Poly Politics of Cheating

I had a wild revelation recently. I overheard some monogamous people talking: “Oh, everyone cheats. That’s just part of relationships. It’s only a matter of time…” And I had to laugh. In my head, I was thinking, not everyone cheats!

The difference between cheaters and people in open relationships is that we set up our situation so that we don’t have to be called cheaters if we have relations with other people! It’s not cheating IF IT’S ALLOWED.

That’s the smart person’s solution to cheating, and I don’t know why more people don’t think of it. Oh well, I’m not here to force anyone to make relationship decisions about how they use their genitals or how their morals work. But I won’t pretend that the option doesn’t exist for multiple partners and loves to exist together honestly and happily.

Some people have been doing it for years, and that’s always an option to anyone who wants to ask for and negotiate it with anyone in their life that they want to safely share that space with. Some people never imagine opening their intimacy boundaries, and that’s okay if that’s what they want to live with. They have to be careful with every hug and kiss they give, and make sure they don’t cross any boundaries that would get them dumped!

And that brings me to my new revelation: If we can’t cheat on others in polyamory, can we cheat on ourselves?

If so, what would that look like? First, I think it would look like trying to be with more people than we need. It’s easy to get lost in the freedom, and some people certainly are guilty of having eyes bigger than their hearts, and it’s true that some people lie when they don’t have to, just to feel a sense of control bigger than their ego normally knows… and other reasons.

I can’t comprehend all of whys, I just know it’s possible to lie to oneself. I think a lot is people pretend emotions exist for a poly partner that aren’t as deep as they really are, and they are not choosing to say all the feelings presently, to avoid taking responsibility for the burden of the breakdown.

I have definitely been guilty of cheating on myself and lying to myself a few times in polyamory. For the MOST part, I know that I’m a polyamorous person, so if I’m doing that with people, I’m generally being honest about what’s happening between us because I’m NOT trying to be with just one person. I’m not cheating on myself on THAT level—the ground floor!

If there’s no basic, fundamental flaw or lie in your relationship with yourself, then you’re probably okay. And that’s all we can really hope for sometimes!

Addi Stewart

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