Poly awakens in Ireland
And modern polyamory is beginning to make itself known.
One person, Randy R. in Dublin, is responsible for much of Ireland's nascent poly awareness. After being active in the US poly world for many years, in 2002 he moved to Ireland and in 2008 set up Ireland's only poly organization, the Dublin Polyamory Discussion/Support Group. "We are now pushing 200 members, having started with 10 two years ago," he writes. He's busy on the internet, counsels poly and would-be poly people, puts together social events, and is "organizing the first-ever polyamory workshop in this country," to happen in Dublin on October 1-3 with Deborah Anapol. He recently joined the Polyamory Leadership Network (based mostly in the US) and says he believes that "letting love take the shape and form and flow it wants" will be key to healing the world.
One sign of the times is an article last Sunday in the Cork Student News at University College Cork:
Polyamory for Dummies
For those unfamiliar with the term, polyamory means ‘the loving of many’; it’s one of the least conventional, and most controversial, relationship setups around.
...Polyamory is properly looked at as a type of open relationship. Open relationships involve more or less any situation in which the partners mutually agree to be ok with the other partner’s non-fidelity, which is of course a misnomer, because non-fidelity isn’t really non-fidelity if there’s no breach of trust! What makes polyamory different from an open relationship, then? The answer is that polyamory is stable and long-term, whereby open-relationships (including threesomes) tend to be allowed one-off moments. Polyamory itself means loving a lot (‘poly’ means many, as in polyglot, someone who speaks a lot of languages, and ‘amory’ refers, of course to love). Polyamorists engage in long term committed relationships to more than one person. It’s not a long term open relationship, it’s something entirely different.
Many would quibble with a definition as restrictive as that, but never mind.
...The whole jealousy aspect, though, is moderated to a good degree by ground rules, which the couples often set before entering into any polyamorous relationship arrangement. Rights and obligations are carefully delineated so that – in keeping with the arrangement’s overall emphasis on transparency and truthfulness – neither party is under any illusions as to what the other party is doing or not doing. This, in turn, ensures peace of mind and makes jealousy easier to deal with.
...Polyamorists call their relationships liberating, empowering and fun, but few outside this small fold would agree that anything other than strict textbook monogamy can work in the long term.
If one thing’s certain, it’s that polyamory isn’t something for your average Joe. It’s ‘out there’, experimental, and certainly unconventional. But if you’re prepared to overcome the jealousy, learn to abide by boundaries, and get used to the idea of having two or more girlfriends, then, say polyamorists, the whole thing can be a lot of fun!
Read the whole article (April 18, 2010).
Other coverage in Ireland: Hot Press magazine, Ireland's version of Rolling Stone but perhaps with greater national influence, last fall offered this provocative headline and teaser:
Having Many Lovers is Wonderful
For sex, that is. But what about loving them? Or falling in love with more than one at a time? That’s where Polyamory can get tricky. But maybe it’s worth the effort — and the risk.
The full article, unfortunately, is available only by paid subscription (Nov. 27, 2009).
In 2006 I posted about a long article in Ireland's largest newspaper, the Independent, titled "Let's Face It, Monogamy is Getting a Tad Monotonous," which went on at some length about polyamory as a positive alternative:
I asked a group of women to tell me what they thought of the concept of monogamy.
One single 27-year-old emailed me: "Monogamy is an event where two people are co-incidentally bored with others."
Another divorced woman with children wrote: "Monogamy is another word for jealousy and possessiveness."
One engaged 30-year-old wrote: "Monogamy is a convenient construct of the civilised world."
And a single 28-year-old wrote: "Monogamy is the endless impossible they taught us about in religion class, I know nobody in a truly monogamous relationship, it's a fantasy dreamt up by fantasists."
Whilst there were some positive comments, an overwhelming majority of women saw monogamy as an ancient monolith of a bygone era. Words used to describe it included "unreal", "impossible", "old-fashioned catholic ideology", "over-romanticised and under-exercised", and "near-impossible".
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.
"We don't even need to discuss this or explain to one another, we know the boundaries of our own relationship, for instance 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....
...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....