Some Next Generation voices
Polygamy, Polyamory, and Society
By Anonymous, Nova Scotia, Canada
In my opinion, I have too many friends that are pointlessly heartbroken.
...Most people involved in polyamorous lifestyles don't believe in the same standards of commitment that are idealized by society. Instead, honesty and trust are key factors, which lets each individual experience complete romantic, emotional, and sexual freedom.
I believe in the idea of polyamory, because to me it's completely logical. Think about it for a second. We, as animals, are not programmed to choose one mate and spend the rest of our existence with them, faithfully. It's not realistic. I don't believe you should have to subtract someone you love from your life instead of adding someone to it.
Based on this, I feel that exclusively monogamous relationships are impractical and against nature. You don't have the right to own or rule over another person's life, nor choose their decisions for them.
Sadly, because monogamy has been so normalized in our society, most people are conflicted and critical of the idea of loving more than one person at once.
...I honestly believe the world would be more productive if polyamory and monogamy switched roles. There would be no burden of numerous Twilight books....
Love is not something that should be lost for no reason. Love is not a pie; the more slices there are does not mean each slice contains less.
...It is one of my greatest hopes that polyamory will eventually be accepted in society, and not looked down upon and avoided because of misinformation.
Whole article (Sept. 2011).
Elsewhere, Lynsey of Prescott, Arizona, wrote on CollegeNET:
Polyamory: Lifestyle Choice or Glorified Cheating?
When I turned eighteen, I began hearing a term I'd never heard before: polyamory. I wasn't sure if it was because I moved to the west coast or because it was catching on in society as quickly as bisexuality did, but either way it had me fascinated. How could it possibly work? Why didn't partners get jealous? Was it an appropriate lifestyle choice, or just a glorified excuse for cheating?
I've run into several polyamorous couples now, and they've all left me with a different opinion. For one couple, it worked perfectly. For another, it was the husband's way of getting away with sleeping with other women. For me, it was all far too confusing to figure out.
To clarify, polyamory is not strictly sexual, a common misconception. Those people are called swingers, not polyamorous. Also, having a girlfriend on the side is not being polyamorous. In a relationship involving polyamory, all partners know about each other, as the relationship is a romantic one. The technical term for sleeping with other people behind your partner's back is "cheating."
...Couples I've seen discuss everything together, from the wife's new boyfriend to the husband's new girlfriend. One couple actually both dated the new girlfriend, and had a strange sort of triangle going on. It worked for them, so cool.
...Could you ever partake in a polyamorous relationship? Do you think it's morally wrong to try to love two people at once? If your significant other were to tell you they wanted to try polyamory, how would you respond?...
Whole article (June 24, 2011), with many comments. Enough other readers voted up this and her many other essays to win her a $5,000 scholarship prize from the site's sponsor, CollegeNET, "a privately held company providing web-based on-demand technologies to colleges, universities, and non-profits."
● See too this article on Loving More's blogsite: The Influx of Young People Identifying as Polyamorous (Jan. 22, 2011), and read the many comments.
● Bitsy, a grad student and a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network, has put up a list of TNG (The Next Generation) poly groups. She intends to keep the list up to date permanently if you send her additions, changes, or corrections; mail to bitsy AT openlypoly DOT net.
Now, saving the best for last: at Boston University, Bitsy wrote an article for an underground orientation booklet that incoming freshmen received:
Polyamory, a Design-Your-Own Relationships Kit
...The idea of being open and honest about having multiple partners strikes people as crazy.
Perhaps it is, but it's the best sort of crazy: the kind that allows many people to have happier lives.
....When I entered my first serious relationship, I told my partner-to-be that I didn't want monogamy. I had active crushes on other people and I knew these feelings weren't about to go away just because I was being lovey with one person.... We've now been dating for nearly ten years. In that time I've learned how many pitfalls forging your own style of relationship can have, found a name for what I do polyamory dated a few other people, and been incredibly satisfied with the paths my relationships have taken.
In addition to my long-standing partner, I have another whom I've been dating for about four years. I have lived together with both of them in the same apartment....
Let me add a warning: getting to a place where my relationship worked was difficult and painful.... One of the things polyamory teaches you is to be comfortable with emotional pain, knowing you'll move through it, knowing you have a larger goal. Moving through emotional pain allows you to grow into a better person, to be more in touch with yourself, and better able to deal with life's curveballs. You learn to communicate clearly, directly, and proactively, a skill that's applicable not just to your personal life but to academic and professional pursuits. You'll find that your emotions surprise you: things you think would be problems often aren't, and things that you'd never considered turn out to bother you tremendously....
Even if you think you'll never find yourself in a relationship outside cultural norms, as my partners once thought, I encourage you to read what the polyamory community has to say about dealing with emotions and communication.... Relationship skills are relationship skills, and learning to have a solid poly relationship is really just learning how to have a good relationship....
Read the whole article (September 2010) (7 MB pdf; see pages 25 and 26.)
Three years ago, poly activist Diana Adams (another member of the PLN) declared at a Loving More conference, "This is my poly dream: that every college student in America will know the word polyamory and what it means within five years."
With two years to go, it actually seems to be happening to some extent more than I remember expecting at the time. Any ideas on how to boost the pace toward Diana's deadline? And to ensure that more of what gets out there gets it right?