Dear Dr. Darcy:
I’ve been dating one woman exclusively for the past eight months and as much as I wish this weren’t the case, my eyes are beginning to wonder and I’m realizing that I’m just not meant to be monogamous. I’ve been living a polyamorous lifestyle for my entire adult life knowing that I’m not hardwired to be any other way. My girl thinks that anything short of being monogamous isn’t a relationship and I think she’s narrow-minded. Is it unfair for me to impose my lifestyle on her?
It’s no more unfair for you to impose your lifestyle on her than it is for her to impose hers on you. In this case, however, she did not impose her lifestyle on you because you agreed to be monogamous, unless you agreed to it under duress, which is an entirely different issue.
In a country where the divorce rate hovers at or just above 50 percent depending on the day of the week, who can be blamed for trying out alternative models for relationships? While every relationship is different, the general understanding of polyamory is a relationship in which two people consent to taking additional partners. It’s fine when everyone’s on the same page, but if you’re a would-be polyamorist who finds herself with a monogamist, you can feel like someone’s makeover project insomuch as she’s determined to be the one to change you (yawn). Attention ladies: What you see is what you get.
With support from traditionalists, both gay and straight, mono-gamists can sometimes feel self-righteous in demanding an exclusive commitment, hurling insults and invalidations at those who embark upon a lifestyle that includes other independent variables.
I credit you for your honesty and seeming unwillingness to lie as so many of our hetero-counterparts do. The unfortunate reality of our society is that people generally tend to be more accepting of deceit than of counter-cultures.
Nonetheless, polyamory is not a lifestyle for everyone, and if your partner intuitively knows this, she’s sparing you both heartaches. Stick to your convictions, keep it honest, and if you’re meant to be together, you’ll find each other when you’re “homo-gamous.“
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Dr. Darcy Smith received her Masters degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has been a practicing social worker for over 10 years and is in private practice in both New York City and New Jersey.
*By submitting questions, the writer acknowledges that she has no rights of confidentiality and that her question or a version thereof may be printed in GO Magazine. Correspondence between Dr. Darcy Smith and a writer does not constitute a therapeutic relationship and such a relationship and the rights/privileges associated with such can only be established through a scheduled, in-person session.