BBC: "Polyamorous Relationships May Be the Future of Love"
The BBC publishes a solid, sure-to-be-influential, 2,500-word article in its "Future" section:
Polyamorous relationships may be the future of love
Love doesn’t just come in pairs. Is it time that marriage laws come to recognise the fact?
By Melissa Hogenboom / Pictures by Olivia Howitt
As a child Franklin Vieux [sic] recalls hearing his school teacher read a story about a princess who had a tantalising dilemma. Two male suitors had been wooing her and she had to choose between them. Franklin wondered why she could not choose both.
This early insight was revealing. Franklin has to this day never stuck to one relationship at a time. “I have never been in a monogamous relationship in my life. When I was in high school I took two dates to my senior prom. I lost my virginity as a threesome.”
Today he lives with his long-term girlfriend in a home he shares with her other boyfriend. Occasionally his partner’s teenage daughter also stays over. He is also in four other long-distance relationships, people he sees with varying degrees of frequency.
Franklin and his girlfriends are what’s called polyamorous or “poly” as the community tends to call it. Being poly simply means you can be in more than one relationship, with the full support and trust of however many partners they choose to have.
Polyamory does not feature in any census tick box but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is on the rise. Some are even calling for it to be recognised by law following the legalisation of gay marriage in the UK and the US. All this raises of the question of whether the future of love may be very different from our current conceptions of romance.... In the last two decades, sociologists, legal scholars and the public have shown great interest towards polyamory and it’s making them reassess the very nature of romance.
The word polyamory was first coined in the 1960s [no; in 1988 over a kitchen table and first published in 1990. –Ed.] and literally means “many loves” in Latin. That’s exactly what it is, but talking to poly individuals makes it quickly apparent that there is no one way to be poly. There are no immediate rules. Some people, like Franklin have live-in partners with additional liaisons outside the home. Others have a mixture of short and long-term relationships.
Some live in a big group with their partners and their partner’s other partner(s), so called “family style polyamory”. You get the idea. The one thing they all have in common is openness, understanding, trust and acceptance from all involved.
As you might imagine these kinds of relationships take a lot of work to maintain, so being poly is far from an easy option. For starters, to keep more than one relationship going, small logistical matters require a lot of communication. “Our relationships are a lot more challenging,” says Eve Rickert, one of Franklin’s long distance partners and co-author of their polyamory book More than Two.
It took several decades for published research to appear into this way of life. “It called into question people’s core values,” says Terri Conley from the University of Michigan, who initially struggled to get her research published due what she felt was a pervasive bias in favour of monogamy. Her research is revealing – there are some clear benefits to polyamory.
To start with, in a 2014 review paper Conley found that polyamorous people tend to maintain more friendships as they keep a wider social network. They are also less likely to cut off contact after a break-up.
...Nor do they seem more likely to spread sexually transmitted diseases. Indeed, an anonymous online study revealed that openly non-monogamous people are more likely to practice safe sex than cheating individuals in seemingly monogamous relationships.
Taking all her findings into consideration, Conley says that married monogamous couples could learn from a poly way of life. They could use using similar ways to communicate and resolve conflict for example. “The idea is that we put too much stress on marriage and need to give it more oxygen by giving people more resources,” she says. “A lot of the strategies used in poly relationships can map onto suggestions of how we improve marriage.”...
Unfortunately, these positive experiences portrayed by the research do not always translate to positive perceptions of polyamorous people. In fact, poly individuals face many stigmas and one of the biggest misconceptions is that it's all about sex....
“I have been in committed long-term relationships that span decades,” Franklin explains. “There are easier ways to find sex if sex is what you’re interested in.”
Eve agrees. “Poly is a lot of work. Having a lifestyle where you enjoy casual sex and hook-ups is a lot less work than maintaining five current long-term relationships.”...
It goes on to discuss the healthy outcomes among children of polyfamilies, and considerations around legalizing multiple marriage. It closes,
Relationships are eclectic and diverse, and while legal recognition for polyamory may be a long way off, with greater awareness of our differences, love in all its many forms is surely set to change.
Read the whole article (June 23, 2016). It's part of a series called "Sexual Revolutions".
The BBC's last big poly article, on August 18, 2013, received wide comment in other media and was republished around the world. I wonder if this one will be lost in the noise of Brexit.