1. Why do you believe what you believe? What would change your mind?
Human history is rife with examples of people restricting others’ freedom “for their own good” and causing everyone a lot of grief because of it. This is true with polyamory on both a societal and individual level: everything is designed around monogamous relationships with anything else viewed as “less than”, and then people act surprised and shocked at how many people turn out to just not fit into monogamous culture. A societal standard of monogamy pressures people into relationship styles that don’t suit them, turning their natural feelings into something to be ashamed of, and teaching their partners that any deviation from strict monogamy represents a deep betrayal.
On an individual level, I suppose the most uncomfortable thing about strict monogamy is the pressure to make someone be all things to you, and to be all things to them–forever. You meet someone amazing in most ways, but your libido or fetishes don’t quite match up? Too bad, you either get to be partially unhappy together or split up. They become close friends with an attractive person of a gender they’re interested in? You feel a reflexive urge towards jealousy and insecurity rather than simply being happy for them. So forth. I’ve never been a particularly jealous person, and my interests are eclectic and varied enough that it would be both unfair and unrealistic to expect a single partner to be all things to me, or me to them. Universal monogamy is a forced standard driven by religious puritanism, and my choice to be polyamorous doesn’t hurt the monogamous, while the stigma against polyamory adds tension and misunderstanding to society with no gain.
I don’t expect my mind could be changed on the value of polyamory in my own life. It would take work to convince me that polyamory writ large would be worse than monogamy, since the research I’ve seen indicates no harm in terms of happiness, emotional intimacy, outcomes of children, so forth, but if the body of scientific evidence could be credibly demonstrated to push the other way, I would re-evaluate.
2. Choose one, or more than one if you’re an overachiever. Assume “change relationship styles” is not on the table [Answered: A, B, D, E]:
To be clear, it’s not that I think monogamous relationships are horribly dysfunctional. If a monogamous person had a crush on someone other than their partner, for example, or if their partner suspects they might, I expect that in a healthy relationship they would let each other know, talk it out, reassure the partner of their commitment, and move on without much drama or unpleasantness. But contrast that with polyamory: instead of being a problem to talk through, it becomes a potentially meaningful opportunity to explore. That’s my thing, really: monogamy can work, and work well, but it cuts off options for no good reason.
A lot of drama monogamous people predict with polyamory isn’t really an issue in a healthy relationship, either. Again, communication is key. If my primary hated one of my other partners, I wouldn’t ignore their concerns and aim for self-gratification or some nonsense. We’d talk it through and decide together on a path forward we were both comfortable with. It might mean adjusting some parameters of one or both relationships, or breaking the secondary relationship off if no other healthy resolution presents itself. The important thing is evaluating what’s best for all of us in a candid, respectful way. And say I had a date scheduled with my primary but their secondary had a hospital emergency or similar scenario: look, part of being in a relationship is trusting the other person. If they say something is critical, believe them. My date can wait. I’d say the same if a friend had a similar emergency. I’m not entitled to all my partner’s time, and I’m not going to throw a fit if emergencies come up.
3. What would happen if 90% of people in a society were polyamorous? (You may assume they all practice one style of polyamory, or different styles.)
If 90% of a society was polyamorous, I expect a lot of the weird US puritanism around sex would dissipate, and people would broadly be more comfortable with relationships and sex in general. It’s not like long-term commitments or family structures would disappear. People can still commit to each other out of love without requiring the other to ignore everyone else. Relationships would become more fluid, with less pressure to make everything work or throw it all out. A broader spectrum of closeness in friendships would be the norm, and in particular families would be more likely to have larger and more reliable support networks. It’s hard to predict all the details, but I have to think it would be a significant positive step forward.