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Old 04-06-2010, 03:07 PM
kamala kamala is offline
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Default A Polyamory Paradox

I stumbled on this old Washington Post article and this quote struck me.

…its practitioners (polyamory’s) have optimism for humans' endless capacity to love, share, forgive, grow and explore. But that optimism seems rooted in a cynical belief that the monogamous are stuck in a myth, one that leads to cheating, unhappiness or divorce court.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about some of these ideas and this put it quite succinctly. What has always appealed to me about polyamory was this air of maturity, of reason and reality, and there was always something very high-minded in choosing to learn and grow through something less conventional. But at the same time, I do look back at monogamy in a sort of nostalgic way. Like, things were easier, and there was something sweet about this idea of being with one perfect person, forever etc. I know in my heart it seldom works out like that…

What I guess I’m trying to say is that I have some trouble reconciling that “cynicism” with the ideals I have of abundant love, and maturity and respect etc etc.

I have tried hard not to foil myself against monogamous people, and say that I stand for everything they don’t, and they are unenlightened in some way, even though I must admit in my weaker moments I have sometimes felt that. For example, trying to explain my choices to a less than receptive friend But overall I think I pretty much agree that… well, people are different.

Do you think that people that have been hurt, or cheated on/betrayed or themselves done the cheating and betraying, are those people more likely to turn to polyamory as a sort of resignation to this less than ideal part of human nature? Or were you all well functioning monogamists who decided to move forward to polyamory as something positive, something expansive?

Are polyamorists just less generous when they come to assessing the human capacity for devotion to just one? Does that jeapordize the spirit of plurality and openness that I’ve seen on these boards…?

I know I’ve not been awfully clear, but I’d love some feedback on this
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:19 PM
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The polyamorist community I belong to is absolutely the most accepting group of people I have ever met in many ways.... except for one LOL! A lot of them, and I love them all as much as I love any friend, harbor a belief that veryone has the potential to be polyamorous and that monogamy is flawed. It is my personal belief that it is hard to believe something will work when you either don't want it or can't do it. Therefore I agree with your thoughts on who lives poly either by choice or nature. This isn't a negative observation, but is my experience.
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Old 04-06-2010, 04:02 PM
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I think the bulk of the cynicism is directed more at the refusal of many monogamous people to admit or consider the implications of the fact that we are all attracted to many people. It's not so much that they choose to be monogamous, which I respect fully, it's the people that act as if telling the truth about this, being honest with your partner and making honest decisions is somehow dangerous or dysfunctional.

I think no matter how you come to it, thinking about and/or participating in polyamourous relationships almost forces you to grow and face yourself and your motivations and love yourself and your loved ones for who you really are. I think it's frustrating that some people put such a wall up in talking with me about that growth because they are threatened.

Obviously there are other ways to attain growth and there is nothing wrong with monogamy. I think it's that blind refusal to see the merit in this experience that makes it tough to keep approaching people to share what is going on with me. To some I've told, I am a sort of hero now, but they don't necessarily agree in the context of their own lives. Others are taking bets as to how long my marriage will last.

In the end it doesn't matter, as long as I am realistic with myself and keep loving people as well as I can.
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:46 PM
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I am, deep down, a romantic at heart. I still believe that the fairytale love, "the one," is possible, and up until the possibility of something more than platonic friendship with Elric, that was my belief. Don't get me wrong, I've read sci-fi and some Heinlien and I had no problem with people who wanted to live there lives differently as long as they were respectful to everyone in their lives, but I was totally mono.

Now, after Elric and even with the failing of that possibility, I still believe that I can be in love with more than one person and it is ok. Sometimes it is hard if not impossible to go back to what one once was.

Is monogamy wrong? No. Is poly "the way"? Not for everyone. I am a firm believer of "to each his own," as long as the choice is their's and they realize that it is a choice. I would hope that people in any lifestyle choose to follow their heart and their beliefs and not be pressured into a lifestyle that does not and may never fit them.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:01 PM
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I take issue with poly folks who try to make out that poly is some higher form of relationship, or that it is more evolved or whatever. I don't agree with that at all.

Those claiming that monogamy is outdated, outmoded and all the other things are not people I can get behind.

The issue I have with our society is in thinking that monogamy is the only way to be and the only way to have "good" relationships. I think I know as many people in bad monogamous relationships as I do who are in bad polyamorous relationships (and that is a ratio, not absolute).

