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No, Polyamory Is Not A ‘Solution’ To Cheating

No, Polyamory Is Not A ‘Solution’ To Cheating

I’ve been seeing a worrying trend on the internet recently, where people say that anyone who cheats in a monogamous visite aqui relationship “should just be polyamorous”. Worse yet, some seem to think that if everyone were polyamorous, cheating wouldn’t exist. There seem to be a lot of people who conflate polyamory with doing whatever you want. This post aims to address why not all cheaters are “actually polyamorous”.

People cheat for a wide variety of reasons

Not everyone cheats because they’re in love with someone else as well as their partner. There are many reasons why people cheat, and not all of them are rooted in the person being secretly polyamorous. Some people cheat because they’ve fallen out of love with their existing partner and in love with a new one. Some people cheat because they have unmet needs in their relationship. Some people cheat because they fail to resist temptation and excitement when an opportunity arises. Some people even cheat to self-sabotage their relationships due to low self-esteem or fear of commitment. There are too many reasons for cheating for this post to go into (for more information, read Esther Perel’s book ‘The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity‘), but the point is that not everyone who cheats actually wants the commitment of more than one romantic relationship.

To be clear, cheating is wrong, and I am not trying to excuse cheating in any way. Lying to your partner and failing to be honest about your feelings and intentions is never okay, and people who cheat should take responsibility for their mistakes. On the other hand, I am also not trying to say that all people with a history of cheating should never be polyamorous. Many people cheat because they did not realise ethical non-monogamy was an option for them, and proceed to live happy and fulfilling polyamorous lives with their partners after atoning for their cheating past. People do change when given opportunities for growth.

Some people just like to lie

As Lavitaloca Sawyers put it in one of her Polyamory Reminders: “If you started your polyam journey from a background of cheating, you will likely struggle with the transparency of poly because you are used to conducting your non-monogamy in a shroud of secrecy.” Polyamory requires honest communication and explicit consent, and it can be difficult for people to break out of those habits when transitioning from cheating to polyamory. Indeed, some people never break out of that habit, and unfortunately, some don’t even want to. There are people in this world who, for whatever reason, are motivated to lie, even to people they love. Additionally, a lot of people who cheat do it for the thrill and secrecy, so once their relationships are out in the open, the idea of multiple partners immediately loses its appeal.

A lot of people wrongly assume that polyamory means you are less committed to your partner. In reality, commitment is not synonymous with monogamy, and polyamory often requires a higher level of commitment than monogamy. It takes a lot to show up for your loved ones, to support them in times of need, to communicate and occasionally have hard conversations, and all the other things that a romantic relationship entails. A lot of people struggle to do that with just one person, so doing it successfully with two or more is even more commendable. Someone cheating on their partner is entirely different from having and maintaining two or more loving relationships, balancing and managing the agreements with all your partners, while also honouring your own boundaries and values in the process. The reality is that not everyone wants or is able to do that.

Cheating happens in polyamory too

A concerning number of people view polyamory as an inherently enlightened or evolved relationship style, instead of acknowledging that polyamory is simply a different way of doing relationships, and that people mess up in polyamory just as frequently as they do in monogamy. In polyamory, cheating occurs when you break relationship agreements with your partners, or disrespect boundaries explicitly stated by your partners. What constitutes cheating in your relationships is up to what the people in that relationship agree on, and it’s important to talk about what behaviour you expect from each other and to honour each other’s boundaries.

For example, my partner and I are free to have sex with other people, so me having sex with someone else is not cheating, as we have both given explicit and enthusiastic consent to do so. However, we do have agreements around safer sex, so if, for instance, I fail to inform him before having sex that I have recently had unprotected sex with someone else, that would be cheating, because it jeopardises our agreements and his boundary on maintaining his personal sexual health.

So, to anyone who thinks that all cheaters are polyamorists in denial, think again. The motivations behind infidelity are more complex than you think, and polyamory is not a quick fix for unethical behaviour.