ethische non-monogamie / ethical non-monogamy

Revolutionary romance: A primer for polyamory [Australia]

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We live in a culture that is fanatically invested in monogamy, and does just about everything it can to discourage and punish polyamory. It teaches every one of us from birth that non-monogamy is one of the most horrible things a person can do. For Sadie Ryanne polyamory comes down to the idea that one person can’t, and shouldn’t, be expected to provide for all of our (emotional and sexual) needs. It is also a political identity marking her opposition to compulsory monogamy.

I’ve been thinking about love, and relationships, and what these things mean to me. (This is probably because I’ve become smitten — twitterpated, even! — with a few new people lately, and I’m a bit preoccupied…)

I guess because I’ve been talking a lot about new dates (*cough* like a giddy teenage queen *cough*) and my upcoming wedding, I’ve been having to answer lots of questions about polyamory. Monogamous people just seem to be utterly fascinated (or horrified) by it, and they want to talk to me about it all the time.

One friend recently called me “the most amorous-seeking person” they’ve ever met. I’m a flirty gal, it’s true… But when asked how many relationships I’m in (which happens often), I honestly don’t know how to answer. Three? Five? A dozen?

According to dominant monogamous narratives, “a relationship” is a special kind of dynamic that is easily distinguishable (because it is the only dynamic that is supposed to involve both romance and sex), and it needs to be fiercely defined and defended.

Strict monogamous expectations leave no room for flexibility or fluidity: You are always supposed to be either “not in a relationship” (and thus sexually available) or “in a relationship” (and therefore sexually exclusive).

I find that when most monogamous people try to understand polyamory, they still generalize this basic idea. They understand that I’m not sexually or romantically exclusive, but they still assume that I have multiple “relationships” the way they understand what a relationship is. Thus, when monogamous people ask me “how many relationships are you in?” they expect the answer to be easy.

Well, that just doesn’t apply to my life.

There are people with whom I have extremely deep, loving bonds (even explicit lifetime commitments) that don’t involve sex. On the other end, I might have sex with people for money and not care about them at all.

In the middle, there are people I regularly have sex with and really, deeply enjoy the presence of. I consider them intimate friends, and care about them a lot, but we have very little contact or commitment outside of sex.

And of course, it’s all very flexible: Someone who begins as a sexual partner often ends up as a platonic best friend.

So, how many relationships am I in? Do I count the person who knows me better than almost anyone and who I talk to all the time, whom I used to fuck but don’t anymore? Or what about the lover I fuck but only speak to once a month? Do I count both, or just one — and if just one, which?

Don’t get me wrong… I still spend a lot of time thinking about how to define my relationships. My partners and I spend a lot of energy discussing how to refer to each other, what we want out of our relationship, and so on.

I still get joyously anxious about new crushes when I’m not sure where they will go, I still squeal when someone asks me to be their girlfriend, and I still cry when one of my partners decides that we shouldn’t call each other lovers anymore. It’s not that the labels have no meaning for me.

But instead of assuming that there is only one, monolithic way to define a relationship, I see it much differently: There are just many different dynamics between two or more people (I’m in at least one triad, by the way), and many different words that they might use to describe their relationship to one another.

What poly actually looks like (for me)

Top three questions I receive from monogamous people about polyamory:

Q: Isn’t that cheating?

A: No. Mutually consenting to date or have sex with other people bears no resemblance to lying or breaking promises.

Q: Is that like polygamy?

A: No. Polygamy (meaning “many wives”) is a sexist, patriarchal religious institution in which one man has authority over multiple women. This is nothing at all like polyamory, which is a system in which people of all genders freely negotiate the terms of their relationships with multiple romantic and/or sexual partners.

Q: Don’t you get jealous?

A: No. (Read on if you’re curious…)

The other most common misconception about polyamory is that it just means “having multiple sexual partners.” Close… but, wrong!

The Scavenger, 11 juni 2011


Written by lovingmore

juni 14, 2011 bij 12:44 am

Geplaatst in relatie, seksualiteit

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  1. Some interesting points! I am starting to post my writings on monogamy and polyamory from the last few years. First one here:



    juni 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

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