Saturday, November 5, 2011

Another Take on Polyamory as a Sexual Orientation

Micah Schneider, a “poly, kinky, pagan, heteroflexible, sex-positive, pro-feminist, almost-forty white male,” does brilliant work answering the question “Is Polyamory An Orientation Or A Lifestyle Choice?”

Think about it this way. If you consider yourself a submissive, are you suddenly not one anymore if you don’t current have a dominant in your life? You can ask the same question of every other sexual orientation you can think of, including heterosexuality and monogamy. Is a straight white girl suddenly not anymore if she’s single?

Of course not.

Someone can be poly by orientation, meaning that they prefer to be involved in multiple loving relationships, but monogamous by circumstances or choice. In the previous century, I was legally married. My ex-wife and I were polyamorous, but we went long stretches of our marriage where it was just the two of us. That didn’t mean that we weren’t poly anymore, we just didn’t have a large dating pool to fish in at the time. I’ve heard of plenty of poly folks that choose to be monogamous with one partner, because the other person is not poly, and doesn’t want to share. There’s nothing wrong with them negotiating those limits. That’s their choice to make. Some of those people stopped identifying as poly, but just as many didn’t.

Just as there are monogamous bisexuals who can be happy with a man, or happy with a woman, there are people who can he happy being monogamous or happy being polyamorous. Other people, I think it is clear, need monogamy or need polyamory.

It works the other way, too. I know more than one poly couple where only one half is functionally poly. The other is mono by nature, and negotiated a poly relationship with their poly partner so that partner can express their orientation. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this arrangement; it’s their business. And some of the mono partners identify as poly, but some don’t.

Again, think about it this way. If someone identifies as bisexual, and then begins a monogamous relationship with someone of the same sex, are they suddenly homosexual? Or straight, if it’s someone of the opposite sex?

Of course not.

I believe that poly and mono are orientations, the same way that homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality are. I also think that pansexuality, asexuality, kink and a whole host of other alternative sexualities are also orientations. But that doesn’t mean everyone thinks about them the same way I do.

There’s some language at the end that the FCC would have some problems with, so if you are actually someone who likes reading about polyamory but can’t handle reading the “f” word, be warned. Go read all of it.
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