"Suddenly, It Was Everywhere"
This is shorthand for telling the world that you can create your own relationship structures, based on how well they work for all concerned. In particular, it's about spreading the revelation that loving, ethical multi-relationships exist, do work, and can be a genuine choice for three or more good-hearted people of integrity. For some, anyway, if they know what they're doing, and if they take care to be good at it. As in communicating, communicating, communicating.
The other side of "relationship choice" is knowing that you can choose monogamy without apology, and declare it a requirement for any partner you seek, as a conscious decision about your own needs and nature. But it should not be an unthinking default that you assume everyone has to do because it's the only thing that works. Nor should you unwarily assume that a partner of yours will also automatically think and feel the same way.
Accordingly, a vision that we discussed at the last PLN summit was bringing about the day when everyone grows up knowing that having open or closed relationships is a choice that you deliberately think about and make, rather than monogamy being the assumed necessity. In this vision, whenever two people start getting serious about each other they'll have the mono-or-poly discussion right alongside the other discussions that are crucial to serious relationships in this day and age, such as whether you want children or expect a partner to share your religion.
Those questions too used to go undiscussed because "yes" was the only right answer.
The poly movement a generation ago tended to be wilder and more utopian. Our founders often saw polyamory as a revelation about the next stage of all human evolution. Thirty years of practical experience (and ruthless snarking) have brought such attitudes more down to earth. Although, I have a hunch that a poly-normative 22nd century will look back on our early radical visionaries more kindly than we sometimes do now.
So, who could object to the ideal of relationship choice? Or the need to discuss your poly or mono proclivities with a new person right off the bat?
Well, life gets complicated. Nowadays there are enough poly-normative communities that the inevitable downsides of a new social norm are starting to be visible.
For instance, a while back I noted a complaint published at York University in Toronto:
Once I was part of a discussion with a pair of female friends bemoaning the increasing number of polyamorous women these days who were "ruining it" for women looking to settle down with one man....
Arguably... the acceptance of polyamory in certain social circles is creating an environment that is increasingly inhospitable for those bent on cultivating a monogamous relationship. This is because there is greater social pressure to accept polyamory.... A thorough critical analysis of polyamory would include an examination of the broader social issues at play if and when such relationships become more mainstream.
Portland, Oregon, is such a place already, at least if you're young. At Reed College in Portland, Lucy Bellwood is a comix artist-in-training who, when she fell hard for a guy, ran right up against the local poly-vs-mono dating culture.
Her beau, like the PLN's model of the good poly person of the future, informed her right away of his relationship beliefs and preferences.
She has just posted an auto-
biographical comic of what came next as she encountered this world. Click for the whole thing full-size (Sept. 13, 2011).
She's good. This is clearly just the start of an unfolding story. I hope she keeps going. Leave a comment on her blog.
(A week later she posted this followup sketch.)
Elsewhere, a monogamist in another very poly setting describes how she navigates:
Alternative Alternative Relationship Models
By Bianca James
Recently I went and saw a workshop presented by Dossie Easton, co-author of The Ethical Slut....Polyamory is wildly popular in the queer and kink communities, to the point that people who prefer monogamy get sometimes funny looks.
I dabbled in polyamory in my youth (when I actually had the time and energy for multiple relationships) and while I respect it as a valid lifestyle for others, it's not a relationship model that works for me at this point....
So what do you do when you're not really up for polyamory but are too unconventional for traditional committed monogamy? You come up with alternatives to alternative relationship models.
Unrequited Polyamory: Although I cannot handle IRL polyamory, I am a champion at unrequited polyamory. This is when you are secretly "in love with" (read: doomed crush) multiple unavailable people.... The difference between unrequited polyamory vs. normal unrequited love is the sincere belief that all twelve of these people could be the love of your life, simultaneously, if they'd just give you a chance.
Casual Monogamy: One of the best parts of being in an ongoing relationship is (hopefully) you are having lots of fantastic sex with someone who gets to know your sexual ins and outs (teehee) well enough to get you off every time. But you know what the best part of monogamy really is? LOTS AND LOTS OF BAREBACKING (assuming you're both STI-free).... Sometimes you can't handle being in a real relationship, but you miss that unlimited sexual freedom to fuck without a condom/ dental dam/ whatever. And that's where casual monogamy comes in.
When I first moved to Chicago, I spent six months in a non-committed relationship with a much older divorced man I nicknamed my "casual husband."...
Platonic Boyfriend/ Girlfriend/ Genderqueerfriend: This is sort of the inverse of casual monogamy. You are clearly in an ongoing, emotional involved relationship with a person, and you do stuff like cook dinner and go to IKEA together, but sex is off the table....
Read the whole article at the Huffington Post (Sept. 19, 2011).