I live in a monogamous relationship. I know people in polyamorous relationships, and I’ve known people in open relationships. Every one of these arrangements has its own set of pluses and minuses. They are all personal choices and to my way of thinking none of them are any better or any worse than the other. It all comes down to what the people involved want and need.
I think we all get monogamy, two people in a mutually exclusive relationship, period point blank. It’s simple and has been the benchmark of relationships for a very long time… although not as long or as wide as many a religious person would like to you to believe. Since we all get monogamy I don’t see the need to delve into it. If you think it’s the only option this essay is NOT in all likelihood for you and I invite you to exit stage left and have a tasty beverage—if I have any say in the selection one with some top shelf booze as a main ingredient would be the one to choose.
Are you still here?
Good, then let’s continue.
There is a growing fear amongst the anti same sex marriage crowd that the next fight will be for poly relationships. By “poly” I mean any relationship based around three or more partners in a consensual arrangement. I’m avoiding the more specific labels such as Polygamy, Polygyny, and Polyandry. This is simply a broad personal statement on Polyamorous relationships. I am tangentially adding the idea of Open Relationships to this essay, but much like different types of Poly Relationships I’m not going to delve into them specifically. That is NOT me implying they are the same thing, because they are not. I’m just a lazy man and don’t want to dig into any of the minutia.
I think the people fearing the rise of the poly lifestyle are absolutely right. The next equality fight may very well come from the multiple partner crowds and I’m okay with that. Let me say this right now, any statements I make in support of “Nontraditional” relationships is predicated on the position that all partners are of the age of consent and willing participants. Anything else is illegal, immoral, and should be prosecuted to the fullest.
Is that 100% clear?
Good… moving on.
I think, like most of you, I grew up wondering a lot about the differences between the emotion of love and sexual attraction. I was raised an American male in the later quarter of the twentieth century and therefore my views were shaped by those circumstances. Like most Americans of a certain generational threshold, I was taught there was a clear line of demarcation between love and sexual attraction. I was raised to believe a romantic/sexual relationship was between one man and one woman—anything else should be looked at with suspicion and disgust.
It didn’t take much time for me to start questioning those views.
We all know I’m bisexual and have always known it, even if I didn’t accept it until much later in life. But it is relevant because being who I am it provided the first crack in the wall between the fantasy of “Normality” and reality. With that having been established ad nausea I won’t go into it again. Let’s just say for sake of argument that I’ve always questioned the validity of the male and female only viewpoint and move on.
I remember when I was first introduced the idea of a true Polyamory like it was yesterday. Seriously it made a huge impression on me. I can still recall most of the details. In the summer of 1990 I moved from my grandparent’s home in Dayton, Ohio to my father’s house in Wayne, Michigan. I turned fourteen that summer and went to spend a week with my childhood best friend Jason.
That week was the last time I’d ever see him due to a falling out we had.
He was the same boy who was my first same sex kiss and I guess I consider him my first boyfriend the same way I consider Shannon Howard to be my first girlfriend. By that I mean we were in elementary school so take that however you wanted. It was my fault our friendship ended—I own that. When I showed up I learned he had a new friend, they were just friends I don’t think Jason actually had any interest in boys, and I hated him on sight. I mean I fucking loathed him and it was my jealousy and some really shitty things I said because of that jealousy that destroyed our friendship.
But none of that is relevant to this essay.
While I was there we both slept in the living room. We’d stay up watching bad movies and eating junk food. One of the nights Jason fell asleep long before me and I was so hyped on sugar and ramped up from watching Hellraiser 2 I never did fall asleep. At about three in the morning I stumbled upon a local Detroit talk show on one of the broadcast stations.
This stupid, poorly produced, local talk show was eye opening.
The subject was about poly marriage, although they didn’t use that term back in 1990. There were two women and one man and they all said they were married to one another even though it was illegal. These people were NOT sexy, let’s get that out of the way right now, and they weren’t eccentric weirdo’s. They were normal looking, sounding, and acting people. They spoke about how they fell in love, they talked about the guff they’d taken from their friends and family, and they spoke about how scared they were to come out and talk about it in public.
It was fascinating to say the least.
I think poly relationships are going to be very common in the coming decades and the way I see it there are three issues when it comes to being in poly relationships in the current day and age. The first, and probably largest, is legal. The second and of nearly the same importance, will be organizing the relationship to work for all partners. Third and to me least important, will be the religious aspects.
To the point of the legal ramifications let’s just be honest, it’ll be a mess for awhile. Americans are a leap before we look culture. We’ve always been that way and I find it hard to believe that’ll change any time soon. But it’s just a matter of finding a balance. It’ll take a series of laws and judicial rulings, but in the end things such as inheritance, divorce, and child custody will be shaken out.
I can’t speak to the interpersonal relationship aspects. Even in a purely monogamous relationship no two arrangements are alike. It’s up to the members of a relationship, no matter the configuration, to find the balance that works for them. It’s nobody else’s business how you live your life as long as you’re not actually hurting anyone.
As for the religious issues… I don’t give a shit.
I’m not being rude, but it just doesn’t apply to me. Although I will say if your deeply held, sincere, religious beliefs have a strong opinion regarding poly or open relationships then follow them. But if you use your religious beliefs on the matter to oppress or make life difficult for people not in your little group, then you’re an asshole and I’ll tell you so. I might get my nose broken, but I’ll still do it.
And that’s it. I make no recommendations for or against poly relationships. If they are for you, then I say why not look into it. If they’re not for you, then this essay was probably a colossal waste of time (it probably was regardless but at least it was free). It’s a big world with a lot of different wonderful people in it, dip your toes in lots of pools you might be glad you did.
Or not, what the hell do I know anyway?
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