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Trying it July 18, 2016

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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My partner just recently went through a breakup with a guy she’d been seeing recently. He was new to polyamory, and from what I could tell, he was not handling the newfound relationship territory well. At some point towards the end of the relationship, he requested that she try monogamy for him, since he was willing to try polyamory for her.

You know, in order be fair. Since he tried a new relationship configuration for her, she should try something similar for him.  50/50 compromise, right?

Nope. That’s not how that works.

OK, so I think I understand what’s going on here, in his head. It seems like there is some serious blindness occurring here, which I’m not especially surprised about but which I am somewhat fascinated with nonetheless. The assumption seems to be that he is putting a significant effort into trying to understand polyamory (whether he actually was doing so is another question. She seems to think not), and is not finding that it is what he wants so in order for the relationship to have the equal give and take on both sides, he’s requesting that his partner, who is also my partner, try being monogamous with him.

It’s only fair, right?

I mean, it would mean that she’d have to break up with me to do so. But that’s hardly the important point here. The important point is that in our culture, a person who is polyamorous is almost certainly extremely aware of what monogamy is, how it works, and does not need to “try it” to understand how it is likely to go. The important point is that he either does not understand that we, polyamorously-inclined people, already know what being monogamous entails and how it’s likely to work for us, or he does understand and he is trying to guide his fear, jealousy, etc into a comfortable box within which he can assert control.

In fact, it’s somewhat analogous to when a Christian evangelical tries to introduce non-believers to Jesus, as if we don’t know it, already. They seem either completely unaware that we understand their message and their worldview, or they are so afraid of their own uncertainties about said story that they want to pull others into their little box in an attempt to placate their fear with vindication through company.

Poly people, especially those of us who think and write about it, are aware of monogamy in a way that monogamous people, in many cases, are not. We see it from multiple perspectives, because we are faced with the various facets, assumptions, and problems of the traditionally monogamous world. We don’t need to try it because not only, in many cases, did we come from the monogamous world, but we also tend to have a greater understanding of relationship dynamics in general.

[I’ll add, here, that this is not an argument that we are smarter, more wise, or right, just that we have a perspective which grants us the potential for greater vision of the relationship/sexuality landscape]

So, no. We don’t need to try monogamy for those partners struggling with the shift to polyamory. We certainly can if we choose to, but such a request comes across as more of an attempt to manipulate and control than to lead towards a more healthy and satisfying relationship.

And, to my relief, she said no.

Which is great, because I love her and I wouldn’t want her to leave me for some monogamous bloke, unless it was what she actually wanted.

 

Description v. Prescription in Polyamory September 9, 2014

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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In the past, I’ve talked about whether monoamory or polyamory is better, and concluded, essentially, that so long as we are aware of either possibility and we pursue our desires authentically, I’m not concerned where we end up. Today, I’d like to take a look at a set of issues within relationships which fall under the same logical structure, and tease out why I think things like rules and promises, especially when they are intended to remain in place indefinitely, are not only unwise but may be self-defeating.

 

Negotiation as an Ongoing Process, and not a Scripture

DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcoverOur culture has a handy trope for a rule which is set “in stone.”  Whether the image come from the old Ten commandments movie (or the Mel Brooks version), or from the Old Testament itself, we understand what it means to create a rule or promise which is not designed to change. The idea is that some person or group has handed down a rule which is meant to be kept indefinitely. It is either thought of as a moral commandment or an agreement with no defined end. In other words it is treated, in some cases, as scripture.

The absolutism of this set of circumstances is comforting, at least to some, but it has an air of moral absoluteness which simply does not fit with the nature of relationships (or anything, really) which depend upon communication, growth, and adjustment to change. The stability and structure of such an agreement might be comforting, but this comfort is an illusion and is often short lived.

