While it’s a complete myth that all bi people are non-monogamous, recent surveys suggesting a fifth of people have tried being in an open relationship at some point in their life means that, odds are, somebody in your rainbow family is.
Being bi/pan and non-monogamous can leave a whole load of grey space for myths that need busting, so here are 4 things bi polyam people want you bi monogamous folx to know:
Coming out as polyam can be similar to coming out as bi
The way people react to the news that you’re not monogamous is pretty much the same as to the news that you’re bi/pan: there’s normally a confused look, a comment suggesting you’re greedy, and a part-jokey part-creepy question about unicorn-hunting and how many couples you’ve joined. Add to that a heap of ‘you’ll grow out of it/it’s just a phase’ suggestions, and you’ve pretty much cracked it. The only real difference is that non-monogamous folx also normally get quizzed on whether they ever get jealous.*
*spoiler alert: most of us do sometimes, it’s about how you deal with it – but probably best to get to know us a bit better before you delve into our personal brain space…
Polyam does not equal promiscuous
If sleeping with lots of people at once is your jam, go for it and enjoy, but that in itself does not equal non-monogamy. I do have friends who collect sexual partners like Pokémon cards, but some of those actually consider themselves monogamous. I also have polyam friends in committed long-term triads or are solo polaym who haven’t been on a date with anyone new in years. There are as many shades of non-monogamy as sexuality and the truth is, most polyam people spend a lot less time chasing tail than sorting their Google calendars (seriously, try timetabling dates with several people, it’s a labyrinth).
The bi guilt is mighty real
Ever had that nonsensical twang of guilt that you’re not real bi/pan because you’ve fancied/kissed/slept with more X than Y than Z? Add to that the feeling that your multiple partners have fed into the idea that bi people ‘can’t make their mind up’ or ‘can’t settle on a side’, and you’ve got a glimpse into the guilty mind of a polyam bi person.
People sometimes make sweeping judgements on all bi/pan people on the basis of just your lifestyle choices, and that sucks and feels pretty bad. The best you can do is try to explain to people, but that doesn’t always work, and can leave you feeling pretty irrationally guilty.
Nobody’s trying to convert you
So, there will occasionally be that preachy person who claims that their way is the best way, but 99% of polyam people don’t think being non-monogamous is better than being monogamous – it just works better for them. They’re not going to flirt with your partners, or try to convert you, and like hell are they going to get on a soapbox and tell you it’s perfect: it comes with its ups and downs just like any relationship does. It’s all about embracing what works for you and your partners, whether that’s one, many or no partners at all.
So to round it all up, being bi and non-monogamous isn’t just about casual sex or jumping on a trendy bandwagon. It’s about polyam folx living the way they feel true to themselves, having adventures and falling in love with the people they care about regardless of gender or society’s boxes – and if that’s sounds familiar, it’s because it’s just a slightly different page in the same pink-purple-blue book we all share. 🦄
This article first appeared in Bi Pride UK’s Unicorn magazine. Click here for more brilliant writing from Unicorn.