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

June 18, 2014

Designer relationships as society's future


The effect that the polyamory movement will have on the world at large, including the monogamous majority, is becoming clear. The effect will be the recognition of what the poly movement calls relationship choice. We declare that all persons have the ability, and the right, to build the intimate relationships and family structures that work for them — not necessarily the structures that society or religion seek to impose.

And yes, you can bring up children better this way too.

Poly opinion leaders routinely pound the concept of relationship choice, including the options for monogamy, celibacy, or asexuality. It's written into the mission statements of Loving More, Modern Poly, and the Polyamory Leadership Network. It's gaining traction and winning because it's part of the slow, centuries-long evolution of advanced societies toward people determining their own lives more and more, and the social surroundings you were born into making your life decisions for you less and less.

This recognition — that individuals and couples can build their own "designer relationships," perhaps including polyamory — was enthusiastically described in an Alternet article a few days ago by the authors of the new book Partners in Passion:

Life-Long Sexual Monogamy Just Isn't Natural — Here Are Some Other Options.

By Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson / Cleis Press

Thinking about a partnership as something people design or craft allows for flexibility and change.

Gerrit du Toit/Shutterstock.com
We are in the midst of a second sexual revolution, one that is taking place with astonishing rapidity. A decade ago, it was almost inconceivable that marriage equality would be the law in so many states and that a substantial majority of Americans would support it. It would also have been hard to imagine that Time magazine would feature a transgender television star on its cover while calling the trans movement “America’s next civil rights frontier.” A similar but somewhat less visible shift is taking place in cultural attitudes toward alternative relationship styles.

When Nena O’Neill, co-author of Open Marriage, died in 2006, the New York Times opined that the 1972 book read like “a period piece” with ideas that seemed “quaint” and “naïve”.... Eight years after O’Neill’s death, the ideas expressed in Open Marriage, or at least in its one chapter on sexual non-exclusivity, seem more seminal than quaint.

The current shift has been influenced by a wide variety of cultural factors – the growing and politically active polyamory community, the emergence of the sex-positive movement, the increasing popularity of both swinging and kink, and the work of psychologist-authors like Christopher Ryan, Esther Perel, and Tammy Nelson....

...Conventional relationships aren’t in trouble because alternatives are proliferating; they’re in trouble because they’re failing large numbers of people. The truth is that conventional monogamy – one man, one woman, ‘til death do us part’ – is rare. Serial monogamy, with or without cheating, has been the norm for decades. People typically embrace monogamy as a default mode, without even thinking about what it means or defining it for themselves. This often leads to dissatisfaction, both emotional and sexual, with various forms of cheating and unhealthy sexual behaviors as an upshot....

The change that is taking place enables people to develop relationships based on their own sexualities, understandings, and agreements.... A designer relationship may be sexually exclusive or not exclusive; it may involve multiple partners where long-term bonds exist among all or some; it may involve more casual kinds of interaction; it may include kink or make room for someone to explore kink when a partner is ‘vanilla’; it may encompass all of these.

The possibilities are limitless, and thinking about a partnership as something people design or craft allows for flexibility and change. Relationships can open and close or have varying degrees and kinds of openness as circumstances demand. In the context of a designer relationship decisions are made consciously, carefully, and deliberately. In contrast to what often takes place in unconscious monogamous relationships, agreements are discussed, arrived at, and honored, and when agreements no longer serve, they can be renegotiated....

Rather than eroding “traditional” marriage, this panoply of relationship options can also benefit those who choose to be sexually and emotionally exclusive. The benefit lies in the fact that they’ve been exposed to the available options, have genuinely thought them through, and have chosen what is truly appropriate for their partnership....

...Based on our own experiences and on our interviews with numerous people for Partners in Passion, we believe... people who are in non-exclusive relationships are often very deeply bonded, and the available studies suggest they have a higher level of life and relationship satisfaction.

In some respects, having an open relationship is far more demanding than having a closed one.... Being non-exclusive requires good communication skills, self-awareness, and a level of transparency that is rare among more conventional couples. It also requires a far more thoughtful approach to relating than is typical in mainstream society.... The concerns of social conservatives aside, the rise of the designer relationship may also be monogamy’s salvation.

Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson are a devoted married couple. They have been creative collaborators – teaching and writing about sexuality and Tantra together – since 1999. Michaels and Johnson are the authors of Partners in Passion (Cleis 2014)....

Read the whole article (June 12, 2014), and join the 260-plus comments.



Blogger Mark and Patricia said...

Thanks so much for posting this. and changing the title to more accurately reflect the content. The discussion has been lively on AlterNet, and we look forward to what your readers have to say and continuing the conversation.

June 19, 2014 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Alan, minor point, but asexuality is as much a "relationship choice" as hetero- or homosexuality.

June 20, 2014 6:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home