Such rules can take the place of agreements, requests, or demands but in any of these cases the same fundamental problem will arise. Of course, the issue of coercion, abuse, or simple fear might also play a role, but at bottom all of these situations suffer from the simple mistake of thinking that it’s possible to create a set of rules which will be relevant after new experiences, growth, and changed circumstances have thrown aside all of our assumptions and intentions.

If we make such rules, we must keep in mind that as we experience more, as the circumstances change, and as we grow (both in our set of desires and our ability to handle new situations), the rules we made might not be relevant anymore. In some cases, the rule might end up no longer being necessary, and yet many people hold onto them out of habit. Because it’s the rule. Because it became scripture, and as many people can attest to, scripture sometimes just stays even after you don’t have any need for it.

In other cases, the rule might end up becoming a crutch upon which we lean in order to avoid facing the fact that the circumstances have, in fact, changed or that the rule was a smoke-screen for some fear. But the bottom line is that the rule may not match up with current needs, desires, and relationships, and so it might be better to see that rule as a temporary agreement to be reconsidered now or in the future.

Especially people new to polyamory, the tendency is to create some hard boundaries, rules, etc in order to create some sense of safety or protection against all sorts of things. But as time goes on, relationships form and new desires may arise which run against these rules created early on. So, what do you do? Do those rules become scripture or do you re-evaluate, re-negotiate, and possible change the nature of your relationship as a result?

 

Prescription versus description

Thinking of rules as a means to protect ourselves is problematic, at best. No rules we can create will protect us from the things we fear, because the things we fear might always happen no matter what rules we adopt.  Fear needs to be dealt with directly, and not through defense mechanisms. Rules, in this case, are often more about identifying what our fears are, and making such rules absolute seeks to avoid dealing with that fear as much as actually avoiding harm.

As any monogamous person likely knows, the rule to not have other sexual or romantic partners does not necessarily prevent our partners from the interest in other people, which is the real source of the problem as much as the potential acts themselves.  When polyamorous people employ similar rules about levels of intimacy, the difference is one of quantity, not quality. Making the exclusivity limited to one person or a few does not solve the problem of fearing the loss of intimacy. Trying to defend this intimacy is absurd; if they want to give it to us, they will regardless of whether they also give it to other people.

So, what if we thought about rules as a description of an idealized reality rather than a defense? What if we thought of it as a guideline to staying on the path or achieving the kind of life that we want to live? That is, rather than a defense or a set of ways to protect ourselves, what if we thought of rules as a means to keeping ourselves pointed in the right direction and not distracted by road-side attractions along this path?

That’s certainly an improvement over looking at rules as absolute dictates and Hobbes-esque defenses against harm (although guidelines will be this as well), but what if we went even further than this? What if we stopped using the model of prescribing the direction we were going, and adopted a model of exploration? What if instead of defining where we are going, where we will be, and what the destination were to look like, we were looking towards the horizon and discovering what we found?

What if, in our relationships, we are map-makers rather than law-makers?

Laws have to be changed, reinterpreted, and often simply scrapped in order to keep up with our lives. Laws and rule are, in many ways, fundamentally conservative and traditional approaches to reality. Necessary for many reasons, but they are not a force for change or growth in themselves.

In order to change, we need to be explorers, curious and skeptical. As Nietzsche said, we need to be attempters in life (cf Nietzsche, BGE §42 and §210) reaching for the possibility just beyond us. Rules may be relevant for a while, as explorers, but eventually we will run into a new land where the rule simply does not apply. Eventually, we will have to start being ethnologists and adopt a new perspective, and realize that not only is the land upon which we walk different, but the walker is different as well. As we explore, we will change, and the person who left our home shores with notions about right, wrong, civility, etc might no longer exist.

Carrying your civilization into another and remaining the same misses the point of traveling. The point is to grow and change, not to carry your old self to new lands. We don’t want to be imperialists, do we?

