At the risk of sounding square, possessive or close minded, I'm just going to declare on the internet that I am not a fan of polygamous, or so-called "polyamorous" arrangements. Watching one in action makes me stir with the same discomfort as learning that a friend is shooting heroine or honestly believes dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth together.
I'm sorry, but I just find it to be wrong.
Whether you're into "free love" or you're a sheik with a harem or a Mormon with multiples wives, or even if you're Hugh Hefner, I find that arrangement to be inherently unfair. To begin with, notice how all the examples I just cited are male-centric. No woman in her right mind would ever choose to have a houseful of men for reasons running from the risk of gang-banging to the fact that if she wanted to be a den mother, she could just help out with her local boy scout troop.

I went to a party in upstate New York the past weekend. It was good, easy going crowd, not too raucous, there were some people jamming, everyone was drinking and partaking in the party atmosphere. It was a celebration of one girl's birthday; we're going to have to go with Girl A, because I need to keep this all straight. Girl A lived with Boy A and her toddler son in this house. Her birthday party was being thrown by Girl B. Towards the end of the night, Boy A came up to my friend looking flushed and pleased. It was almost like he was going to announce that Girl A was pregnant with his son and heir. Instead, he mumbled that he was really feeling the "polyamourousness." But my friend's reaction was as though he had announced the inception of his first son and heir. He leapt up and gave Boy A a bro hug. I was lying on the couch feeling like a bad smell had come over the room.
As I stated in the introduction, polygamy (I don't believe in this nonsense of being "poly-loving") is a one-sided thing. This is not a feminazi rant, this is just looking at various examples of polygamy through out the ages and observing the obvious.
I've asked just about every guy I know why they would ever want more than one woman in their life. From my perspective it seems like a noxious lifestyle. You guys complain enough about your one girlfriend nagging you and draining your wallet with all her demands. Why on Earth would you want an addition to that? Most of the responses boil down to the novelty and variety. But I don't buy it. If you do have your many loves living in the same house, or even if they're in different houses (see Big Love) you have to deal with the same old mundane tasks that go with being in a relationship, it's just now there are more of them.
I think what men are really looking for is as many opportunities to procreate as possible. Based on animal behaviour, pictoral evidence in my art history classes I've come to conclude that men are obsessed with immortality, and they achieve that immortality by creating vessels to carry on their genetic code.
I do understand the concept of loving many people. At times, I’m almost suffocated with love for my friends and my family, and more than once I’ve have tearfully proclaimed to the sky that I do have so much love to give. It seems impossible that only one person should have it all.
The type of love that inspires people to declare it before a congregation and a spiritual presence is different from the love I described in the above paragraph. And it does temper and change throughout time, but I think it gets diluted when you add more people to it. Plus, I don’t believe Hugh Hefner actually has any feelings or cares for any of his bunnies beyond a patronizing affection. The sight of so many busty blondes rolling around in his bed turns him on, but I don’t think he would run to save them from a rampaging bear. John Lennon may have loved Yoko Ono, but since she never really gave herself entirely to him, at least in the beginning, I can easily explain that as infatuation, a fascination with what he couldn’t have. Later, he kept her around because she procured for him drugs and additional women.
In one of my favourite books, I Was a Teenage Fairy, the male love interest is reluctant to take off his shirt because it says several girls’ names “forever” on his chest. And the girl he’s currently interested in is understandably disgusted. If someone is your partner, then that’s what they are: yours. They agreed to this with the understanding that they were enough for you; that they belong to you and no one else, at least for now. When the character thinks on his past experiences he recognises that he did actually love all the girls inked on his skin, and I buy it, but now he’s met someone who surpasses all of them, and who satisfies him, With this girl, no additional experience, or no additional person to his bed is required. I don’t about you, Dear Reader, but that is one heady declaration of love.
