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A Polyamorist Speaks Out

Dear Ms. Schorn,

Reading your blog post “Monogamy Is Not the Problem” made me feel quite frustrated, misunderstood and mocked.

I wholeheartedly agree that cheating is unacceptable behavior. What I don’t understand is your need to denigrate polyamory in order to celebrate your choice of monogamy. I certainly don’t denigrate monogamy in order to celebrate my choice of polyamory.

Based on your post, you seem to be under a number of misconceptions about polyamory and I hope that you will read this with an open mind.

1. Polyamory is not a sexual free-for-all. Poly does not mean daily orgies, as you suggest with your mocking comments about bonobos, swingers and shag carpeting (really?). Polyamory is about having multiple loving relationships. In many cases a polyamorous person may have multiple COMMITTED relationships.

2. Polyamory involves a tremendous amount of emotional bonding and commitment. I refer to your glib “If we ‘evolved’ to screw around…where’s all the talk about how unnatural it is to bond with people?” The emotional involvement in polyamorous relationships is not minimal – and that includes secondary relationships in the situation of a person having a primary spouse and a secondary partner. These “secondary” relationships aren’t just a chance to screw around, they are often filled with love, kindness, romance, friendship.

3. Polyamory is hard work! Having a healthy non-monogamous relationship requires a lot of communication, a lot of honest conversations. And yes, they can be hard. They may involve the acknowledgement of jealousy, the reassurance of commitment, the enforcing of agreed upon boundaries.

4. Polyamory is not cheating. I know that you know this. But your association of polyamory with cheating in your post can conflate things, so I am stating it for the record: we call it ETHICAL non-monogamy because it involves the known consent of all parties involved. None of my polyamorous friends would engage in any romantic or sexual activities with a cheater. Many of us wish to meet our partner’s partners and introduce our partners to each other.

Don’t feel the need to learn any more about polyamory than you wish – if it isn’t the lifestyle for you it’s not directly relevant to you. BUT if you wish to write about monogamy as compared to polyamory you have the burden of doing actual research into what you are writing about.

It is my hope that you will recognize the flippant manner in which polyamorists are treated in your post and add a note ameliorating that.

Thank you,


Dear Kara,

Thank you for fact checking my humor. You are entirely correct — I did no fact checking whatsoever on whether or not polyamorists prefer shag carpeting. For all I know, there are ethical polyamorists who enjoy wall-to-wall berber or Turkish throw rugs. This was a thoughtless oversight. I apologize.

I did fact check that bonobos and walruses are polyamorous. However, I don’t know if they’re ethical about it — introducing their partners to one another, acknowledging occasions of jealousy, reaffirming their commitments, etc. It could be that bonobos are promiscuous jerks and not creatures polyamorists would wish to be associated with.

My point was simply to illustrate that you both have a natural disinclination towards monogamy. There are many monogamists I find utterly repellent and wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Richard Nixon, by all accounts, was monogamous. I do not like Richard Nixon or find him ethical, and yet, I must concede, we are both monogamists. It’s a big tent, Kara.

You will note that I was equally mocking of monogamists — comparing them to squidgy middle-aged women who have dial up and churn butter. Really, Kara, I think you got the better deal with the shag carpeting and walrus jokes. No one in any hip demographic wants to be compared to a middle-aged woman.

You are confused if you believe I have conflated cheating with polyamory. On the contrary — if you read the article, 70s swinger humor aside, I said I have no problem with polyamory precisely because it IS above board. (“Use protection. Rock on with your bad selves.”) I went so far as to suggest to people who find themselves in troubled marriages CONSIDER polyamory OR divorce. For people who chose not to be monogamous, perhaps their spouse feels similarly or could be won over. By all means explore it with an honest conversation.

If anyone deserves to be bitchslapped for treating polyamorists flippantly, it’s cheaters. They disguise themselves as polyamorists all the time, telling their affair partners “Oh, I’m in an open marriage.” News to the chump, of course. I think your anger would be better directed at cheaters. That’s where my satire, and the focus of my article, was aimed. Not at polyamorists.

But you’re right Kara, monogamous love of my husband aside, I can’t relate to the polyamorist “lifestyle.” It’s all I can do to find time to color hair or file my taxes, let alone juggle the intricate considerations of a Special Friend or two. Do you have children or work a full time job? If so, how on earth do you manage? There’s not enough of most working moms to spread thinly on toast. Polyamory? I’d settle for an unloaded dishwasher.

You may have found the golden mean, Kara — balancing your relationships without jealously or acrimony, bonded and intimate, but not exclusive. But many of your fellow polyamorists are absolutely about the sexual free for all, the orgy, the fling, the no-strings attached hook up. Their “poly” goes much further than your single “secondary partner.” If I have to own Richard Nixon, Kara, you have to own the swingers. Not everyone in your community practices polyamory your way.

What distinguishes the polyamorists from the cheaters is honesty. It’s not monogamy vs. polyamory. It’s honest vs. dishonesty. I really don’t care what you do or how many people you do it with, if you do it on shag carpeting or vinyl floor tiles — what I care about is that you don’t dupe your partner. That you’re not predicating your sexual pleasure on another person’s chumpdom. That’s it. If polyamory works for you, I sincerely wish you all the best.

Thanks for writing, Kara.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • “Polyamory is hard work! Having a healthy non-monogamous relationship requires a lot of communication, a lot of honest conversations. And yes, they can be hard. They may involve the acknowledgement of jealousy, the reassurance of commitment, the enforcing of agreed upon boundaries.”

    This feels like the “pick me” dance…on steroids. I couldn’t do it. Makes me wonder how many polyamorous partners are REALLY “on board” with this, or just playing like they are to keep a serial cheater in their lives. There’s just nothing about this that feel “right.” Call me squidgy, middle-aged, old-fashioned, whatever – this just makes me shudder.