 

An example; Primary and Secondary

Consider this; the difference between the rules set up in monogamy and the rules polyamorous people set up around primary and secondary relationships are usually logically similar. In monogamy, you surround your partner with a metaphorical fence and say “no more in here,” while with polyamorous relationships you might say “only one, maybe two or three, in here. The rest of you are relegated to second-class relationships.”Why prescribe this hierarchy? Why go out of your way to define it as such? If someone feels at home in that fence, why would you make a rule saying they can’t come in?

When we set out on our journey of relationships, if we define these roles beforehand we might find a couple of things could happen. First, we might find that it creates unnecessary distance and feelings of inadequacy for “secondary” partners. It’s one thing to actually be less intimate and close to someone, it’s quite another to be defined as such regardless of whether it’s true or not.

Meeting someone, dating them, getting close to someone is already a complicated enough without having artificial boundaries set on how important that person is allowed to be to you in addition to all that. If someone defines my relationship for me, as would be in the case if I were a relegated secondary, it would not change how I would feel about my new partner but it would make me wonder how close I’m allowed to feel or how close I’m allowed to be.

I’m just not sure if “allowed” is a relevant concept when it comes to how we feel about people. Rules, in many cases, attempt to define how we are allowed to feel in addition to how we are allowed to act. Setting boundaries and rules on actions is one thing (and is important). Setting rules about how we are allowed to feel is quite another (and absurd). So the question is whether things such as relationship status is a function of actions or feelings, primarily.

Are statuses–things like being primary, secondary, etc–things we  prescribe or are they things we describe? It’s probably both, but I think that how we actually feel is the primary factor in the nature of a relationship. And so no matter how much we may want and try to prescribe that from the start, how we actually feel will be the primary factor in how close a person is to us. Holding someone at a distance merely because of a rule is, in my opinion, not a decent way to treat another person. And it feels shitty when it happens to you.

Further, you may find that no matter how much you try and pre-define a relationship, that rule might be impotent in terms of actually preventing a person from getting really close. This can lead to situations where someone calls person A their primary, but person B (relegated to secondary status) might end up being equal or greater in terms of intimacy in the long run. Trying to prescribe these statuses thus simply seeks to create rules about territory you have not explored yet, like trying to decorate a room you’ve never been in. You don’t know how close your partner will be to their new partner, and trying to set a rule about it will have as much effect as defining how many chips you’re allowed to eat from the bag.

Clearly, there will be distinctions in terms of how close you are to a person, how much time you spend with them, etc. Clearly, terms such as primary and secondary are useful terms to describe how relationships actually are right now, and I would not try to argue for any “relationship anarchy” which would attempt to argue for use ridding ourselves of labels.

But just like how the dictionary does not prescribe meaning (they simply log use of words, and reflect the world rather than define it), labels such as primary, secondary, etc are descriptions of the nature of a relationship more than a pre-ordained rule about what role someone will play in our lives.

Conclusions

It is undoubtedly true that some relationships are closer and more intimate than others. Insofar as words like primary and secondary have use in the context of relationships, they should be descriptive terms. But these descriptions are not chiseled in stone, and in 2 or 5 years things might be different. We must be aware that this might happen, and that when it does we have to be allowed to re-define our relationships to reflect reality, rather than impose our preferred reality onto our relationships.

The feelings we have for people will exist no matter what labels and rules we have.  Prescribing our relationships is, at best, a conservative attempt to maintain the status quo of the intimacy we have with someone. But that intimacy will remain, grow, or diminish not based upon any prescription, but instead upon the actual changing nature of the relationship. And as relationships change and grow themselves (and sometimes they grow apart), we should view the journey as an exploration, and we should be map-makers, not law-makers, of our lives.

In short, we should be curious, open, and skeptical of the new terrain which is the future and not merely carry our assumptions, preferences, and comfortable spaces with us. Let our experiences, and not our presumptions, define us.

