"Monogamy Getting a Tad Monotonous"
The largest newspaper in Ireland recently ran a long article musing on the shortcomings of monogamy and reporting at some length on polyamory as a positive alternative:
Let's Face It, Monogamy Is Getting a Tad Monotonous
October 15, 2006
By Celine McGillycuddy
'I KNEW I was lying at the altar when we took our vows, I knew I didn't believe that it would be just us from then on and I think she knew too, we bought into the idea that marriage would put us on the straight and narrow," James, 36, tells me as he shows me his wedding photographs.
Five years later James and his wife have separated and James has deep regrets.
"I wish we hadn't tried to conform to the idea of monogamy, it's an unreal and unnatural thing, I wish we could have just understood each other and forgave each other, it was the endless sneaking around that finished us....
"I have no doubt that we were in love with one another but we were also in love with other people and another way of life. I've only realised now that we might have been able to make it work if we had just abandoned the belief that what we were doing was wrong."
...Annie is 30 and lives with her boyfriend of four years, they have an open relationship with rules. "We don't feel that we need to conform to anybody's ideas of where the boundaries for our relationship should be," she says. She and her boyfriend say they are allowed to be with other people and are open with one another about this. They also encourage one another to form emotional as well as sexual bonds with other people.... "If we are walking around town and I see a nice-looking man I might say 'God, he's gorgeous' and that won't cause insecurity, in fact it makes things better, we're open about what goes on in our minds."
...Those who have completely turned their backs on monogamy may well find themselves discovering the World Polyamory Association which is seeing its membership increase year on year. They describe polyamory as a philosophy of being involved with multiple, long-term intimate partners. They distance themselves from 'swingers' and emphasise that polyamory is not about sexual promiscuity but about creating emotional and sometimes sexual bonds in an open and respectful manner.
Such is the new nature of this type of relationship that an entire lexicon has evolved around it. Would-be 'polys' are encouraged to investigate the possibilities of having a lifestyle with more than one lover. Enthusiasts discover how to 'uplevel' jealousy into 'compersion' (joy at your lover's joy) and can look forward to feeling 'frubble' this is the feeling of warmth and happiness a poly can feel when they see their loved ones with another lover.
One polyamorist described how comfortable she and her partner have become with their lifestyle, "sometimes we'll go for months when it's just the two of us. But if I just happen to be busy or not in the mood, then I'm not going to stop him. For example the other night I had lots of work to do, so when Simon brought a new girl home, I was in the bedroom while they took a bath, later I walked by and just said 'hi'."
She warns that as polyamory becomes increasingly popular and more widely accepted people should give serious consideration before jumping into such a relationship.
"If you can't manage one relationship healthily, you are not going to be able to manage two or more, relationships are like a consuming hobby, they take up a tremendous amount of time."
Dr Meg Barker, a senior lecturer in psychology at London South Bank University and a practicing polyamorist, emphasised that it is about "the recognition of multiple important relationships" and she dispelled accusations that multiple partners meant a lack of commitment....
A couple comments: It's a bit unfortunate that the article mentions only the World Polyamory Association as a source for more information; the couple who run it have rather idiosyncratic views. A newbie to their Yahoo group, after the article appeared, asked in frustration whether all poly people are into extreme newage (and got flamed for it). A simple Google search on "polyamory" will get people up and running better.
Secondly, Ireland is in the midst of a great breakout from its centuries of social/sexual repression, paralleling its modern economic boom after centuries of poverty. A generation ago such an article could never have appeared in the mainstream press!
You can read the whole article in the newspaper's archive.