So yeah. Recently I've been having to re-explain my concepts of polyamory to people over and over and over, and I thought it would be nice if I could just point them to a webpage that sums it all up. So I wrote one.
First, what polyamory isn't.
Polyamory is not about sex. If you want to talk about sex, you should be reading an essay on polygamy. I haven't written one of those, so don't ask.
Polyamory is not having a girlfriend while your wife doesn't know. That's called cheating.
Polyamory is not something you are, while your S.O. isn't. You're either both polyamorous, both monogamous, some combination of cheating/cheated-on, or both not dating the other person. There is no happy middle ground, no in-between, no compromise. If she's not poly, either you're monogamous while you're with her, or you're not with her, or you're a cheating bastard. It's that simple.
Now for what polyamory is.
Polyamory, means "multiple love". And if you really wanna get pedantic about it, it means "indicative of multiple concurrent loves in the present". What does that mean? Well, it means that you love more than one person. At least right now.
This can change, however. You don't have to love more than one person all the time. And when you only love one person at any particular time, you are not polyamorous at that time. Lucky you, since you can now be polyamorous in general, and monogamous in any particular relationship, and thus not cheat on your monogamous partner.
I'd like to point out that by love, I don't mean "man she has a nice rack". That's called eros. We're not talking about polyerory (as far as I know, I just coined that term, so here's a pronunciation key: pah-lee-eh-row-ree). Everyone has a nice healthy dose of that.
No, truly loving more than one person (in the amo sense) is giving, kind, caring, compassionate, self-sacrificing, all the things that makes someone a "good boyfriend".
A great many people out there are polyamorous and don't even know it. Don't believe me? Read on.
you are polyamorous
If you've ever had a friend or co-worker who you enjoyed spending time with, who you'd lend your favorite CD, who you'd maybe even take a bullet for, raise your hand.
I see a lot of polyamorous people out there with their hands up. Confused? I'll explain.
First, you must understand, Love doesn't have to involve sex. Love and sex are not interdependant. They can easily exist without each other.
If you've ever had a one-night stand, you know exactly what sex-without-love is like. If you've ever had a best friend (and didn't sleep with them), you ought to know what love-without-sex is like.
Anyone you'd even consider taking a bullet for must be pretty important to you. I'd even go so far as to say you must love them. Even if just a little.
If you're not dating them, if you're dating someone else, hopefully this friend whom you love is not your primary love interest. Guess what that means.
Possibly the most important aspect of polyamory is that it is honest. You don't love someone if you're not truthful with them. Especially when what they don't know honestly might hurt them. Even if it'll only hurt them emotionally when they find out. They will eventually find out. Trust me.
If you fuck someone, and then fuck someone else without telling them that you just fucked the first person, you're putting the second person's health at risk. That's not something you do to someone you love.
If you make up an excuse to tell someone about why you're busy, so that you don't have to confess that you're seeing someone else, that's lying. You don't lie to someone you love either.
You've all heard of the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you have done something (anything) to your partner that you would not be ok with them doing to you, that's not love. That's mean.
Let's take the golden rule a step further. If you know how a person feels on a subject, you can easily make an intelligent decision about what you should do with respect to them and why. If you don't know, the best option is to go on what the most offendable person you've ever known would prefer.
This will make it pretty simple to avoid hurting people you don't know that well. But honestly, by the time it comes to making a call on how a person you're supposed to be in love with would react, you should know this already.
This is a question I get asked fairly often. Here is my answer.
I don't know if you've yet stumbled upon the anarchist artwork hidden in this site, or the anti-authority note that goes with it, or associated that with the rules I break with the content on this site, but if you have, you probably know by now that I hate rules and authority figures.
I also hate restrictions. Rules and restrictions kinda go hand-in-hand. It follows, then, that I would hate having to limit myself to only being allowed to love one other person.
If someone else comes along while I'm already in a relationship, even if this new person doesn't turn out to be worthy of my affections for the long term, I would like to be allowed to explore that, and fully appreciate them while they appear to be worth my time.
Even better, I would like my primary love interest to be excited by the possibility of going out with me, as one creature, as a blended pair of souls, to experience life (and love) in all its glory, together.