    I’m with you, CL – I’d settled for an unloaded dishwasher…

      • beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop beep beep boooop brp brp burrrrp beep boop kssssshhhhhhh

        Yeah, no I don’t want to go back to dial up 🙂

          • LOL – a friend made me listen to that. I got about a minute in before I was shouting NO I CAN”T TAKE ANY MORE TURN IT OFF!!!! lolol.

            How on earth do these songs get popular??!! lolol

    • After a brief detour into the dating world via OK Cupid, what I’ve discovered about ethical non-monogamy and/or polyamory is that the proponents of currently alternative ways of loving (wow, doesn’t that sound cheesy?) are the most likely to employ negative stereotypes when referring to those who prefer one intimate partner at a time (which is my preference). What’s more, if you suggest that their lifestyle is anything less than twice as good as traditional monogamy, they will fight you tooth and nail. I encourage people to do what works for them and what respects the feelings and sensitivities of those they love. But please, if you’re poly, stop telling us boring monogamous folk that our sex is “plain vanilla” or that you have all the advantages of a committed relationship with the addition of unlimited sex with unlimited partners or that the intimacy you have with your primary is enhanced by your extended circle of wet body part contacts. People in long-term monogamous relationships have explosive sex too. The principle difference for me is when I commit to one person, I have to compromise more and work harder for a satisfactory life. I do not consider this a negative, by the way.

  • You rock ChumpLady!! I saw a Dr. Phil 2-part episode about a polyamorist, who discovered this aspect of himself ONLY after his partner found out about his affair. Like my STBX who decided he was “Separated” for his profile, and dishonestly did not share this with me until after he slept with a half-dozen soul mates. It’s the dishonesty that dooms our relationships. Stick it to them!!!

    • Discovered it after her discovery? Pffffttttt

      I hope Dr Phil ripped the crap outta him lol.

      I remember one particular blow out with my ex after watching a Dr Phil about a guy who hung out in adult video stores to pick up random sex partners, and sometimes shagged them in the store. My ex related….. *shudder*

  • I appreciate Kara chiming in to give us the honest polyamorous perspective and have to chuckle at how difficult it is to find *anyone* who will claim cheaters as their own and defend their sexual and moral choices (other than cowardly and nameless trolls, that is).

    Though I also find it hard to fathom how someone could be serene about their spouse sharing bodily fluids with another person (or a dozen other people) and yet take offense at the implication that they might have unfashionable carpet in their house. Just . . . wow.

  • Kara…

    I find it ironic that you feel the need to defend polyamory, when it’s obvious that the issue is not about free love, but dishonesty and deceit in regard to cheaters. If you had taken the time to read Chump Lady you’d have seen and understood her narrative.

    It’s astounding that you took the time to berate and correct Chump Lady as to the fine art of polyamory on a blog about “leaving a cheater and gaining a life”.

    Hats off to you Kara for being authentic in your multiple committed loving relationships and assume all us chumps cannot differentiate between open relationships and monogamy.

  • I can’t exactly say it’s a lifestyle I’m comfortable with, but as long as everyone involved knows what’s going on, and is able to take the time to discuss how the relationships are going, polyamory can be an ethical lifestyle. The problem is, in many cases an “open marriage” is only offered as an alternative *after* cheating has been revealed. In such circumstances, a polyamorous relationship isn’t being entered into freely by all parties–it’s a situation of “take this arrangement or leave the marriage,” which smells of coercion to me. Actually, I doubt that is true polyamory; it’s just an idea cooked up by deceptive, cake-eating cheaters.

  • “This feels like the pick-me dance on steroids.” THANK YOU.

    This is NOT going to make me popular in some “progressive” quarters, but we have seen the long-term societal results of polyamory (which is nothing more than a euphemism for unbridled promiscuity) in which any intentional or unintentional offspring are supported (at subsistence level) by the Nanny State. The richest country on earth now has huge ghettos inhabited by millions who DO NOT work, gang bang, participate in animal and human cruelty among various other forms of depravity, party and “club” constantly, and in which women are by and large nothing more than “fuck holes”–ALL on the coerced tax nickel of those who bust their MONOGAMOUS asses daily to earn a living for their own NUCLEAR family. Ghettos which produce sociopaths in percentages SIGNIFICANTLY higher than the average working population. Ghettos in which illegal drug use is rampant because the people in them are so fucking miserable living a life with no boundaries, distorted values, and no clue or care about planning for the future because they know some chump or chumps somewhere will be forced by the government to support their lifestyle. This video eloquently depicts the ultimate result of a society in which the nuclear family is destroyed and in which people are not required to EARN their daily bread.

    • Whoa, notyou, I’m a progressive. And I was a single mom for many years. While I’ve never been on the dole, I thank God it exists (or at least it did until the government shut down). IMO the US doesn’t have a nanny state in the least for its poorest members. And sociopaths? There are more sociopaths produced on Wall St. than you’ll find in ghettos.

      My letter to Kara isn’t a spring board into a monogamists are better and polyamorists are lazy, government subsidy sucking pond scum. I’m sure plenty of polyamorists pay their taxes, and pay their own way in life. In fact, I do NOT want a polyamory vs. monogamy argument at ALL. I believe polyamory can be practiced ethically, and I don’t want to shame anyone. (Make fun of them with a bit of snark? Yes. But chumps are fair game too.)

      My beef at this blog, and in my original post, is with cheaters. With people who are dishonest and uncaring. That’s it. Single mothers have enough on their plates without the baby daddy stereotypes.

