I recently read an article in The Sun, accessible to me here in Sweden since the Facebook app came out (Yes, The Sun, it’s entertaining and a strong barometer of popular opinion in the UK). The article was about a girl who chose to ‘time-share’ her boyfriend with his other lover (a man). She is one of a growing number of people who have adopted a far more – shall we say – lenient attitude to fidelity within her relationship. She’s in a triad (a three party relationship) which is poly-fidelitous. They are faithful to each other (for now at least). It seems non monogamy is going mainstream. As usual, the bandwagon naysayers assume polyamory is a free-for-all, a have your cake and eat it solution. But I put it to you that ‘default’ monogamy is the easier choice.
Non-monogamy goes under a variety of names – swinging (sexual relations with other partners), polygyny (multiple wives for a man), polyandry (multiple husbands for one wife), polyfidelity (a closed but multiple partner relationship, no marriage required…or indeed possible in most cultures apart from Holland), polyamory (many loves of many configurations) the ‘coverall’ of an open relationship and of course the most common non-monogamous situation …cheating.
I looked at the man I was having dinner with. My colleague was smart, attractive and had just put his hand on my knee under the table. It wasn’t unwelcome, but he hadn’t ever given me any inclination that we might explore our relationship further. And I couldn’t without telling him. I took a deep breath and said.
“I don’t believe in monogamy. But I have a boyfriend. We’re practising polyamorists. We believe that it’s possible to love several people at once. That means we’re allowed to see other people.”
He looked shocked. But only for a second before I saw relief spread across his face. He laughed and said. “It’s okay. I have a wife. But I’ve always thought I was – what did you call it? – polywotnot. Polyarmorist. Polyamorist.” As he rolled the new word around his mouth I felt my heart sink.
“Do you know what it means? Does she know you’re polyamorous?” I said cautiously.
“Christ no. She’d never understand. But I think she must know deep down. I’ve always been attracted to other women.”
I pressed my lips together and then said gently. “Polyamory means you are open about the relationships. If we took this any further, you’d probably meet my boyfriend. He’d be glad to meet a friend of mine. And I would meet your wife. Is that the kind of arrangement you have?”
“Being explicitly honest with your partner that you also want to be with others? No way. That’s crazy. Unnatural.” he said.
I said. “My version of polyamory means only getting involved with those who are willing to be honest…about everything.”
Cheating may be non monogamy, but it’s not ethical consensual non-monogamy. The latter requires constant communication and honesty, confronting our demons of jealousy, insecurity, questioning what it is to ‘not own’ someone, as well as facing a backlash from society (which is something too difficult for the majority). Yes, despite society’s ‘think-outside-the-box-there-is-no-spoon’ idealisation what we really prefer (in most cases) is the safe haven of a two person monagamous relationship. So much so that our society has inculcated it into our patriarchal control mechanisms (law and religion). I could go on and have done in the past. I’ve fought hard for my right to be polyamorous. It wasn’t by any means…easy.
All the more reason why I no longer want to wax lyrical about how us humans really aren’t supposed to be monogamous by nature and dredging up a whole load of statistics about Bonobo apes (closest extant relative to humans and matriarchal species who has sex to reduce conflict), nor why swinging might simply be the sign of an unfulfilled partnership (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t). I’ve done that and quite frankly we’re all entitled to our opinions. Because Monogamy isn’t ‘right’ and non-monogamy isn’t ‘wrong’. Even cheating isn’t wrong …but I certainly don’t advocate it, unless you want all that drama in your life. They are all simply choices you make as you traverse this earth. With consequences for which you should assume responsibility. I am not an advocate of polyamory per se, nor an opponent of monogamy (after all I have done both, and both were great at times). But I am an advocate for freedom of choice.
When there is no choice not to be in a relationship, then there is no choice to be in the relationship.
Source: Multiple Match
Category: Adulthood & Relationships