Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Great Explanation and Defense of Polyamory

Here’s another introduction to polyamory, with common questions answered. If you read this blog regularly, you know a lot of this stuff already. But links like this one can be helpful in explaining polyamory to others.

Polyamory literally means "many loves", from the Greek word "poly" (many) and the Latin word "amore" (love). So, a polyamorous relationship is theoretically a romantic (and perhaps sexual) relationship in which there are more than two parties involved and all parties know of each other and consent to this kind of relationship. It is based on romantic love, where sexual activity may or may not be included. It is based on complete and utter honesty and freely flowing communication, and is, in essence, just like any other relationship, except more people are involved.

That’s a pretty good basic overview.

If you truly love someone, you don't want or need anyone else, so going to someone else for sex or love is wrong and it means you don't really love who you're with anymore.

I really love this statement because this is one of the most important obstacles you need to get through to understand polyamory. There are several models of love out there, but I'm going to discuss the two that the statement above points to. The first is the "starvation model", which says that once you love someone, in order to love someone else, you have to retract the love you have from the first person and place it to the second person. It's basically saying that love is an object or like money, because once you give this object or the money to someone, you have less (or none) to give to everyone else.

And this is just not true. Love is not money, love is not an object. Think of it this way. Do you only have one single friend that you love, or do you have more than one that you love differently, but still truly love? Do you only love one of your children with all of your heart, and leave your other one without affection, because you cannot possibly love both at the same time?

Very well said.

The second model is the "scarcity model" which says that once we fall in love with another person, the switch is turned off and we just physically cannot feel any other type of romantic emotion for anyone else until our emotions for the first person disintegrate. And that's just not true. Our emotions don't work as switches, they are more like a spectrum.

Well, you're just being selfish, because you're not choosing and you want them all and you just can't have your cake and eat it too.

How is giving your love and allowing your partner to love other people selfish? If anything, it is the least selfish kind of relationship.

There are selfish people in monogamous relationships and selfish people in polyamorous relationships, but polyamory is not selfish. Monogamy is great for those who need and want monogamy, and it isn't selfish either. What is selfish is to put yourself into a relationship in which you know you will not function well. For some, that is promising to be monogamous. For others, it is going along with polyamory even though you really need monogamy. (And some people are not in a condition to be in any relationship at all.)

Polyamory is for those who can't commit.

Actually, if you're in a relationship with more than one person, that's twice the commitment. Commitment is not based on the rule of one, it is based on the rule of promising that you will be honest, caring, loving, that you will try to be a good partner, and uphold a relationship for as long as it lasts with that person, to act upon their needs and desires, to listen to them, and to basically be a good partner. You can have more than one commitment, and that doesn't make each one less valuable or valid.

Another great answer.

So which one is the right kind of relationship, polyamory or monogamy?

It depends on what's right for you.


What if I don't want to have sex or love my partner's partner?

You don't have to. That's called a menage a trois (French) which is basically a triangle. Each person has sex or romantic relationships with the other two. But you have to be civil to a point, and it does help if you're friends with your partner's partner.

The most simple form of polyamory is a “V” in which one person has two lovers who do not have a relationship, at least not beyond friendship. From there, there are “N” polycules, in which two people with each other also have one other lover, though those other lovers aren’t in relationships with anyone else in the polycule. There are triangles, in which each of the three lovers have a relationship with each other, but that may or may not include all three dating together or having sex together or living together; they may take turns. The polycules get more complicated from there. And, some polycules involve total polyfidelity, while in others there may be one or more individuals who open to other relationships or encounters.

Other questions answered:

Is there a difference between polygamy and polyamory?
So polyamory is basically cheating except your partner lets you.
What's the difference between an open relationship and a polyamorous one?
So how do you make this all work? It sounds really complicated.
If my partner wants to be in a relationship with someone else, does that mean I'm not adequate enough for them? Am I not special anymore?
Don't you ever get jealous?
How about STD's? Children?
I'm interested in this kind of relationship, but I don't think or know if my partner is. How do I approach them about this?
So I have the people, what do I do?

It is a very good overview.
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