Monogamy can get so monotonous so why not love many? There are many forms of non-traditional relationships emerging in modern society with polyamory being at the forefront. In the last decade, there has been wide-spread coverage of polyamory in media, films, academic journals, and law. However, society is still in the dark on what exactly constitutes polyamory. It’s common for society to clump a group of people together with a singular label; however, that’s not how social and relational dynamics typically work. In this post, I aim to provide basic insight and clarification into the constructs of polyamory and eliminate harmful stereotypes that have developed around the concept.
A revolutionary book I recommend is, The Ethical Slut, which examines non-traditional forms of relationships, with a focus on polyamory. It aims to shed light on common misconceptions of multi-partnered relationships. Polyamory can be defined as, “The open acceptance of multiple romantic/sexual relationships.” A feminist perspective is further elaborated, “whilst it is often seen, from the outside, as fulfilling men’s fantasies (representing the possibility of infidelity without guilt and having sex with more than one woman), many within the polyamorous community regard it as a more feminine way of managing relationship, with much emphasis placed on the importance of open communication, the expression of emotion, and support networks” (Hot bi babes and feminist families: Polyamorous women speak out, Barker and Ritch, 2007). Whilst this may be a shocking discovery to some, it may also resonate within the poly community.
‘Poly’ is many. ‘Amory’ is love. Polyamory is ‘many loves.’ To mention, I am not promoting one relational construct over the other. What I am suggesting is that each relationship consists of participants with similar relational goals in mind. Many of the differences lie in perception and execution. For example, most poly individuals accept their jealousy as a natural inclination, but strive to remove it from their relationships. In the article, Whatever happened to non-monogamies? Critical reflections on recent research and theory, “A great deal of the research on non-monogamies concentrates on the rules, contracts and boundaries employed by non-monogamous people in order to manage their relationships. Generally the aim of such arrangements is to ensure the stability and security of the relationships and to minimize painful emotions, notably jealousy.”In mony (monogamous) dynamics, ‘break-ups’ usually result in the diminishing of the relationship; whereas poly defines this as a ‘transition’ where the interaction is still alive, but sexual intimacy may be removed. Also, in poly relationships, there can be primary and secondary lovers, along with hierarchical constructs present.
Those who strive to eliminate barriers such as jealousy in their relationship/s tend to have healthier outcomes. Whether you’re in a mony or poly relationship, it’s important to realize both forms of relationships strive for shared relational elements such as intimacy, open communication, honesty, maturity, and growth. It’s easy to identify a concept better or worse than the normative model; yet the challenge lies in deconstructing relational components of a dynamic despite sexual orientation or organization. In my next post on polyamory, I will take on a feminist theoretical framework in relation to poly constructs and how it impacts female sexuality.
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