Sam is a sex educator and artist who explores queerness, polyamory, and sexuality through their work. She’s passionate about exploring ways to broaden relationship structures to foster more connections between people. They use art and illustration as part of their education process.
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Author: Shrimp Teeth
How to deconstruct relationship norms
I’ve noticed queer folks who are opening their relationship tend to have an easier time understanding polyamory theory than cishet folks.
I think it’s because we’ve already been forced to question and deconstruct our views on sexuality, love, and gender.
Of course, everyone is different, but in peer support, I’ve observed that queers quickly understand non-monogamy theory, and already have non-conventional relationship family structures, while cishet folks have a harder time letting go of compulsory monogamy scripts.
Again, polyamory isn’t easier just because you’re queer.
Rather, it’s an observation that being part of a normative identity cluster often shields you from alternatives. If your sexuality and gender have never been questioned, you probably haven’t had to examine those norms.
Having people tell you that your love or sexual orientation is wrong, makes you question why people hold those beliefs. It’s easier to see how norms actually reinforce systemic power. It’s harder to unlearn something if you’ve never challenged it.
A LOT of cishet people I talk to say “monogamy isn’t for me” but struggle to grasp to what extent it shapes the way we think about relationships.
Most don’t, for example, understand that marriage is an essential part of the comp-mono (compulsory monogamy) industrial complex. Viewing compulsory monogamy as an individual choice rather than a social system misses the point.
You can choose a dyadic relationship (two individuals maintaining a sociologically significant relationship) or not, that’s a choice. You can’t opt-out of the cultural pressure to conform to (ideally cishet) monogamy; that’s what needs to be challenged.
If you don’t take the time to fully deconstruct toxic compulsory monogamy, those beliefs will creep into your polyamory. That’s when we see vetoes, couple privilege, OPPs, unicorn hunting, etc.
It’s crucial to challenge norms if you want non-normative relationships.
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