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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Polyamory Is Not For Her

Mariana Caplan wrote about some "Zen boyfriends" she had. She recounts one who informed her he was polyamorous, something she hadn't heard of before.

"Are you monogamous?"

I looked at him confused. "Did you ask if I was monogamous?"

"Yes. Are you monogamous?"

"Forgive me if I sound a little stupid or silly, but monogamous as opposed to what?"

"Polyamorous."

"Poly-what?"

"Polyaaaaamorous. It means that your love is not limited to one person. You love freely and unconditionally because that is your nature, but you are not limited to one person or one commitment for the rest of your life. I am polyamorous, and I am interested in having a relationship with you. For now you would be my 'primary partner,' but I would like the autonomy to love, or at least engage sexually with others freely and have 'secondary' relationships with them."

"So let me get this straight. You're saying that if I'm your girlfriend I have to be okay with you sleeping with other women whenever you want to? It kind of sounds like this polyamory is some fancy psycho-spiritual justification for sleeping around."

Actually, a lot of poly people have very clear boundaries. It isn't "anything goes" in most cases. Some are faithful to two lovers, not involving anyone else. Ever.

He can't be for real, I thought. He probably just hasn't found the right woman. If he loves me enough, he'll snap out of it. I dismissed it from my mind, we spent a couple of months falling madly in love, and we were on our way home from our first romantic weekend getaway when he said to me:

"My lover from Spain is moving here to be with me for six months. She is going to be my primary partner now, but I am open to you being my secondary relationship."

"What?!? Are you for real?! I thought we were just starting to fall in love?"

"We were. I mean, we are. But I love her, too. I love everybody. I warned you that this was going to happen. My love is limitless and unconditional and therefore isn't limited to you. I must listen to my heart."

"Are you sure it is your heart talking and not your balls?"

Quite often, it is the heart and the head. Sometimes it is the balls. If it isn't for you, you are free not to be poly. That is the decision she made. But for other people, it is what suits them best. And they should be able to have that.
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5 comments:

  1. I am glad to see that some people are honest enough to tell their potential partner(s) of their heart prior to getting serious. I am a firm believer that everyone involved in the relationship should have the right to consent to what type of relationship that they want to be in.

    It is sad though, that one person did not believe the other. Then just automatically assumed that "he probably just hasn't found the right woman", showing her own bias. This is a dangerous thing to do and can cause serious heartache.

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  2. You are right-on. Do ask, do tell. People need to be honest with each other, and accept each other as they are, or not at all. Some people fall into a trap of "I can change the other person." It might work for a while. But that rarely works in the long run. And hiding what you want when you're dating someone is a bad idea, too.

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  3. I'm sorry, but even as a strong advocate and practitioner of polyamory, I have to disagree with your take on this story. I think this guy's way of going about his so-called polyamory was extremely one-sided, and while he disclosed right away, he left out an essential piece of the puzzle, which is negotiation.

    I think that if two people get together and mutually agree that their relationship is mutable and their primacy tenuous and temporary, that's fine. But saying, "You'll be my primary partner for now," and then turning around a few months later and saying, "Actually, this other person's going to be my primary and you're going to be my secondary, ohhhkay?" Not cool.

    It's true that her response to it is ignorant of what polyamory is, or that it can work at all. But this guy she's talking about is clearly a douche.

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  4. Hello,

    New poster, I noticed that you have back linked to our blog. Thank you.
    Anyway, I have pretty strong feeling on this, I appreciate that the experience could be slightly misrepresented by an ‘anti’ if you ask me, someone who tells you that you are their primary and then tells you of some foreign lover who will take your status in the relationship that you had no idea existed, is not living Polyamory as l know it, which is ethical, open and honest. Hiding another lover is not being honest.

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  5. Welcome one and all.

    There are poly people who are jerks, just like there are mono people who are. There are people who use various excuses to get what they want by trying to manipulate others. Think of the person who dates someone else, gets serious, and THEN says, "Oh, by the way, I need you to convert to my religion or we can't get married."

    Here are the quotes that stick out to me...

    "It kind of sounds like this polyamory is some fancy psycho-spiritual justification for sleeping around."

    and...

    "Are you sure it is your heart talking and not your balls?"

    The problem comes in when these accusations are hurled at the very idea of polyamory.

    I am against breaking vows or agreements with another without informing them that you are ending the agreement. I also think it is best for people to be upfront early on in their dating, even the first date. It is important for someone to state why they are dating and what they want in the form of relationships. And if they don't know, it is important for them to say that, too.

    Examples:

    "I am dating to find a spouse. I want to be monogamous and get married. It is too early, of course, to know if that person is you. Why are you dating?"

    "I am dating for nonexclusive companionship."

    "I am polyamorous and I don't expect that will change."

    Nobody, regardless of sexual orientation or self-identification, should ASSUME someone they are dating is only dating or having sex with them, or only wants to have sex with them. That is something that needs to be explicitly discussed.

    ReplyDelete

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