Is it possible to be in a healthy happy poly relationship?

I got two letters almost back to back that have the same answer, so I’m answering them together.

I'm polyamorous, or at least I identify as such. Is it possible to be in a relationship that is safe and true? For the sake of being brief- my last two relationships I used the term "open relationship" but my exes turned jealous and abusive. Before then I was seen as a slut and a cheater. Is it possible to be in a healthy happy poly relationship?


My polyamorous relationship recently ended for reasons relating to polyamory-- someone wasn't ready to face potential consequences of a world that doesn't approve, and felt unable to provide emotional support for two people. Polyamory is still a part of my identity, but I'm now having doubts about that. I guess I just want to hear someone say that just because this relationship didn't work, doesn't mean polyamory is invalidated.

…yes. You’re literally talking to someone who has been in healthy, happy polyamorous relationships for the past 10 years. Of course it’s possible.

I’ve seen tons and tons of relationships go sour for reasons related to monogamy - someone was jealous, someone was possessive, someone’s close friendships threatened their partner, someone cheated, and of course all the nonsense that people now call “micro-cheating” or “emotional affairs.”

All throughout human history, we see chaos and suffering in the name of monogamy. Othello murdered Desdemona. Menelaus went to war for Helen. Hamilton trashed his personal and political life over Maria Reynolds. Look at all the drama forming the premise of all the Bachelor shows. Bill Clinton cheated, got impeached, and Hillary’s decision to stick by him is considered a stain on her, and Monica Lewinsky’s life was destroyed, and it was just A Whole Thing. Monogamy, and the issues and culture surrounding it, tends to cause lots of Whole Things.

And yet, no one ever looks at the wreckage of monogamous relationships and asks “Is it possible to be in a happy healthy monogamous relationship? Does monogamy even work?” Those bad experiences and breakdowns are treated as one-offs, or failings of the individuals involved and their choices, never an indictment of monogamy. Polyamory, and all other relationships, are like sobriety: it works if you work it. Polyamory can be healthy if the people involved are making healthy choices. Polyamory can be unhealthy if the people involved are making unhealthy choices. Same goes for monogamy.