I have a great deal of respect for those that choose monogamy and are making it work for them. I don't think we have any right to tell them they are wrong for that choice.
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post

The issue I have with our society is in thinking that monogamy is the only way to be and the only way to have "good" relationships.
Nicely put, my friend
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:10 PM
Ariakas Ariakas is offline
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Right off the top of my head this initially reminded me of something written on xeromag

http://www.xeromag.com/fvpolymyths.html

I think the quote is shortsighted and, while likely based on some reality, is generalizing peoples viewpoints. I am not cynical about monogamy at all. I know friends who have done quite well. My parents were happily together over 20 before my father passed away. I have seen it work....and fail. My uncle was a serial mono at the best of times, a cheater at the worst and could easily be labelled a free love hippy swinger. He would still be that way if his heart wasn't broken from being single in his 60's and realizing his player days are behind him.

I come from a background of cynicism and debate. As with anything *I* expect, I would never want someone to ram monogamy down my throat, and in turn I don't do the same. Most of my friends and some of my family know I am in an open relationship. That is easier to explain then poly. Some have asked further questions which I explain. I let them decide for themselves. I hope they know me well enough to let me be me...because I return that favour

Quote:
Are polyamorists just less generous when they come to assessing the human capacity for devotion to just one? Does that jeapordize the spirit of plurality and openness that I’ve seen on these boards…?
I am devoted to my wife...it doesn't mean I can't find someone else to also be devoted to. Heck I am devoted to anyone I care to call a friend. I don't think devotion is monoscentric

Quote:
Do you think that people that have been hurt, or cheated on/betrayed or themselves done the cheating and betraying, are those people more likely to turn to polyamory as a sort of resignation to this less than ideal part of human nature? Or were you all well functioning monogamists who decided to move forward to polyamory as something positive, something expansive?
I am sure there are people that turn to polyamory as a method to their infidelity. They REALLY want to cheat, but don't want to cheat and fall in line with poly.

I guess the easiest answer to this question is I haven't been monogamous since I left my first common-law wife at 22. I have also never cheated. I just decided after her I would never tie myself to one person so exclusively. When I dated, I tended to ask hard questions of the women I was interested in...I laid everything on the table that I believe a date interested in me needed to know...
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kamala View Post
I have tried hard not to foil myself against monogamous people, and say that I stand for everything they don’t, and they are unenlightened in some way, even though I must admit in my weaker moments I have sometimes felt that. For example, trying to explain my choices to a less than receptive friend But overall I think I pretty much agree that… well, people are different.
Similarly I think I've found myself doing something similar sometimes when having to explain myself to the few friends who don't seem to understand why my wife and I would be choosing the route we have. Or just in passing philosophical conversations. I expect that sometimes it's almost more about convincing myself than convincing them.

The funny part about that too is that my wife and I were quite happily monogamous. I certainly understand many of the arguments poly v. mono involving infidelity rates, one true love myths, etc.
But the fact for me is that I have no reason to believe that my marriage would have suffered from infidelity, and I have always been very happy with the one woman I chose to marry, and have never found myself wanting for love, affection, companionship, or anything else that I couldn't find in regular platonic friends within a mono framework. We very well could have been the exception that mono's could use as a counterpoint to the poly argument that one-person-can't-be-all-things...at least enough so that additional romances needn't be necessary.

However...poly, or mono, I expect my wife and I don't fall into the 'typical' category for either. I think we could have succeeded quite happily as mono's even against the odds,... and have consciously chosen the path we're on now (Which would be why I find it useful to justify our actions...because if poly no longer made sense, we'd have to reevaluate our path).

Other's mileage will certainly vary...
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
I take issue with poly folks who try to make out that poly is some higher form of relationship, or that it is more evolved or whatever. I don't agree with that at all.

Those claiming that monogamy is outdated, outmoded and all the other things are not people I can get behind.

The issue I have with our society is in thinking that monogamy is the only way to be and the only way to have "good" relationships. I think I know as many people in bad monogamous relationships as I do who are in bad polyamorous relationships (and that is a ratio, not absolute).

I have a great deal of respect for those that choose monogamy and are making it work for them. I don't think we have any right to tell them they are wrong for that choice.
I totally agree with you. You said it better than I could have.
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Old 04-07-2010, 01:43 AM
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The way I see it is that polyamory is a new perspective on relationships. It focuses less on the idea that your partner is your possession and more on the idea that your partner is with you because they want to be with you. It deals with jealousy in a way that treats it as a sympton of a deeper feeling than the problem itself. It focuses much more on honesty and communication.

So I think this can work for multiple partners or just one.

I really only have a problem for judgemental monogamists who see my idea of a relationship as sinfull, morally wrong and broken without even listening to the idea with an open mind.
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