While growing up, we’ve all been watching movies where emphasis is laid on the one true love (mainly, Disney), and how that one person is supposed to be you go-to person. For everything! We’ve consumed the notions of this one person and dreamt of the time we’d meet them and fall in love and that’d be it.
However, this very idea is being questioned by a lot of people since time immemorial. Why do we have to contain love in these societal boxes? And who says we can’t love more than one person? People have been asking these questions and stepping away from the monogamous style of living. You’d be surprised to know that Only 17 percent of human cultures are strictly monogamous. The vast majority of human societies embrace a mix of marriage types, with some people practicing monogamy and others polygamy. Polyamory is not a new concept, but rather an evolutionary one. Humans too have been poly-amorous since the dawn of time. Every religion, every civilization has seen and welcomed this.
Polyamory comes from the Greek word Poly which means many, and amory which comes from the Latin word amor, meaning love. So it’s the ethical practice of having more than one partner. It is not gender specific and rejects exclusivity.
Polyamorous relationships can vary. Usually a poly person has a primary partner and secondary partners. Primary partners are those with whom a person lives, have kids with, grows old together. While a secondary partner is someone you date with the consent of your primary partner and they may not be as involved in your life as your primary partner.
It’s a consensual and non-monogamous relationship, and we’re here to debunk the myths and beliefs you might have about polyamory!
FIVE MYTHS ABOUT POLYAMORY
NO. 1: ROMANTIC LOVE IS THE ONLY REAL LOVE
In a book titled The Ethical Slut, the authors discussed how the idea of romantic love is ingrained in our minds. That there’s only one way to love a person: the burning, passionate and sensual love where you lay claim on a person. The idea that this person is supposed to be everything for you and that they’re your ‘better-half’ is a dangerous way of looking at love. Because love is something beautiful, it’s supposed to bring us happiness and peace and it can extend to more than one person. Romantic love is not the only kind of love that should be accepted.
NO.2: IT’S ALL ABOUT SEX
This is extremely untrue. There are many polyamorous individuals who are asexual or demisexual. The basis of polyamory is love, whether it’s sexual or not depends on the people involved. Polyamory does not imply group sex, either! The idea that polyamory means having sexual relations with more than one partner always implies that love = sex (and comes from people who are monogamous.) This is untrue.
NO.3: POLYAMORY IS JUST ANOTHER WAY TO JUSTIFY CHEATING
WRONG. If you’re in a monogamous relationship, and you cheat on your partner, it’s unethical. There’s a difference between choosing to be in an exclusive monogamous relationship and going behind your partner’s back and choosing to have multiple partners with consent. Polyamory is an ethical and a consensual type of relationship.
NO.4: THERE’S NO JEALOUSY AND POLY PEOPLE CAN BE WITH WHOEVER THEY WANT
Jealousy is a common emotion. It’s a negative emotion that individuals deal with and experience from time to time. And like other emotions, jealousy shows up in different ways for different people. Jealousy is just that: an emotion, but most polyamorous individuals say that they do not feel jealous and this has more to do with how the individual feels secure in themselves and their relationship rather than having to do with polyamory.
NO.5: POLYAMORY MEANS YOU ALWAYS LOVE A PARTNER MORE
You see, this is the idea that comes from the conditioned belief that you can only love one person and you have to pick one partner for the rest of your life. For poly people, this is different. They defy this notion and belief that love should not be restricted and confined to one person only. There’s no way one can determine if you love a partner more or less because polyamory does not work like that. Polyamory is a type of relationship where you have and choose multiple partners whom you love, in your own way.
To really accept polyamory as a valid relationship, one must stop viewing polyamory through the lens of monogamy. These are two different types of relationships and it does not mean that one is morally superior than the other. While monogamy is normalized in our society, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way one should live their life. It is not unethical or sex-crazy as we’ve discussed earlier.
Partners in a polyamorous relationship define their own boundaries and negotiate the terms of their relationships. Emphasis is laid on the values within polyamory. Here are some of the values:
No. 1: CONSENT
One of the most important values is consent. Poly relationships are built on consent. Taking on new partners and being with them sexually, requires consent from everyone involved in the relationship. Polyamory is ethical, which means that they lay emphasis on consent and communicate honestly with their partners.
Loyalty and fidelity is defined by other aspects of a relationship other than sexual exclusivity. And Loyalty can be defined in the way individuals in a poly relationship wish to define, unlike monogamous relationships where you have to be exclusive with one person only. Loyalty, then for polyamorists, can be defined as growing old together, caring for that person, being honest and respecting the commitments they’ve made in their relationship.
Polyamory is not an excuse to cheat on your partners. Polyamory works on the principle that your primary partner is aware of different partners you choose to have. If you are hiding something, then it means you’re not being loyal or honest.
A polyamorous relationship is built on trust. You have to trust your partners and your partner’s partners. Trust means that one expects their partner to be honest about their partners and not hide anything. With trust comes dignity and respect: for you partner, and your partner’s partners. The idea is that each partner will support each other and love each other without harming someone in anyway.
In the book Ethical Slut, the authors write, “Learning to talk clearly, and listen effectively, is critical. A technique for good listening is to listen to what your partner has to say without interrupting and let them know you heard them by telling them what you think they just said.” Communication is a base for poly relationships. Partners have to communicate with each other about everything: sex, new partners, limiting boundaries. This is what makes poly relationships successful.
Polyamory is an ethical practice and has to be treated as such. Consent, trust and communication are key to a poly relationship and we hope that debunking these myths have helped you learn something about polyamory.
Pause for Perspective