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 polyamours 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 18 months of conscious celibacy, where my energy and focus was fully and completely on my relationship to the Divine.
But always on this path, I have known deep down inside that there is a 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.
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, and I believe in Soul Mates. 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 sexually intimate relationships 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 and trust the other person.
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, 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 polyamorous 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!
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 the 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 those moments, 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 polyamory.
As someone well articulated in a discussion group on poly vs mono said: "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 say— "Women 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.