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Friendship and polyamory March 26, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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In my last post, I discussed how monogamy is unlikely to satisfy all of our needs.  I was aware of a few issues tangential to that, but wanted to leave them aside in the interest of keeping posts shorter.  So I will address two issues today; non-sexual friendships and our ability to satisfy needs and desires without relationships.

“The Greatest Love of all”

As I mentioned the other day, in order to have successful relationships, you need to start with yourself.  We need to find where it is possibly, and even preferable in some cases, to find ways to make ourselves happy on our own.

Surely, there will be many circumstances where there will be overlap between this self-satisfying of desires and our relationships with other people.  Our sexual needs, for example, sometimes can be answered with masturbation and sometimes will require, you know, sex with other people.  Also, there will be times when an emotional challenge can be solved by some serious thinking, reflecting, and evaluation of a situation on our own.  Other times we will need the perspective of others to help us, as often other people see things in us we cannot see.

We are not island nations, but sometimes our own domestic policy is sufficient for answering to issues of the day rather than appealing to other nations, (or whatever the UN would be in this analogy) for help.

But the essential point is that when it comes to our needs, simply looking within is a great way to go satisfy them.  Therefore, I encourage everyone to maintain a healthy relationship with the complexity inside our own heads.  I encourage self-love, without getting all hippy about it or something.  Dammit, I think I might be too late….

Polyamory as a footnote to Plato?

…or at least Platonic friendship.

Many of the needs we have in our life, complex as they are, do not require finding a sexual partner at all.  The needs which are not satisfied by our partner(s), which are not satisfied by them, do not necessitate finding another romantic or sexual partner necessarily.  Sometimes just a Platonic partner, or friend, is sufficient.

As I have written about before, polyamory does not require sex to be polyamory.  As a result of this, many people are already polyamorous even if they don’t use the term, or know the term.  Friendships outside of a relationship, especially if they are very close, are so much like what polyamorous people are doing that I often use it as an example of how poly works to people who seem confused by it’s strangeness.  It’s really not that strange.

If you are in a monogamous relationship, there will be things you want and need to do which your partner does not satisfy.  Whether that is watching sports, going shopping, or getting some drinks on a Wednesday night, our friends fulfill many of our needs which our committed, exclusive, relationship do not.

Assuming that one partner in a coupling does not interfere with their partner’s friendships, which does happen (and, I think, is due to the same jealousy which makes most people avoid polyamory), those relationships are highly rewarding, meaningful, and important to us.

Most monogamous people have arrangements just like this, and many of them, in reading this, might be confused why this has anything to do with polyamory.  “So,” the objector may say, “why would people need polyamory when we have friends, ourselves, and our one loving partner to satisfy our needs in life?” Well, if these things actually do satisfy your needs, then perhaps we don’t need to be polyamorous. Where I have the problem is that people ignore, repress, or rationalize away other needs they may have in order to maintain monogamy artificially.  My problem is when monogamy is maintained for its own sake, and not for the sake of authenticity and honesty about what we want.

That is, many people pretend like monogamy+friendship=satisfaction of all needs, when in fact it does not.

What happens when a friend of ours starts to become someone you are very attracted to? What happens when you develop feelings for a person at your gym, book club, or run into an old flame? Why should we ignore this reality, just because we have a sexual/romantic partner? And if so, why?

What’s wrong with enjoying sex, safely, consensually, and transparently with other people whether we, or they, are in a relationship?

What’s wrong with wanting your cake and having it too?

Nothing.

Pursuing every desire?

Yes, there are people out there I am sexually attracted to who I don’t pursue.  I don’t pursue every potential relationship I find, because I recognize that it sometimes there are complexities of desire which are more than I need or want, and so I don’t pursue every desire.

But sometimes the feelings are too strong, the desire to intense, to ignore.  And depending on how much time I have in my life, I will pursue sexual/romantic partners to various degrees.  Right now, my fiance and my girlfriend take up a lot of my time, so pursuing anything very involved or serious is unwise and unwanted at the moment.  That said, if I really got into someone, I would probably find time, because, well, love is worth the effort.

