For my money, those who criticize polyamory do so from a place of ignorance; for those who participate know that love is all.
Angie* was introduced to Ray* by a coworker.
She didn’t know much about him, but sometimes when she was waiting to cross the road in the mornings on her way to work she would see him kiss a woman goodbye at the front of their workplace. Angie assumed that the woman was his girlfriend and thought no more of it.
At work their paths crossed more often; although their conversations remained quite professional, until one day Ray cracked a joke that made Angie laugh. Their friendship developed and she found herself talking about her own relationship problems when they’d go for walks during their lunch hour.
One day, Ray asked, “You do know that I’ve got a woman friend, don’t you?”
He went on to say that he was married and living together with his wife and children, but that his wife knew about his “bit on the side.” Ray explained that they were in an open, “polyamorous” relationship.
While this threw Angie initially, when Ray got a message from Liz*, his wife, saying she had arrived at her lover’s house, she finally understood. She still found this confronting, but it was also liberating. Hearing that two adults could have an honest and open relationship with such a high level of communication was astounding to her.
Angie and Ray became closer and eventually found themselves in a physical relationship. Ray was no longer with other women, besides Liz of course, and he told Angie that he openly discussed their new relationship with his wife and of Liz’s positive reaction to the events. And that she wanted to meet her …
She prefers to use the term “slut” rather than polyamorous. “We use that word very defiantly to open up people’s definitions of how powerful sexuality can be.” They use the word “slut” to encompass all forms of open, honest, and ethical sexuality, from swinging to open relationships to triads, quads and communities.
“Polyamory,” meaning “many loves,” is the term used to describe the practice of ethical non-monogamy.
Modern society deems monogamy as the most common and accepted method of cohabiting. Social mores dictate that honesty is sacred and that consequently committing adultery is one of the lowest blows anyone can deliver to their partner.
But there are those in our society who live, and love, differently.
The groundbreaking book, The Ethical Slut, was written by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. Both women are practicing polyamorists. Having embraced this lifestyle in the ’60s, Easton has lived the polyamorous lifestyle on an ongoing basis, even raising a child with her many different partners, some of whom are more permanent than others.
She prefers to use the term “slut” rather than polyamorous. “We use that word very defiantly to open up people’s definitions of how powerful sexuality can be.”
They use the word “slut” to encompass all forms of open, honest, and ethical sexuality, from swinging to open relationships to triads, quads and communities.
But how can we possibly love more than one person at once?
“We all accept that we can love more than one child,” Easton states. “The truth is that there are a lot of different kinds of love and we have harnessed love, I think, to a very limiting carriage where the idea is that love is supposed to be the bond that makes it possible to work, share a mortgage and raise children with somebody, and sexual love is particularly supposed to be that, and it is only supposed to be between those two and this is a romantic fantasy. What people forget about love is that there are many different ways that we can love somebody…”
Jealousy is the primary concern for the monogamous when trying to understand the polyamorous concept.
“Everyone experiences jealousy in their own particular way. It is a reaction to a stimulus that we have been taught by society, that we are supposed to have this reaction.”
It amounts to the ownership of your partner, and your fears and worries are projected onto your significant other. It is often considered to be a useless emotion, one that polyamorists find they don’t often feel, or if they do, they question their reaction to the emotion.
This makes polyamory different to monogamy as many polyamorists believe jealousy is based on fear which can be conquered if you work through it.
Also on The Big Smoke
- The dark side of open relationships
- The best relationship advice you will ever hear
- Losing my cotton candy: a grown-ups guide to grieving a relationship
Angie was very nervous, standing on the footpath as she waited for Ray and Liz to arrive. She was wondering what she could possibly say to her boyfriend’s wife. Yet once she climbed into the car and saw Liz’s beaming smile, she relaxed. Liz was genuinely happy to meet her husband’s lover. They went out for dinner and drinks and talked like old friends, and Angie learned that this was an adult situation and kept absolutely between the adults in the relationship.
Angie is still in awe of Ray and Liz keeping it together so well in a very regular marital situation dealing with everyday family issues, but with an open-mindedness that is so rarely observed in a monogamous relationship.
From what she has seen so far, it works, and Angie has no reason to believe the triad she is now in will not continue to do so.
*Names have been changed to protect identities