In the months since coming out as polyamorous (or non-monogamous, or open, or whatever else you want to call it)* there have been different reactions from friends and family and even strangers. Most of them have been silent; few people want to talk about it which I understand and am thankful for. But a few people have thrown around a version of this sentence:
* I’ll be using these words interchangeably, I know some people have different definitions or degrees of openness associated with different terms, but for me I see it as the same. They are all equal to not being monogamous.
“You’re no longer being faithful to each other.”
My first reaction to that is always to laugh. Because as I look at my husband and life partner of four years, and I think about all we’ve been through with my mental health journey and his schooling, and about our fights and good days, and all the special things we’ve done together, and how he’s had my back like literally no one else has ever before… I wonder what the hell does faithfulness look like if not like that? The fact that we’ve mutually agreed it’s okay for us to have sex and relationships with other people somehow diminishes all of that other stuff?
And then my second reaction is to get angry. Because who the hell made them the judge of what ”faithfulness” means? Who gave them the right to diminish our love and commitment to each other just because it’s not monogamous?
Faithfulness is defined by the dictionary as “loyal, constant, and steadfast“. And by that definition we are being faithful to each other. We’ve been together for four years now; every day we wake up and try our hardest to do what’s best for each other. Grant is currently sacrificing time and energy to get his Masters in Education. I take care of our house and him; I clean and cook and encourage him to stay healthy. Grant was loyal to me when I went through some serious depression, and he encouraged me to see a therapist. I’ve been steadfast, held his hand and hugged him when he cried over school frustrations and college debt. We’ve been there for each other through family deaths, through frustrations, and through the best of times. We have been faithful, loyal, constant and steadfast.
But no, we haven’t been monogamous. And somehow this makes us terrible people.
I think it’s time for everyone to take a step back. If you want to be monogamous that’s fine by me — that’s great even — you do you. But let’s stop measuring our relationships against one another. Of course one should always call out abusive relationships! Yet at the end of the day, how many people are in your relationship doesn’t make it better than mine. And being monogamous sure as hell doesn’t give you the right to say I’m not being faithful to the people I love. Let’s start judging faithfulness by how well we communicate and support the people we’re with.