Was I Born This Way?

That’s right, guys – two posts in two days! I’ve got some more in-depth articles and opinion-pieces in progress and lined up, but this just came to me yesterday as a fun little topic that I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on.

So: is polyamory something we’re born with the inclination for, as innate as our sexuality? Or is it something that develops? Or is it a choice? Which was it for you?

When I tell the story of how I ‘became’ poly, I often say that I wasn’t always this way, or talk about my past experiences using the phrase ‘when I was monogamous….’ But having thought more deeply about it, and mulled over some past experiences that didn’t seem that significant at the time, I’m now having second thoughts about this, wondering whether I have, in fact, always had poly tendencies.

Story The First:

I was seventeen, Long Term Ex and I had been together – completely monogamously – for 2 years. At a friend’s party, I got talking to a guy who I’ll call J. He was really friendly and interesting (and bought too many drinks for my under-age self,) and we seemed to have loads in common, so we ended up spending half the night talking to each other. J knew I had a partner, but at the end passed me a piece of paper with ‘call me’ and his number written on it. Being in a relationship, I never pursued this – but I struggled with some serious guilt issues for a while because there wasn’t much getting around the fact that I kind of wanted to. I loved my partner and leaving him was the furthest thing from my mind, but I couldn’t help having the odd moment of wondering “what if?” What if I were single? “Free,” so to speak? Might my interest in J actually go somewhere? Of course it never did, but when I look back now it seems significant that my interest in somebody new did not in any way diminish what I felt for my partner.

Story The Second:

A few years back, also while with Long Term Ex, I had a good friend, who I’m going to call C. C had a crush on me when we first met, but we went on to become extremely close for a while. He was the third person, after my partner and best friend, who I ever came out to as bisexual. While nothing ever happened – again, I was in a monogamous relationship – there was always an undercurrent in my mind of a similar “what if?” to the one I had felt with J. If I’d been single, something very probably could have happened there. The feelings were certainly strong enough on my side, though I tried to suppress them because, once again, they made me feel horribly guilty. And – again – it didn’t diminish what I felt for my partner, or make me want to leave him in any way.

Story The Third:

Not so much a ‘story,’ really, as…. just a thing. Before I was practising poly, before I was even out as bisexual, I used to have vivid dreams/fantasies about just snuggling up and sleeping between my boyfriend, and a woman I imagined as my girlfriend – with two people I loved.

—-

So – is the tendency towards non-monogamy, towards loving multiple people at once, innate? Or are these just coincidental situations I’m reading too much into? Who knows? Does it even matter?

What about YOU, my dear readers? Do you believe you were born poly, grew into being poly, or chose to be poly? I’d love to hear your stories!

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12 thoughts on “Was I Born This Way?

  1. DungeonGuide says:

    If it is possible to be born poly at all, I think it is important to remember that it is nature+nurture, not nature vs nurture.

    On the ‘born poly’ side, my bio parents were involved in a triad at one point, so if there is another genetic (which I sincerely doubt) maybe that has some influence in my life.

    Honestly, while it would horrify my extended family and adoptive parents, I ‘blame’ them for my being poly. I grew up in a family that was as close to a clan as you can find in the US these days. The feeling of being surrounded by a large group of people who loved and were their for you, the way all the adults pitched in together to take care of the kids on holidays and vacations, that became my ideal. And I wanted to live that way, have the warm ‘family is here, everything is good’ feeling that I got when the whole clan got together all the time. Mix that will my early fantasy/sci-fi exposure with it’s relative prevalence of non-monogamy, and . . . yeah.

    • missamaranth says:

      Yes, absolutely. I think a combination of nature and nurture factor in to almost every characteristic we have as humans.

      I’m really interested in your point about ‘blaming’ your family for being poly. That sounds like a wonderful environment to grow up in, so I am not surprised it led you to wanting to create something similar…. and polyamory, to me at least, seems an obvious progression from that! While I didn’t grow up in an environment like that, I’ve always thrived best in closely-knit groups where everybody cares for and looks out for each other. The “chosen family,” so to speak. This ideal didn’t lead me to be poly, but it’s one of the things that makes poly make so much sense to me!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience :-)

  2. acelightning says:

    I strongly believe that all human beings are born somewhat bisexual (but usually with a preference for one gender over the other), and capable of polyamory. But we’re indoctrinated from birth with a whole lot of toxic bullshit about sex, gender, sexual possessiveness, “morality”, and all the other detritus of four thousand years of patriarchal, puritanical monotheism.

