Once upon a time, I was that person who thought that all straight people were secretly non-monosexual; after all, hadn’t I mistakenly identified as straight for years? Later, after wholeheartedly adopting the poly label, I also believed that all monogamous people were probably non-monogamous, and that they, like me, needed just a little awareness to realize their true selves.
I was wrong, of course.
I now fully acknowledge how annoying it is to deal with evangelicals of any kind and apologize for how obnoxious I must have been. That is why, when I speak of polyamory or pansexuality or queerness and so on, I do my darndest to keep it personal. That is exactly what I tried to do when I wrote about my own feelings surrounding poly breakups. As always when I mention my relationship style, however, I received responses to the effect of “Well, I couldn’t do poly, but I support those of my friends who do so.”
Why does this happen?
What purpose does it serve, exactly, to insist that you are not a thing but that thing is okay? I don’t post on friends’ pregnancy announcements that I support the choice to bear children but personally would have an abortion if I found myself pregnant today. I don’t seek out selfies featuring flat-ironed hair so that I might declare that I refuse to straighten my hair. I don’t tell my friends who order large quantities of noodles when we eat out that I am okay with them eating such foods but that they make me feel bloated and sluggish.
But apparently, monogamous people cannot abide voicing their unasked-for approval of my relationship style without reiterating their normativity. Well, okay, then?
It’s all very “no homo” a la Macklemore: “I may support same-sex marriage, but don’t worry, I’m not actually gay, ladies” (content warning for ableism after the 3-minute mark).
Congratulations, monogamous people. You’re not poly, just like most of the other millions if not billions of other monogamous people on the planet. It is not astonishing and it is not noteworthy. Most people, be they poly or mono, will not assume that you are poly unless you give them some sort of concrete cue that you might be.
What makes it all the more ridiculous is that even if you tell people that you’re poly, that might not matter. I, as a very openly out poly person, still get people asking me “what happened” to Danny when they see me being romantic with someone else or cooing about how awesome it is that I “finally found someone” when they hear about me dating someone new (this summer will mark the fifth year that Danny and I have been together). I’ve never made much of a secret of my relationship style yet I still get monogamous assumptions welded onto my decidedly non-monogamous life.
Why not just voice the unsolicited support without the vehement denial? And why assume you’re in a position to approve of people or not in the first place? I’m going to continue being poly whether or not I have the approval of some person.