So, by saying, “I love all three of my women,” I think you’re directly contradicting yourself. Or at least, you don’t really mean what you’re saying. You care for them, I believe that, you’re attracted to all of them, but the only person you really love in this arrangement is yourself (and I don’t condemn that. I absolutely believe one should love themselves before any others, to be certain what love is). You are indulging yourself, telling yourself it’s okay to not be able to make up your mind, that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Well, okay, in the short term, yes, you can. I don’t really believe that Yoko would have stayed with John for the long haul if she were expected to be his madam throughout the entire marriage. I do think that at some point she would have given him an ultimatum. If men have an ultimate drive to spread as much of their genetic material as possible, I think there is a corresponding evolutionary drive in women; I just can’t describe it right now. But it does involve competition, feeling threatened, and possession. Then again, I may be projecting my own insecurities.
At some point, the woman will realise that being “open” and free and non-possessive is actually hurting her position in her relationship. Guys may think that she’s really cool and understanding, but what does that matter? She’s only agreed for the man in her life to have as many romances as he wants. I would be astounded to find one man who would agree to be the in a “polyamorous” relationship with multiple men and a sole female. Her female peers just pity her because they know she’s being exploited. So, at a certain point, she too is going to be dissatisfied and wonder why she alone isn’t enough. And if the man in question can’t give her a good enough answer, she’s probably going to leave with a messy trail of destruction in her wake. Especially if there’s a child involved.
So, no, you cannot have the best of both worlds. You do not get to live a consequence-free life because this is a consequence-riddled world. This is a world where people have expectations and feelings and by promising them all the same love you are short-changing them (and in this case, really short-changing the child). Certainly more than one person can bask in your romantic affections, but not at the same time. Then you’re just dallying with them, you’re a child with too many toys.
Now, I know the playboy bunnies of Hugh Hefner may say this works out for them, but keep in mind they also have the playboy mansion to soften the discomforts of their situation, plus the admiration of who knows how many adolescents in the nation. They will suck it up. Also, there are no children involved. I think in this particular case the fact that there’s a toddler in the household makes it all that much more distasteful. The man in the household is serving the role of a father, and thus setting all the examples of what a man should and can do. He might deny it, he might be horrified at the suggestion, but the example being set is women are expendable and not actually all that special; you can easily trade one for another, sometimes within five minutes.
What a conflict in the mind when one of those women being traded is your mother.
You know, it’s one thing if you’re in an open relationship, or you’re just dating, or just having casual sex. The latter two, the expectations and what each individual is willing to commit is very clear: This is just sex, or this just dating. I’m attracted to you, I just like spending time with you, but there are no concrete feelings towards you. In fact, often times I don’t see a difference between dating and an open relationship. But the latter, I think, only works both ways. Even infidelity, on certain levels is different from polyamory. At the very least it’s more frank about it.
But people who say they’re in a polyamorous relationship are delusional. They are promising something they cannot deliver to either party, feeling that it’s okay because they’re up front about it, and also self-congratulating because they’re not being stingy or selfish with their affections. Actually they are being selfish, they’re being gluttonous.
I know that my definition of love is not universal, I know that somebody out there has different idea of what love is to him or her, and that’s fine. I’m not looking to convert anyone, or change anyone’s mind. The thing is, like a friend shooting heroine or subscribing to the notion of intelligent design, people engaging in polyamory are not directly hurting me. But at the same time they are; they’re asking me to deny an apparent falsehood, and thus compromise myself.
I suppose that’s why I’m upset.