      • CL,

        Did you actually watch that video? The woman is 37 years old, has 15 children by three different men, and her response to “the system” not doing enough for her is, “Somebody needs to pay… for ALL my 15 children. Somebody needs to be held accountable and somebody needs to pay.” (That is a direct quote). ENTITLEMENT? Ya think? What kind of society produces someone like this? And WHY am I (or you) financially responsible for her chronic and pervasive bad decisions regarding both her body and the future of these children that she cannot afford to have. Not one..not two..but 15?

        I disagree that Wall Street produces sociopaths. Adult sociopaths may gravitate there, as they do (in droves) into government and all other situations where they can get their hands on to manipulate and/or STEAL huge amounts of other people’s $$$. That’s a no brainer. (BTW, “Trading Places” is one of my favorite movies.) But to the extent that sociopaths are produced by “nurture” that begins in early childhood; and from what we know, tendd to be more prevalent at the very top and very bottom of societal strata. (And there are some good theories about the “why” of that… but it is a topic for another post.)

        I am a libertarian politically. This means that I believe it is not only impossible but legally disastrous to try to legislate values, ethics, and morality. It also means that I don’t believe that I am in any way responsible financially for people who haven’t developed good values, ethics, and morals. Nor should I shield them from the consequences of their behaviors.

        Ethics, values, and morality are taught by parental and family figures who model these consistently over time for children and who give positive reinforcement as their children internalize and exhibit these values. It works very well too, unless there is a plethora of intervening variables (usually cultural) that gum up the works.

        The best government can do is try to enact and enforce laws that protect the sanctity of body, life, and property. Government cannot save people from themselves. It is sometimes is medically and therapeutically possible to help people save themselves. But if people are determined enough to self-destruct they will find a way to do so.

        I don’t have a “legal” problem with polyamory or promiscuity. I do have personal objections to them based on some pretty valid psycho-social reasons. [I don’t even have a “legal” problem with drug use, prostitution, or polygamous marriage- because the government wastes trillions of ordinary citizens’ tax dollars in a no-win effort to prevent them by criminalizing them..thus making them much more dangerous for participants and for those innocents who become collateral damage by participants. I don’t like foreign aid and I really don’t like US foreign polity that has our military around the world either. But those are a discussion for another day. Let’s just say that I pretty much agree with Ron Paul about the proper functions of government.]

        Some people are going to do what they want to do regardless. It has to do with their character and their internalized value systems, which in the greater part come from how they were reared in combination with societal influences. Therefore, if people want to be polyamorous, promiscuous, asexual, or celibate, as long as what they do is between FULLY INFORMED AND CONSENTING ADULTS and they DO NOT expect me to financially subsidize them AND I am NOT forced to view public displays of their predilections…. let them have at it!

        Don’t misunderstand me. I resent the Wall Street raider and the government raider just as much as anyone who “farms children” for money at the lowest of the social rungs. Why? Because those of us in the middle, the ones Dr. Simon refers to in his book (up in your list) as the “..neurotics who constitute the backbone of society”, are the ones who pay and pay and pay for their deviant behavior.

        For the record: I, too, was a single mother in my twenties. For some years I struggled along at a low paying job and managed to remain off, “the dole.” But my life and my responsibilities were mine and only mine. No one else’s. I gradually bettered myself over time by getting higher education–for which I paid out of my own pocket– and while doing without any luxuries.

        I have three daughters. I impressed deeply on each of them that they needed to educate themselves in marketable skills or careers so that they were assured that (barring catastrophic injury or illness) they could adequately support themselves AND any children they might bring into this world without ANY assistance from a child’s father. All three of them are professionals who earn substantially than their husbands, or as in the case of my youngest without her cheating X whom she booted secure in the knowledge that if she never married again she could still financially support and educate her two children. ALL of these girls worked through both undergraduate and graduate schools to significantly assist in defraying their college expenses. They are all paying off student loans..on schedule. They did NOT get a free ride NOR did they feel ENTITLED to one. They would have made it without any help from parents because they were taught to take responsibility from early on.

        A sense of ENTITLEMENT comes also from a culture that promotes it, and when entitlement becomes pervasive and people do what they FEEL LIKE regardless of who else ultimately has to “foot the bill” this spills over into the personal arena whether we will like to admit that or not.

        Jade, I am sorry the video was painful for you. I realize that there are those who have genuinely been victimized, are genuinely disabled, or are genuinely temporarily financially devastated. But come on….15 children by 3 different men? She did not appear to be intellectually disabled to me. She was far to verbally articulate. Personality disordered maybe; but personality disorder is NOT synonymous with stupidity. Nope, she simply appeared to believe that she was ENTITLED to have someone (anyone) else shoulder financial responsibility for HER irresponsible sexual behavior. And her children will grow up just like her because they will never learn differently in that environment.

        Yes, there should be a place for those who are genuinely disabled or TEMPORARILY financially devastated to receive assistance; however, the mass exploitation of programs meant for the TRULY needy has mushroomed into a whole sub-culture of people, too many of whom truly believe that other people are financially responsible for their bad personal decisions or just plain lazy asses. In other words they feel ENTITLED to take advantage of others, most of whom may only be moderately better off than they are.

        When it comes to ethics and moral responsibility we don’t get to talk out of both sides of our mouths. To get right down to it, we don’t have an ethical leg to stand on when we castigate our wayward mates for their irresponsible behavior toward us and then turn around give anonymous strangers (who have behaved in an egregiously irresponsible and ENTITLED fashion) moral carte blance to have some kind of “claim” on our lives.

        Wall Street, Capitol Hill, or Slum Lord Lane, the inhabitants are ENTITLED to nothing from me that is not either honorably earned (value for value) or freely given as my charitable choice and personal decision.