    (This from a more-or-less straight, more-or-less monogamous old woman… ;-) )

    • missamaranth says:

      Yes, I think that’s true to a large extent – I believe very few people fall absolutely 100% on one side or the other of the gay –> straight continuum with no wiggle-room whatsoever, (just look at all the people who identify as totally straight, and suddenly fall for someone of the same sex, or vice versa!) And I think tendencies for monogamy, polyamory and anything in between probably work in a similar way – it’s a scale, rather than a binary, and when we start questioning all the societal norms we’re indoctrinated with, then we can figure out where on the spectrum we really fall (and acknowledge that it can, and probably will, fluctuate over time.) :-)

      • acelightning says:

        You’re probably right, and the tendency toward polyamory is also a continuum, not a polarity. But it starts out pretty broad. A newborn baby needs not only food and shelter, she needs to be held and cuddled and loved – she will *die* without sufficient cuddling, just as surely as she would without sufficient food. But that child doesn’t care about (or even know) the sex or gender of the person doing the cuddling, and if she gets cuddles from more than one person, that’s actually better. That very primal need for simple physical affection underlies everything else about the ways we learn to love. If only we could get rid of the hatred of sensuality, pleasure, and sex that our entire culture is so obsessed with…

  3. Anskar Argoni says:

    I personally think that it is something you’re born with, while also thinking it’s a sliding scale – in the same way we have straight/bi/gay and degrees between.

    I also think that, unfortunately, there is some gender based variations on this. I think that females are generally further along the scale towards poly then men are. (Allowing that gender is also a sliding scale etc.) As a male, there are seemingly instinctive tendencies and reactions to some of these concepts, that they generally have a harder time overcoming then women. There are also various evolutionary arguments supporting this, based on behavior patterns observed with wild animals. However, I should be clear and saying that these are tendencies/instincts and thus something that can be overcome and/or worked with, not excuses or hard rules.

    Again, this is based on my experience as someone who has been in various arrangements of poly relationships, and others experiences may vary.

    • missamaranth says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Very interesting to hear from someone firmly on the “it’s something you’re born with” side.

      I have absolutely no data to agree or disagree with your ideas about gender variations in these things. I’ve actually seen the opposite – it’s always seemed much easier for men, in my experience. But, admittedly that may have much more to do with societal expectations and roles (men are supposed to sleep around, women are not, blah blah blah) than with actual naturally ingrained traits.

      Some really interesting points here, thank you! :-)

      • Anskar Argoni says:

        I’m thinking of the (general) preference of males to prefer MFF or similarly proportion arrangements, and that they feel threatened or otherwise uncomfortable when introducing a “new penis” into the group. These attitudes are generally frowned on as being immature and selfish. While I agree that allowing these instincts/reactions to dominate the relationship is a sign of immaturity, having them in the first place does seem to be someone instinctive.

        But then, I guess that’s because I personally distinguish between “casually poly” (which is more like Open Relationship, i.e. we’re together but not exclusive) and… well, I don’t have a good term, but what works for me personally, which is that all the relationships are intertwined.

  4. Dragonmamma says:

    I believe we are all born with the tendency to be poly. Consider the word “love” in its broadest concept here and we see many examples of “buddy bonding” between men, and women are famous for their group caring and sharing. Also of course all parents understand that love for all their children is variable but equal.
    So yes love in many ways for many different people all the time is a given norm for most people.
    However at what point the practise of loving many people slips over into a more recognisable form of polyamory is debateable. I would have thought that current cultural expectations and opportunity were more important factors.
    I would also consder that time has an important part to play in the dynamics. After all how many hours a week can you commit to several different relationships as well as working etc etc.

    Also in reply to Anskar I would agree that most of the men I know hold quite strong views against Poly – very much along the lines of possessivenes – which again seems like a culturally indoctrinated attitude.

    • Anskar Argoni says:

      I agree that our culture does agree with that attitude and reinforce it, but we also see the same attitude occur in the wild with pack/herd animals. For this reason I think there is some biological/instinctive tendency towards it, which combines with people not examining their own reasoning and thinking, into becoming social norms.

  5. Emy says:

    I reckon everyone has the potential to be poly, in the right circumstances. I mean, me and my partner are monogomous, but, if the right person came along, who knows what would happen? Humans are social creatures, after all.

  6. Kelly says:

    I believe I may have been born this way. I have been in love four times in my life, or in NRE. When I fell in love the first time, I was 15 and there were two boys both friends who I really like and would get butterflies when around them. After a few weeks being confused by my feelings towards them both one of the boys made a move on me. Thus I ended up with him for a year. I still continued to have feelings for the other boy as well. Then a few years later I developed feelings for a girl, when drunk she would act like my girlfriend but when sober she would just act like my girlfriend. One night I thought I would… actually I have no idea what I was thinking at the time but I decided to have sex with a random in a toilet. After doing just that a male friend pulled me outside and confessed he was in love with me so I formed a relationship with him and in a matter of days had those NRE feelings for Jim and still her. The next time is a repeat of the first situation but a few weeks in I tried to explain that I was in love with both of the friends which lead to lots of craziness. I am still with the guy who made the first move with me. We have been married for ten years now. We still know his friend who i was also in love with at the time we got together but i am no longer in love with him. We have an open relationship which came about because
    I fell in love with another man a few years
    ago but still very much loved my husband.

    That was a long story but i think it shows that everytime I have fallen in love it has been with more than one person. I also remember having this on going story in my head about my future having more than one partner as a child.

    Ps I hope that all makes sense I can not scroll back up to proof read it.

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