There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
~ Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio.
Trying to be monogamous is as much work as trying to be polyamorous. “Trying” being the operative word. Monogamy is currently the default choice for most people, but has left some disillusioned. Polyamory is another option but can just as easily result in disillusionment, especially if you hope it will fix the scars left by your previous monogamous experiences. (Going from poly to mono will be equally dissatisfying if it is solely in reaction to another failed attempt to fill a void.)
A person coming from lack, trying to fill a void, will play out their lack on either stage equally (poly or mono or any land in between) and come away blaming the stage, not aware that their character (playing the victim) was the driving force. A person coming from relative wholeness will play out their wholeness on either stage equally and make conscious choices for their and their partner’s best, deciding what is best for themselves and all. They will not blame the stage, for they will have chosen it and played it out consciously, courageously and as a creator, not a victim.
If one tries to fit themselves into either box in the hopes that it will fill their voids, straighten their kinks or save them from their loneliness, heartbreak, or themselves, they are setting themselves up for the reciprocal disappointment. In either model, you eventually get to unpack your own baggage… or not, and continue a life of quiet desperation.
Rather than trying to build up one relationship style or put down another, I ask myself, “What do I really want?” But even that can be tricky, because a lot of what I want is programmed or socialized or even subtly informed by what I think is possible or appropriate or moral or acceptable.
Sometimes a better question is, “What kind of relationship would I create if I could get away with it?” If I really let my imagination run with this one, I can reveal parts of myself that I hide because I think they are too much, too outlandish, too selfish, too hedonistic, or just too romantic. The question helps tap into my parts that I might even hide from myself, calling them unreasonable and unrealistic.
Relationships do involve compromise, but that compromise happens on the playing field and in the interactions… on stage. Compromise does not need to happen when you are crafting your design for what you want. You don’t have to compromise before you even begin. In fact, that might very well be the reason we feel let down in whatever model we choose, not because we feel we have to compromise in the relationship, but because we realize we compromised with ourselves long before we met our partner or partners.