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Objectification and polyamory February 16, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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There should be no doubt that unhealthy relationships exist.  Hell, I have been in a few in years past (and I was not always the one at primary fault, even despite my struggles and past failings).  And the causes of such relationships are varied and attributable to too many psychological, cultural, and communication-based issues to cover here to any sufficient degree.

But I obviously want to address some of it, right? Otherwise I would not be posting anything.  So, a rather cynical and, perhaps, true thought occurred to me this morning while on the subway.  The thought immediately brought to mind real potential examples, from acquaintences of mine, of this thought.

What if one of the reasons that many people could not be polyamorous is simply due to the fact that many people are not in love with (and possibly incapable of such a thing) their partner?  What if the fact that their partner, spouse, etc is a mere object to them (a trophy, for example) and that they cannot imagine what it would be like to love two or more people openly because they can’t really do it with one?

With some such people, their partner is just a sort-of space-occupier.  Yes, this partner has certain attributes which the person likes, but ultimately they are pretty swappable or replaceable And perhaps they go about town being non-exclusive behind their back because, well, sometimes you just want a different flavor.  Afterall, when your spouse is from Stepford, what’s the difference, right?

OK, so some of that is pretty extreme and cynical, but not completely useless to us here. So, for the sake of this idea, imagine relationships which are not very deep, open, or are merely primarily shallow or political in nature.  What sense could polyamory mean to such people? Relationships for such people are not really about deep and meaningful connections made in an effort to complement ourselves, so what sense would it have to talk about doing more of this?

Such people might comprehend swingers better (which is not to put swingers down; they are not always shallow and scared of sharing intimacy), but their world is not dominated by thoughts or practice of authenticity, honesty, and quality (which is not to say that all poly people are seeking such things; I know quite a few who certainly aren’t).

Such a large segment of our culture seems to be about finding some arm-candy, a sugar daddy, or just someone who appeals to us right now rather than a truly good personal match.  Part of this is the fact (it seems pretty true to me, anyway) that many people lack a true ability to find what they like, want, and are capable of.   Finding a good match necessitates some level of self-awareness, which takes work and some courage to attain. 

And since our culture is fairly unaware of itself, many relationships tend to be co-dependent, co-objectifying, and shallow.  Polyamory, to such a culture and to the people which inhabit it, simply would make no sense.  The only sense it could make is having more hot bodies to touch and enjoy, which is not bad in itself but is limiting on how we can see potential partners.

Yes, sometimes another hot body to enjoy is what we polyamorous people want and what we find.  But ultimately I find it much more worth-while to find people I really like intellectually, emotionally, and sexually.  If some people are not looking for all of that with their one (ideally) exclusive partner, then of course polyamory makes no sense to them.

This only leaves why people who do want all that are unwilling or unable to share the wonderful people they find.  Sounds selfish, possessive, and silly to me.

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Comments»

1. Bee - February 17, 2012

My first serious relationship was with a guy who, while willing to have a threesome with me when I put the idea on the table (of course), became incredibly insecure whenever I was honest about other desires (not necessarily to be acted out) where he was not in mind. Needless to say, this relationship was not inspiring.

My current relationship is with a guy who, while not into the idea of an open relationship, is secure enough in our bond to truly listen to my fantasies and desires, including the idea of sharing, while fully aware that they don’t threaten our connection in any way, as the maintenance of denial and secrets very well could. He is the type of person who would share if he knew it’s what I really wanted (which I don’t think I do at this time) and I believe he is even mature enough to deal with all that would entail, but his disinterest in the idea for himself appears to be genuine.

Personally, I feel my tendency to be socially exhausted rather easily would get in the way of my altogether benefiting from a polyamorous lifestyle (though I certainly recognize the benefits) Then again, I also cannot deny my desire to occasionally connect deeply with others and the urge for sexual expression whenever witnessing that spark of intellectual/emotional/sexual compatibility. I participate in online fantasy play with a couple of close online friends with which I have such a connection, which I feel satisfies this desire within me, at least to an extent that I am content with. Part of me wishes sometimes to bring such fantasies to life while another part would rather keep the sexual aspect as invigorating mind play, still enjoying the friendships. Is this just me being safe? If so is it okay to want to be safe in this instance? These are things I wonder.

I am aware of fear’s hold on the mind, its tendency to deceive us, our reluctance to question ideas which take us out of our emotional comfort zones and how this all can affect our perceptions of desire. This makes me wonder if, while feeling content on what seems to be an important level, I am somehow lying to myself. Of course, I don’t think I am, but I can’t in good conscience deny it as a possibility. After all, I wasn’t consciously aware that I was unhappy in the first relationship until entertaining moving on from him as a real possibility. In the same light, I didn’t realize I was suppressing my personality for the sake of religion until beginning to adopt a more agnostic mindset.

I don’t remember when I first stumbled upon your blog, but I’ve been silently lurking around for a while now. Yours is an interesting perspective and it’s challenged me to apply what initially led me out of religion to how I view personal relationships. I’m not sure where I stand, but it’s intriguing to think about. 🙂

2. shaunphilly - February 18, 2012

Bee,

Thank you so much for your comments and your thoughts. I always appreciate a reader who is finding my thoughts useful and interesting. I don’t do this for any other reason than to try and say something which is helpful to someone, if only a little.

Shaun

3. Sahra - February 20, 2012

I feel that different people are simply wired with a preference for different kinds of relationships. I almost see polyamory as an orientation for me. I am attracted to women and multi-partner relationship structures. Others want men and single-partner relationships. Monogamous people don’t value their relationships any less then we do, they just build them differently.

Polyamory is not any more evolved than any other way of relating.


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