A facebook post on polyamory vs monogamy got me thinking about my seemingly unquenchable thirst for deep intimacy and committed partnership. The thread began... "If you can't do monogamy well, then you're probably not equipped to do polyamory well."
For a few days this thread would not leave my stream of consciousness, I revisited people's sharing a number of times, wondering for myself "What is it about monogamy being called out as unnatural that triggers me so much? And why can't I seem to do any relationship well?"
I am single, heterosexual, and identify as monogamous, though for the past decade only two of my relationships made it past the 3 month mark, and neither of those were intact by the 6 month mark.
A familiar inner dialogue ensued... I wondered— "What's wrong with me? Am I just not enlightened enough to understand the benefits of polyamory and are my traditional values nothing more than childhood imprinting?"
"Am I spiritually stunted in this arena?" I can't fathom being happy in a poly relationship and I haven't managed a long term satisfying monogamous relationship, either.
So what's up with that?
In truth, I've spent the last decade dedicated to my Spiritual Path, self awakening, and being in service to others. I recently ended 15 months of conscious celibacy, where my energy and focus was fully and completely on my relationship with the Divine.
But always on this path, I have known deep inside that there is longing to be in Spiritual and intimate romantic partnership with another. You could say I am motivated in my work in the world by my desire to know and understand love, fully and completely as a spiritual being having a human experience.
I have loved many, though I believe I have only been in love once— perhaps this makes me polyamorous? I don't know, there are so many criteria and definitions and boundaries, or lack thereof, in our modern "conscious" world that I find myself being utterly confused and sometimes... triggered.
I identify as straight and monogamous, and I am a lover of all people. I am an advocate for all genders, and all human beings to be fully expressed in their true essence no matter what sexual orientation, gender, pangender, or where they fall on the spectrum of human desire and experience.
Pangender (and Omnigender) is a non-binary gender experience which refers to a wide multiplicity of genders that can stretch to the infinite. Meaning that this experience can go beyond the current knowledge of genders.
I believe that's what this debate is all about. The spectrum of human desire and knowing one's own Spiritual Truth.
I know that since this relationship trigger has been popping up a lot lately, I have an opportunity to learn something about myself and my emotions and grow beyond what is blocking me from aligning with my desire.
I believe that our internal desires and longings are the signposts that help to guide us to fulfill our unique destiny and life purpose in this lifetime.
However, this does not mean we will have all of our heart's desires met upon demand. And this does not mean that we should not strive and go beyond our comfort zones because the thing we desire is unattainable. No, we should strive and hope and aim for peace, clean water, healthy work life balance, sustainable economies, and accessible health care for all.
And a spiritually fulfilling, emotionally intimate, and wholly *holy* committed relationship. In whatever form that serves your highest good.
Oddly being told that monogamy is unnatural, and that we should give up on this romantic ideal, helped me to solidify in my personal life experience, that conscious monogamy is in fact exactly what I choose and desire...
I am single, I believe in Soul Mates, and I believe in more than one Soul Mate. I believe each of us has an individual reason for being alive. Our desires are meant for us in this lifetime. Sometimes my seemingly more traditional beliefs are not very popular, especially amongst the "spiritually evolved" lifestyle set and so in the past this debate has lead me to doubt my own knowing.
For me, I am unable to achieve intimacy without an emotional bond with my partner, and a commitment of loyalty and fidelity.
That's not to say I haven't had one or two one night stands or attempted casual hookups along the way...
But I have learned that I can only do what feels right for me, and causal relationships don't— even when other people project their own feelings and insecurities on my desires. The romantic world is difficult to navigate, no matter how you feel or don't feel about sex, so the best thing you can do for yourself is trust yourself. I understand that it is my chemical and emotional makeup along with some earlier traumatic imprinting and physical wounding that makes it necessary for me to have a certain level of trust and loyalty to let my guard down and let someone in. In short, to have an orgasm, I must be emotionally connected.