 

Regression towards the mean (a rant) December 13, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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All cultures have traditions, values, means of communication, etc.  All of these, and more, help define meaning and appropriate behavior for the group of people that interact with that culture.  It sets values for moral behavior, words for communication, and expectations to evaluate your decisions and circumstances against.  It gives you a set of standards to compare how well you’re doing in your process of personal growth.  Culture creates a filter through which we define what is good personal growth.  The problem is that sometimes cultures are bad standards for such things.

What do you do when the values, expectations, and even the very language your culture uses seem, well, wrong? Not all of them, necessarily.  Really, it just takes one value or tradition to create this problem, and I am not sure it is a problem which will ever go away.  We may perpetually, as a species, be evolving and progressing our cultures towards various ideals, assuming we don’t kill each other first.  I’m rarely optimistic.  So, given that, it seems rational to assume that those working for social justice, of all flavors, are the people we should be paying more attention to as members of culture.  But we don’t, because the path of least resistance is easier.  It’s totally understandable, right? Well, it’s certainly human. As if that’s sufficient reason to do something in itself.

(Just another reason I’m a misanthropist and not a fan of humanism; I don’t want humanity to be our example or our standard, I want the ubermensch to be the standard.  I want to transcend mere humanity towards something perpetually better, culturally.  No, not a trans-humanistic future of perfect cuber beings or even Cybermen, but a perpetually improving set of cultures.).

Well, in such cases where we find ourselves dissatisfied with our cultural environment, we have little choice but accept it or to (hopefully) find some other people who feel the same way and create your own sub-culture where we will often have to hide some behaviors so that the normals can go around feeling comfortable with their quaint little lives, unchallenged and sometimes even unaware that challenge is even an option.  And if we, rebels and other hooligans, happen to encroach on their territory (which is everywhere, seemingly), we have to apologize and slink back into our little holes, lest they get offended and have feelings they don’t want to deal with.  Examples? Christian privilege in the Christmas wars, for starters, but also the fear that many polyamorous people have in being discovered by employers, family, etc because of the effect of cultural norms on our legal and practical rights.

And, sometimes, you meet one of these friendly normals who seem to think your little hole in the culture is sort of fascinating and interesting.  They sort of like some of what you have to say, or they have a friend who also has a similar hole and they want to be liberal, open-minded, and accepting but they don’t really feel it deep down the way we do so it always feels like they are merely patronizing.  Because they are patronizing, even if it is also partially genuine (I’ll be clear; sometimes it is actually genuine).  They will occasionally visit your little hole, play around for a while in that hole, but they are not prepared to live their.  In some cases, a person might spend time with the weird people because a friend likes the weird thing or because their partner is weird as well, and they feel like they should be supportive even if they don’t really get it.  I mean, sometimes they do get it, but sometimes not.  Either way, they are not invested in your little cultural oddity, and most of their thinking and feeling is still tied to the mainstream culture in which they live most of their lives.

As we grow up, the things that are meaningful to us are tied to the culture in which we live.  And for most people, that is the mainstream culture.  Generations of people have common cultural items to use as stand-ins for more universal human commonalities, and we latch onto those things.  For many people it is the church they went to, but it could also be the love of popular TV shows, music, or hobbies.  And this is all fine.  The problem is when the things we value and have fond associations with are a part of the problem.  I’ll use a personal example.

When I was in graduate school, I made friends with a fellow graduate student who was the member of a fraternity.  He was very active and loved this fraternity, and he spoke well of it.  Through our friendship, I became fascinated with the ideals and the experience of this group of brothers, and because I valued him and the ideals proposed by the fraternity I decided to join.  I had hoped to meet other people who shared certain values with me and to become part of a group that seemed actually worth-while, rather than the ones I had seen elsewhere.  It was against my general nature of not being the type who joined things like this; I never went to church (willingly), I have never been enamored by any particular political party, and I had some prejudices about fraternities.

