Adam (PolyN00b) is a 30 year old, bisexual man living happily in an FMF triad with hetaera and independently happy. His other writings can be seen at http://bisocialnews.com.
More Than Sex
It seems that some people believe that polyamory is about one thing - sex. That the drive to mate is what prevents those that live the polyamorous lifestyle from being faithful. The fundamental problem with this belief is that it precludes polyamory's ability to be about something other than sex - by assuming that it can't be about love and commitment and fidelity as much as monogamy can.
I believe in true love as much as the next person. I want true love, the white picket fence and the partners to raise children with. The fact is that love is the most amazing thing that has ever existed - songs are sung about it, movies are made in which "true love" is always found and stories are told of its amazing powers. With something that is so amazing, does it really make sense to limit it? To take the most powerful force known to mankind and put a leash around it and tie it to just one person - to just one true love?
The fact is that were this the case then anyone that has ever had love and lost it would never bother to try again. Why would they? If there is only one "true" love then once that love is gone everything after it wouldn't be true, would it? Of course, the case can be made that if it was lost then it was never "true" to begin with and that's why we keep trying. What about, then, those that have love taken from us? The widowers, do they have the right to try again? If they have their one true love taken from them and they dare to try again to find love, is that flying in the face of love? The point is, even monogamy allows for multiple instances of love and in fact makes excuses for its existence - "there are plenty of fish in the sea," for example is a very popular colloquialism that reminds us all that there is more than one chance for love in our respective worlds. Putting all of that to the side, however, the sheer numbers make it impossible for there to be only one true love. With over six billion people in our world, it stands to reason that there is more than one person that compliments us so completely, what happens, then, if we happen to meet more than one of those matches? Do we deny ourselves a "true" love because we've already met one? Do we become unfaithful?
Even in the face of all of that, monogamy is still the most socially accepted brand of relationship - though there are several cultures in the world in which it is not practiced. According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook
, of 1231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny. With those numbers in mind, it would seem that monogamy is actually the minority. Perhaps the earlier statement that monogamy is the most socially accepted brand of relationship is apocryphal. If only 15% of the societies studied are monogamous then one would wonder, where did monogamy come from? Why do we fight so hard to make sure our husbands and wives remain faithful?
The first instances of widespread monogamy were in Western Europe and it eventually gained worldwide acceptance in the modern world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. The practice was propagated through royalty and religion - that latter ultimately making immoral to have multiple partners and specifically marriages while the former used the religious reasons as a way to exert control. Control over a booming population - going back to the Roman Empire in which conquered civilizations were literally "bred" into the fold - as well as control over a royal bloodline. History is replete with examples of royalty exerting control over the institution of marriage for political as well as personal reasons. Still, religion has the strongest hold - even conquerors like Napoleon and Kings like Henry VIII had to take drastic measures in order to maintain their socioeconomic statuses - Napoleon divorcing Josephine and Henry dissolving the long standing relationship between the monarchy and the Catholic church to marry Anne Boelyn. The spread of Western religion is, arguably, the most widespread reason for the rise of monogamy.
The point is not about religion, however, nor is it about monogamy vs. polyamory. The point is that somehow the line has been blurred - making polyamory synonymous with promiscuity. The irony being that the statistics of infidelity would seem to indicate that monogamy is just as promiscuous. Frank Pittman, in his book "Growing Up" states that infidelity is involved in 90% of first time divorces. The facts then, tend to suggest that monogamy is as much about sex as polyamory. Meaning that the only fundamental difference between the two is that monogamy hides its promiscuity in shame while polyamory places its promiscuity quite visibly in the open, and through its very existence allows for the possibility of multiple relationships being about more than sex.
Polyamory is about sex. In fact, polyamory never claimed it wasn't about sex. Monogamy is also about sex. The thing is, that human interpersonal relationships are about sex. The drive to procreate, as held over from our ancestors is an instinct that is not easily dismissed. Sex as a drive is linked to the emotion of love. No matter whether we're monogamous or polyamorous, we will always be driven to seek sex and love, even if we already have both sex and love. Moral and ethical arguments can be made that one lifestyle is better or worse than another - at the end of the day though, its up to each of us on an individual level to decide which lifestyle is better for us. No matter what the choice, the diversity is what makes all of existence interesting.
Posted on Polyamorous Percolations 14 March 2010 at 23:15