Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 81 of 365: Polyamory

My best friend posted an article yesterday about polyamory and open relationships. It was the first article I've seen in a while where the attitude wasn't of, "Monogamy is unnatural; open relationships are the only way!" It came out and said that open relationships are incredibly difficult, that without set rules and communication things can go awry, and, even then, a relationship can quickly descend into jealousy and bickering.

I personally cannot stand the idea of, "infidelity is natural!" As if base desires are a hall pass for being a scoundrel. It's also natural to attack someone who is barging in on your territory, but it's still illegal to shoot a guy because he cut you off in traffic.

And hey, maybe I'm a bit sensitive because I've had a nasty history of boyfriends having wandering eyes, but "fidelity is unnatural" is a shit excuse.

"Monogamy is unnatural." Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. But you know what is natural? The desire for our partners to be monogamous to us. The jealousy when we feel that the person we care about cares about someone else. And that's where most open/polyamorous relationships fall apart. Someone gets jealous, someone isn't as willing to share, someone feels like they need to "get back" at their partner for dating so much.

Because, regardless as to how "natural" sleeping around is, jealousy is a lot more natural. We are jealous, territorial creatures. Our partners are no exception.

The writer of the article admitted that, in a perfect world, she'd just get to sleep around while all of her partners were loyal to her. And maybe that's the default emotion. Which would make sense: what better way to pass on your genes than by having a bunch of different partners who are loyal to only you?

But, the same way we'd go to jail if we slugged someone for cutting us in line, society doesn't operate on the base instincts. If you expect/want your partner to be monogamous to you, then you need to be monogamous to them in exchange (unless you're a serious toolbag). I don't really care about how "unnatural" it is. We certainly enjoy our other, certainly more "unnatural" aspects, like cars and A/C and modern medicine.

One of my new favorite shows is a docu-reality show about polyamorous couples. It doesn't take long for the people in the relationships to start getting jealous, start liking one person in the "family" over another, start wishing for a bit more monogamy on the end of their lovers. I don't doubt there are people out there where polyamory works perfectly for them. But I doubt the "naturalness" of polyamory. I doubt it a lot.

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