Normalization of polyamory continues apace
The Houston Chronicle newspaper has a religious section, at least on its website, called "Houston Belief" (slogan: "Believe Out Loud"). In it is an advice column called "On Ethics" by Randy Cohen, picked up from the New York Times news service. (The home base for Cohen's column is the New York Times Sunday Magazine.) So, this is from today's "Houston Belief":
On Ethics: Open the marriage, close the door
By Randy Cohen
Q: My husband and I practice polyamory, aka ethical nonmonogamy. We are open about this to friends but are unsure what to disclose to others. Our housekeeper might have seen me in bed with my boyfriend. Must I explain? When I travel for business, I sometimes take my boyfriend. Must I fill in a co-worker I see only occasionally? I don't want to hide my affection for my boyfriend or make anyone uncomfortable.
— NAME WITHHELD, San Francisco
A: You have no duty to decode your connubial arrangements for mere acquaintances. Nor need you make them feel comfortable or reassure them that their views on marriage and monogamy are universally held.
But if you choose to relieve their consternation, you might be guided by the advice of a polyamorous friend who, speaking of similar situations, told me via e-mail: “I figure the best policy is to behave as if nothing inappropriate is happening. My feeling is that the best way to make other people comfortable is to act as comfortable as possible.” It seems that you are also mindful of your own tranquillity, a reasonable thing but not a matter of ethics, which is something more concerned with the effect of our actions on others.
There are two other people who are strongly affected here: your husband and your boyfriend. Their reputations could be sullied by folks who misconstrue your situation. You should discuss with those two how much they'd like you to disclose.
As to your housekeeper, my friend says, “That's tricky when you think someone may have seen you in bed, because even a monogamous couple might feel a little awkward about that.” Indeed. That's why God created doors. That close. And lock. It is also possible to obtain something called a “calendar” on which you can record the dates when your housekeeper is expected, dates when you can deploy that “door.”
Read the original (Jan 28, 2010). And here it is in the New York Times (Jan. 27, 2010).
Are we getting normalized or what?
Labels: advice columns