I've just learned that some people call this demisexual— meaning I am only turned on when there is an emotional connection. I cannot have an orgasm when I don't have a sense of security, trust, and that established emotional connection with the other.
A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.
In investigating the definition of demisexual a bit further, it is considered to be on the scale of asexuality, and although I do not identify with this, I would identify as being a very sexual person, with a healthy liabido, yet I have harbored a lot of shame around my desires to have a "traditional" monogamous committed relationship, gasp, even long term partnership... I have feared that this makes me less enlightened or stunted in my spiritual consciousness— because I get attached in relationship to my partner and for me there becomes only One.
What do poly people understand that I do not?
When talking about relationships, and people start to go down the "monogamy is not natural" line of belief, I get a sensation of wanting to gather my skirts and RUN. Duck, protect and cover, and runnnnn for the hills!
Especially if the person that is explaining to me "how monogamy is a culturally imposed belief system that keeps us from expressing our true nature" is someone that I find attractive and interesting.
If monogamy is so unnatural— then why is it that I want to experience it so much?!
I long to be fully received and profoundly known by another. This has been a guiding light shining my way on my Spiritual Path.
Once, for a moment, after being told by my lover that he was sleeping with another woman and that he was polyamorous, I contemplated whether I could be poly too.
I had not consented to being in a polyamorous relationship, I had, however, by default consented to a sexual relationship without a commitment of fidelity. Truthfully, that situation left me feeling betrayed and rejected. And then I became ashamed that I wasn't spiritually advanced enough to understand how sharing my lover with another woman or another man could actually bring me greater satisfaction and intimacy?
It seemed to me, from my point of view, I wasn't getting all I wanted from my lover in the first place, so how could he possibly give more to two or three or four of us?
In that moment, I contemplated whether or not I could be polyamorous. And immediately my answer was No. I'm just not wired that way.
I can imagine that some people are just not wired for monogamy, either. As much as I am not built for poly.
As someone well articulated in a discussion group on poly vs mono: "Some people who are naturally monogamous, aren’t good at it, and some are. Some people who are naturally polyamorous aren’t good at it, and some are. The same principles that make ANY relationships work well transcend relationship type: honesty, transparency, humility, vulnerability, knowledge of self, and emotional literacy – all these are healthy, natural things."
I have had many lovers, and many lovers outside the realm of a committed relationship, and some have had tremendous impact on my life and the person that I am today. A few lovers have been no less than my Spiritual Soul Mates, in that we powerfully and irrevocably changed the course of each other's lives for the good, and remain Spiritual Catalysts in each other's lives and friends to this day. But we are no longer lovers. I haven't figured out how to be lovers and not committed solely to that person.
As a demisexual person I still feel primary sexual attraction to strangers— but it's fleeting. And when pursued or I actively pursue one of these fleeting moments of attraction, the attraction seems to disappear almost immediately.
On the flip side, I have found myself very confused by my friendships with men. I tend to "fall into bed" with every man with whom I feel an emotional bond, or when we are actively cultivating an emotionally intelligent reciprocal relationship— even if based in friendship. Most, if not all, of my unrequited love affairs have been born from this emotional connection, coupled with the physiological attachment that happens when a person makes love with another human being.
Oxytocin is a chemical released in both men and women after we have sex, it is called the “attachment molecule". In the context of casual sex, oxytocin can create a sense of attachment to someone we don't really know that well.
I would be so bold as to say that most of us cannot have casual sex.
This is an incredibly unpopular viewpoint, when I speak it, both to men and to women. Nevertheless, I encounter this energetic and physiological reality time and time again in my own personal relationships and also of those of the people I work with on an individual basis. I would argue that when two people come together, especially in an intimate exchange, there is an energetic cord or energetic bond that is created between the two people that remains even after we are physically separated by space and time.
A few of the men I've had this conversation with, will like to argue with me, that they've had multiple partners who wanted nothing but casual encounters, and that's how most of their girlfriends started out this way— casual.
