Getting good poly advice into colleges
Two and a half years ago poly activist Diana Adams, now a member of the Polyamory Leadership Network (PLN), declared at a Loving More conference, "This is my poly dream: that every college student in America will know the word polyamory and what it means within five years."
One way or another, it seems to be happening... to some extent. For example, see the four college newspaper articles in my previous post. PLN members brainstormed a plan to produce explanatory pamphlets for college health and sexuality counseling centers, but I haven't seen any action happening on that yet. Even so, word is getting around.
A few days ago at East Tennessee State University in the heart of Appalachia, a counselor presented a clear explanation of polyamory in the college newspaper's "Sex Matters" column. This could be the basis for such a pamphlet almost by itself:
Polyamorous relationships require trust
By Rebecca Alexander
Dear Sex Matters,
I'm a bisexual female and I've been dating a girl on and off for the past year. "On and off" due to distance, but the point is that as much as I love her, I still feel like there is a male void in my life. Lately, I've been thinking that it would be nice not to have to choose, and that I would be most comfortable in a committed relationship with both a man and a woman. Do you think there's any hope in finding others who would be able to maintain this kind of relationship in a healthy manner?
Wanting It All
Humans are incredibly complicated creatures the depth and complexities of our desires for companionship take many forms.
...What you are describing wanting a committed partnership with more than one partner is coined "polyamory," or "plural loves".
Polyamory differs from traditional polygamy, which is grounded in hierarchy, patriarchy and religious beliefs (and, in fact, is illegal in the U.S.).
Rather, polyamory, or choosing to have multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships with multiple consenting people, is grounded in such concepts as gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust and the equal respect among partners.
Polyamorous persons do not outright reject monogamy as a workable option for people, but emphasize that people can choose their dedication and intimacy levels with their partner(s), and can also choose to be faithful and committed to more than one person.
Those in polyamorous relationships are not sex-crazed people without morals or inhibitions, as some stereotypes imply, but rather believe that the human capacity for love can expand beyond simply one partner.
Sex is, in fact, often secondary to the primary focus on the building of long-term relationships. Thus, polyamory does not include merely casual recreational sex, one night stands, cheating and hooking up.
Polyamory has been defined as "the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person at a time with honesty and integrity, upholding many of the values ideally found in any healthy relationship."
Here are some of the underlying principles of polyamory:
Human nature does not dictate monogamy.
Non-monogamy, when chosen, should be practiced responsibly, ethically and intentionally. Intimacy and sex between multiple simultaneous partners in polyamorous relationships is not inherently wrong, bad or unhealthy.
Sex is a positive force if applied with honesty, responsibility and trust.
Love is an infinite rather than finite commodity, and can be offered to your partners without conditional restraints to love only that one person.
Even while having more than one partner, jealousy is not predestined. Polyamorous persons try to find joy in knowing their partners are desired by other people, and if jealousies and possessiveness do arise, work to address feelings in a constructive way. Relationships require long-term emotional investment.
If you decide to explore polyamory, having an open, honest dialogue with your current partner is paramount.
How do you both see your relationship fitting into this new polyamorous paradigm?
Polyamory points out the harms perpetuated by deceit and dishonesty; all of your romantic interests deserve to be on the same page with any relationship arrangement.
Having an ethical code of conduct for any relationship, whether monogamous or polyamorous, is a gift to yourself and others. Staying in touch with your true desires and having an open attitude and a reverence for honesty and communication can be a great foundation for intimacy, love and connection to others, however it is expressed.
Questions may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sex Matters' questions will be published anonymously and answered by an ETSU Counseling Center licensed counselor, Rebecca Alexander, as part of the Outreach & Advocacy: Sexuality Information for Students (OASIS).
Here's the original article (Feb. 10, 2011).
Who wants to help pick up the ball and run with it?
alan7388 'AT' gmail.com