One lover, two lovers, three lovers, four…rocking traditional marriage to the core. For most people, just one intimate relationship is a juggling act consuming patience, sanity, and brain cells. And those are the successful ones. Making up most of society, these jolly jugglers are, in the interest of political correctness, “poly lover challenged.” But for some overachievers, juggling just one love, one sex life, and one emotional minefield isn’t challenge enough. They want more…more lovers, more drama, more sex…you know, just more. But in exchange for more, these juggling gamblers are also willing to take on more baggage, more responsibility, more emotions, and more confusion. Damn do-gooders! 🙂 But more could be good. After all, we all want MORE. It’s the American way, no? In theory, the utopian lover smorgasbord sounds intriguing. It resonates curiosity in any and all human minds. Granted, we all react differently to that curiosity…but it captivates us just the same. We’re drawn to it, mesmerized by it. Much like a multi-car pile up on the interstate. Too many cars…too close together…too much shared space…eventually, one car crashes into another ending the fluid traffic flow and causing mass chaos. No matter how we want to look away, the unknown outcome has a grip on us like a croc with it’s prey. We simply can’t fight it. We await doom…maybe it’ll come…maybe it won’t. When it comes to group marriage, our minds are pre-programmed to expect doom…and short circuit when it never comes. Can a polyamorous marriage be successful? Or are we simply not able to share the “space?”
My knee-jerk reaction is no. We’re not able to share the space. But maybe that’s just me…perhaps I’m being narrow-minded. After all, social improvement comes not out of conformity. Every drastic change society makes, for better or worse, is initially met with resistance. Poly marriages aren’t exactly a new concept. Some of the very first marriages were ones of polygamy, with only the most revered Biblical kings holding the reins. So, the religious stance against poly marriages, to me, seems a bit hypocritical. Even today, some other cultures practice polygamy, as they have for hundreds of years. Where polygamy consists typically of one man and multiple wives, polyamory allows for both spouses to have multiple loves…it technically means “many loves” and allows for a more equal playing field. Poly pretties are suppressed no more! This is where the difference lies. A one-sided polygamist marriage is so chauvinist, so male ego-serving, so vomit-Bobbit inducing…it makes a liberal woman’s head spin with fury and combust in disbelief. “Clean up on aisle polygamy!” The brainwashing it must require to convince women they’re infinitely and irrefutably inferior! Now that takes balls! But hey! It’s 2010 ladies, you can “shake, rattle and roll” with the best, or worst, of them! Enter stage right: polyamorous marriage…the give AND take. Give a little booty, take a little booty…all are equal to tutti-frutti. 😉 If a couple’s plans are to open the marriage, then open it on BOTH ends. Otherwise, a dead end awaits. Polyamory does just that…it refers to an open marriage with lovers coming and going OR group marriage with all participants living together and remaining monogamous within their group. Sounds complicated. And, according to those practicing, it IS. But some very ambitious families make it work, or try to.
According to Deborah Anapol, PhD and expert on polyamory, people may seek out this lifestyle for many reasons:
* to fix problems in existing relationships…humans are natural problem solvers and may consider opening the marriage as a possible fix…however, that fix will be temporary…at most
* to mask or excuse sex addictions…providing the cover needed to get it on…and on…and on
* to take a stand for cultural change and aim for utopian/spiritual rewards…requiring both profound self-confidence and leadership
* to satisfy what just comes naturally to them
* to rebel against religious prohibitions or family expectations…rebellion, not being a bad thing, is a prerequisite for personal growth and independent thought
* to fulfill sexual or emotional desires that can’t be met with existing partners, such as unequal sex drives
Researchers say some polyamorous couples find they married too young and simply defaulted to monogamy solely because it was the norm. But later realize that neither of them had much investment in exclusivity and recognized that the only reason to continue with it was fear of the unknown. So, tossing “No Man’s Land” to chance, they dare to venture into “All Man’s Land.”
