I was having an interesting discussion with a friend of mine recently. We were talking about how most people in America seem to have trouble with monogamy. According to the http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/monogamy, the archaic definition of monogamy is the practice of marrying once in our lifetime. By that definition, most modern households fail at monogamy. No, in my experience people get into relationships, hoping to find “the One” that he or she will remain with for the rest of their lives, but then find “the One” simply isn’t. They break up or divorce, and then the cycle repeats itself. This is more like the third definition of monogamy on the above site: “the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time.” When folks keep replacing one partner for another, it’s what I and a lot of other people call serial monogamy.
Serial monogamy is more socially acceptable than polyamory, even though it usually involves different sex partners over the years. Churches don’t condone sleeping around, but if you are marrying every time, then it’s okay. Unless you’re Catholic. Then you’re a sinner. (How religions view marriage is another discussion for another time.)
But I digress. Serial monogamy is a step away from polyamory. I don’t know how many people I’ve heard who said they were continual serial monogamists before they discovered polyamory because they couldn’t be happy with just the one person and kept looking for the person who could possibly meet ALL of his or her needs. This really is an impossible expectation for one person to fill. I have so MANY different interests, that it would be impossible for my husband to be able to fulfill them all. In addition, he’s got his own interests that don’t align with mine. I’ve got my value system, he’s got his. For the most part, they agree, but I can’t possibly expect him to agree with me on everything. I think people will try to settle for the person they find who most closely matches them when it comes to marriage. But why settle? After being with someone for awhile, they realize settling wasn’t enough, there were too many problems or issues (which are amplified when you don’t have any other outlets) and then there’s the divorce and the hunt begins anew.
In addition, I don’t know how many poly people I’ve heard say that back when they were of the monogamous mindset they dated (or even married) one person, but then some new person came along, and then the relationship dissolved so that the new person could be chased after. They loved their partner, but wanted the other one, too, and had to choose. The new relationship energy of the new partner often won out.
I think some monogamous people who are like this really are open to loving more than one person and probably would, if they knew it was an option. But because of our society, they drop one partner for the other, because that is the only “fair” or “ethical” way to do it. To do otherwise would be "wrong". How unfair to the first partner, to be dropped because society says that only one lover can be pursued!
In poly, people who fall in love and then fall in love again, are encouraged by their first partner to explore the new relationship. The first partner watches as the lover is immersed in the new relationship energy (NRE) and takes joy in that. Sometimes, that NRE overflows to the first partner and their love life becomes even more passionate and romantic than it was before the second partner found the third. And this can happen over and over again, depending on how far the poly family wants to take it.
In my opinion, that beats serial monogamy any day.