Poly family, I'm worried. Polyamory has gained popularity over the last few years. The Showtime series "Polyamory: Married and Dating" has shown a couple sides of our beloved and sometimes trying lifestyle. Numerous blogs and websites put it in the public eye more and more. Suddenly scores of people are coming out as poly. Mainstream society has finally begun to recognize that heterosexual monogamy might not work for each and every human being. So why am I worried?
Because I don't want this lifestyle to become a fad, a quick cash in for the media sharks to utilize. Most pictures of the model polyamorous relationship look like the pictures above. Cute, young, perfect bodies, white and, judging from their clothes, wealthy. Just like everything there are people of all shapes, sizes and, in this case, income brackets who live a poly lifestyle. I'm worried about the awkward teenager who has never watched the show but has done actual research on polyamory only to be told they're not "poly material". Worse yet, those of us who have been poly for a while (three years for us if you're curious) may become guarded around newer poly people, pointing our fingers and saying "you're not really poly because..." When those pictures are what's going to be pushed on us as the face of Polyamory, newer poly people are going to come into the picture with a skewed idea of what poly is and we in the lifestyle are going to be on guard.
Lifestyle is the key word here. Loving more than one person isn't something you can turn off like a switch. It's difficult to hide, painful to deny. It's part of who we are, part of what makes us unique. So is it any wonder when I see a picture like this...
I get worried about our lifestyle being popularized and used?
I'm conflicted on this issue however as one the one hand I do want people who would identify as poly but have no idea that there is name and, better still, a community for them to join to know about it but, I loathe the idea of the lifestyle being something for all the Abercrombie and Fitch crowd to "do" on their days off from nothing.
It's like what happened with gaming. As a lady friend of mine put it, we were gamers before it was "cool." I'm talking Atari 2600, NES, Genesis. Back when it was about the games and not the cash in. Then gaming started to get more and more attention and now...Crap of Duty: Modern Cash whore. That's not to say it's a bad game (OK, I came out swinging I know) but, it's such a well done FPS shooter that too many games are now following that formula. The thing is COD altered an already great formula when Halo hit the scene. What I'm saying is with the proliferation of the lifestyle, brand new poly relationships will be molded after others in an attempt to recreate the "model" even when there is no need to.
There are some who already see poly-living as a fad, trend, or a phase and mistake polyamory for swinging. It won't help at all if it's the "hot new thing to try." This is who we are. It's not fashionable, it's not an accessory or a way to get more sex (though that does happen...a lot) it's about being true to ourselves and truthful with those around us. It's understanding that we can give multiple parts of ourselves to others and love every second of it. It's a lot of heartache, ridicule and perceived deviance which can land us in trouble with close-minded people in places of authority.
It's hard. Being made into a fashion statement won't make it easier.
Maybe I should look on the bright side. Maybe the popularity train will pass us by and we'll proliferate the right way, with people researching the subject and word of mouth. If not it'll only be five years until polyamory is "retro". Oh Hell on wheels, retro always comes back in style...