Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Poly Wanna Crack Her

I received an email from XanderKhan! regarding this very interesting article on polyamory. Polyamory is different from polygamy. For those whose minds are a little more open than most, or are willing to see a very different kind of view, read on.

The following are excerpts from the article.

* * * * *

Love unlimited: The polyamorists
07 July 2006
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
by Annalee Newitz

“I was dating Gordon when I met Heather and Jim. Then I started dating Jim too, and Heather started dating Gordon right before he and I broke up,” says Noemi. Confused? Tonight I’m having dinner with a group whose unusual lifestyle warrants such introductions. They are a “polyamorous” family—one whose members are openly committed to several lovers at the same time.

For psychologists and evolutionary biologists, polyamory is a rare opportunity to see, out in the open, what happens when people stop suppressing their desire for multiple partners and embrace non-monogamy. Proponents say the poly brand of open but committed relationships may be a way around infidelity because it turns an age-old problem into a solution: polyamorists are released from the burdens of traditional marriage vows, yet they seem to keep their long-term relationships intact. What makes poly enticing is the possibility of reconciling long-term stability and romantic variety.

And why shouldn’t we consider it? When most people think of non-exclusive marriages, they think of polygamy, an ancient but still widespread practice that involves one person, usually male, acquiring multiple spouses in a harem-like arrangement. Or swinging, in which couples have casual flings on the side. Polyamory is different. It encompasses a dizzying variety of arrangements—anything from couples with long-term lovers on the side to larger groups with overlapping relationships. If anything characterizes poly, says Elaine Cook, a psychiatrist who has a private practice in Marin County, California, it is a lack of rigid structure.

What evidence there is shows that poly couples stay together as long as monogamous ones—and, apparently, for good reasons. In a study published last December in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality (vol 8), Cook analyzed the relationships of seven couples who had been married for more than 10 years, and who had had additional partners for at least seven of those years. She found that most of the couples reported “love” or “connection” as important reasons for staying together. This contrasts with monogamous couples, Cook notes, who often list external factors such as religion or family as major reasons for remaining committed.

That is telling. Cook speculates that polyamorists perceive themselves as having more choices, and therefore they only stay in marriages and relationships that make them happy. “They have other relationships that they are perhaps equally excited about being in, but they want to maintain this [marriage] relationship because it continues to satisfy them,” she says.

For some, poly may be more realistic than monogamy. Having multiple partners frees people from the process of trying to find “the one” who is perfect for them in every way. In April, psychologist Rachel Robbins at the Mission Mental Health clinic in San Francisco conducted a survey of 250 polyamorous women. The number 1 reason they gave for being poly was “to experience different activities and explore different parts of themselves with different people.” Instead of asking one person to meet all their needs, polyamorists are content with several people who each meet a few.

Heather says poly is a way of keeping her long-term partnerships alive. “When you think about it, what happened is that Jim and I didn’t get divorced when we got new partners. We’re still together and yet have more love from other people.”

“Polyamory is not for everybody,” says Jim. “But it creates a range of options, which is important because you can’t optimise one kind of relationship to fit everyone.”

“The important thing is that we trust each other,” says Noemi, rubbing her pregnant belly with a smile. Although poly is still well out of the mainstream, it has become an attractive alternative to monogamy for some. Whether it is good for society remains an open question. For now, there’s a more pressing issue—is it good for you?

(For the complete article online, log on to: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19125591.800)

* * * * *

While I’m far from agreeing with polyamory (deep down, I think I’m a manang-at-heart… charing!), I found the article raises some very interesting points to ponder. What do you think?

10 comments:

Raymond said...

Interesting article, yes. I am glad that the article recognizes that polyamory is not for everybody. One big problem I think it will run up against is the very human feeling of jealousy. Then there is the issue of raising children.

These issues are not insurmountable, but it will take a long time to change social mores. Nevertheless, anything that allows more inclusiveness in soceity is a good thing, and I will defend the right of the polyamorists to practice their way of life and loving as they see fit. Vive le difference!

joelmcvie said...

