Wednesday, April 17, 2013

unequally yoked

Polyamory and various forms of non-monogamy are gaining more and more attention and familiarity. Although alternative lifestyles may be becoming more mainstream, I think it's still challenging for people to understand in part because there is no one right way to do non-monogamy. There are various intensities and complexities and boy do I hate using the term "shades" (for obvious reasons) but yes, that too. At the core of polyamory, though, lies a desire and ability to love more than one person and in non-monogamy a desire and ability to maintain multiple sexual relationships. I'm mostly going to talk about polyamory because that is the spectrum on which I've placed myself, but some of this also applies to non-monogamy and I will reference that where appropriate.

As for as being able to love multiple people, I honestly believe that all humans have this capacity. It may not be the capacity to have romantic or physical love for more than one person, but I believe we have the capacity to have intense, selfless feelings for and emotional connections with multiple people. It is on that premise that the ideals of family and community are built. I also believe that we are wired to be able to love more than one person romantically although perhaps not at the same time. But I don't believe that there is one true soul mate for each and every person and that relationships are doomed to failure if that one-to-one perfect match is not made. In addition, I don't believe that love has an on or off switch, that it's either there or it's not. I believe there is a huge spectrum of emotion from mere affection at one end to deep, abiding self-sacrificing love at the opposite end.

However, I think there is an attitude among some poly-types that people who are not open to experiencing connections with multiple people simultaneously, no matter where on this spectrum those connections may lie, are somehow inferior to those of us that do. This "poly-anna" attitude asserts that "everyone would just be happy if they were poly." And there are other negative traits that a "poly-anna" might associate with those that prefer monogamy such as "jealousy," "possessiveness," "immaturity," and "close-mindedness."

I don't buy that garbage. Although I believe that humans are primarily non-monogamous, I don't equate physical sex with love. People who can't be faithful to one partner are not necessarily candidates for polyamory. Polyamory requires a great deal of transparency and communication which are usually inversely associated with infidelity. I also don't buy (as some swingers do) that everyone would be happy if they were non-monogamous.

The simple truth is this: people are different. What may work for one may be totally unsuitable for another. My ex husband is very much a one-woman man and I believe he could be eternally happy devoting himself to just one woman. In the end, my desire to share my love with more than one man led to the demise of my marriage. It just didn't work for me, at least not with him.

I think the best course of action is to be tolerant of accepting of those who are not like you when it comes to friendships and acquaintances, but when it comes to pursuing relationships, I don't understand the desire of a poly or non monogamous person to pursue someone monogamous, or vice versa. It seems completely futile to me. If you've been poly or non-monogamous in the past, how do you know you can completely devote yourself to one person for a lifetime? Wouldn't a fear of failure and hurting someone you care about prevent you from pursuing such a relationship?

I just wonder if any of my readers can relate to this or have any experience with this. Is there room for negotiation in these types of relationships? Did you try and fail? Did you try and succeed?

1 comment:

  1. I admit I'm very monogamous. Only one woman every and we have been married 25+ yrs. Each relationship with anyone is on a one to one basis. Just because we all say 'why can't we just get along' does not make it so. Eash of us are unique. There are some people I know I would never see eye to eye with. I may and they in return may tolorate each other but that is no way to have a relationship.