"How do I accept my polyamorous son?"
Say what you want about Dan Savage, he's willing to change his mind. He once snarked polyamory, but his Savage Love column out this morning echoes standard poly-community talking points.
Although I don't really see the implied criticism of the parents' marriage that Savage goes on about.
My son, who is almost 30 years old, was married four years ago. He just shared with us that for the last three years, he and his wife have been practicing polyamory. They are committed to their relationship but have each had relationships with both men and women. We are trying to get our heads around this, as we come from a more traditional background (we've been married 40 years in a loving and respectful relationship), and we find ourselves feeling very sad. We are accepting and nonjudgmental, just trying to understand how he came to this decision. He feels that to make love "finite," to love only one person, is "not being true," and that their kind of relationship prevents dishonesty and is based on truth. He shared that his wife was the first one to broach this idea — and after many deep conversations, he eventually overcame his jealousy and is embracing this practice. They do not have children or plan to have children. I asked my son if he's happy, and he says he is.
If your son says he's happy, SM, you should believe him and be happy for him.
It's unfortunate that your son framed the news about his choices and his marriage — which make him happy — in what sounds like a clumsy critique of your choices and your marriage. (If that's what he did, SM. I've only got your characterization of his comments to go on, not a tape recording of them, and it has been my experience that monogamous folks sometimes hear critiques of their choices when we nonmonogamous folks talk about our own choices. "We're not doing what you're doing" ≠ "You're doing it wrong.")
There's nothing necessarily "finite," untruthful, limiting, or dishonest about monogamy. If that's what two people want, SM, and it makes those two people happy, that's great. Monogamy is what you and your husband wanted, it's what made you and your husband happy, and it worked for your marriage. You could see your son's choice to be nonmonogamous as a rejection of everything you modeled for him, or you could see his choice as modeled on the fundamental bedrock stuff — for lack of a better word — that informed the choice you made....
There are lots of people out there in happy, fulfilling open/poly relationships, SM, and lots of people out there in happy, fulfilling monogamous relationships. (And there are lots of miserable people in both kinds of relationships.) There are also lots of people in happy, fulfilling monogamous relationships they will one day choose to open, and lots of people in happy, fulfilling nonmonogamous relationships they will one day choose to close. It's happiness, consent, and mutual respect that matters....
If your son is happy, SM, you should be happy for him. But if he states — or clumsily implies — that you and his dad couldn't be happy because you're not doing the same thing he and his wife are doing, you tell him from nonmonogamous me that he's full of nonmonogamous shit.
Two pieces of recommended reading: the book Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage by Jenny Block, and an informative interview poly activist and frequent Savage Lovecast guest Diana Adams did with the Atlantic. But I don't think you need to do a whole lot of homework about this....
Here's the original (Sept. 16, 2015).
Labels: Dan Savage