Monogamy signifies a style of relationship whereby two people are exclusive with one another. This may refer to marital monogamy which means an individual has one mate throughout his or her lifetime. Monogamy may also refer to serial monogamy which is a term that encapsulates individuals who date one person exclusively several times in their life, i.e., having two or more serious relationships throughout their life in which they are exclusive..
Polyamory is a term that means ‘many loves.’ It may form into a variety of relationship styles that allow for the space for people to be involved with more than one person at a time. This may be through forming multiple couple relationships, forming triads, quads, etc.
A significant point that distinguishes polyamory from cheating is that everyone involved is informed and consents, making ethical and open communication a necessary component in poly relationships. Polyamory is also distinct from polygamy. When understood at face value and separated from the Mormon depiction of the term, polygamy simply means many marriages. Polygamy may be considered polyamorous, although polyamorous does not imply marriages are being formed.
Alright, now that we have our terms clarified, how do they apply to online dating?
Being clear about whether you prefer to build monogamous or polyamorous style relationships is helpful in defining your boundaries. By identifying boundaries and communicating them clearly, you show that you have gained a degree of self-awareness and that you seek to maintain those defined boundaries. This is a necessary aspect of any healthy relationship, aiding to build interdependent connections rather than enmeshed ones. Unfortunately, not many websites offer a clear space to define whether monogamy or polyamory suit our dating preferences, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express it in your written blurb! As a result, you will improve your likelihood of attracting someone who matches your preference and will respect this boundary. This certainly beats investing in a good candidate only to learn a month into the courtship that they are actually poly when you assumed they were mono, or the other way around. People are not always clear in the beginning about their intentions, and some may find it challenging to bring the subject up early on in fear of it making too bold of an implication about the depth of bond you currently share. So, be clear if you already know your preferred style. Sharing this information within the first few dates of getting to know someone is a good idea, and online dating offers a unique and easy opportunity to express yourself upfront in your profile!
Monogamy has long been the relationship norm in western civilizations, at least as the general public recognizes and is culturally expressed. As time passes, alternative relationship styles are beginning to become more pronounced as possible lifestyle choices. Monogamy is not accurately described as the ‘normal’ way to relate, rather it is a single option. Encountering these terms in the online dating realm brings awareness to these options. If these terms and ideas are new to us, then this exposure may kick-start the journey of discovering which style suits us best – it is not always what we at first expect! Furthermore, inclusivity to people who prefer unconventional dating styles means online dating becomes an open and safer resource for more individuals and thus creates more opportunities for fulfillment.
Consider the following example: When encountering a profile made by a couple who seek another individual (most commonly another woman), there are many common assumptions that may come up as to what is going on in this case. If monogamy is very important and understood as the only ethical or workable relationship style, then judgement or irritation may be the automatic reaction one has to seeing this type of profile. However, it is beneficial to keep in mind that it is also possible that the couple is non-monogamous and may be using online dating as one of the more efficient means to meet a third party to become invested and a part of their relationship. This is known as a triad, which is when three people are in one relationship to enjoy the many benefits of togetherness on an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level.
What if you feel that you connect with someone online that you really like, but it turns out they prefer a style of relating that differs from your own? You will have to decide if you are willing to accept this about the other individual and honour their right and freedom to date as they prefer. This will also require of you a strong sense of self and willingness to work with the emotions and fears that may be triggered by a partner who dates others while you are exclusive with them, or by a partner who wants all of your attention while trying to maintain the health of your other partnerships. This is a difficult path albeit one that does work out for a few.
Ultimately, knowing thyself will only aide in the search for a healthy, fulfilling partnership. Know whether it is a deal-breaker if someone’s preference of monogamy or polyamory is in contrast to your own, and navigate the dating world in a way that aligns with this personal truth. You can support the likelihood of attracting someone who matches your style by being upfront in your profile, or communicating on the subject within the first few dates together. The subject reflects the way that your heart loves and the commitment you are willing to share.