What is a “successful polyamorous relationship”?

What is “successful polyamorous relationship”?

Often in the comments section of articles on the Internet about polyamory (or other open relationships) I see people saying things such as “I’ve never seen a successful polyamorous relationship.” Which makes me wonder: what do they consider a “successful polyamorous” relationship to be? What is their benchmark upon which they are holding polyamory and polyamorous relationships up to?

What is the sample size they are basing their statement on? How many polyamorous triads or quads do they know compared to outwardly monogamous couples?

How many outwardly monogamous couples do they know who have broken-up or gotten a divorce?

For that matter, how many above the age of thirty have been divorced themselves or have friends who are divorced? And how many divorced friends do they have?

Of those who aren’t married, how many failed long-term relationships have they had?

Why aren’t these scenarios held to the same standard they are holding a polyamorous relationship to?

What do they consider a successful monogamous relationship to be? 3 years? 5 years? 15 years? Lifetime? How many people do they know that hit any of those marks in their relationships?

And why, when a monogamous relationship does fail, is it not considered a failure? Why can they say “I have never seen a successful open relationship” yet they don’t acknowledge that the majority of outwardly monogamous relationships around them fail?

For instance, if someone has four long term relationships before they get married, and then half of those that get married eventually get divorced, why do people not recognize this as a 90 percent failure rate of monogamous relationships?

So, what is the definition of a successful polyamorous or other type of open relationship, and why does it seem to be different than what some consider a successful monogamous relationship to be?

I think some of it has to do with the popular idea in our society that the only valid relationship is two people who are married. Until someone is married their relationship, regardless of longevity, is not looked at as being a “real” relationship. Therefore people don’t include those several pre-marriage relationships where people were so in love they thought they were moving toward marriage, then BOOM!, it all blows-up and they are heartbroken and eventually they move-on and start the cycle all over again. So they are comparing polyamorous relationships only to married relationships, and not all pair-bondings such as short-term dating, long-term relationships and marriage.

So, what do you think? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

  • Sir James

    Interesting …

  • Bikil

    I get this all the time in poly meetings. People who are newer to poly wondering how to have a successful poly relationship and my first question to them is always, “What IS a successful poly relationship?” Then they think about it for a minute and realize, yes, all the “rules” of relationships that you have ingrained into you from monogamy have changed and you need to rethink what is success and what isn’t. I think a successful relationship is one that serves both of your needs, whatever those needs are at that time, and one or both of you learn from it in some way. I think it’s a bonus when you can continue to interact with that person if the relationship ends, but that’s not always necessary. Telling people that is my version of success gets them thinking.

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