When online dating, I have to filter through all sorts of people. Although there are many who are just blatantly disrespectful and rude, I find that the people in the “lifestyle” can be the most judgmental. I cringe when I see an opening message, that starts with, “hey, I’m in the lifestyle too. How long have you been swinging for?” Why does something like this make me unhappy? Because, I then foolishly feel compelled to engage into an annoying and usually pointless discussion whereby I explain that open relationships, swinging and polyamory are not all the same thing. I mean, if they were, we wouldn’t need different names for them right? And yet this is a seriously difficult concept for many people in the lifestyle to grasp.
It seems that they are so excited to find someone in a non monogamous lifestyle, and then ironically revert to this monogamous notion that all people in this spectrum are looking for the same thing. A profile stating multiple anything, like partners or sex or love and those blinders go on. They forget that even within this spectrum we are all individuals. We all have our own relationship norms. And the label I choose to use, currently open, is my choice. It is not for a stranger to tell me what my partner and I are, or are not. And what’s more, we are growing and changing ourselves. So perhaps the titles and labels we started out using may outgrow us. Again though, this is our choice, and I will update my profiles accordingly when I am ready or feel the need. Not at the whim or at the unsolicited advice of a stranger.
Maybe you are wondering, just how bad or annoying could these conversations really be, right? Am I just making mountains out of mole hills and the like? Well, let me put it this way, I almost rarely block or delete users who are monogamous. But I have about a 50 percent rate of blocking the so called non monogamous. The messages start accusatory, then quickly escalate into un-solicited sexual advances, towards name calling and slander because I am not interested in them. There is often very little flirting, just a full on attitude of “well you’re a slut and I’m a slut, so lets go fuck”. Conversations are at a minimum, and it feels like the non monogamous on dating sites are in a breeding Zoo. Just because you are of a similar stripe then you must procreate on demand. It’s a harsh reality of the current scene and as a result I have taken a huge step back in looking for new partners.
It would be easier of course for me to just block these users, however I cannot help trying to re-educate them. I want to explain that we are not all created equal. And that within this spectrum of non-monogamy there exists an abundance of different scenarios and relationship types. That non-monogamy does not always equal slut. In fact, I often feel that I am more selective now because I take into account not just my wants, but those of my partner. I no longer wish to explain myself to people who fall within the non monogamous umbrella and pass judgement, but I know that I will probably continue on doing so. And I feel somewhat responsible for protecting other females from the same crap I deal with.
There is one other thing stands out for me as confusing when faced with critical non-monogamists online and that is in the reverting back to the black and white mentality. My reasoning behind this is that polyamory is not a definition that exists naturally in our society. It is one, along with compersion, that exists within a world found through research, nearly exclusively. Quite often, an individual or couple begins trying to find ways to help them deal with urges that seem unnatural from a monogamous founded society. We seek blogs, podcasts, and every book we can to help us understand that these dispositions are not merely urges to cheat. We then educate ourselves to discover that the possibility does exists to have a loving relationship outside of monogamy. So it doesn’t sit well with me, that persons who seek education into non-monogamy would therefore bring with them the bigotry of their former selves. Or to go right back into a cookie cutter mold of one size must fit all, after spending the energy to gain insight into all these other lifestyles. Or did I just stumble right upon the very issue of internet research. Are these individuals researching until they find something that hits home and stopping right there? Do they find a meme, or blog that strikes one chord and then closing their minds to any further digging due to sheer laziness?
In summary, my PSA is this, if you’re out there, exploring new partners and ways of existing in non monogamy, please stop trying to apply your labels onto strangers. Break free of the black and white, because this world has a spectrum of colour as vast as in the world of monogamy. Leave judgement where it belongs, in the past.