Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

September 27, 2007

"When One Box Closes..."

New York Press

Stephanie Sellars, the sex columnist for the weekly New York Press, is signing off — and in her last column she muses about whether her polyamory has kept her from the deep primary relationship she sometimes dreams of:

“What can I give you that the others can’t?” asked the guy with the funny name.

“Something akin—” I stuttered, trapped in his intense gaze. “Something akin to the first love— I want to know you— without the constraints of keeping you at a distance. I don’t want to put you in a box, to be opened and closed at my convenience. I want to lose control, let go—”

“That’s scary for you, isn’t it?”

I admitted that it was. “It totally conflicts with my principles, my modus operandi, not to mention my reputation.”

“I wouldn’t want to ruin your reputation,” he said. My reputation! Allow me to define, dear readers, what I think you think I am: the urban orgy queen, the sanctimonious slut... living a life of blissful freedom or emotional self-deprivation, depending on where you’re coming from. [But] if you read my column regularly, you’ll know that beneath the polyamorous, bisexual bravado is a hopeless romantic.

...I spilled my thoughts: “I want to be with someone with whom I can totally let go... polyamory is very controlled. Each lover is in a box, to be put in or taken out at my convenience.”

...It comes down to a catch-22: monogamy limits the variety of sexual and romantic experience, while polyamory limits how far you can go with one person.

...Monogamy may be an impediment to one's sexuality, but polyamory is a form of emotional insurance. If one relationship doesn't work out, there are others to fall back on. I'm never, always alone.

Read the whole article.

I'm of two minds about this. Part of me wants to shout, "Hey, poly isn't about limiting how far you can go with one person! You can have a lifelong primary relationship as deep as you want, and still be poly. Sheesh!"

Another part of me notices that quite a few longterm polys do tend to settle into steady primary relationships over the years — even into what Sellars calls "relative monogamy" (a good term that deserves to enter the language) — if only, perhaps, out of accumulated exhaustion.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because society (parents and friends) are always saying things like "It's a phase, she'll grow out of it," I think we sometimes resist "settling down" just to prove that we're not changing. But nesting, as opposed to dating, is part of the natural life cycle, especially when you're thinking of having kids. Of course, there's no reason for the nest to contain just two!

On the other hand, speaking of Nests, I'm reminded of a Robert Heinlein quote: "It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired."

September 27, 2007 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. I'm in a closed situation now, but part of my long-term identification as poly suffers from friends and family going, "Well, aren't you done with that yet?" I vehemently resist classification as anything but. But, the stability offered by 'settling' of a sort is more conducive to procreating and the like.

I guess that I'm idealistic and hope that the fullness of time won't prove that poly-a-gogo and mature, committed, stable love aren't mutually exclusive.

September 27, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Anita Wagner said...

Maybe it's because I'm not 20- or 30-something anymore, but I've never been the type to collect partners just because I can. To me it's more about getting needs met, whether it be in one relationship or more than one. My relationships are deeply connected emotionally - that's who I am and what I prefer, that intensity of emotion.

I'm not impressed with the article here, mainly because for a sexpert, this writer seems to be rather unaware of what poly relationships can and do look like for other people. Maybe I'm being too critical and she was addressing only her own way of poly. It's like she knows her own but hasn't really done her homework on how others do poly. Regardless, I think in the end it does those of us who approach polyamory from a perspective of deep connection and commitment out in the cold.

October 03, 2007 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anita--reading this article left me cold. I'm married, we are poly, and I have a deep connection with both my wife and my secondary (who happens to be the mother of one of my children). For the author to generalize her particular dysfunction as fundamental to all poly does the rest of us a great disservice.

Of course, it may only be reflective of her general approach to relationships due to immaturity, as she strikes me as being young. I don't know that she's actually learned how to make deep connections with others, which is instrumental in learning how to make deep connections with more than one other.

October 06, 2007 1:19 PM  

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