"How Polyamory Changed the World"
I'm at Loving More's Rocky Mountain Poly Living convention in Denver, sitting and typing amid a burble of happy, chattering polyfolks waiting for the next session to begin.
|Bob McGarey (left), with Loving More's Robyn Trask|
and Jesus Garcia on Friday night.
He offered a broad, bold perspective on what we here at the conference, and you dear readers, have accomplished in the last couple of decades.
How Polyamory Changed the World
If your personal life or your feelings about yourself changed in a major way because you learned that polyamory existed and that there are other people in the world who are poly, raise your hand and keep it up for a minute.
[Most of the audience did.]
How has poly changed the world? Look around you. It has made an enormous difference in the personal lives of these people and the lives of thousands of others. There are stories all around us right here that attest to the impact on our personal worlds. But tonight we're going beyond those stories, to talk about the impact poly has had on the world writ large.
Poly has profoundly affected how the world views jealousy, Established Relationship Energy, and monogamism.
Before poly, jealousy was a terrifying emotion that destroyed countless lives. It was wielded as a weapon to control and manipulate. It was seen as justification for emotional and physical brutality. And most importantly, it was seen as an emotion over which we have no influence or control, an emotion which forces us to behave cruelly. For millennia, it was an emotion to be feared, suppressed, denied, or run away from. It was our enemy.
But poly gave an unexpected and profound gift to the world. Starting perhaps with Deborah Anapol, polys have begun to declare that jealousy need not be our enemy, but rather a key to understanding more about what is happening in the relationship and what to do about it.
For the first time in the history of the world, we have come to see jealousy in a different light. Because of poly, jealousy is no longer a dragon we must cower from or slay. It has now become a dragon we can train and make friends with. Poly gave the world a new way to deal with jealousy, and that's the first way it has changed the world.
ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP ENERGY
When I did my first workshop on New Relationship Energy vs. Established Relationship Energy, I had never heard anyone talk about Established Relationship Energy (or ERE) and its importance in poly relationships.
I would love to hear more people talking about ERE, because it's a powerful and often unrecognized force in poly relationships. Besides, it's awesome!
I had a married client come in who had fallen in love with a younger woman, and he desperately wanted to get divorced and start his life anew with her. He was deep in the throes of New Relationship Energy, NRE.
Over the last two years his NRE calmed down, and he has started to remember the profound connection he has with his wife from their decades together. He saw that the established relationship was uniquely and brilliantly valuable, even though it didn't have the pizzazz conferred by NRE.
The younger woman and my client are still connected, but he's no longer willing to destroy the connection he has with his wife. He enjoys the dazzling NRE but doesn't lose track of the support and comfort of ERE. He finally realized that NRE and ERE can live happily together, and it saved his marriage.
We as a culture are beginning to learn that we don't have to give up one type of love to have the other. That's another way poly is changing the world.
And finally, MONOGAMISM.
Monogamism is the fervent belief that monogamy is the only way to have a satisfying, lasting, ethical relationship. There are thousands of families in the U.S. right now that are in danger of exploding because one partner loves another person. That emotion creates a hazardous, unacceptable, intolerable situation that results in broken families, broken finances, and hearts that are broken for a lifetime and never recover.
It is simply not true that a human can only love one person at a time in an ethical way, and as we change that expectation in our culture, with the help of organizations like Loving More, we change the lives of thousands of people and create a more humane culture for future generations.
Poly directly confronts monogamism, and in the process opens up possibilities for love and connection that did not exist before. Poly provides an alternative that is more humane; an alternative that is bursting with possibilities and that allows us to be more fully alive.
SO, poly tames the dragon of jealousy, reminds us of the value of established relationships, and tears down the prejudice of monogamism. By attending this conference and continuing to create healthy, open relationships, YOU are how polyamory is changing the world. Thank YOU.
Robert McGarey, M.A., founded and runs the Human Potential Center in Austin, Texas, "which presents programs designed to spark the creativity, love and playfulness of the human spirit."