Thursday, December 19, 2013

Polyamory: a short introduction.

 Poly greeting cards
        It’s a warm summer day on the beach. Teenagers hangout on the pier, making plans about what to do later on in the evening. Attractive women wear their best bathing suits, proud of the year round workout regimens they went through to attain their look. Waves roll onto the shore as children run away, pretending there’s a sea monster after them. A man walks down the boardwalk with his lady holding his arm, taking in this peaceful scene. The couple kiss and flirt with each other. They’re obviously on a date. Together they spot a woman in the distance and wave her over. She smiles and approaches quickly, obviously happy to see them. As she reaches them, something strange happens that draws stares from everyone around. She kisses the man squarely on the lips. Then something even stranger happens. She kisses the woman squarely on the lips. This scene brings whispers and sideways looks from nearly everyone in sight, but the triad doesn’t even seem to notice as they walk down the beach hand in hand in hand. They find a bench and the man buys lunch at a vending cart while the two women chat and smooch. Later the first woman excuses herself to the ladies room leaving the man alone with the second woman. He lays his head on her lap and they gaze into the others eyes. Together the three of them leave the waterfront, presumably for the couples’ home, with many confused eyes following them.
        Dates like this are becoming more commonplace in our society. Sometimes the dynamics differ, but the premise is still the same. More than two people in a romantic relationship with everyone aware of the circumstances is called “Polyamory”. The devotees of this practice swear by the closeness it brings to their existing relationships and the personal discovery they undergo to maintain it. To polyamorous people, it’s a healthy, enriching, beautiful relationship option. In our society, however, polyamory is often frowned upon and even outright vilified because of it’s opposition to the idea that monogamy or being single are the only relationship choices.
 Bold illustration of a poly lesbian triad
        The word Polyamory is a hybrid word combining the Latin words “poly”, meaning many, and “amor”, meaning love. “Polyamory” literally translates into “many loves”. Polyamory also has symbols of pride, such as the tri-colored flag designed by Jim Evans. The flag is designed with three horizontal stripes, each a different color, and the “pi” symbol in the center. Pi is the latin letter “P”, which is the first letter in polyamory-not very imaginative but it serves it’s purpose of identifying polyamorous people and their supporters. The very idea of being in love with more than one person is absurd to some people. Because polyamory isn’t widely recognized as a legal relationship choice as of today, marriages of more than one man and one woman are not legal. Thus, a good many polyamorous people are unmarried because they choose not to alienate any of their partners but, that doesn’t mean they are alone.
 The Pod From Showtimes Polyamory: Married and Dating
        In America there are over 100 support groups and email lists. This poly network shows how quickly polyamory has gained in popularity since the 1970’s. Being polyamorous, especially in America, is difficult and having other like-minded people to confide in is invaluable. Because so many people have expressed curiosity about polyamory, the cable network Showtime produced a reality show on the subject “Polyamory: Married and Dating”(Saraiya, 2012, para. 4) giving a perspective of two different poly-families. The “Triad” of Lindsey and Anthony Cristofani who are both dating Vanessa Carlisle is the more typical poly-relationship whereas the “Quad” of Kamala Devi, Jennifer Gold, Tahl Gruer and Michael McClure, who refer to themselves as “The Pod”, are seen less but scrutinized much more harshly.
        Being polyamorous has several benefits exclusive to its practice. New Relationship Energy (Cook,n.d. para. 7), which is often a forbear to love, is never scarce. Intense passion and intimacy is experienced in both the primary and the secondary relationships. Falling in love is a feeling that never grows stale and, having that freedom while having the security of your primary significant other, if you have one, is beyond elating. The most beneficial aspect of polyamorous relationships is what one learns about oneself and their partner. Having more than one person express themselves about another’s virtues and faults helps allows for greater understanding of the self, not least when the people expressing themselves matter on an emotional level. Seeing ones partner develop romantic feelings for another and confiding in them about it reinforces not only the relationship but the friendship as well.

 I fly my poly flag proudly
        Despite the benefits of polyamory, society clings to it’s misconceptions about the practice. The most recurring assumption is that polyamory is solely about sex and infidelity. Only slightly less recurring is that polyamory is not about love or intimacy. Both assumptions are completely false. Laymans often confuse polyamory with the sexually oriented “Swinging” (“Polyamory FAQ,” n.d., para. 4). Swinging is a recreational, sexual hobby usually consisting of four or more people. Polyamorists, however, place sex as a tertiary need with love and friendship being far more important.
        With the way the world is evolving, poly-families are becoming more and more typical within our society. Some judge the practice as immoral but their opinion is more often than not born of ignorance on the subject. Before forming one of your own, it would be wise to search for more information and educate yourself about it. Whether this blog post or in a` polyamory forum online, there is no shortages of references for those even mildly curious about the polyamorous lifestyle.

Cascade Spring Cook. (2009). Initated By a Woman
Loving More. (n.d.). Loving More Polyamory Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ
Sonia Saraiya. (2012). Polyamory: Married and Dating