Thoughts on Polyamory

“I’ve never actually met a monogamous person before, just hypocrites and liars.”

These were the words of a professional spanker/spankee of Swedish-Slovakian heritage that I met at an orgy in London some years ago (around 2006 I believe). “Quite right,” we all chuckled as we munched on pizza, pancakes and politics in the kitchen of the 2 escorts that had invited us all back to their flat afterwards. I decided that everything I had ever heard about people in the sex industry was false and that Eyes Wide Shut was probably one of the silliest movies I had ever seen.

There are numerous examples of people that have arrived at sexual and socioeconomic arrangements OTHER than Monogamy. In the original Sanskrit of the Kama Sutra, the word for woman, wife, & prostitute are one and the same, the differentiation being how many patrons you had. According to a Finnish friend of mine, in Finland, where the government is obligated to support children, if a marriage doesn’t work out, it’s not uncommon for people to move on and have children with more than one mate. In certain parts of Nepal, the acquisition of 5 or more husbands by a woman is a sign of royalty, based on the story of Draupadi in th epic Mahabharata. There are of course, the Mormons, though from what I’ve read, the situation most Mormon women find themselves in is not a terribly happy one. I expect this has little to do with sexual arrangements and everything to do with being considered little more than baby-making chattel by the men of the faith.

And that is my point, that happiness in our intimate relationships pertains to a much broader spectrum of activity and behaviors than sexual arrangements. More and more I encounter people of similar contexts, values and ethics to my own, practicing alternative approaches to sexuality, and having a grand old time doing it. I don’t now if it really is becoming more popular, or I’m just getting in touch with more of my ilk as I get older. Perhaps Polyamory is an acquired taste necessitating age and experience. Not only is the quantity impressive, but the seemingly overall healthier, more productive, more communicative and considerate manner I see these people carrying out such connections as compared with countless examples traditional marriage mired in indifference or outright misery.

Sex in the modern West, is often defined strictly & predominantly as penetration, especially of a procreative nature – an epistemologically religious fallacy IMHO. In my limited experience, I’ve found that male sexuality tends to be more linear, while women’s sexuality tends to be more spatial. An intimate relationship doesn’t necessarily mean “having sex.” But living in a post-industrial patriarchy means that sex is often defined in very male terms – a serious bummer for those of us in touch with both our Yin & our Yang.

We do live in an over-specialized age in which one is expected to be neatly, linguistically packaged – logical or emotional,  male or female, left or right, black or white, and this leaves us feeling weakened and incomplete (shall we blame the invention of writing, or language itself?). In the context of the nuclear family, we all fear the loss of our sympathy group, men fear the loss of the procreative vessel, women fear the loss of their sustenance… Living in societies of such size that everyone does not know everyone else also leaves us lonely and alienated from the structures governing our lives and definition of the self — so many look for completeness in partnership with another – one other. I think an important question to ask oneself – repeatedly – is whether or not you can feel complete without a significant other.

More often than not, we don’t – so we cling tight, bonded by the most powerful urge existing in any human being – the urge to fuck. According to everyone from Freud to the Tantric monks, if you control this urge, you control society.

Combine that with the knowledge that sex governs the production of the most valuable asset human beings have – other human beings (perhaps it really was paradise, before the fruit of knowledge told us that the seed makes the plant and sex makes babies) – and our sexuality becomes highly subject to threat and hegemony. The more people in your belief system, the more power that belief system has. The Church has exploited this quite successfully – and it gives them a serious edge in American elections.

I believe it is in our nature to seek structure and hierarchy, so it’s natural to want to know where we stand with our lover. Even in healthy polyamorous arrangements, everyone seems to prefer knowing who is king or head courtesan, as we want to know who the CEO/chairman is, or who the leader of a military unit is.

I think problems arise in any relationship, be it working, intimate, familial, when those roles aren’t democratically defined and agreed upon by the participants.

Of course we all want to feel special, wanted, important – like we *matter.* In the capitalist, individualist me-culture, can you be comfortable as second-potato? I think it depends. The person who had the greatest impact on my sexuality, is a mentor with whom I never had sex, though we shared a great intimacy of creativity and emotion. Last and only time I had an affair with a married man, I praised Shiva that I could partake of his oceanic knowledge and body while someone else dealt with his whiny BS 6 days a week and bore his children. There are other times when desire is so overwhelming that it takes on the nature of a drug and blinds me to others. I don’t think it necessarily  means it will be until death, or that we should merge bank accounts. It simply is what it is in the moment.

relation
1390, from Anglo-Fr. relacioun, O.Fr. relacion (14c.), from L. relationem (nom. relatio) “a bringing back, restoring,” from relatus (see relate). Meaning “person related by blood or marriage” first attested 1502. Relationship “sense of being related” is from 1744; meaning “an affair, a romantic or sexual relationship” is attested from 1944.

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