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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Many Reasons for All Forms of Relationships

At Psychology Today’s “Love Without Limits”, Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. notes that people are polyamorous for many different reasons, some better than others. It is an excerpt from her book Polyamory in the 21st Century, which I think I’ll go ahead and buy, based on what I’ve seen.

In a few cases, however, polyamory does allow people to create healthy and functional relationships they probably could not have managed otherwise.

More often, one partner reluctantly agrees to polyamory to win the affections of the other, secretly hoping that this unwelcome twist will magically vanish once they are committed to each other.

People should agree to enter into a relationship, or change the terms of that relationship, based on experienced reality, not wishes and hopes. The best indication of what someone’s future behavior will be is their past behavior, and we should not expect someone to change for the better (or, toward our liking), unless we’re talking about something like going from a mutually agreed open relationship to a mutually agreed closed relationship as part of an expected progressive development.

For example, two people may be dating each other, and have no expectation of monogamy because there has been no promise of such. However, once they promise strict, closed monogamy to each other, they should expect it from each other; meaning they will regularly have sex with each other and not anyone else, and not reject each other. (Not having sex is not monogamy; it is abstinence.) That kind of change should be expected. What shouldn’t be expected are changes in personality, likes and dislikes, interests, personal habits, interests, and so forth. Some people do change certain things about themselves over time, but counting on someone else to change, especially when they don’t want to, is a fool’s wager.

If someone is strictly gay, that is not going to change. If someone is polyamorous, that is almost as unlikely to change. Just as someone may take a break from dating or having any relationships, a poly person may be, at times, with only one person. But that is likely temporary.

One should never commit to a dating or sexual or marital relationship if they are unhappy with the terms. If they realize they aren't happy with the terms, or are no longer happy with the terms, they should either leave the relationship entirely or negotiate new terms to mutual agreement.

Some are consciously or unconsciously creating a situation in which they can heal childhood wounds or replicate the large extended family they grew up in.

Couldn’t this be said of any relationship, including platonic?

Some want a stable and nurturing environment in which to raise their children. Some use polyamory to mask or excuse addictions to sex, work, or drama while others seek utopian or spiritual rewards or want to take a stand for cultural change. Others are simply doing what's fun and what comes naturally for them or are rebelling against religious prohibitions or family expectations. Some use polyamory as a weapon in a power struggle or to punish a controlling partner. Some want to keep their erotic life alive and vital while in long term committed relationships or to fulfill sexual or emotional desires they can't meet with only one person or with their existing partner. Some are trying to make up for developmental gaps or to balance unequal sex drives. Some people do not start out consciously choosing polyamory at all, but find that polyamory has chosen them.

I’ve seen that happen.

Although I wish sex addiction was never an issue in polyamory, the truth is that polyamory does provide a convenient cover story for addicts who are generally in denial about having an addiction. It's easy to justify sexual obsession by calling it polyamory.

Kind of like bars (pubs) with alcoholism. Some people can enjoy a drink, and gain health from it. For others, it is a destructive addiction.

However, polyamory can also be utilized as a healthy means of coping with psychological difficulties, pre-existing trauma, differences in sexual desire, and the garden variety erotic boredom so common in long term monogamous marriages.

There certainly are many different reasons why people choose the partners they do, and choose the relationships that they do. One size does not fit all. It fits one.
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