The Relationship Tips Monogamous People Can Learn From Polyamory

Anyone who has ever been in love will know that no relationship is perfect. It requires hard work, sacrifice, and trust, and is never without its ups and downs (no matter how perfect it may seem from the outside). But more often than not, the hard works pays off and is totally worth it, which is why you should always be open to advice and tips from other couples who have successfully navigated the rollercoaster that is love — monogamous or not. In fact, monogamous couples may want to be particularly open to receiving advice from polyamorous couples — some of the key elements of successful polyamorous relationships can actually be helpful for monogamous couples as well.

"One of the biggest takeaways monogamous people can get from polyamorous people is that love can show up very differently than we expect," Dr. Tony Ortega, psychologist and author of #AreYouHereYet: How to STFU and Show Up For Yourself, tells The List. "Sometimes, people have a very restricted view on love and what it has to look like for them. ...With polyamory, we see a much more open perspective on what love can be like," he continues. Here's what else monogamous people can learn from polyamory.

Polyamorous people make their own rules

Elaborating on what Ortega said, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Seide tells The List, "Too often, with monogamy, particularly heterosexual monogamy, there are these pre-established conventions decided by society." She explains, "Traditionally, entering a monogamous relationship is like joining a game of baseball. You can play or not play, but the rules of the game were determined before you got there." Polyamorous relationships, on the other hand, tend to make their own rules. 

"Modern monogamy should be flexible enough to move away from that one-size-fits-all approach that makes traditional coupling feel rigid, suffocating and unappealing for many individuals," says Dr. Seide. "Even within the confines of monogamy, there is still room for reimagining what a relationship looks like. This can be built from the ground up based on personal preferences and beliefs instead of two people feeling trapped by tradition and cultural norms." Monogamous people shouldn't worry so much about what society says, instead doing what's right for them and their relationship.

Polyamorous people share everything

In order to break away from the norms they grew up with and define the terms of their relationships themselves, monogamous people need to learn to communicate their wants and needs clearly. "In consensual non-monogamous (CNM) relationships, there are so many potential iterations that nothing can be taken for granted. ...This makes constant communication fundamental to the whole concept," says Dr. Seide, pointing out that monogamous couples should "assume" less and talk to each other more. 

Ortega agrees. "I have worked with many monogamous couples whose relationships are facing problems because they avoid the difficult conversations," he reveals. "This is not usually seen with polyamorous couples as there are no real difficult conversations to be had. They share pretty much everything." Like many things in life, you can compare those difficult conversations to ripping off a bandaid. The first time is the hardest but as soon as you've done it once, it only gets easier.