"The Downside[s] of Polyamory"
Some of the difficulties of poly life should lessen in the future, but others are probably permanent, says Deborah Anapol in her latest article on the blogsite of Psychology Today magazine:
The Downside of Polyamory
...I'm the first to acknowledge that polyamory is not a good choice for everyone. In the interest of full disclosure to those who rightly suspect that polyamory can exact a price from those who practice it, I offer the following survey of potential difficulties.
...Some of these, such as social disapproval and discrimination, are artifacts of old structures and institutions that may well diminish in coming years. Others, such as a dearth of positive role models and perhaps even the prevalence of jealousy, are also likely to be temporary. But other difficulties with polyamory, such as the time demands and the emotional complexity of interacting intimately with more people, appear to be inherent to this lovestyle.
For many people, the risk of rejection by family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers is a major drawback to polyamory....
[Such] social sanctions serve to keep couples such as Jonathan and Victoria, who would be potentially excellent role models, safely out of sight. I know of several group marriages and open marriages whose highly functional partners have chosen to keep their intimate lives private....
Nonmonogamous relationships have a reputation for creating emotional chaos and drama.... If partners are able to relate with self-responsibility and integrity, drama need not be part of polyamorous relating. Ethical polyamory is certainly possible. But as long as our culture endorses monogamy and socializes our young people to expect sexual exclusivity, we can expect jealousy to be a major challenge....
...If you are [already] living a difficult and complicated life, you may not want to risk exposure to another possible source of worry.... If emotional upheaval goes with the territory of intimate relating, the chances of emotional upheaval increase exponentially when multiple partners are involved, at least until our brains have been rewired....
Challenges with time management and coordination are probably an inevitable part of polyamorous relating....
Read the whole article (Nov. 27, 2010). It's adapted from her new book that came out earlier this year, Polyamory in the 21st Century.
As for the "emotional complexity of interacting intimately with more people," I've observed something. There are more poly vees (two intimate relationships) than full triads (with three), more triads than quads (with potentially six), and more quads than quints (with potentially ten). The trend: the more complicated the setup, the less often it occurs in nature.
Extrapolate this trend the other way, and the simplest arrangement is the couple (with one). This is why I expect that even in the fully poly-aware and poly-accepting society we'll have by 2050 or 2100, monogamy will remain the most common choice.
Increasingly common variants, however, may be open marriages (monogamy with benefits, which by this time next year is going to be called "the new monogamy"), and intimate networks of people living essentially as singles.
Do you have thoughts about poly-life challenges, either temporary or permanent, to add to Deborah's? Please comment below.
Labels: Deborah Anapol