"Ah ha! That just proves my point", I would say— "We bond when we have sex, the more sex we have with a person the stronger the bond, even if we don't understand why we feel this way!"
I don't know all women, but if your ex-girlfriend were my friend and we were having the same conversation I would caution her that she may be fooling herself into believing that she is capable of having a casual sexual relationship without any emotional attachment. Due to our chemical make up, our physical receiving of another, and most likely because of our past traumas we may have created emotional blocks that we believe prevent us from emotional bonding, but in reality, our physiological and spiritual makeup does not protect us from attachment when we have sex.
No matter how guarded or unattached you may believe yourself to be, we must consider the physiological, energetic, and emotional bonding that is happening while having sex— with anyone.
To say women cannot partake in casual sex, if they so choose to do so, would be disempowering. My hope in sharing my experiences so openly with you is the opposite. I hope that sharing my emotions, doubts, desires, and sexual feelings helps to empower you to get clear on how you feel and what it is that you desire— male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, transgender, queer, poly or mono.
We can't empower ourselves without understanding ourselves first. And we can't understand ourselves if we aren't being honest with ourselves, first.
Avoiding, repressing or denying the fact that we are, biologically, emotional feeling creatures does not help. The only way to integrate and feel free to express ourselves and our emotions is by becoming aware of them and uncovering what these desires and emotions are trying to tell us about ourselves.
Monogamy is normal, but not natural. It is the cultural norm, with centuries of assumptions and confirmation bias backing it up, and it may seem like sacrilege to say that it is unnatural, but then again it was once sacrilege to say that the earth revolved around the sun instead of the other way around.
This doesn’t mean that humans cannot be or should not be monogamous, because:
Humans are not limited by their nature.
We, with our potential access to greater consciousness, self-reflection and will, are able to adapt, abstract, resist, and reprogram our nature. As humans, it is our nature to embrace our nature, and also to rise above it. Not to leave it behind, but to both transcend and include it.
Arguably, polyamory requires a lot more “work” than monogamy. It’s logistically more challenging managing multiple relationships—there are only so many hours in a week. With more people, there are more emotions, more stories and needs and personalities to address, so there is more learning and personal development required.
But if monogamy is so much simpler than polyamory, why does it feel like so much work? Shouldn’t one relationship be easier than two or more? In my experience, monogamy is hard in a way that polyamory is easy.
Monogamy is more advanced than polyamory.
Now, before the polyamory camp gets offended and the monogamy camp gets righteous, I’m about to reverse the offense:
Monogamy is more advanced than polyamory, because monogamy is less natural than polyamory.
Nature, as I’m using the word here, is what happens of its own accord. Our human nature is what happens when we are connected with our inherent well-being, free of habitual patterns, emotional wounds, limiting beliefs, societal conditioning, and oppression. Obviously none of us are living 100 percent within our nature, but the more we see it, the easier it is to gravitate back toward it.
Secure attachment is natural. Anxious and avoidant attachment is unnatural.
How most people practice monogamy is a form of anxious attachment, using monogamy to “fix” their fears, to “get” love and support from the outside because they don’t think they are whole on the inside. Unconscious monogamy is based on expectations instead of agreements. It lacks the distinctions and positivity and naturalness of polyamory. It is focused on security instead of possibility.
A Polyamorist View of Monogamy by Michael McDonald
That’s not to say we’ll all end up polyamorous one day. Monogamy, when chosen consciously, is an extraordinary expression of love and completeness—it’s just that it’s often not chosen consciously.
Conscious monogamy is where both the natural and the unnatural aspects of monogamy are embraced. Conscious monogamy is a consciously chosen and co-created relationship structure, a container, to encourage more personal and relational growth.
Conscious monogamy is a long-term transformational workshop.
In my own exploration of self healing past sexual traumas and unwinding the attachment issues of imprinting and family, I know that in my relationships I require a container of trust and loyalty and mutual commitment, exploring poly/open sexual relationships can cause my earlier wounds to be restimulated. This is my truth, and to deny it or repress it, or to make it wrong, or try to change it for another would be doing myself a disservice as well as any potential partner. In other words, I would be lying to myself and my potential partner. I think we can all agree that starting off a relationship in a lie is a bad place to start.
