Polyamory has been a bit of a buzzword as of late. Seen by many as the latest trend in modern relationships, with estimates revealing that up to 5% of Americans may be polyamorous, polyamory refers to the practice of ‘consensual non-monogamy.’ Polyamorous relationships are somewhat like open relationships, but with an emphasis on the forming of genuine bonds rather than the casual sex that people in open relationships tend to indulge in. While people in open relationships may have one romantic partner that they love and many sexual partners, polyamorous people form deep connections with multiple people and have full relationships with them; not just sex.
Polyamorists say that relationships such as theirs make sense. They say that polyamory gives them the freedom to do what they like without a possessive partner watching their every move, that their relationships are built on honesty and good communication and that polyamory is more ‘natural’ than monogamous relationships as it allows people to explore their sexualities in a free and open way without anybody being hurt.
Sounds amazing, right? And it can be. Many, many people are happy and fulfilled in polyamorous relationships, and good for them! Polyamory really seems to suit modern life, where our dating resembles window shopping (Tinder) and we’re waiting until we’re much older to settle down with just one partner.We’re also becoming evermore sexually liberated, with pole dancing lessons being offered to the masses, BDSM saturating pop culture and debauchery filled weekends in Magaluf being practically a rite of passage for young people. Polyamory just seems like the next logical step for the sexually liberated modern person.
But is it?
Is polyamory not just rampant consumerism, where the goods on offer are humans? Is it not just selfish greed? Is so much partner swapping really fulfilling? And what about jealousy? Most people are not biologically predisposed to sharing lovers, so surely polyamory cannot be as ‘natural’ and ‘easy’ as enthusiasts would have you believe. I mean, let’s not forget that we are not talking about a couple attending the odd swingers party here. This isn’t just a bit of casual sex to spice up an old relationship or cater to mutual kinks. This is the practice of becoming emotionally involved and invested in multiple people at the same time, and I can’t shake the feeling that actively engaging in such deep relationships with multiple partners is playing with fire.
Now, while I would never try to prevent anybody from engaging in any sort of relationship (providing it is legal and consensual), and while I certainly do not judge those that do practice polyamory, I have to come out and say that it’s not for me. While pretending to subscribe to polyamory may make me sound oh so hip and postmodern, I just can’t. Call me old-fashioned but I don’t believe that there is anything more beautiful than two people who only have eyes for each other.
Dating multiple people is all well and good (and trust me, I’ve done it), but there comes a point where the person you’re casually dating suddenly becomes more than a casual weeknight hookup. There comes a point (for me anyway), when I don’t want to flirt with guys at the club because I’d rather have the person I like with me to down shots and dance like an idiot. There comes a point when I don’t want to be having the same mind-numbing conversations with 10 guys on Tinder because I’d rather ask my significant other how his or her day went (because I care about the answer).
When I’m with somebody, I want to know that I am theirs, and they are mine. That it doesn’t matter if we’re halfway across the world from each other because our connection can last the distance. That it doesn’t matter if they go out and meet a hundred hot girls because I’m the one they want to wake up to in the morning. I want someone to choose to commit, and to make that choice because they think that I am worthy of commitment. I don’t want to be invited into someone’s hareem; to sit miserably at the bottom of the pecking order, knowing that the object of my affection is saying the same words to countless other girls.
I want someone to say ‘Yes, being single is a lot of fun, but committing to you is going to be even more fun,’ and mean it. I want my man to get jealous if another guy hits on me. I want him to put his arm around me, showing the world that I belong to him. It might sound archaic but I don’t want my partner to be okay with me doing every Tom, Dick and Harry.
I want my partner to be my best friend, not just one lover among many. I want them to look into my eyes and see every last thing that I am not saying, because their mind is so in tune with mine.
Relationships are never easy. Every single relationship, monogamous or otherwise, has issues. People in monogamous relationships could learn a lot from the open and honest way that polyamorous people conduct themselves, and I genuinely believe that polyamorists are onto something when they stress the importance of truly wanting your partner to be happy and fulfilled.
However, with all that said, I also believe that polyamorists could learn a lot from monogamists. They could learn how monogamy doesn’t have to be boring, and that it can actually be ten times the adventure that polyamory is. They could also learn that jealousy isn’t always a bad thing, and that sometimes exclusivity actually demonstrates more care towards another person than constantly being on the lookout for a newer, shinier version of your current flame.
What do you think?