June 12, 2012
Two’s company, but three or more is a family!
“Love withers under constraint; its’ very essence is liberty.
It is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy nor fear.
It is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited when
Its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserved.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Honey, we need to talk.” “What’s wrong dear?”
“You know my friend John, from work?” “Of course, great guy, I really liked him. I hope he is ok?”
“Yes he’s fine. It’s just that I’ve fallen in love with him too.” “Well…I guess we’re gonna need a bigger house.” This is not a traditional conversation heard between a husband and wife, but, surprisingly, this type of situation happens often these days. The polyamorous lifestyle is more popular in these times than most people know. I and many in my social circle who practice this method of “free love” feel a kinship with the non-conformists of the 1960s and 1970s and the lofty ideals of a life free of jealousy and rife with compassionate caring. We feel this is the right time and the right climate to “swing back” to that simpler age, sharing love and life and all the good with more than one person, on a more intimate level than being solely friends. I often talk of the freeing feeling of open and honest communication and the lack of guilt when someone becomes much more important to you than casual acquaintances, when I am asked to speak on the topic. Polygamy, the traditionally religious practice of having more than one wife, has been paraded into the spotlight often in recent times; in fact, polygamy is accepted in eighty-three percent of cultures worldwide (Fortunato)! Not much has been said publicly about polyamory, the practice of having intimate relationships with more than one person. While many influential policy makers and religious leaders feel this is a monstrous threat to the institution of marriage, polyamorists believe this is not the case. Overall, polyamorous relationships are more beneficial than traditional marriages. Often I have been asked if, (and told that) monogamous marriage has been the only way of life. In truth, polyamory, polygamy, and other non-monogamous arrangements were practiced through the ages as well. Evidence of this can be found in reports of the orgies of Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the religious writings of the Middle East and Europe (Gen 16:3). As with any religious writing, trying to establish its works as historical fact is a difficult and daunting task. Often times the stories in these writings come across as metaphors when I read them. However, Dr Laura Fortunato of the Santa Fe Institute shares with us the fact that, with regards to Rome, influential men had numerous children with the slave women in their households (Fortunato). Many of the concubines, mistresses, and servants of the nobility in Europe and England during the Renaissance Age were often willing and unwilling members of polyamorous relationships i.e. the many wives of Henry VIII. Over the years, there have been periods of time where the idea and practice of polyamory has been the cultural and popular norm, most recently the US Air Force pilots of World War II and the “free love” movement of the 1970s (Ryan). Today polygamy is getting its fair share of national attention, with reality TV events as well as news reporting shows such as 20/20 (Philips). Everywhere you look, a new reality TV show is on the air, focusing on a new polygamist family talking about their experiences. Unfortunately, polyamory is not getting as much exposure. There are many misconceptions about the drawbacks of polyamory, but few have any information regarding the benefits this type of relationship offers, such as financial and emotional support, assistance with child-rearing, and exploring the variety of life with a guilt free conscience. So the question you have to ask yourself is quite simple: