Tag Archives: psychology today

Do Emotional & Physical Monogamy Intersect?

18 May

Here’s how I see it:
I believe that monogamy is a myth in the sense that the human heart is wired for polyamory (even if most people haven’t yet come to that conscious place of self-awareness). I have crazy mixed-feelings and thoughts on poly-relationships and polygamy where myself is concerned (and you’ll be hearing more about that later), but I do believe that I have a polyamorist heart. I believe that my heart was created to love more than One, and that it works best when it does. However, when I talk about that, I’m not necessarily talking about having a Primary partner and a secondary partner and a tertiary partner and all that babble. I’m just talking about having deep, deep love inside of me for more than one person at the same time.

I once read an article on an airplane… actually, I believe it was an advice-column in Psychology Today about “emotional cheating” and this woman was freaking out because she had a close guy-friend at work and they shared a deep emotional bond and would talk about things that she didn’t necessarily discuss with her fiancée.

The psychologist who was giving the advice reprimanded her harshly for meeting up with this friend and enjoying what sounded to me as a healthy friendship with deep waters of meaningful connection. The advice-giver called it emotional cheating, and said that it was unhealthy to have connections like that to anyone but one’s primary partner, that to do so is akin to cheating on a monogamous partner with another physical relationship.

She demanded that the woman cut off the relationship with her close friend from work, immediately discontinue sharing any feelings with anyone other than her fiancée and/or break off the engagement because she clearly “wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment.”

Blech. I had the strongest negative reaction to that article (and still do when I recount it). I had never heard the term “emotional cheating” before, and while I can see where the psychologist was coming from, I think it’s utter rubbish.

Humans need connection to live, to be healthy, to survive, to thrive. We need emotional connection just as much as we need a roof over our heads, food to eat, and water to drink.

We have physical needs, yes, but I might even go as far as saying that the emotional needs take priority. And for me, most often, the physical needs are linked to the emotional; I cannot separate them. I trainwreck when I try. (Another reason why I don’t do so well with public play unless I am partnered at the time, or with a protector, or feeling extremely safe otherwise, even though I like the glitz and glamour of it.)

I grew up in a house of conflict, in a family where my parents were constantly screaming at each other, hitting each other, punching through doors and walls, crying and yelling and shouting and arguing. They separated when I was seven. And a lot of my worldview has been formed around those formative years of my childhood. When I look around at people that I know and consider to be in successful intimate relationships, they are not getting all of their emotional needs met by that one person, by his/her primary (or monogamous) partner.

I don’t care if it’s a date, a play-partner in a BDSM context, a courtship, an engagement, a handfast, a marriage, a relationship, a physical relationship, an emotional relationship, a friendship, a friendship with physical benefits, a friendship with emotional benefits… I believe that people need more than one emotional connection in their lives to be healthy and balanced. And I believe that it is oftentimes the path that is healthiest for any given relationship, no matter what form it takes, or what labels are used to describe the interaction of intimacy.

To me, it is not only unrealistic to expect a single partner or friend to meet all of my emotional needs; it is foolish. It is emotional-suicide. It is turning off the wellspring of light inside of me. It is drowning myself with my own intensity, and usually drowning my (primary) relationship, too, sucking the light away from both, suffocating myself and my Other until we combust and cannot continue to be together. (That was a mouthful, wasn’t it? *giggles* That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but that’s my stance on emotional monogamy, anyway.)

As far as the physical side of things goes, I mentioned earlier that I have very very mixed feelings about polygamy and poly relationships in general. I am much more comfortable with labeling myself as non-monogamous than I am with labeling myself as poly, and think I am much more comfortable having a series of parallel relationships (a certain style of swinging, for sure) that may or may not intersect physically and emotionally than I am in having one big closed poly free-for-all with seven other women and one man, for example.

(Yes, I did experience that type of relationship framework. Yes, it was a trainwreck (for me). And a nightmare. And there was too much emotional-abuse involved for me to even have my head screwed on straight. My first full day living with all of them I blacked out, fainted, lost consciousness for the first time in my life. Think my body was trying to tell me something?)

On some days, even, I just want to settle into a comfy physically monogamous relationship, and just branch-out to get my emotional needs sated.

But enough about me; your turn! Tell me about YOU. Introduce yourself. Catch me up. Say hi. I’d love to meet you in this hyper-digitized, globalized, yet nonetheless close-knit community of sexual creatures.

Blissfully Yours,
Mistress Arabella

Advertisements