        The kind of personal “cheating” those here have experienced does not happen in an isolated moral vacuum. It is in part enhanced by a society that promotes creates ever diminishing expectations of personal responsibility, personal accountability, integrity, commitment, and honor which in turn lowers the threshold for what we call “character.”

        • Notyou , you do have some good points, but we need to have this debate without the emotion.
          The trouble with welfare as it is currently arranged, is that welfare accompanies babies. Welfare needs to be restructured so that people take responsibility for their choices without the accompanying moral hazard. The economist Charles Murray has a very interesting take of this.
          And, I am afraid you are right. The wrong people are being encouraged to breed. I know that sounds terribly right wing, but will be back with some sociological studies about lowering IQs.
          Regarding Wall Street, I am afraid that narcissists and sociopaths are drawn to power. You find them in politics, banking, medicine, the priesthood and teaching.

          • At the risk of being bashed I am standing beside you.

            I’ve seen far too many Maurys… “28 men tested… which one of the next 9 is the father of my eighth child?!”

            • Yeah, but it isn’t the norm. That’s what makes it exciting: people tune in to see that level of dysfunction because it’s not the norm.

              If it was the norm, it would be boring.

              The trouble with anecdotes is that they are usually used by political people to paint a portrait of some fiction (could be favorable or unfavorable). For the most part, people who get assistance do so on a temporary basis, and there are lifetime caps to boot and have been since the 1990s. There are less people on some type of assistance today than there were in 1975, and there are far more people in the country.

              To top it all off, as a slice of the total cost of government, it’s miniscule: the lion’s share being medicare, social security and defense.

              So what is really going on by dredging this up in a political context? It identifies an “other”.

              It’s tribalism, plain and simple. And it’s being used to disort the underlying reality for political purposes.

              Such is politics.

              • To more clearly demonstrate the point of how this is a fallacy of generalization and why you need to be wary of them consider the mechanics of the logic:

                Somebody exploits a system, this implies everybody exploits that system, and ee must get rid of that system. It doesn’t consider frequency or real costs vs benefits of the whole population.

                Using this same logic, we can justify any political agenda and demonize any group of people.

                For example, Bernie Madoff exploited the market system, therefore all free-market advocates are Bernie Madoffs of Madoff wannabes, and therefore we must abolish the markets (to be replaced by some fantasy ideal only my special tribe is capable of imagining and which never existed).

                You can do this with anything. In fact, it’s kind of what critics of monogamy are doing, isn’t it?

              • I wasn’t aware it was a political agenda to be honest – I do my best to stay out of US politics as I am still a guest in this country 🙂

                I make an exception for the “legitimate rape” brigade, however. lol 😉

                Anyhoo – I can see that you would be right about holding up the most dysfunctional examples for sport and “entertainment.” It’s a shame that while there are 100 good examples, the 1 bad one will be the one to stand out and be remembered. At least in my mind lol.

                I was watching Judge Judy yesterday and there was a defendant who had 3 kids at 26 and was pregnant again by her latest boyfriend of 1 month. I had to shake my head.

                I think I already posted down below that at least in the UK, women having another baby just to get a bigger house was rife. It was estimated that 95% of claims contained an element of fraud.

        • So you’re saying that the very modern invention ‘welfare’ has caused bad people to breed in order to get something for free? You mean, like they did in Victorian England, pre-welfare? I’m sorry, but your whole argument on ‘breeding’ is offensively simplistic and has little basis in rationality.

          • Patsy,

            I don’t believe anyone is the “wrong” kind of people. I do believe that with all good intentions the “wrong” kind of people are created. On a macro scale, I see a governmental system and a society which aggressively promotes a pervasive sense of entitlement in all aspects: personal, social, financial. And, as everyone here knows entitled people want what they want (whether they have earned it, deserve it, or not) REGARDLESS of any detrimental consequences to those around them. And, when someone finally STOPS their emotional or financial “gravy train” for them; they then resort to either subterfuge and deception or open aggression to secure what they have always had and what they figure is their just due.

            Taking this concept to the Macro scale. What I detest is a government that has been confiscated by white collar sociopaths, who buy votes in order to remain in power and control. Charming sociopaths (who are supported by deluded but well meaning people) taking an excessive amount of the fruits of my personal labor and using it to train people that they are entitled to exploit ME and others like me…that we are sacrificial animals to be used as a stop gap between them and the abyss created by their own irresponsible and maladaptive behavior.

            My ultimate point in using that particular video was that (if one can get past the irrational hystrionics on the part of the woman in the video and THINK about a society that creates people like her) is that in a sense, she is a victim. The kind of society that our well-meaning government subsidy programs has created has failed to orient this woman to reality or to teach her appropriate levels of personal responsibility and accountability… led her to believe that no matter how irresponsibly she behaved, someone somewhere would be around to pick up the pieces and see to it that she and her offspring were taken care of. And, of course, normal humans with normal empathy and compassion are going to be horrified to see young children being neglected and going without basic needs.

            With respect to IQ testing. I have considerable experience with this, having worked primarily with children during my career. IQ tests which are normed standardized instruments ARE the best predictors of academic achievement that we currently have. And, yes, IQ standard scores do distribute out along a bell curve. HOWEVER, IQ tests are only ONE means of assessing particular types of abilities. They do not measure emotional intelligence, creativity, and host of other attributes that are also necessary for humans to successfully adapt and function in society. IQ tests are also generally verbally loaded and culturally biased. It is heavily impressed upon psyc students in grad school to take many other factors into consideration when assessing people’s ability to function successfully in society. There are clinical instruments to measure (socially) adaptive behavior that are much more indicative of degrees of success in appropriately looking out for oneself. And adaptive behaviors are heavily influenced by training, rearing, and the assimilation of personally RESPONSIBLE habits.

