I recently was having dinner with a couple who are the epitome of the ideal of polyamory, yet they had never even heard of the term. As I don’t believe I’ve ever written on this subject is in one in which Heidi and I wholeheartedly believe and practice.
To put is simple and short, polyamory is the practice of opening one’s life, heart and body up to more than one person. This is in contrast to mono-amory where one believes that one can (or should) only love one person at a time. Of course never in the history of the world have people been consistently mono-amorous. The issue is not whether one has the capacity to have emotional and physical love with more than one person, for some research suggests that the vast majority of married people have extramarital affairs sometime in their marriage. And what is an affair if not loving someone in addition to one’s spouse? The issue is whether one embraces the need and capacity to love more than one person at a time as good, wholesome and of benefit to all.
The polyamorus community (including Heidi and I) believe that humans have an infinite capacity to give and receive love, both emotional and physical. This is not an aberrant or exotic belief, but rather has been the way of life for most of human civilization. It was only since the advent of property owning culture (about 6,000 years ago) that love became a limited commodity to be bought and sold like any other property. The simple adherence to the mono-amrory position reduces love to something one buys with a marriage license or other monetary provision demanding both parties comply with the terms of the contract that limit ones love options to a single person. Indeed even today brides are bought and sold in many parts of the world.
Even in “liberal” western countries, the larger culture believes that when a husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend) find love elsewhere, they only have two options, to break the contract or to secretly violate the terms. Both options harm everyone involved. The concept that a significant other must choose between one love and another is simply taken for granted in most of the world. How much pain is caused by a husband or wife who falls in love with someone new having to choose between that love and the security and stability of their life and the lives of their children. In the end there are only losers in those situations, and “those situations” are the norm not the exception in life.
In the classic tale of King Author, Guinevere must choose between her hot love for Lancelot, and her deep love for Author. The result of this quandary is that the utopia of Camelot is brought to ruin. This ancient story is a morality tale, but I would suggest that it is a cautionary tale of the evil of mono-amory.
Yes, I say evil, for I do not see any good or happiness coming from the expectation of exclusive love. Anger, jealousy, hurt and violence come in the wake of this system as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
I propose, the polyamory community proposes, that love is not a limited commodity. When Heidi falls in love with someone else it does not diminish our love, it does not threaten our family; on the contrary, she is happier and a better mother and mate when in the glow of new love. Currently she very much loves one of the people I spoke of in introduction to this commentary. Over our 25 years of marriage, she has loved many people; and, yes, sex often, but not always follows her loves. I believe I am enhanced, not diminished by my wife’s many loves.
I would suggest we can, each of us can, help build a new and better society by embracing all the love we can love for ourselves and for those we share our lives. After all, do any of us have so much happiness that we can afford to shun the love that comes into our path.
Originally Posted 5-12-2012 on my blog NeoBarbarians.tumblr.com