Many, if not all, prominent people in the poly movement are fond of saying that poly isn’t evolved; it’s not inherently better than mono; monogamy is ok if that’s what you choose.
I respectfully disagree. This is not to say that I believe poly people are “evolved” or inherently better than mono people. People are incredibly flawed living organisms capable of fucking up any ideal they choose to pursue. What I am saying is that, as an abstract concept, poly > mono.
This is not a new thought for me, but it’s one that resurfaced just now. The main difference of course is the petty jealousy. No, wait, hear me out. Yes, I know the whole “jealousy isn’t bad” mantra. That’s why I specify petty jealousy. Jealousy that has no rational component behind it.
Now I know poly relationships aren’t immune to petty jealousies, and monogamous relationships can and do exist without them, but taking these concepts in the abstract, in the ideal form, polyamory does not condone petty jealousy and monogamy reinforces it. Poly says “it’s ok to love more than one”, and mono says “it’s never ok to love more than one”. Except when we say these things, what we really mean is not “love”, it’s “sex”. Or at the very least “romantic love” (love with the intent/desire for sex). Monogamy fully allows you to love both (or more) of your parents, all your grandparents, children, pets, siblings, etc. If you had two sisters, and one sister flew into a jealous rage because you loved the other, you’d think she was insane, and have her committed.
In polyamory, ideally, we are free to love whoever we want, in whatever quantity we desire, with any level of physical intimacy we choose. (yes, I know, reality is seldom so polyanna)
In monogamy, things are slowly getting better, but it once was considered perfectly reasonable and even legally ok, to murder the person you love (and the person you caught them with) if you caught them being physically intimate with somebody else. That’s the reality. The ideal doesn’t contain anything that strongly counters that, save for the idea that you should cherish each other “til death do you part”… Which is quite possibly why murdering a loved one is as common as it is. You’re not even supposed to say “ok, this isn’t working anymore, let’s go our separate ways.” You’re supposed to stick it out until somebody dies.
OK, maybe I’m not being entirely fair to monogamy as an ideal there. That’s a particular (though extremely common) human application to the ideal. But you get the picture. If you travel far from your partner(s), and you meet somebody you take a keen interest in… there’s no harm (outside of potential STD or pregnancy – both of which can be protected against) to the partner(s) in exploring that relationship. Most people, statistically speaking, recognize this fact. Under a poly ideal, there’s absolutely no problem with such a thing, and you can indulge without guilt. Under a mono ideal…. well… there’s a reason the phrase “what happens **** stays ****” exists. There’s a reason that polls show such a high rate of cheating (which is arguably lower than reality, since some people will not admit to having cheated to some pollster). Monogamy says that, even if your actions have no impact whatsoever, other than to make your life a bit happier, you still shouldn’t do it. And this is flawed. People realize this is flawed, and so they cheat the system. But cheating is bad, so why don’t we just change systems?