Monday, March 3, 2014

Why I'm Polyamorous

Have I ever explained my reasoning for being polyamorous? At least, on this blog? It doesn't look like I have after a look back at some of my old post titles, so why don't I go ahead and do that now.

There are different paths that I could take to addressing this question. There's the intellectual, philosophical path, and there's the more emotional path. Actually, why not just address them both? Sometimes they blend together anyway.

Intellectually, I look at it this way: multiple close friends, of the sort you might call family, are possible. Indeed not only possible, they seem somewhat common. True, many people will only ever have a couple of such close friends, but the point isn't exactly how many they have. The point is simply that it can be more than one, and more than one at a time. And friendship that is so close one might call the friend family most definitely involves love.

Now, romance also involves love, and having experienced both romantic love and friend/family love, I recognize that there are differences between the two (otherwise, there would be no sense in separating the two linguistically or socially). The tendency in romance (though not the rule) for sex to be involved, for instance. Or the tendency for an increased intimacy frequently not present with even the closest of friends. But there are also important similarities, and I think one of those similarities is the ability of people to experience such love with more than one person. We see this in serial monogamy, in which people will often be "in love" with more than one person, just one after another. This doesn't happen just in dating, but also in marriages that end in divorce (they generally start out with love, at least in mainstream American culture), as well as when widows and widowers remarry.

The love that's experienced in these relationships often involves people that are very different from each other in temperament, beliefs, and other personality traits, yet the love of previous relationships is not invalidated simply by the fact of new love growing. This is especially noteworthy in the case of remarried widows and widowers who love their new spouse dearly, and just as much even as their previous spouse, yet still love their previous spouse simultaneously. Thus, they love, romantically, two people at once.

I contend, as do others, that what is possible in serial monogamy, i.e. loving multiple people romantically, is also possible simultaneously. Empirically, I can also confirm that I have indeed been in love romantically with more than one person at a time.

So that's the basic philosophical path to why I'm polyamorous. On the more emotional path, I have, as I said, experienced romantic love toward multiple people simultaneously in the past. Having experienced that, one has to wonder what would be wrong with exploring those emotions, so long as they are explored openly and honestly (agreeing to monogamy and then cheating is not what I'm talking about here). So, I do. I don't get into a relationship without first being open about my polyamory. If that's not acceptable to the other person, then no hard feelings, but I won't get into that sort of relationship with them.

Currently, I only have my wife. But she has another partner that lives with us. Which makes this the part where people are probably wondering how we handle jealousy. Well, honestly, I haven't experienced any jealousy in regards to their relationship. When I see them together, being a couple, it doesn't spark any sense of possessiveness toward her, or fear that I will lose her. Instead, I find myself enjoying it when I see them together (I'm not involved in their sex life, by the way, so that's not what I'm talking about here). If they're being especially cute, I get amused.

This isn't to say that I've never experienced jealousy in my life. I have. But at some point I realized that at the root of that jealousy, when I looked at it, were two things: possessiveness, and fear of losing someone. Well, people aren't possessions. I have no right to feel possessive of another person. I do not own them, and they don't own me. As for the fear . . .

Confidence removes the fear. I've seen the evidence that my wife loves me. It's there every day in the way she looks at me, the way she supports me, the fun we have, and her continued commitment to our relationship. Next to all that (and more), the words "I love you" are completely secondary and superfluous. I hope that I provide a similar level of evidence of my own love for her. In other words, I'm completely confident that she isn't going to leave me, and that she's happy being with me.

If I were to experience jealousy, that would mean there is something wrong with our relationship. It could be that for whatever reason I'm simply not acknowledging fully the evidence of love and commitment that she gives me, in which case the problem's with me. Or maybe I'm sensing something. For example, is she pulling away, or am I pulling away from her? If so, then it's time to figure out why. But at the same time, I need to remember that if I love her, I want her to be happy. I want her to have positive relationships, including romantic ones, even if they aren't with me.

That's the key to it all, I think. Understanding that love means wanting the other to be happy and fulfilled, with or without one's self involved. I alone cannot fulfill every need or desire that another person might have, and I don't expect any one person to fulfill my every need or desire. Thus, it only makes sense to allow for a polyamorous form of relationship. In fact, "allow" is the wrong word. "Embrace" is a more accurate word.

I embrace polyamory as a fuller expression of love for another.

No comments:

Post a Comment