With a whopping 50% divorce rate, the “traditional marriage” isn’t exactly a pillar of success. Obviously, we’re doing something wrong…well, half of us anyway. Marriage is a difficult endeavor. We encounter stress, disagreement, and boredom…on a good day. When braving the “scary as hell” ups and downs of a long term monogamous marriage, it’s only natural that some of us jump the track every now and again. Some opt for divorce. Some opt for an affair. Some opt for polyamory. Depending on perspective, any of which, may be an attempt to satisfy all needs involved…adult, family, and kids’. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Which is better? Which is worse? Who’s to say? One thing is definite though. Our brains control our words, movements, physical feelings, decisions. But with all of it’s control, it remains but a mere minion to the heart. Our heart, the rebel. Whatever social norms dictate as an accepted marriage…whatever our minds tell us is the right thing to do…whatever we want to do…our hearts have a “mind” of their own. What may seem practical to the mind isn’t always realistic to the heart. We can’t control what we feel. And what we feel changes throughout the course of our lifetime, regardless of the boundaries we attempt to impose.
Some psychologists argue that humans are not monogamous by nature. And that we defy our very biology by practicing such. Yet others argue that while we may not be monogamous by nature, monogamy is a social tool invented to create harmony and aid in the raising of children. A secure growing environment for the sake of our future society. But we’re well aware that this security will be challenged time and again by the vast array of variables popping up in a marriage like a child’s game of Whac-A-Mole. Whatever the variables, a monogamous social structure does, in fact, help to maintain some semblance of family order. Critics of polyamory say marriage and family are sacrificed by this lifestyle. Advocates dispute that claim and say the opposite holds true. They say the expanded family provides more support and unity…that opening up a relationship depends on the individuals involved. When two or more people are well matched, opening it usually makes them stronger…when not well matched, it can be destabilizing. They insist it’s, by no means, an easy way out. But, instead, a compromise that requires HONESTY above all else…honesty about biological needs, honesty about feelings, honesty about desires. Maybe we monogamists aren’t so honest with ourselves? Or maybe we are…but realize our limitations. Different strokes…different folks.
The emotion to stir the most commotion is jealousy — both ugly and destructive. While we may not be monogamous by nature, we’re certainly jealous by nature. And that jealousy is deeply rooted in insecurity. Another emotional downfall we use as a slip-n-slide. Regardless of what some experts say, it seems that pair bonding is a natural behavior. When placed in a group of people, we tend to pair up. We find the one we mesh with most, have the most in common with, and begin knitting our match…our go-to “booty”. And anything that comes between us and our “booty” is competition. We DON’T like competition. Women, in particular, will lie, cheat, steal, and reveal anything to remain in his favor. In the situation of 4 or more live-in loves, we’ll worry… “Does she like him more than me?” “Is she better in bed than I am?” “What does he give her that I don’t?” It’s human nature…the insecurities, the fears, the jealousy. When we subconsciously pick favorites…and we WILL…insecurity will fester and multiply quicker than Octomom, herself. Even when we think we’re “choosing” not to choose one, the heart will seek out the one who makes it beat the hardest. Leaving another heart broken.
As I’ve researched this topic, one theme continues to emerge…the human struggle for happiness. We crave intimacy, love, and sex…and we’ll do anything to get it. If that means monogamy, so be it. No social confines there. If it means risking social conformity and abandoning monogamy in the hopes of securing ideal love AND sex…some are brave enough to leap into that social piranha pool. Different people, different ideas, different paths…same desired destination. Whatever the means, the motive is the same: love and sex…sex and love. So, take your own stand on monogamy vs. polyamory. But don’t pull the legs out from under another’s.
It seems the heart and the libido are ever negotiating for happiness, satisfaction, give and take. If we begin with one, two (me and you)…and then decide to add a few, perhaps the few we’ll be adding will be named Competition, Jealousy, and Insecurity.
It’s my firm belief that the Few will inevitably wipe out the Two. Unfortunately, such is the tale of our jealous nature.
The polyamorous equation is open and ever changing: One, two…add a Few.
But as a monogamist, my equation remains: One, two…skip the Few.
Which are you? 🙂
Great thinkers have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds. ~Albert Einstein