"The more love you give away, the more you have to give"
A dating advice site for young people ("True stories on the journey from single to 'it's complicated' ") has published a student's excellent two-part article on polyamory and what it means to him:
...Because people can't agree on what "intimate relationship" means, the term [polyamory] can be used in terribly broad ways by some people (like me), referring to just about any sexual or romantic relationships that are not exclusive. It's an umbrella term, basically; it gives you a vague idea about how a person approaches relationships, but because it covers many modes and models of relationships, more explanation is needed. And this is why I like it. I like it because there is fluidity in its definition: many colors, many layers, many shades. I can't throw the word out and not use details to describe the way I practice it; it's something that demands honesty and communication....
Poly people are polygamists (or polygamists are poly people). False. ...Polyamory is a personal outlook grounded in such concepts as choice, trust, reciprocated freedom and compersion (taking pleasure that one's partner is experiencing pleasure, even if the source of their pleasure is not you)....
Poly people are just really horny and want a lot of sex. False. Not all poly people define their relationships by whether or not people are sleeping together.... With polyamory, we're talking about more than one romantic relationship, not just more than one sex partner.
Poly people just can't commit or are commitment-phobic. That doesn't even make sense. You're telling me someone who can't commit to one person will be able to make a lasting commitment to two?
...An example of a "rule" is that Person A permits Person B to have outside lovers under the condition that the outside lover is approved of beforehand and that both Person A and the outside lover understand the nature of the relationships between Person A and Person B and Person B and the outside lover. I'll be honest, that example sounds more complicated than it really is. But yeah. That seems like commitment to me. And a lot of it.
If you love someone, you shouldn't want anyone else. ...This is based on the "starvation model" of love that is, the idea that you have a finite amount of love and if you give your love to one person there is none left to give to anyone/everyone else. Essentially, this model demands that when you fall in love with another person, you have to "pay" for it by withdrawing your love from all other people. And people do this. (In my opinion, they're missing out.) Love is not the same thing as money.... When you love more than one person, you soon realize that the more love you give away, the more love you have to give....
Growing up, I never had a best friend.... It was hard for me to see lines between my friendships; it was hard for me to see the people I told all my secrets to as any more valuable than the people who made me laugh.... It was very clear to me from a young age that everyone was important and that a particular individual's role in my life couldn't honestly be dismissed as "less than."
Presently I divide myself among my friends and those I venture to call lovers. Talking, flirting, cuddling, sharing, deep and emotive conversations, affirmation, affection, quality time, and even sex (on extremely rare occasions) all happens. I have so many people in my life who mean so much to me on so many different levels (some who live nearby and some across the continent) that none of my relationships are even remotely similar. And I like that....
There's more. Part 1 (March 20, 2009). Part 2 (March 22).
Incidentally, look for a lot more poly education and outreach to colleges and TNG (The Next Generation) starting up in the next year or two. The folks at the National Polyamory Leadership Summit three weeks ago really wanted to make this happen (among many other things), and a committee of volunteers has begun working on it. The focus will be on relationship choice: understanding that a poly way of life is workable and good, for certain people and that choosing whether you want your relationships to be exclusive or open should be done consciously and mindfully.