            Any good psychologist will tell you that WE literally train others how they can treat us. And before everyone here gets all up in arms about this let me qualify that statement. We don’t do it CONSCIOUSLY. And often we do it will ALL good intentions. We tend to behave in tolerant and accepting manners because we have been taught that this is the kind and decent thing to do. Over the long term it is NOT. Tolerating selfish, abusive behavior out of others from early childhood on, making excuses for it or not being willing to address the conflict that comes from setting limits on abusive behavior is as much a disservice to the abuser as it is to the tolerator. The abuser is literally taught that more often that not s/he will be able to “get away” with it. They like those kind of odds. They aren’t required to change; they don’t develop appropriate boundaries; they don’t develop empathy, and they don’t learn how to assume personal responsibility and accountability.

            Finally, they end up hurting people often in precisely the same manner that most contributors here have been hurt.

          • Consistently effective, reliable and affordable contraception was not available in Victorian England or anywhere else on earth during that time period.
            Consistently effective and reliable contraception IS, however, available, affordable, and often free in Western nations and has been for 50 years or so. Abortion is also legal. There is absolutely no reason (other than rape) for a woman in this country to become unwillingly pregnant.

            Of course, one has to PRIORITIZE contraception. One has to put it at the top of the list above…salon nails, the newest iphone, jewelry, latest fashions and/ or other luxury items that do not constitute basic needs. But why bother when some stranger will have to pick up the tab for your offspring?

          • I worked in the British welfare system for about 3 years many moons ago. And recipients were almost exclusively this type. Except many got away with $80k – $200k and were never prosecuted. Some were living in 6 bedroom houses with pools and saunas.

            Most were proud they had never worked a day in their life, and would drive up for their renewal interview in a brand new BMW. I kid you not.

          • Nord,

            Don’t patronize me and don’t call me a racist because that particular video struck an emotional cord in you.

            You are attempting to derail (with an ad hominem attack on me, utilizing the infinitely stale and over-played “race card”) a discussion of how and why people can develop attitudes of extreme entitlement. Says more about your personal objectivity and issues with race that it does mine.

            Of course, the woman could have been a white woman. But I was focused on the scope and flamboyance (the “in your face” brazen articulation) of her sense of entitlement–NOT her skin color.

            • Ya know, I thought I had found one place where I could escape the stringent tone of self-righteousness, we’re all chumps here, ya know? But notyou, it seems that you have seen fit to take us all to school in an attempt to impose the same rhetoric I delete on FB. Please, can we ahemm, “limit” our diatribes to the subject at hand…. notyou, were you chumped? Was it by some “low level” polyamorist who fathered 15 children behind your back? No, I didn’t think so. Can we please stay with the topic? I don’t care if you practice your libertarianism any more than I care about people who have sex as long as their honest with the person they’re having sex with. But I didn’t come here for a tea party, OK?

              • I agree, Danette.

                The words and concepts being used are so distant from anything I can comprehend and I don’t even know what… I’m at a loss for words.

            • Oh, an another thing – I am a 59 year old grandmother who went back to school after I go chumped, big time. If there’s any one who has the right to throw stones, trust me. I’m taking “Philosophy” this semester and while your display of the form of logic would probably get you an A in that class, you would get a far different grade in my “social problems” class or my Theology class. No one can see the color of your soul.

    • Notyou, I watched a few minutes of your YouTube, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I am now a single mom of two teenagers, having been married to an abusive cheater for 24 years. But the rest of the world doesn’t know the back story–all they see is a single mom who depends on child support to feed her kids. I am probably a bit more conservative than many here, and I definitely struggle to stay off public assistance, but I have a hard time judging other single mothers. Sorry.

    • Not you,
      I was “On the dole” for a short time because I had two young daughters and my husband died in a plane crash. I am NOT seeking sympathy but please don’t tar everyone with the same brush. It got me back on my feet and enabled me to support my family.

    • While that woman is an idiot she is not representative of anyone or anything but herself. Quite frankly, after reading the comments below the video I can’t decide what offended me more: the idea that everyone in the ghetto is a baby making machine just gagging to live off the government or the fact that so many dumb ass fucked up asshole racists still exist in our world.

      Someone very close to me lived in a ghetto on welfare for five years. You want to know why? Because she made the mistake of marrying a man who ended up beating her senseless and when she divorced him he left her high and dry with a kid. Her parents wouldn’t help her and she literally had nothing. So she went and lived in the ghetto on the dole and she made something of her life while getting that desperately needed support from the government.

      Take your political rantings somewhere else, please. And I would appreciate no more racist bs links either.

      • Thank you Nord (((Hugs))))),
        My grandchildren are 1/2 black, my son-in-law grew up in the projects, and well, as I said earlier my daughters father died when she was 1. These kids put themselves through college and have good jobs two beautiful kids and never went on the “dole” in thier life. How CL talking about cheating turned into a Jerry Springer episode I have no idea, but it has NO place here. I have seen my kids stereotyped and hurt for years…when I’M the one that was on welfare till I could get my husbands SS benefits – his body was never recovered from the plane crash so he wasn’t considered “dead”…. If it seems like a touchy subject to me then it is. If that link wasn’t racial I don’t know what was….there are plenty of other places on the internet that thrive on that shit!

        • Everyone ENOUGH on this. This whole welfare queen thing is a thread jack and I don’t appreciate the politicking AT ALL. I don’t have rules on this blog, I’m the sole moderator — and I say ENOUGH. The subject at hand is polyamory.

