Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.



December 30, 2010

"The Upside of Polyamory"

Psychology Today blogs

Deborah Anapol, a co-founder of the modern polyamory movement some 30 years ago and a longtime relationship counselor, posted "The Downside of Polyamory" last month to her Love Without Limits blog at Psychology Today magazine.

This month she offers thoughts on the flip side. There's a lot of experience talking here.


At the start of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, many people thought that creating honest nonmonogamous relationships would be easy. Instead, half a century of false starts and painful discoveries has taught us that polyamory exacts a price. The fact is that most twenty-first-century humans have many contradictory impulses that pull us in the direction of inclusive love and simultaneously push us in the direction of jealousy and possessiveness.

These opposing forces must be reconciled before we are truly free to love and therein lies one of the biggest gifts polyamory has to offer. Polyamory places people in the center of the cyclone, with an abundance of opportunities to confront these opposing forces and to learn from their mistakes along the way. Learning theorists have found that the more mistakes you make, the faster you learn. In polyamory, it's possible to get the benefit of several lifetimes worth of mistakes in a relatively short time....

Polyamorous relationships offer many means of accelerating personal growth. All intimate relationships at their best are a path to higher consciousness and greater self-knowledge, largely because of the valuable feedback — or mirroring effect — one receives from a beloved. Having more than one partner at a time not only increases the available quantity of feedback but also makes it harder to blame your partner for the problems you might be creating in the relationship. Of course, serial monogamy also offers the opportunity to see the same issues arise in one relationship after another, but not only does it take longer to get the lesson, but, if you're a fast talker, you may be able to convince one person at a time that it's not your fault, whereas two are less likely to be fooled.

..."Liz, Helen, and Angie are all mad at me," [Bill] complained. "They started comparing notes and found out I'd told some white lies. Now they're accusing me of manipulating them. I really don't understand what their problem is, but I'd like to find out. Can you help me?" Bill was reaping the benefits of polyamory in a different way than he'd expected....

Because multiple-partner relationships are inherently more complex and demanding than monogamous ones and because they challenge the norms of our culture, they offer other valuable learning opportunities. Lessons about loving yourself, about tolerance for diversity, about speaking from the heart and communicating clearly, and about learning to trust an internal sense of rightness and to think for yourself rather than blindly relying on outside opinion are only a sampling of the lessons....

...Multiple-adult families and committed intimate networks have the potential of providing dependent children with additional nurturing adults who can meet their material, intellectual, and emotional needs.... Polyamory has the potential to create stable and nurturing families where children develop in an atmosphere of love and security. With the traditional nuclear family well on its way to extinction, we are faced with a question of critical importance: who will mind the children? Neither two-career nor single-parent families offer children full-time, loving caretakers, and quality day care is both scarce and expensive....

...We don't yet know how polyamory impacts the rate of divorce; the little data we have suggest that it doesn't....

Polyamory can mean a higher standard of living while consuming fewer resources.... Multiple partners also help in the renewal of our devastated human ecology by creating a sense of bonded community.

Polyamory can help parents and children alike adapt to an ever more complex and quickly changing world....

...Deep ecologists suggest that the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples may offer some important clues to our survival as a species. Deep-ecology advocate Dolores LaChapelle views the breakdowns in so many modern relationships as a direct result of placing too much emphasis on the romance between two people and losing sight of the larger whole in which we are all embedded....

...Dr. James Prescott's research revealed that cultures [with open attitudes toward sex] are significantly less violent than those that disallow extramarital sex....

...What polyamory does require is a more altruistic, unconditional type of love than is common in monogamous unions and that naturally arises from a felt sense of oneness. While monogamy, of course, also thrives on unselfish love, monogamy can survive more easily than polyamory in its absence.


Those are just bits; read her whole article (Dec. 22, 2010). Like past posts, it's adapted from material in her 2010 book Polyamory in the 21st Century.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Charli Armstrong said...

"Having more than one partner at a time not only increases the available quantity of feedback but also makes it harder to blame your partner for the problems you might be creating in the relationship. Of course, serial monogamy also offers the opportunity to see the same issues arise in one relationship after another, but not only does it take longer to get the lesson, but, if you're a fast talker, you may be able to convince one person at a time that it's not your fault, whereas two are less likely to be fooled."

Let the Church say "Amen!"

December 30, 2010 12:38 PM  
OpenID blogtodiffer said...

This is a much more formal way of stating one of my favourite poly adages - it's easy to ignore one partner when they're telling you you're being a douche, it's much harder to ignore it from four people. Either all four have suddenly decided they no longer love you, or they're trying to help you realize a truth you're avoiding.

December 30, 2010 6:22 PM  
Blogger Linda, Claire, Michelle, and Alex said...

My personal experience with poly relationships is that it is superior to traditional monogamous relationships in every way but requires exponentially more caring and feeding to keep it going. From a logistical point of view, multiple adults means more help around the house and running children to scouts, cheerleading, astronomy club, etc. From an emotional point of view, each adult brings a unique point of view along with life experiences into the relationship, so there is almost always someone to provide advice or a comforting shoulder. As for divorce, I think poly families are more stable because if two people are mad at one another, there is a mediator (or two) to smooth things out before it escalates to that level. What we have found is that the amount of love each person is not diminished because of sharing. Quite the opposite. The ability to loe is like any other muscle; the more you have to use it, the more it can produce! ~Claire~

January 03, 2011 10:16 PM  

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