If my truth is a deal breaker best to know it upfront rather than get entangled in the energetic and emotional cords that happen when the "attachment molecule" becomes involved. :)
My primary loving relationship is to myself and my relationship to Creator. I would want nothing less for my partner and my lover to have his own primary loving relationship with himself and his Creator. From that place of pure love, I believe it is possible to experience an even greater depth of intimacy with each other.
But I had to get clear on that. I had to get clear on me. I had to do the Inner Work, first!
Loving oneself equals knowing oneself... knowing oneself equals loving oneself... and from that place of wholeness and love, we can experience, give and receive love from another... and that is my Spiritual Truth...
If you find yourself repeating self defeating patterns time and time again... it is time to do the INNER WORK!!! Educate yourself on secure, anxious, and avoidant attachment styles... this is important.
A few final words on polyamory, monogamy, and my Spiritual Truth... it seems to me.... there is a spectrum, a full rainbow of light and depth of the human experience. We each have our unique desires within us that serve a purpose, and our "life purpose" is to BE this, live this desire, and express our unique light, color, and calling.
But first we must be honest with ourselves. We must get clear on how we feel and what we want, and then not be afraid to want what we want and ask to be fully and completely received and fulfilled by the Universe.
- Some people are, naturally monogamous
- Some people are, not naturally monogamous
- Some people are, inclined toward some form of open relationship
- Some people are, naturally hardwired polyamorous
- Some people are not inclined one way or the other, and could quite happily be either poly or mono depending on a partner, and for them it’s not hardwired, it is actually a lifestyle choice.
- Be honest with yourself, be honest with those you are in relationship with.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Don't deny what the heart wants, and don't make yourself wrong for what it is that you want.
The desires and longings within you are signposts on the map to guide you to inner fulfillment.
The Soul knows the way.
You are not the culmination of your past deeds, actions, or relationships.
Everyone has free will.
You are powerful, emotions shapes worlds, thoughts become things.
And if you no longer want to be in your marriage— time to speak it.
And if you are in love with your best friend — time to show her.
And if you are afraid to love — time to ask for help.
And if you are afraid of who you are — time to get to know you.
And if you no longer enjoy the work you are doing in the world — time to change it.
And if you don't know what your purpose is on this earth — time to seek it.
And if you are ready to know your worth — time to claim it.
And if you long for freedom — time to own it.
And if you want to be whole — time to be it.
With so much love in my heart,
My writing is a reflection of my inner world and my opinions... I expect you have a multicolored rainbow inside of you too, wanting to be expressed. I reserve the right to change my mind, as I explore and evolve and would expect and respect nothing less from anyone else... :)
May love and blessings abound on your truthful path. With love, Chloë
There are many energy medicine and healing techniques that can help you get clear and powerful in your own energy, and that can be used to help free yourself from limiting patterns, and overcome attachments that keep you stuck or in fear.
Although you can learn the basics of energy medicine on your own, if you, or someone you know if feeling stuck and hopeless to make changes, or is battling with anxiety, and you are interested in learning more about energy medicine you can book an appointment with Chloë → here.
She is a professionally trained Energy Medicine Practitioner, Master Life Coach & an Initiate of the Pampamesayok Lineage of Andean Energy Medicine, and certified Shamanic Practitioner of Native American Healing Arts. As well as trained in multiple energy healing modalities, such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and bioenergy healing, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing), and several other alternative medicine techniques for self healing and personal growth. She has received Yoga Instructor & Meditation Instructor certifications. Chloë offers one-on-one coaching programs, long distance healing sessions, and shamanic workshops and classes throughout the year, please join the newsletter to receive free tips and tools for your personal growth, and announcements and details on classes and spiritual retreats throughout the year.
photo above by MARIJA MANDIC