          You want to talk about other kinds of entitlement? Government entitlement, welfare entitlements, Wall St. entitlements, teenager’s sense of entitlement… That would take a thousand other blogs. That’s not the focus on this blog. This blog is about infidelity.

          • CL,
            I do apologize for the thread jack. It was unintentional. I do firmly believe, however, that infidelity does not happen in a societal vacuum, that a pervasive attitude of entitlement in all facets of society does help propel personally entitled attitudes and decisions and the proliferation of narcissism that can and does hurt others.

            • Infidelity predates even agrarian societies, let alone “welfare programs”.

              You might want to re-think your context. In hunter-gatherer societies, there are few free-riders, but there is infidelity, and murder is more common.

  • Gross Gross Gross. That’s all I could think while reading this article. I spent a very short time in the “sex positive” community. I saw Polyamory up close. The thing about it is I didn’t see a whole lot of polyamory or swingers or open relationships lasting long term in general. I saw couples who’d been married a long time deciding to open their marriages as well as couples who formed in the community. The difference between polyamory and open relationships being that polyamory is the idea of a “relationship” between three or more people. Either way…what I saw was jealousy, hurt feelings, some seriously “entitled” people, lots of NPD and other personality disorders, confused children and ultimately the demise of a lot of relationships. It was like watching and NPD circus because that was the only way anyone could maintain that relationship style. I don’t know whether or not Monogamy is natural. I definitely found out that is who I am at my core. But I also tend to think these open relationships/ or poly situations are not about being non-monogamous sexually but rather having an underlying personality disorder. I know that’s a super harsh opinion. And least they have honesty about the state of their relationship. But it doesn’t keep them from dealing with betrayal and hurt. IMO NOTHING compared to the Betrayal that chumps experience. There is no comparison to that.

    • I think this is an interesting observation. I’ve been trying to formulate my own thoughts on the psychology of a polyamorist. I kind of sort them into two camps when you are dealing with Triads. Narcissist vs CoDependents. And I don’t think Narcs are actually living with their paramours.

      I’m in a Trad myself. I can tell you as the Vee I work my a** off. I’m pretty sure if anything I’m the more codependent type. I can’t imagine a Narc would do a fraction of the things I do.

  • CL, I do understand why the LW was upset. Joking is fine but you did conflate polyamory and swinging in your original post. The former is having loving relationships with more than one person. Swingers are the the folks looking for sex but not deeper connections. In true polyamory, everyone in the relationship knows and cares about one another, it’s not just sex and it’s not; I have a fuck buddy and my partner is OK with it. It’s that the 3 or more people in the relationship all care about each other, take care of each other, etc.

    I have not participated in polyamory, not sure if I could, so don’t think I’m here to defend this for myself. I’m just saying there is a real difference between these lifestyles. TBH, if true polyamory is possible then it seems to me that is an ideal where you have the love, respect, and caring of multiple people living together, growing old together, taking care of each other.

    PS: Swingers have a very bad rep, after meeting many of these couples over the years I believe it’s deserved. That would be a whole other post…

    • I believe this is a matter of definition. I see polyamory as an open, agreed upon absence of monogamy. Swinger swing openly. Ergo I have no problem with them. Is there a skeeve factor? That’s a matter of opinion.

      From how you and Kara are defining polyamory, it involves “loving relationships” and “deeper connections” — a non-exclusive sort of commitment that has to be constantly negotiated. It’s a better class of non-monogamy. Less skeeve factor. Again, this is a matter of opinion.

      From where I sit, just like I have to accept that Richard Nixon or Christian fundamentalists, or people I just generally find repellant are monogamists — polyamorists, (aka, the non-monogamous) have to accept the swingers under their sex positive umbrella.

      And their shag carpets.

      • I only met two poly groups ever, and it was 2 men/2 women plus another group of 1 woman/2 men, they lived together and were exclusive with one another. that’s probably why I wanted to put my 2 cents in.

  • This is just me being technical, but I’m not sure walruses really qualify as polyamorous. Basically, in mating season the fertile females sit on the ice and watch the males perform. The mating happens underwater. This might be a situation where a whole bunch of females mate with the same male. I’m not sure we know what is going on.

    Anyhow, I think your original article was clearly about cheating and said that polyamory was different. The contrast was between monogamy and cheating.

    The joke about polyamory seemed to upset a lot of people. I’m not sure if that’s just a sign of defensiveness because most people don’t like their lifestyle. It might also be because people who support polyamory often argue that monogamy is not natural and that polyamory is. (And sometimes people argue that polyamory is better than cheating and conflate monogamy with cheating.) So perhaps some people assumed that if CL says monogamy isn’t unnatural and is better than cheating, she was saying monogamy was better than polyamory (as opposed to polyamory is not what she wants in life).

  • In principle my belief is that if everyone involved is open, honest, and on-board – it’s not for anyone to judge.

    In reality, human nature being what it is – it just doesn’t seem like it would be healthily workable for long as the emotions Belle discussed would in inevitably surface. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think the dynamics and emotional risks would really any different between poly relationships and polygamist marriages.

    • I have always considered myself open minded. But just as I had some incorrect and non-judgmental ideas about infidelity before experiencing it I think people step back from this alternative lifestyle and say “who are we to judge” because they haven’t really seen the nitty gritty of it. It looks good on paper. Granted it is a better option then some of the other choices in that community but lets not call it what it isn’t…healthy. Marcie…I suppose at least with Poly it’s far less disempowering for women than polygamy which often involves religion and misogyny. Either way I still think it’s confusing for kids though. Plus while Kara seems to be one of those coming from an honest place who says that her and friends would never involved themselves with cheaters I will say I know several woman who’s spouses were involved in the polyamory lifestyle unbeknownst to them and after D day and divorces continued to be involved in that community.

