This is my monthly column about our life, life in a triad in general, or whatever rants & raves I feel like talking about at the time.
Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.
There seems to be a lot discussion lately surrounding monogamous folks attempting to make a journey into polyamory. One of the biggest stumbling blocks these people seem to be encountering is their partners inability to "wrap their mind" around the entire concept of openly loving multiple partners. The scenario goes something like this.
Mike* meets a woman whom he develops romantic feelings for. He decides to tell Sue*, his wife of fifteen years, about this person in an attempt to explain himself and his feelings. Sue listens to what Mike has to say, and her response in the end is "I just couldn't do that, I'm not wired that way". Mike is then faced with a moral dilemma; does he leave his wife to explore the potential relationship, or does he remain with his wife, never knowing what might have been. Most folks in Mike's position would choose option B, which I'm not here to either condemn or condone. While opting to remain with his wife is a noble position, it will most likely leave Mike harboring some feelings of resentment in the years to come. It might even lead to the eventual breakup of their marriage, although this isn't the only outcome of a situation like this. It's entirely possible that Mike and Sue will remain happily together for the rest of their lives, living the storybook monogamous relationship...'til death do they part.
It could also lead Mike down the path of an illicit affair with this woman, as is too often seen in monogamy. Extramarital affairs are more common and far more widely accepted than the obvious (to me) solution of polyamory. Many "monogamous" relationships are only such on the surface. Many times one or both partners has a relationship outside of the marriage. In most cases these relationships are known to the other partner, but it's easier to look the other way and accept it than to face the truth of the situation. Comfortably numb seems to be an underlying emotion in many monogamous relationships. This, of course, doesn't describe all monogamous relationships. There are an equal number of couples who remain together, happily and healthily, and are perfectly content in doing so. For many, the "one man, one woman" relationship is all they want and need to remain happy.
Getting back to my original thought, though, is the response given by Sue.
"I'm not wired that way". While Sue might very well believe this, is it really a true statement? Are we, as Humans, actually wired to remain monogamous for our entire lives? Are we supposed to love only one man or woman, or does our societal and spiritual upbringing foster this belief in us from our youngest days, reinforcing it until it becomes a core belief that we live by in our adult life? When we are single, it's perfectly acceptable for us to date more than one person. We explore the "dating pool", seeking out that one special person we want to settle down with. We then enter into an engagement, a commitment that says we want to spend the rest of our lives with this one person, 'til death do us part. We then finalize this by marrying this person, and that as they say, is that.
Or is it?
How do we really know that this one person is the only one that we will ever need to be truly happy? How do we know that this person will meet our every emotional, physical, or spiritual need for the rest of our lives? "You don't", society tells us. If they don't, though, you simply divorce this person and marry someone else who does. That's a simple solution, right? Mike decides to leave Sue for his new love, because this new woman fulfills a need that Sue wasn't able to fill. So he divorces Sue, marries his new love, and is happy for a year or two. Until he discovers that his new wife doesn't meet his every need either. What then? Does Mike search for another partner, divorcing his current wife and marrying yet another woman? I'm sure that the divorce industry would like nothing more, but this certainly doesn't benefit Mike in any way (or Sue or his latest ex-wife either, for that matter). Wouldn't it make much more sense to simply maintain all three of these relationships at the same time? Doesn't it make much more sense to love all three of these women at the same time? Isn't it better to have multiple loves who all meet different needs then trying to find that one "super love" that can meet each and every need that a person has?
It makes perfect sense to those of us who have discovered the wonders of polyamory. However, those folks who still subscribe to the myth of monogamy are unwilling to even see that anything like this could be a possibility. They have been programmed by society to believe that monogamy is the only possible solution, despite the ever growing evidence to the contrary. Mike would be much more accepted by his friends and family were he to have an affair. His deceit and betrayal of his marriage vows a much better alternative than being open and honest with all partners he chooses to be involved with.
The polyamory "movement" is continuing to gain ground, but it's going to be a long journey home. I agree that these people who oppose us might not be "wired that way". Therein lies the challenge. How do we uncross their wires and get them to understand that openly and honestly loving multiple partners is not only an acceptable alternative, but truly a healthy one? I'd like to say I had some of the answers, but I'm a lover, not an electrician.
*These are fictitious names and in no way represent actual people.
~ Chias, October 28, 2006
folks have read this article.