People react in all sorts of different ways to polyamory, because while it has gotten somewhat ingrained in popular culture, it remains a relatively new concept. Even practitioners of polyamory can get sold on myths surrounding their lifestyle as they are entering it and carry them forward into their practice.
Commonly held belief #1
Polyamorous partners are unsatisfied with each other.
This most likely comes from the idea that if a monogamous couple is satisfied with each other the two people will not cheat, argue, or have difficulties. They will certainly not go outside the relationship for any type of satisfaction; something must be missing if they do. However, whether or not that is true for people who practice monogamy, polyamorous partners don’t engage with the idea that any one partner will satisfy all of their needs. The concept that another person has to satisfy his/her own needs is alien to a practitioner of polyamory. The tendency is to think that we are responsible for speaking up about our own needs, and with respect to our wants, multiple people will likely draw them out of us. Many people who practice polyamory believe that no single individual completely appeals to any one person; meaning, I may want you, but that does not preclude me from wanting someone else.
With respect to long-term commitment, which is reflective of personal satisfaction to a degree, a Canadian graduate student researched approximately 1,000 polyamorous individuals and found that primary partners were together for roughly nine years and secondary partners were together for roughly two-and-one-half years.
Commonly held belief #2
People who practice polyamory do not get jealous.
The logic behind this myth goes: it would be impossible to have a partner who either had sex with or spent time with other people if you were the type of person who got jealous; therefore, people who practice polyamory must not get covetous of their partners. In fact, while no research on people who identified themselves as polyamorous could be located, consensually non-monogamous people did, in fact, admit to experiencing distress or increased thinking about cheating. Most of this revolved around primary partners’ behavior outside of agreements and was conducted on 159 consensually non-monogamous people versus 529 monogamous individuals in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019). The most unique finding in the study as compared to prior research to date (September 2020) was that CNM women were more concerned with sexual cheating.
Commonly held belief #3
Practitioners of polyamory have it easier…somehow.
This likely stems from the same place that the tasteless remark that some women or men periodically still make comes from- “if I were a lesbian or a gay man, it would be so much simpler.” It’s as if polyamorous triads or greater are getting away with something, or know some secret that monogamous couples do not. What people may be seeing on the outside is a defense mechanism; the need to appear ultra-high-functioning in the face of near-constant judgment for people who are “out.” This may cause the reaction that it’s simpler. In a world in which work has already transgressed into our homes, and first-grade requirements have made their way into kindergarten, people who rely on schedules and boundaries to maintain clear communication in their love lives with more than two people may not have it easier…somehow. Remember that each time an additional person is added that’s one more person’s hopes, functioning, history, future, and ideas.