      I will say that I never could comprehend those who agreed as a couple to open their marriage.

      • Belle there’s nothing wrong with a marriage involving religion. I think it’s a great thing and often helpful. Not oppressive, although that depends on the religion.

    • One big difference between polyamory and polygamy is that women as well as men get to have multiple partners. That can change the balance of power, although I suspect it would be hard for an older woman or a Mom with small kids to be equal in negotiating poly relationships.

      Another difference is that polygamy is a lifelong commitment with defined expectations and rights (or lack of rights). Polyamory includes all kinds of arrangements the people involved can set up multiple ways – you could have one wife who is more important than another and she could have a boyfriend she sees every other weekend. I don’t think everyone involved expects all the relationships to last.

      That said, I suspect some of the dynamics are similar in practice.

  • Newbie on board! Recently found site and I have to say it came at the right time. Been some lurking/reading here to what you’re about and it’s so refreshing to find a community where you won’t be advised to share the blame and make yourself over to please the a’hole you love(d).

    My 2 cents here-I’m all for the honesty factor that these lifestyle choices present at the beginning anyway. If you’re not up for an exclusive relationship you should just say so! At least your partner(s) have their choice whether they agree to the relationship terms or not up front. If they don’t, well they own half the relationship. It’s not just about one person getting what they want. Let them go. In practice these sort of arrangements rarely work for long from what I’ve seen. That up-front honesty rarely lasts because there always seems to be an imbalance created by the different levels of emotional and physical involvement. I also think these types of “offers” are often made by cheaters and accepted by a partner who plays along in a desperate attempt to save what’s left of a relationship.

  • Couldn’t agree more with your original post and the response to this letter, Chump Lady. I’ve been writing about polyamory a lot myself, and exploring the scene in New York, and a lot of what I’m finding is, like you say: cheaters, liars and irresponsible, non-committal jerks who use “polyamory” as an excuse for their behavior. It does seem to work OK for some people, but very very few.

    • I checked out your blog, Anais Dream — and especially your “Let’s Talk about Polyamory (a rant).” Excellent stuff.

      I found this particularly interesting:
      “I did it because I loved my girlfriend and thought it wouldn’t be fair to say no when she requested it, which is, by the way, another problem with the lifestyle. People are essentially “not allowed” to say no. It’s assumed that you’re being immature, childish, jealous, possessive, insecure, etc., which are all unattractive qualities, duh! And as we got further into it, I was actually never comfortable with seeing or hearing about my partner fuck or date other people.”

      Chumps experience this same dynamic — we’re expected to not set boundaries for ourselves. It’s called into question. “Don’t you want me to be happy?” It’s the whole unconditional love thing.

      IMO, grown up love comes with conditions. I think in healthy relationships we should set boundaries for ourselves and communicate our expectations. For as “open” as the whole lifestyle is, it seems from this outsider’s perspective that there is a lot of shaming and manipulation.

      • Marital Therapist #3 – my first time meeting her alone after she had had her alone session with the ex:

        “Ok, here’s the deal. The only way your marriage can last is if you’re ok with him seeing hookers regularly”

        “No way”

        “Think about it”

        “No freaking way”

        “Think about it – you can agree the number of times a month or year that he goes with your approval”

        “No. Freakin. Way.”

        I got into 2 separate car accidents on my way home.

    • Wow, thanks CL for posting that link. Anais Dream, that pretty much captures what I thought about the scene which was in Seattle. I think the argument that polyamory is a more “natural” state then monogamy is ridiculous. I know that’s not the point Chump Lady was making with all of this. Thank you for sharing Anais Dream.

      • No problem, y’all! Glad you like it! I still have a lot of polyamorous or open-something friends in New York and am currently getting buried with criticism. Le sigh. But I agree with Chump Lady, a healthy grown relationship does and should involve sacrifices, such as not seeing other people in order to not threaten your existing relationship if you have respect for your partner. It’s not about “inflicting rules” on the other partner (as poly people say monogamous people do), it’s about holding YOURSELF up to a higher standard so as to honor your commitment to your partner.

  • Thanks for the considered letter Kara. You sound like a really nice person.

    When I read your letter (and thanks for the defense of polyamory) I could see that you did not get what we chumps object to.

    It is the cheating. It is the dishonesty. It is the everything you do NOT do: the reassurance, the commitment, the openness, the checking in, the communication, the HONESTY, the RESPECT.

    So please don’t think we are confusing your lifestyle choice to have more than one partner, to our spouses ‘lifestyle choice’. We really aren’t. I would like to be treated with respect, same as you. I think I am a really nice person too.

  • Sorry, I hope you can see I was saying you don’t lie, cheat, take advantage of, obfuscate, withold information, manipulate etc that cheaters do.

  • Even if everyone is all open and “honest” about it, I get the depressing feeling that “coupling” doesn’t really have much to do with love anymore. So take the amor out of it and just call it what it is: polygamy.

  • Back in the late 1960’s, my former in-laws went to a party one night. They were told to leave their shoes by the door. After a few drinks and a little socializing, the men were told to go pick a pair of women’s shoes; whose ever shoes they picked would be their partner for the night.

    It took XMIL a few minutes to grasp what was going on: that her “loving” husband had brought her to a swingers’ party. She demanded that they leave right then. He refused. She took her shoes and went and sat in the car. He had the car keys; she had no money for a cab. He made her wait for over two hours before he came out and drove her home. It was the beginning of the end of their marriage.

    Not surprisingly, when they separated years later and XMIL started seeing someone else, XFIL thought the guy was a jerk/idiot/douche, etc. It was okay for HIM to sleep around, but not HER.