But finding a friend with whom I can share a sexual relationship, especially if that desire is two-way, is healthy and available to me.  It does not threaten my relationships to do so, and it brings some pleasure and joy to my life.  Why should I not want and pursue such things?

Friendships are great, whether they are Platonic or not.  We should allow ourselves to express how we feel about people without artificial censorship or repression because of some strange obsession with maintaining monogamy in our culture.  So keep up your relationships with yourselves, enjoy your friends, and allow yourselves to have the relationships with the people around you as you want, and let “normal” social expectations and pressures have minimal say in how you do so.

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Comments»

1. Joe - March 26, 2012

Nice post and I completely agree!

That said, please get your post(s) proofread.

2. alphalifestriver - March 26, 2012

Great post & great thoughts!
I completely agree.

3. alphalifestriver - March 26, 2012

This is JUST Awesome!!! You made me reflect on a lot of stuff!

Thanks a lot!

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7. stacey - June 1, 2012

practically baseless….because you are in a polyamourous relationship you are supporting it…anyways if people are not happy with a romantic partner and friendships the problem is them!he/she shows restless charcter and some desires need to be suppressed.you are not going to die!
like we are taught. about discipline in school so does it plays in our life.and its creepy to enjoy sex outside a relationship.only people who are unsatisfied with their lives do so or are crazy sex lovers!if you love somebody you give your fullest and you do not think about pursuing a relationship with anyone else!

8. shaunphilly - June 1, 2012

@stacey

discipline is fine. I think discipline is a good thing. But why apply discipline where it is not necessary? Why suppress healthy desires? What makes desires for other people unhealthy?

Why is monogamy good?

9. stacey - June 2, 2012

@ shaunphilly

it has all the advantages you want.
ask any what it cant do..
there are many healthy desires..i an sure you would not pursue it.
there may be desires for pets,family,hundreds of men and women..!

10. shaunphilly - June 2, 2012

@stacey

it cannot allow me to have a relationship with the two women I love.
To conflate it with beastiality or extreme promiscuity is simply silly

With arguments like that, how am I not convinced.

stacey - June 2, 2012

@ shaunphilly

if you dissatisfied with monogamy just because it cant allow this then i think you need to know what monogamy actually is!
it gives enough room to make relationships even have love with people.true friendships for example need no definition.it just doesn’t allow love intimacy and sex.if you are in a true,satisfied committed relationship you wouldn’t even think of doing it.it is just needless..you are basically exerting your relationship for no reason!
practically speaking,your body would not functioning or you would commit suicide!
a polyamourous relationship can make you happy but not happiest.like an drug addict who basically does not know what is right but want what he needs..

11. stacey - June 2, 2012

and what you are referring as beastiality and extreme promiscuity..in reality there are people who feel very proud about it!

12. shaunphilly - June 2, 2012

Stacey,

You are comparing beastiality to an arrangement between consenting adults. That analogy is absurd.

I know what monogamy is. I’ve been monogamous; happily so. The point is that there is no reason to artificially restrain feelings for someone just because you are already in a relationship. The fact is that whether I decided to be in a relationship with two people or not, I already love them both. Why would I artificially pretend that I only love one of them?

I have said in other posts here that if a person was completely satisfied with one person, they would indeed have no need to seek more out. But that does not address what happens when they meet someone they really care about without seeking it, or when someone is not completely satisfied with one person.

This could happen for many reasons, including bisexuality, kink desires (which their partner isn’t into), differing sexual appetites, different social interests, or just plain old being into two people because those two people are awesome.

There is nothing wrong with monogamy per se. The fact is that our actual human desires don’t always flush with monogamy, and forcing ourselves to adhere to it is just silly. In our culture, monogamy is socially expected most places. That does not make it better.

Your arguments come across as rationalizations. I don’t think you have seen what polyamory is, how it can be wonderful, and I don’t think you have sufficient perspective to make a judgment. I say this based upon your very poor arguments and your failure to grasp the basics of what is being discussed here. I suggest you read more posts on this site and get a larger perspective. Read Gina’s posts about how much poly has helped her personally. Read the section entitled “Skepticism, properly applied” liked at the header.

