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We live in a society that sanctions only one kind of romantic relationship: a monogamous cisgender man and a monogamous cisgender woman. Same-sex relationships are gaining ground, but it’s been an uphill struggle; there are still many people who label them ‘deviant’ and ‘perverse.’ A natural consequence of the notion that there’s one socially approved model of relationship is the idea that other types of relationships are abnormal or unhealthy, and view them with a skepticism rarely applied to “normal” relationships. This is the essence of “relationship negativity:” the idea that relationships are only healthy if they’re carefully kept within the constraints of what’s construed as “normal,” and any other form of relationship is to be viewed with distrust or even hostility.
It can be very, very hard to let go of the idea that a relationship that involves more than one other person is every much as valid, legitimate, and “real” as a relationship with only one partner. The subtext of the “partner of my own” idea is that a partnership with someone who has other lovers is less satisfying, or perhaps less legitimate, than a partnership with someone you don’t “share.”

It’s a notion rooted in centuries of tradition and many a bad Disney cartoon and romantic comedy, so it’s not too surprising that it can be so difficult to let go of. Yet we must. I submit that as long as we believe a plural relationship is less real than a relationship with only one person who doesn’t have other partners, poly relationships won’t be as satisfying to us as monogamous relationships. We’ll always feel that our lives are inferior to what they could be.