Polyamory is the practice of engaging in “multiple and simultaneous” (Webster) love and sexual relationships. This is not necessarily about promiscuous or adulterous individuals but about committed relationships, including married couples. Brought to public attention recently through Showtime’s cable program called, “Polyamory: Married and Dating,” this concept challenges the traditional definition of what it means to be married.
Polyamorous, legally married couples choose to invite other people, either single individuals or other couples, into their lives to engage in “loving” (including sexual) relationships. They often live together as “triads” or foursome/couples, and most hook-ups are not one-night stands but serious, ongoing friendships. In fact, one couple and individual recently made the decision to make their triad a lifelong relationship with a commitment ceremony. (I wondered, though, at one point is this considered polygamy which, last I knew, is against the law?)
But far from the “swinging couples” of the ‘60s and ‘70s where people engaged in casual and anonymous sex with others while married, polyamory claims to be about truly loving people with all the devotional aspects of love and not merely sex. The show depicts a married couple who consider each other as “primary partners” as they carefully select others to “love” as either a way to bring more joy to their partners and because they both have genuine feelings of love—and not merely lust—for these other people. They call this “love without limits.”
It’s almost science fiction to think that the human species could evolve into polyamorous beings where everyone lives communally, loving, procreating, maintaining a household and raising the group’s offspring together. It seems like ultimate love relationships where there is no jealousy or competition. Just universal and unconditional love. No limits. But if this is the eventual evolution of mankind, we are not there yet. Far from it. If humans were not meant for monogamy, jealousy wouldn’t be part of our nature.
In one episode, a wife couldn’t understand her own tears and upset after allowing her husband to meet with her very attractive girlfriend to consider including her in their marriage. She was trying hard to not feel what she was feeling. I thought, “Why are you fighting this very natural response? Isn’t this telling you something?”
So many questions
The bedroom scenes of this show reveal that sexual relations aren’t limited to one-on-one lovers. The full poly experience includes everyone in bed at the same time! Triads, foursomes and more. Those are serious friendships. And so the questions begin…
1. With all this polysex going on, which always seems to be included in these relationships, does one have be bi-sexual to be involved in polyamory?
2. Does unlimited love always include unlimited sexuality?
3. Is it no longer adultery when you have the permission of your spouse to sleep with another person?
4. Is it not promiscuity when you’re having only a select number of partners?
This show left me confused. I wonder if polyamory is only an excuse to have unrestricted sexual relationships while enjoying the benefits of being married. I mean, I have close friends of both sexes whom I love and adore, seriously and deeply, but would having sex with them make us better friends? Is sex a requisite way of relating? Can I not be just as close a friend without including sex? What if I’m not sexually attracted to my friends? I think that having sex with a person changes the relationship completely. Deep platonic friendships can be very meaningful and loving without the sexual component which in my opinion can really makes things awkward.
And just because people are polyamorous doesn’t mean make getting along on a long-term basis any easier. In the program, two of the women living in the same house together with their primary partners began to have problems with each other. How do you break up with only one person in a triad or foursome? Will there be a vote to toss someone off their polyamorous island? Marriage is hard enough between two people. Imagine a marriage-like arrangement between three or four or more?
Mine, mine, mine
I think of myself as an unselfish person. Really. I give away or share everything. But my hubby? He’s all mine. I can’t see having another husband-like or sister wife-like relationship in my life. There would be hierarchies and hurt feelings and tested loyalties. Being married to one man is hard enough. I give him my all and until I evolve a little further, I can’t see mustering up the desire to share him or myself with any other person. Monogamy is not monotony. There is something rich, indulgent and beautiful about an exclusive love just between us.