Yes, Poly People Are Insecure…Because They’re People

a very insecure and worried looking face carved into a sidewalk
Image by ryanready / CC BY

The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.

Erich Fromm

*

“Never took you as someone who would be polyamorous,” she says.

“Oh,” I say. “Why’s that?”

“Well, normally I wouldn’t say this, but…” She hesitates.

I wait, in that space, knowing that the reluctance signals something important. Or at least interesting.

“You’re so secure.”

I laugh. “I’ve managed to fool you,” I say. Only half-joking. Okay, a third.

“It’s just… I always thought of poly people as being insecure. Afraid of monogamy.”

“Really? Afraid of monogamy?” I say. “Why’s that? I don’t consider monogamy particularly threatening.”

“When you’re monogamous, all of your eggs are in one basket. You don’t have other relationships to fall back on if something happens. You know, if you get dumped.”

I smile. “Polyamory’s not an insurance policy against being alone. You’re talking to a person who went through 4 breakups in a period of 3 months.”

“Well, I’m not saying it works as a strategy. Only that people use it as one,” she says.

“How do you know?” I ask.

“How do I know what?”

“How do you know that it’s insecurity driving people to seek multiple partners?” I say.

“Because poly people are so quick to call other people insecure. Especially a person who states a preference for monogamy.”

“And you assume it’s projection?” I say.

She nods.

“Well, you’re right about one thing,” I say. “Poly people are insecure.”

“I knew it,” she says.

“But they’re not insecure because they’re poly. And they’re not poly because they’re insecure. They’re insecure because they’re people.”

“But being insecure is a bad thing.”

“Well, sort of,” I say. “It can be. Practically everyone feels insecure about something from time to time. It’s less a question of whether you get insecure and more whether you can recognize it and deal with it productively.”

She nods.

“And think of it another way, when you’re monogamous, yes, your eggs are all in one basket. And yes, that makes that one basket vulnerable. But spreading out your relationships? It has a way of making you even more vulnerable.”

She smiles. “So I’d have 3 boyfriends to worry about alienating?”

I laugh. “Something like that.”

 

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