  1. Hmmmm. There are some points I can contradict with simple observable facts: like, the fact that I'm in a polyamourous relationship with a woman where it is woman-centric. I'm with a woman who's married, but who also has two outside lovers. Everyone knows about everyone, everyone's met everyone, and everyone's cool with everyone. You build at least some of your objection on the assumption that these arrangements are always male-centric; mine isn't.

    You also seem to draw a distinction between "open relationship" and "polyamoury", but don't make it clear what it is. To my mind, the definition of "open relationship" is "relationship where polyamoury is allowed".

    To your larger point - that a person's love is diluted when shared: I disagree, but I have nothing I can hold up to prove it. I truly, genuinely believe that she's helplessly in love with me - and with her other boyfriend - and with her husband. But I have no love-o-scope I can point at her and then print off a report to hand you.

  2. While I understand how your opinion is based off of what you've observed, I can tell you that I know several very successful open marriages and long-term (10+ years) relationships wherein ALL of the parties are perfectly happy with the arrangements and wouldn't change a thing. You make several blanket statements about "eventually the person will do this" and "even though they think one thing really it's another way" and while that may be true for you and in your experience, keep in mind that different people are different.

    You said "people who say they’re in a polyamorous relationship are delusional. They are promising something they cannot deliver to either party." That's just not true. Whether or not you agree with it and whether or not you could ever see yourself going down that path, there ARE people who have perfectly functional multiple-partner relationships. It's not easy. It's not common. But can you really say that one on one relationships are commonly easy and functional? More romantic relationships get stuck in dysfunction than don't in my experience, whether they're multiple partners, single partners, hetero, or homo.

    Relationships are hard. Period. Yes having that as an aspect of your relationship does add a different complexity to the situation. No that's usually not where the dysfunction is.

    The fact that you can be so narrow minded about this subject makes me wonder if you would believe dinosaurs and humans walked at the same time.

  3. Let me respond to both of you by saying thank you so much for leaving comments that are in English.
    I'm really glad to hear that both of you are able to prove me wrong, and I recognise that what works for some people won't work for everyone.
    The two of you and your many love interests must be extraordinary indeed to make, what I feel, is a tangled web work out so well and for such a long time period.
    Not everyone is as emotionally open. Yet they take a stab at polygamy anyway, and then it tends to end badly.
    I realise that made some sweeping generalisations, but there's no need to go on the offensive and call me narrow minded. I didn't really want to write a dissertation on the subject.

  4. My ex wanted us to be in a triad with one of her female friends. I found the third to be disconcerting, even when she was singing (which tends to trip all my defenses; I like singers) and said I would only consider cuddling with this girl, but nothing further. My ex was actually the one to malinger on the issue - which she introduced to the third - until the third got a boyfriend and called it off. My feeling was then that my ex just wanted the street cred among her Pagan friends and the reinforcement that she was actually a lesbian, which she vociferously insisted. She is now married (to a man) and just gave birth to her first child. As far as I know, she is insisting neither that she is a lesbian nor that she is poly. For her daughter's sake, I hope.
    Melanie just has the girl lust, but she is imminently logical and realizes having me overrules having flings with college skanks.
    I have yet to personally know an open/poly relationship that didn't massively explode. These include:

    * A couple that indiscriminately fucked in the community for rank. They seemed to feed on the drama this created.
    * A woman who insisted that she could sleep with whatever women she liked and her husband could sleep with whatever man he liked. When he pointed out he was straight, she pointed out that was his choice but that she was still going to sleep with whatever women she cared to.
    * A couple that was having threeways with friends. When the relationship exploded because of this, the female of the couple promptly moved to a foreign island in order to never see him again. (Before they opened their relationship up, they were affianced and ostensibly one of the strongest couples I knew.)

    Polyamory is like communism. Nice on paper, but people are going to abuse it on the first day.

  5. Rosie, with every paragraph that I started reading, I was nodding my head along with you!
    I couldn't agree more with you.

    While I know that a lot of people have successful polyamorous relationships, I guess for me it's trying to understand HOW these people do it! And also, why they do it!? It seems like they're just a glutton for punishment. I also feel that they're only compromising themselves and can't possibly love someone else the same way they love another. I think people sometimes will compromise themselves just because they want to appear secure to people so badly, that they're willing to be in this type of relationship.

    I think a lot of times, one person in the relationship will want to be polyamorous and approach the other person in the relationship about it and even though the other person doesn't want that, they will agree to it anyway...and that's when it becomes a complete shit show! But they agree to it initially because they don't want to seem like a "prude" or not adventurous enough.

  6. Wow, I'm so happy about the discussion that's going on here! I love that I have people from both sides of the argument contributing.
    Something I wanted to include in the blog, but forgot, was that in my junior of college I asked my boyfriend of 3 years if we could consider an open relationship. The reason being it was a long distance relationship, and while I still cared about him very much, I was also deeply attracted to someone else and, as I mentioned in the blog, wanted to have the best of both worlds.
    Open relationships, in my opinion, only work when both partners are taking advantage of the situation and, again, there's no mention of amour or love or feelings anywhere. It's really emotions that complicate everything. If you simply enjoy kissing people, and there's one person you can basically rely on to be available to kiss you, that to me is an open relationship, and I don't think it's much different from just casual dating.
    But, like SP points out, the other person may only agree to this open relationship because we've all been fed that line of "if you love someone, let them go."
    What I really wanted, when I asked for an open relationship, was the chance to experience new things, while still having the safe haven of my loving boyfriend if it didn't work out.
    Fortunately, he was cognizant that I was asking for pie in the sky.


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