinging.”
True and False. Swinging, wife swapping, consensual cuckolding, and open marriages are poly variations, but there are many other poly models and arrangements. It’s an umbrella term that can be anthropological, sociological or academic, as well as one used to let others know we aren’t looking for one-on-one monogamous relationships.
Polyamory is sexist like polygamy.
False. There is zero doubt that some expressions of polyamory are sexist, and there are polygamous cultures where the treatment of women leaves much to be desired.
Many people assume polygamous arrangements—where men have many wives, but the women are faithful to him—are not great for women, but there’s nothing inherently sexist in the practice in and of itself. In many cultures, those wives can’t imagine a world without the support, kinship, and laughter of their sister wives.
It’s worth keeping in mind that origins of polygamous practices culturally often originated from practicality, not misogyny. It wasn’t about excluding women but about caring for them. In warrior societies, there was often a shortage of available men.
The tradition of keeping multiple wives meant every woman could have a man, and sharing him with other women also meant sharing tasks and child-rearing burdens, as well as having companionship if he was away at war. And in places of low population, a man fathering children with more than one wife guaranteed the growth or survival of that community.
Polyamorous people are sexually insatiable.
False. While I unashamedly fall into that category, poly people have the same range as anyone else. It works nicely for people with higher sex drives, but for those who have very low libidos, it affords them the option of being true to themselves without constraining their partner(s) to less sex than they need.
As for most people, the sex drives of poly people shift in different directions throughout a lifetime. What doesn’t change is that non-monogamy fits them philosophically throughout those natural ups and downs.
Polyamory is for selfish people who are afraid of commitment.
False. If you have a fear of commitment or a difficult time honoring commitments, you’re going to have a lot more problems with two or three commitments over just one!
Some poly people are players, or in it for hookups, and that’s fine as long as they are honest.
I don’t see anything wrong with being independent and having an active sex life, but many in the polysphere are in several serious long-term relationships at once. These relationships may include children and mortgages and all the same things relationships involve for everyone else—only more of them.