BONG: According to an officemate who saw this Oprah episode on polyamory, jealousy does happen. But they were able to surmount it by acknowledging that each relationship is unique and therefore cannot be "matched" or even "surpassed" by anyone. It's like you can't compare apples with oranges. Plus they also make arrangements so as to minimize jealousy--assigned time for the different partners, clear roles, etc.

Can you imagine a polyamorous marriage contract? The details must be hell.

monde said...

nice article. i agree that plyamorism is not for everyone. it's a mutual decision for both person involved in the relationship. one should be open-minded enough to understand that such things exist in the society. i do believe that this kind of "~ism" will take some time before everybody can comprehend it. in any case, i am very much willing to practice it :D

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about polyamory is all the different permutations one can choose from. Choosing what you're most comfortable with is almost natural, and you end up being just as naturally pihikan in choosing your other partners. But you really have to know yourself well enough in terms of your jealousies and tendency to be territorial. Am I speaking from experience? Medyo---McVie, may tanong ka? :-D

tzel

the amateur misanthrope said...

Hmm... but isn't "polyamory" something that gay people have been having for years? It may be new for heterosexuals but I would not think it's new for us.

joelmcvie said...

TZEL: Hmmm. HMMMMM! So I take it that some of your previous, uhm, arrangements have been, ahhh, looser than usual? ;-)))

AMATEUR MISANTHROPE: I don't personally know of any group of Pinoys who've actually been practicing polyamory. What I do find usual is that X hooks up with Y but fools around with Y's friend Z,and when Y finds out he fools around with X's friend A. Eventually X and Y break up and Y hooks up with A who's actually the boyfriend of B. B, in retaliation to A, hooks up with Y... and Z! And so on. Eventually the dust settles, everone forgives everyone, and they become an incestuous barkada. Hahaha.

But an arrangement wherein three or more guys are currently boyfriends with one another and everyone knows of the arrangement and is okay with it? I don't know any.

Hey dear viewers, if you know of anyone practicing polyamory, ley us know!

Nelson said...

I don't any eh... Swingers, oo. Couples who fuck around with other people and still stick with each other, oo. Pero polyamory? Medyo mahirap, kasi it involves a certain level of emotional commitment and mature understanding to the people you are in relationship with. As I understand it, X is in a loving and sexual relationship with Y, and X is also in a loving and sexual relationship with Z, as well as Z having a loving and sexual relationship with Y.

Parang screwed-up version ng Melrose Place but with less drama. ;-)

Anonymous said...

None of my previous ones, McVie---just the current *wink* Turns out I never was the jealous type for a reason. Learning a lot about alternative ways of being loyal and devoted without suffering boredom in bedsport *grin* And like I was saying, turns out polyamory has many permutations---I'm new to it, but of the many options possible I stay with the more "conservative" ones, tame radical that I am!

Tzel

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone trying to say this is a a "mature" and acceptable thing? Don't you think it might just be a symptom of a society giving in to greed and lust? -- Or of the first world's spiralling moral decay? I mean talk about having your cake and eat it too. And everyone seems to feel that they have to put up with this in the name of "tolerance". It's like "I can't commit to only one person but that's okay...", What's Next? -- "I'm an axe murderer but that's okay..???" - Where do we draw the line?

Rant-illy yours,

-Ms. Conservative

joelmcvie said...

"Don't you think it might just be a symptom of a society giving in to greed and lust?" No.

"Or of the first world's spiralling moral decay?" Again, no.

"It's like 'I can't commit to only one person but that's okay...', What's Next? -- 'I'm an axe murderer but that's okay..???'" This is false analogy, and cannot be counted as a valid argument. Plus the assumption that people will never know when to stop (i.e. give him an inch and he'll take a mile) is a hasty generalization given this example. Killing people is of a different level.