Monday, April 30, 2007

Polyamory

As i mentioned in my post on being a vegetarian, it's interesting to see what causes vehement reactions. Polyamory seems to be one of them. For those not in the know, polyamory is the idea that you can be in romantic love with several people at once. Polyamoric people tend to exist in interesting relationships- perhaps a husband has a girlfriend which his wife knows about, and that girlfriend also has a boyfriend... Obviously in legal terms, if all these people wanted to be joined in law, it would be a nightmare, but they seem to be happy with it. While I have only met on one occasion someone who claims to live by this ideal, I do bump into them on the internet every now and then. They apparently do exist.

Now to me, this certainly is an odd idea, and certainly isn't for me. I'm afraid monogamy is where I am at, I don't think I could function in a more complex arrangement. Indeed, I find it unlikely that anyone can function happily in such an arrangement. But some say they do, and ultimately, who am I to judge that?

But polyamory does seem to cause extreme reactions, from people I would not expect. A while back we were having a social for our Amnesty society, at a pub, when a channel 4 team appeared to ask our views about polyamory. One of the group accepted and went outside to talk. This caused some discussion, and several of my friends were very firm that, "you cannot love more than one person at once," to the point that one was suggesting an Amnesty against polyamory movement (in jest, I do add). I demurred.

It seems bizzare that people are so certain about this- first of all, define love clearly, second of all, just because it's not possible for you, or anyone you know, does that make it impossible? What is exactly special about romantic love that it is only for one person (now at this point it is possible to define love as to the exclusive want of one person. Obviously under this definition, polyamory does not exist, but I rather think this is a little extreme).

So anyway: any thoughts on polyamory?

7 Comments:

At 1:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polyamory freaks me out. What I want to know is, when exactly do you bring it up to your spouse? That you're in love with someone else? Mad.

 
At 1:05 am, Blogger Tammy said...

I agree with your thoughts. People and their needs as well as what one can be happy with are all as different as people themselves. As long as no one is getting hurt (ie: underage, etc) and all have FULL knowledge and HONEST agreement about the situation, why would anyone else care?

FWIW, I am in a poly triad. My fiance has been married for almost 14 years to his high school sweetheart. I am not the first girlfriend he's had, but certainly the most serious. Nothing would have happened between us if she did not agree to it -- honestly. I trust him, but I had to hear it from her. We've been together for a year and a half, living together most-time for almost a year - full-time for about 5 months. :-) I can no longer imagine my life without either of them.

 
At 3:54 pm, Blogger Hilarious Catastrophes said...

I feel strange about this subject. I think as long as individuals are happy, genuinely, then there is no problem. I just find it difficult to imagine being able to feel the same in a polyamorous (is that a word?!) relationship as in an exclusive one. Also, all the little niggly disagreements you might have would become amplified which I think would make me feel that the relationship was built on shaky grounds to strat with. And what about all those memories you build together as a couple... With someone else there, I just couldn't imagine those memories having the same resonance. I understand that it is possible to love more than one person at once. I think that anyone who is capable of making such a relationship work deserves a medal. I certainly couldn't. One at a time for me thank you very much!

 
At 5:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in a polyamorous network, and it works very well for all of us. If you're starting in polyamory, the best time to bring it up is *before* you fall in love with someone else. It took 2 years of talking and exploring our feelings before polyamory felt like something we could do. Now it feels more natural than shutting down natural feelings for others because I'm "taken."

I do find you need to be very self-confident and stable to do polyamory. I've seen unstable/insecure people self-destruct.

 
At 5:35 pm, Blogger Cat said...

>when exactly do you bring it up to your spouse? That you're in love with someone else?<

I bring it up LONG before it happens. I let my partner know as soon as I feel a flicker of interest in someone new.

 
At 7:25 am, Blogger Great Blistering Barnacles said...

Hi, I'm in agreement with Tammy and Cat. And appreciate it that you do have an open mind about the subject as far as understanding that for some people it may work even if for you it won't.

As far as explaining the limits of only being able to love one person, I really think that simply looking at monogamy and the number of infidelities that occur. In some cases up to 80% of couples have had some form of extramarital affairs. Does this mean that in every case love is switched on on off as people move between partners? I don't think so. The only real difference is that between poly people there is open and honest communication. My big question is why are dishonest relationships "accepted" as part of monogamy but talking about these openly and honestly is frowned upon?

 
At 10:22 am, Blogger Mr K said...

To be honest, I am inclined to belive I might be able to love two people at once, but it's just not something I would want to do... I'm very happy with the one, and anymore would bring untold complications to my life.

As to cheating in monogamy- well a good relationship should preclude that, although it does not necessarily seem to. I am not sure it is necessarily something accepted, I certainly don't accept it. It would be healthier if we were a little more honest about our feelings, certainly.

 

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