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Why Choose Hard Mode?
If Ethical Non-Monogamy is hard, what the F is the upside?
We humans are masters at taking the most direct and low-effort route to any destination. It’s our biology (mostly). We’re inclined to want to eat the whole goddammed bag of chips because our nutrition-gathering apparati are keyed into salt/sugar/fat/texture and chips are engineered to be addictive (it’s called hyperpalatability and it is a THING). Even if we were trained to feel guilty later, we absolutely will be tempted to eat all the chips or the whole package of ice cream or the big bowl of creamy pasta, because the next famine could be any day now and our bodies want calories, calories, calories to makeuh da babbys.
Whew, okay. That’s food. But what about relationships? Similar, actually. Every single one of us knows relationships that are on autopilot, where the history and aversion to friction keeps people together. This doesn’t mean people have to be unhappy about it; in fact it might be comforting for everything to be fine and not boat-rocking. It *could* mean that one or more of the people are unhappy, too. But it almost certainly means that one or more of the relationship participants are unchallenged and not growing much.
Loving the growth roller coaster
For people who value growth over “fine” and who belief that they can only find a real happiness in living at the edge of their comfort zones, our biological efficiency is a bummer. So we go back to school in midlife. We get a divorce. We move across the country just to see what it’s like. Or…. we open up our idea of what a romantic relationship can look like by adding more people to the party. That’s called relationships on “hard mode”.
This begs some really interesting questions. These questions are worth considering if you feel drawn to non-monogamy and yet you find it incredibly difficult with roller coasters that don’t always seem worth the ride. The question(s): are you an optimist? Do you crave the implied growth that comes from friction? Do you like all experiences just for the sake of finding out? If you answer yes, yes, yes to those things then it is completely conceivable that ethical non-monogamy could be a fit for you. It could be interesting and stimulating, but not guarantee calm stability in the day-to-day. (Of course, NO relationship guarantees this. None.)
And, truth be told, if you are in fully consensual relationships with all of your partners and no one is regretting their choice or truly UNhappy, then it might all be absolutely swell and dandy. Just like those “let’s not rock the boat” relationships where everyone is FINE. Interesting way to bring those two into alignment, but there ya have it.