1. Why do you believe what you believe? What would change your mind?
You often hear people say things like “one year of Spanish taught me more about English than 10 years of English classes.” I believe polyamory is superior to monogamy because it promotes this kind of learning. If you care about your relationships, you can improve them by exploring other ones!
Like most everyone else, I was brought up to revere monogamy. Stability is good, growing up with just one parent is difficult, yada yada yada. But assumptions ought to be examined.
First of all, polyamory doesn’t imply instability or kid-unfriendliness. Many poly relationships last for decades! And isn’t having a small community of people that care about each other exactly what traditionalists say they want for children?
Second of all, monogamy doesn’t imply stability or kid-friendliness. In some poor communities (think Appalachia or parts of Chicago), the default relationship style is basically “serial monogamy.” But polyamory’s opponents rarely extol the virtues of such places.
What would change my mind: a lot of people trying polyamory and then switching back to monogamy of their own accord.
2. A monogamous person has a crush on someone other than their partner. In a healthy relationship, what would happen next?
This question illustrates the fragility of monogamous relationships. If one partner develops a crush – the most natural thing in the world – many would no longer consider the relationship “healthy!” Let’s call the monogamous person A, their partner B, and the target of A’s crush C.
What usually happens: A endures psychic torture for weeks, months or years, whether they act on their desire or not. There is either skulking around and self-loathing, or low-level heartbreak and similar self-loathing.
What should happen: A lets B know what’s going on. B gives enthusiastic consent for the crush to be explored. A and B agree on terms and conditions, e.g. regarding discretion, STI prevention, contraceptives. A pursues the relationship with C. In doing so, A becomes a better partner for B.
This is barely polyamory at all, but it’s certainly more “healthy” than the monogamy-approved alternative.
3. What would happen if 90% of people in a society were polyamorous?
Let’s compare a society with 90% monogamy to an alternate world where the same society has 90% polyamory. I think they would be about the same in the long run.
I don’t think things would be very different overall because by assumption it’s the same people in both scenarios. In the majority-poly world those people might be a bit more relaxed, a bit less insecure about relationships, a bit less prone to domestic conflict. But overall I think they’d feel like polyamory was natural and sort of boring.
And that’s what we ought to want! Polyamory isn’t a program for achieving utopia. It’s a program for being less hung up about relationships, having better partnerships, and not accepting society’s default assumptions uncritically. Let’s realize those benefits!