In short, actually educate yourself about what you are arguing against, rather than respond with flaccid logic based upon erroneous assumptions and perceptions.

stacey - June 3, 2012

@ shaunphilly

what you are telling as beastiality are also treated as humanity by many people you are not aware of.

you have been happily monogamous..for how long??..relationships need huge amount of time and energy to really understand how beautiful it actually is..it is not about artificially pretending..

that is what the problem is you have referred only that people satisfied with monogamy should stay monogamous..if a person is not satisfied..then try with someone..i think that is what serial monogamy is termed.and your posts are only based on positive polyamory..how are people be able to judge!!

well i think you only have given all negative points why people are generally into polyamory.its merely an adjustment to make you happy.and nothing else…and on the basis of human psycology and research..no two person are made equal or are equally awesome..

and i think you don’t have to worry about society..society is doomed to change every now and then..you are polyamourous are you changing the fact due to society pressure..no..and polyamory is now some decades later there will be something else..then people will start supporting it..there is no end to that!
and what had happened in ancient times it was polygamous..a different version of polyamory..why changed into something like monogamy..after all in your version monogamy does not allow relationships with two person at a time!!

if arguments should not be a bit rationalisations then what should it be??!!and for your kind knowledge i have been into polyamory research for last 16 weeks..happy as well as sad..had interacted with various kinds of people…read various blogs not just this and heard various arguments..but i think you have not seen great monogamous relationships and become more than satisfied..
if you want me to read the posts and blogs here i have no problem..but i think the perspective would not be much different from yours.

i will have no benefit in giving flaccid logic based upon erroneous assumptions and perceptions because people only attached emotionally and physically to a particular relationship model do that..
i am not a kind of person who only says positive and positive and positive about something i love..i could also have told your arguments as flaccid logic but i haven’t because i know what arguments a polyamorist can give..your arguments may be good or even are but mine may be better because i give more emphasis on equality..

13. Vinko Captain - June 26, 2012

@stacey

emphasis on equality doesn’t make your arguments better… equality isn’t necessarily a good thing. people don’t ejoy the same things.

if you’re happy with having romantic interactions with only one partner and decide to spend the rest of your freetime for non-romantic activities, no one will be mad at you. people need some time for work and hobbies.
on the other hand, if I enjoy my time best sharing it with my loved ones, many people start feeling threatened. i don’t really understand why. it’s not like i was gonna have sex with all their gf and bf’s… i don’t _love_ their “loved ones”… there is no threat… may be the reason why they are so wary is simply that they don’t have much love for them either. but that’s just my opinion because i don’t trust jealousy to be a good advisor.

you are assuming some believes i do not share. i don’t believe in “investing” time and energy in a relationship. it’s not something you can pay for with time oder with trying hard.
when i am spending time with my loved ones, it’s not an investation. instead i’m _obtaining_ energy and rejoicing time.
yes, there are moments of controversial discussions and may be even some quarreling but altogether even those little fights are pleasant and enjoyable… because if you really, really love each other you just can’t wish each other bad for real.

for me, the worst thing about monogamy is the emotional part. if you are in an monogamous relationship and there is another person who likes you and vice versa, you are not “allowed” to fall in love. so you have to block her/him, never see her/him again etc. … because you _like_ each other. doesn’t make sense, does it?
it’s not the less interesting sex that’s hard for me. it’s hurting really nice people just because they are nice and lovely. i’ve done that for multiple times while in monogamy and i’m really sick of it. it’s just too cruel. i can’t be that kind of person.

and for the sexual part: if it’s not about love, doesn’t it make monogamy just another kinky sex practice?

14. Pepca - July 26, 2012

@Vinko Captain
“for me, the worst thing about monogamy is the emotional part. …
…i can’t be that kind of person”.

Thank you, I couldn’t agree more.

15. stacey - August 10, 2012

well dats the problem with you people.. had you people known thevalue of monogamy you woudnt have been in a position now..you need more than one person romantically to take care of your emotional needs..besides your so loving family,friends and wife /gf
its a pity…!

16. stacey - August 10, 2012

better luck next life..

17. shaunphilly - August 10, 2012

@Stacey,

You are not making any sense. Better luck next time.


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