Polyamory is not for me

By Branda Mitchell, @BrandaM_DE

“So, would you be cool with being in an open relationship?”

This was the first time I had been asked if sleeping with other people was okay prior to it happening. Eventually, this question led to a first of many experiences in the nontraditional realm of romance.

Like any person who is not used to sharing, I immediately got defensive at the idea of someone else’s hands in my cookie jar. My new boyfriend explained this was how he operated with the ‘monogamy is unnatural’ speech, completely surprised that I was unaware of his lifestyle.


I thought this was weird, yet I was still intrigued. After doing more hours of research than I care to admit, I had convinced myself that I could give it a whirl. If only 3 to 5 percent of species were monogamous, then I could handle being in the majority.

For the first few weeks, it was fun. I enjoyed my freedom and made a new friend. My boyfriend and I did not openly discuss our escapades, but we both knew what was happening when we were not together on a Friday night.

As a person of science, I continually reminded myself of the facts: Monogamy is a cultural expectation, humans have animal instincts and fidelity is indicative of a relationship’s success in our society. 

Even knowing these things to be true, I was still curious about the weekends I spent at home alone and started asking questions. My behavior quickly began to resemble a dog who does not like the family’s new puppy.

Being jealous or territorial does not work in these types of relationships, so I ended it completely. Although my free love lifestyle was short lived, I learned some things about expectations:

1. Sharing may not be caring

I spent the majority of that time convincing myself I was okay with something I wasn’t. Polyamory is totally fine for people who can handle it, but some people simply cannot. Jealousy is very real and can cause a serious rift. Suppressing your real feelings will lead to resentment, which ultimately ruins any relationship. Ultimately, I was not down with the cause no matter how hard I tried to be.


2. Circumstances matter

There is a difference between casually dating and being in a defined open relationship. I can be casual and totally okay with it, but I cannot develop serious feelings for multiple people at one time. I can barely make sure my own problems are handled, so I cannot keep up with three people. 

3. Ground rules are important

If you are going to venture into the world of being open, do not do it blindly. Establish boundaries and rules so you know where the other person stands.

Having an initial open discussion lays the groundwork for good communication. For example, I strongly suggest discussing threesomes before you find someone in your significant other’s bed, because it just gets awkward.

4. It’s risky business

When it comes to your health, having multiple partners increases your risk for just about everything. You’re indirectly sleeping with everyone your partner has ever slept with. So if you’re going to be with multiple people, be safe about it.

5. Don’t knock it until you try it

Initially, the thought of sleeping with other people made me immediately feel like I was insufficient. Most people I discussed my relationship with thought I was in it just to sleep around. However, neither of those things turned out to be true.

The implication that people cannot truly care about more than one person is unfair. It may not be for me, but the only way I learned that was by keeping an open mind.

Branda Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].