Synopsis: Uncle Charlie’s introduction to a love weirdness; The Poly Advantage; Questions and Quandaries; Personal Questions; and the Worldwide Scene.
Uncle Charlie’s Introduction to a Love ‘Weirdness’Jackie opened the door and said, “Hi Mom, Dad, Uncle Charlie. Come on in and meet two of the guys I’m considering marrying or at least someday living with”.
Dad and Mom looked at her a bit sheepishly and Uncle Charlie looked happily confused but interested. Uncle Charlie said, “So what are you going to do with the husband you already have”? “I’ll keep him too of course,” Jackie replied. “All three at the same time?”, Charlie asked, acting like he was sort of going along with a joke. “Yes, all three, at least some of them at the same time,” Jackie replied in a serious, contemplative tone of voice.
Uncle Charlie looked more puzzled. “Ah hah,” said Jackie turning to her mother and father. “You haven’t told him I’m a Poly, have you?” Jackie’s father spoke up saying, “ I would just get him confused trying to explain it, because I haven’t quite figured it out yet myself”. Jackie then replied, “Come on in to dinner and I’ll see if I can explain it to you without too much confusion and maybe even without too much embarrassment.” More people arrived and were introduced as friends and part of Jackie’s “poly” network. At dinner Jackie explained. “Poly love, or more officially Polyamory, is about two or more people openly loving each other, usually in an ongoing relationship, while acting supportive of their lover’s other love relationships.
“Here’s a basic concept. If you love somebody you want the one you love to have what they want and need. Many of us want and need more than one romantic or mate-like relationship. Therefore, if someone we love intimately wants or needs others we want them to have those relationships. Since you can love two or more parents, two or more siblings, two or more children, two or more friends at the same time why not two or more lovers or love mates?
“There are different societies around the world who have lived this love style for hundreds even thousands of years. More accurately poly love styles, in a variety of different ways, but none of them make for exclusive one-on-one living or for being dishonest about it. Polys tend to argue that our culture’s way is ‘phony monogamy’ but actually it’s serial polygamy or polyandry with lots of dishonesty. Affairs, adultery, unfaithfulness, cheating and the like, occur in over half the marriages pretending to be monogamous. So much doesn’t get shared that deep sharing realness and real intimacy of the heart hardly have a chance.”
Uncle Charlie, an open-minded and bold sort of fella said, “So, let me ask the big question in my mind. What about sex ? I can’t help but suspect all this Polyamory stuff is all just a mask for a form of ‘swinging’?” Jackie laughed openly and everyone else giggled or blushed a bit. “Sex is usually included but not always. With some, Poly love is done more like long-lasting, deep friendship while relationships in the swinging world tend to be more shallow and brief, though that’s not always true. But with us Polys it’s really not primarily about sex. That’s more for ordinary singles, swingers and of course cheaters. We Poly people are about the people we love having what they need and want, and that can include lots of sex with lots of people, though it usually is confined to a much smaller number of very special people”.
Uncle Charlie looking a bit devilish said, “Again let me ask, altogether at once?” Jackie responded, “That can happen and does with some Polys. For other Polys sex is a more private, one-on-one sort of thing. Again it’s much more about healthy, real love that’s open and honest”.
The Poly AdvantageOne of the other dinner guests then spoke up, “The Poly way has a great big advantage. It is non-deceitful, non-possessive, non-controlling, non-restrictive and non-exclusive. When you lust or feel love for another, which I think every spirited, really alive person does, you don’t have to hide it from those closest and dearest to you.”
Another guest at the table who had been quietly listening said, “The Poly way saves us from cheating and all the lies that go with it. If you have a forbidden desire you get to talk about it instead of hiding and feeling bad about yourself about having the desire. It also means having a whole lot more love in your life, and with it a whole lot more joy – at least that’s the way I experience it”.