Now, she may wind up being the monogamous type. That's fine, I can live with that. If she's worth my time, she's worth my time. Poly-anything or not. But those are my preferences.
If she's monogamous, and I love her, I will be too.
I or my friend was with or knew or talked to this poly person, and...
ignorant selfish asshole
Almost every time I hear a story that starts like this, I wind up wanting to go hunt that fucker down and explain to them (with great justice) that they're not goddamed polyamorous. It's so amazingly rare for this story to wind up being a happy one.
If you've ever known a person who claimed to be polyamorous, and they said or did something that doesn't jive with the definition of polyamory above, they're not goddamned polyamorous. They're a selfish asshole wearing a label that doesn't belong to them, and fucking it up for those of us that understand what it really means.
That really pisses me off.
You can't love more than one person, because loving person A means you can't truly love person B, and vice versa.
love is infinite
Tell me, how does one run out of something like love? Isn't it possible that someone can have enough love in them for more than one person?
If you can't love more than one person with all the intensity that you love only one person, I recommend never having kids. Your kids will steal your heart, like it or not. Kids are a relentless, unstoppable love pump. If they get hold of you, it's over. They suck the love out of people.
When you hear someone say "I hate kids", they're just trying to tell you they're insecure, and can't stand it when a baby wobbles trying to not fall over and says "AAA BA BA BA BA!", because they have to struggle so hard not to smile and say "AWWW!!"
Kids will steal your heart. Your wife will get jealous if you don't have enough love to go around. That's all I'm trying to say. (Ok, babies are cute, shut up.)
If poly's so great, why is it so hated?
You all think love and sex are somehow related. They're not. One-night stands prove it.
I hear the religious mind-scrubbers yelling already. Keep your panties on, you impatient fucks. Keep reading. God.
Have you ever had a one-night stand? Have you ever had MORE than one? How can you sit back in your inexperienced state and lecture me, the experienced, about the evils of my ways, when you've not lived them? You can't.
The truth is, as much as you don't want to hear it, as much as the idea scares the shit out of you, sometimes all a person wants is to get off with someone else for a change. You can't tell me it's hurtful, demeaning, or unhealthy, when it's what both people want. You haven't even experienced it for yourself. Christ, you shouldn't even be reading this site. Timid fucks. Go back to sunday school.
To the unwashed heathens (my people): Sorry for the rant. Religion gets to me. One day I'll write a rant on it, too.
In the same way that sex can exist outside the context of love, love can exist outside the context of sex. But like peanut butter and chocolate, they sure do taste great together.
how do i know if i am polyamorous?
There are two types of love-based relationships.
In one, you must supress jealousy. This is polyamory. In a polyamorous relationship, if you are jealous, you will feel betrayed, and things will not last.
In the other, you must supress love for others. This is monogamy. In a monogamous relationship, if you love someone other than your original partner, and they find out, and they always do, they will consider themselves betrayed, and things will again not last.
For me, the choice is clear. I choose boundless love. I choose to sever that horrible emotion of jealousy from myself. I choose polyamory.
What do you choose?
how do i be polyamorous?
There is a movie where Robin Williams either is a psychiatrist, or goes to see one. I forget the name. He's talking to either the shrink, or his patient, who is trying to stop smoking, and he says:
"There are two kinds of people in the world. Smokers and non-smokers. Figure out which you are, and be that."
This is kind of like asking me how to be a woman. Are you a woman? You either are, or you aren't. Examine yourself. Examine your soul. Figure out if you are monogamous or polyamorous. Then simply be what you are.
What's the point of all this, then. I guess the message I'm trying to convey is that polyamory is not inherently evil, even if it's not for you.
There are probably some perfectly valid reasons to not want to be in a polyamorous relationship. Although honestly, I can't think of any that aren't just plain petty.
But you shouldn't discount the lifestyle just because it's weird, or different. And you certainly shouldn't discount a person just because they have different ideals than you.
Talk to them. Maybe you'll find out you're not so different after all.
You might also find out that they're actually the ignorant, selfish asshole described above.
It's up to you to figure out what category they belong in. And now you have the knowledge to do that. That is the real point.
May 6th 2005
Revised Jul 2 2005
Again on Mar 22 2006