    I’ve seen similar behavior from XH. When he wanted to leave to be with OW, he was “okay” with me seeing other people. But as soon as that relationship sputtered and died, he thought I should “focus on the kids” – i.e., NOT date.

    Maybe that’s why I’m so suspicious of these “open” arrangements – they seem pretty one-sided to me, like guilt assuagement for cheaters. “If we cheat together, it’s not cheating; but if my OP leaves, then yours should, too.” It’s just another form of control, IMO…

    • I’m old (50), and in my limited experience dealing with different kinds of people in this particular culture, even what starts out as not one-sided can rapidly devolve into a power struggle where one party enjoys an advantage (pick me dance?).

      Now, I don’t have any experience dealing with FDLS wives or Tibetian Husbands, so I can’t speak to whether that seems to work in their particular cultural framework or if that too is “complicated”. I suspect that since it survives in those enclaves that it often “works” in those particular cultural contexts.

      That being said, note how rare such examples really are and ask yourself why>

    • ““If we cheat together, it’s not cheating” —

      Or worse, when they don’t do swinging, but rather, do orgies/threesomes, and then, not only do they get the green light to do guilt-free cheating, but they get the pleasure of seeing the wife and another women get it on, for his pleasure. A lot of women will be pressured into participating in this stuff, thinking they can handle it, that it might be a one-off, and once his fantasy is satisfied, he will get back to normal and all will be well. My ex pressured me into a threesome and even *I* considered it, even though I knew I would be traumatized for life if I ever did it (he was my first boyfriend and sexual partner at 29, and I had grown up in a rather conservative home where sex wasn’t really talked about all that much). I was scared of losing him. I didn’t end up doing it, but mainly because it’s so hard to find willing partners, and anyway, I was pretending to be putting in the effort into finding a girl, while not doing a whole lot. But it was quite telling that I went so far as to pretend to look for a girl to satisfy his threesome fantasy. Anyway, there is an element of power and pressure involved. IMO, it is almost always skewed in favor of one partner’s fantasies/pleasure. A lot of women want to convince themselves that they are just as much into it, but that’s very very very rare. Threesomes especially are a predominantly male fantasy, and female-female-male threesomes especially more so. ALL of my girlfriends have been pressured at one point or another by their boyfriends to do a threesome with another woman. It’s disgusting and totally out of tune with what people thought they had gotten into: a monogamous relationship. If you’re going to pressure your partner into a threesome, then make it clear from the get-go that you want to be in an open relationship or a polyamorous/poly-sexual relationship… Anything other than that — including springing the question on gf/fiancee/wife after you’ve been in a relationship for a significant period of time — is jerk behavior IMO.

  • I don’t think you could have answered her any more fairly and honestly than you did, Tracy. Very interesting insight into her romantic lifestyle, and a really well done response. You continue to amaze me!

  • I’m curious what notyou’s long-winded (typical for) libertarian rant about welfare has to do with being chumped or being in a polyamorous relationship? There are other forums for expressing political opinions. As a registered member of his/her same political party, I see it as more of a warning on how NOT to win friends and persuade people, frankly. Good Lord.

    I’d almost given up on this post at all, because it made me so uncomfortable. Yet I had a difficult time articulating why. Then I read Anais’s reply and CL’s accompanying response and I feel all squared up again. Thanks for that. Mostly I get tired of people’s self-righteous indignations about being judged for their own chosen lifestyles, whether they be gluten-free by choice or vegans or polyamorous or whatever, particularly where their children are dragged along. Sometimes so-called adults really suck.

  • In my extensive research of Polyamory, I am polyamorous now; I found that most people are going to fuck up several times. Reading, researching, and learning ways to healthily undertake this lifestyle can significantly reduce the number of fuck-ups and hurt feelings. Just as researching, reading, and learning ways to have healthy monoamorous relationships can help in the same manner. There will still be bumps in the road and even requires a little bit of a learning curve for any and all styles of relationships. I also found that some people just with anything else learn from their mistakes and they come out better for it, while others keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

    My point is there will be lots of people that fuck up in all kind of relationships. It just seems to be that Polyamory is a minority and therefore has less representation; So the fucks ups appear more frequent or at the very least seem to be the most represented. It may be because they make the most sensational stories, or maybe it is the societal monoamorous programming filtering through that states there is only one style of relationship that works, but who knows.

    I do appreciate CL, mentioning that there are polyamorous people who do focus more on the sexual side of things as opposed to the emotional side. It does fall under the umbrella of Polyamory because there are lots of ways to practice this lifestyle just as there are many ways to practice a monoamorous lifestyle.

    I prefer the emotional side of things in my polyamorous lifestyle, but I do not shame people for living differently than me. With that in mind, I believe the people that have the ” I am more evolved because I am polyamorous.” or “Polyamory is more natural than monoamory” are pretentious twats.

    I do have one tiny little pet peeve with people that have the “I could never share my partner with others” mentality more-so because it reduces a person’s partner to something that can be possessed or owned and therefore can be shared or not shared*. It just skeeves me out. I relate to this quote from a Kimchi Cuddles, polyamorous online comic series:

    “Person 1: I just don’t get it. How are you ok with sharing your partner?
    Person 2: That’s just it. I’m NOT sharing them. They are not MINE. I do not OWN them. I am not ENTITLED to their body, their time, their love, or their attention. I do not share them with others. They share themselves with ME. This is a gift only they can give. However long they want to share it with me, and regardless of whoever else they want to share it with, the only response that makes any sense to me is deep gratitude.”

    *Also, let me clarify I am not speaking of consensual power dynamic relationships associated with the BDSM lifestyle; that is a whole other topic altogether.

    Anyway, that is just my 2 cents; please note I did not read the original post that Kara was responding.

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