Then Sandra shyly spoke up saying, “Let me tell you my experience. Before I became a Poly I was always afraid of losing whatever love I had, so I always had to secretly have a second lover on the side. Time and again that meant someone found out what I was secretly doing on the side and there were horrible fights and a horrible breakup and a whole lot of time spent suffering and also in recovery. Then the whole thing would start again. That nearly killed me. I mean literally. I nearly suicided twice.
“Then I got introduced to the Poly thing. I learned I really have what it takes to love and be loved a lot. It just seems natural to me. What was messing it up was dishonesty and a value system which made sexual fidelity and monogamy more important than what I think of as natural, real love or truth. When monogamy or sexual singularity are more important than love it can destroy love. I’ve heard it said that whatever we make more important than love ruins love, and I think that’s true for me at least. Now I see that anyone dumb or insecure enough to want to abandon me over who else I love probably isn’t right for me anyway. Breaking up would hurt some but see I have deep and abiding love with the most wonderful set of other people, so I know I’m not going to be unloved. It’s more like the family you can count on, and I wouldn’t trade anything for it. I know it’s not for everyone but it works way better for me than what I was doing before”.
Questions and QuandariesWell, the evening went on with lots of humor, occasional tender, caring feelings and a surprising amount of frank, open honesty. Some talked of their failures at being Poly and the failures of others they had known who tried it and found it wanting. There was quite a lot of talk going on about children with some parents strongly testifying how much seeing their parents go Poly had done for them. Others, of course, were very dubious about that part.
A lot of the other ways that a Poly lifestyle can be lived also got mentioned. Handling jealousy and insecurity, plus the role of healthy self-love in doing so was focused on for a time. How a Poly love lifestyle was being a great benefit to bisexuals in the Poly community was generally agreed on. The question of “is Poly love real love?” resulted in people saying “sometimes yes and sometimes no”. All acknowledged that false forms of love could happen in Poly relationships just like in monogamous relationships. Also everybody agreed Poly love took just as much or more work as any other kind of relationship. While it seemed like a sort of salvation for some, it was seldom easy, especially at first.
Some put forth the idea that it’s the English-speaking peoples that have the most trouble with Poly lifestyles, while maybe northern Europeans, the French, Polynesians and certain special indigenous people in China were more likely to do well with it. Jackie’s parents testified to the fact that their daughter was happier this way than she ever had been before and that was what mattered to them. Uncle Charlie said this dinner party had been the best conversational circus he had ever gone to, and he had never experienced so many surprising thoughts that he would have to think about a lot more and he was going to do just that.
Personal Questions And the Worldwide SceneSo, dear reader, how do you think you would go home from a dinner party like that one? What might your personal questions be? If some of your close friends or family were to be revealed living a Poly lifestyle what would that mean to you? Since all polls and other indicators show the Poly lifestyle to be growing with Poly clubs in every major city and many minor ones, Poly national and international conventions popping up all over the Western world, parts of the Far East , South America and especially North America, seminars talks, group discussions, Internet sites, online magazines and lots more, it seems likely you are going to run into it sooner or later personally.
Perhaps you already have. It seems like a lot of people keep their Poly involvement kind of quiet because, after all, it is a rather personal thing. As to love and lifestyles, the world seems to be changing one relationship at a time. Concerning yourself, those closest to you, family, children, neighbors, etc. if any of them want you to come with them to the gathering of the Polys what you think you are likely to do if you haven’t already?
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
Are you more puzzled, threatened, dismissive, angered, worried, curious, amused, conflicted, inspired, excited, encouraged or just don’t know what to think by the Poly lifestyle?
Special note: Thanks to the several people who have requested this topic be addressed. Sorry we didn’t get to it sooner. For those new to the topic you might want to Google “Polyamory”, there’s lots of information at lots of different sites. Yes, there is likely to be more on this topic from time to time, along with information about other “alternative” lifestyles and how love is being carried out in those lifestyles, along with the “traditional”.