Upon joining, I slowly but inevitably saw the private, secret rituals of the fraternity as well as how my new ‘brothers’ really were, and things started to sour.  I learned, quickly, that the role of the fraternity was exactly like the role of church for most mainstream and normal people.  While in the ritual times and spaces, people tend to be solemn, respectful, and even reflective.  But as soon as they leave, the ideals (for most of them), go by the wayside.  Then I saw that people were sort of douchebags, just like everywhere else.  On top of that, the ideal that the fraternity upheld were available without the fraternity; just like with religion.  There was no need to join the fraternity, because I could have the ideals without that particular group of people.

One example always sticks with me.  I had some interaction with the prytanis (president) of the chapter at Drexel University a while ago, during my early days as a volunteer, and it was like talking to any self-serving, arrogant, and self-important douchebag I have ever had the displeasure of talking with. The values of the organization do not tend to filter down to the members.  So it is with such things.  This, and other things I learned during my brief activity (you are a brother for life, after all), showed me that no matter how good the ideals of a community, or culture, are, those ideals won’t translate.  You don’t have to be a member to share the ideals, and if you do become a member you won’t necessarily meet better people.  Unfortunately, this truth carries through to all of my experiences with groups of all kinds, including the atheist community.  I have many friends in the atheist community, but it is full of many douchebags as well.  The Polyamorous community is a little better.

So, it’s even worse when even the ideals of a community, group, or culture are not, well, ideal. Take the ideals of love and romance in our culture to start with.  Most people associate love with concepts of possessiveness and jealousy as a positive sign of love being ‘real’.  But those are the ideals of love and romance in our culture in general, whether we like it or not.  It might be changing slowly, but that’s where it seems to be for most people.  Those of us who are polyamorous tend to recognize that those values are broken, and see love as expansive and less limiting (it’s not actually infinite, because nothing is.).  But from the point of view of someone steeped in  mainstream culture, we poly people often look like we’re crazy, or at least playing with fire (which is also fun).  We are, after all, intentionally breaking the expectations of the culture they live in and value.  I mean, it’s one thing to cheat, but at least the normal monogamously-inclined cheater has the ideal of exclusivity, possessiveness, and jealousy…I mean, true love and romance…as a goal.  At least those cheaters are (generally) trying to do things right, but they keep messing it up because they are human.  But to throw away those ideals and love 2 or more people? That’s just nuts.

So when those hangers-on, those people who are, intellectually and theoretically, accepting of us rebels and hooligans (you know, because they are open-minded, liberated people); those people who hang around because they have friends who are also weird; those who hang around because the person they are dating wants to be part of it, even if they are unsure about it.  When those people start to really face the hard parts of being an adult and dealing with the real complexities of attraction, jealousy, envy, time-management, trust, etc what do they do? Well, they tend to regress towards the cultural expectations. The average. The ‘mean’.

Monogamy as an expected ideal, as it is in our culture, is not a healthy value to defend and to default towards.  I recognize that some people will be truly happy and fulfilled in monogamous situations, but as a default this ideal is broken when held against the shape of human desires, capabilities, and actual behavior.  When you have millions of people nourished with in a set of values around love, relationships, and sex which imply the expectations of monogamy, their emotions and thus their opinions latch onto those ideals.  Subsequently, due to various cognitive biases and imperfections, they are offended by opposing values which may actually be superior (either generally or for them specifically).  So when some of those people are exposed to polyamory, even if they are willing to accept or even try it, their emotions are still tied to the ideals of love, relationships, and sexuality which make polyamory seem wrong, impractical, or “not for me.”

Let’s use another example, not from myself but based, in part, on someone I have known all of my life.

If someone grows up going to church, loving the music, the community, etc, they will attach emotional significance to much of the tradition and ritual.  They have emotional bonds to the sounds, smells, architecture, etc.  For someone like this, being in their religious space brings to mind good feelings, memories, etc which cannot be replaced, but which are valued by them whether they would choose to value them or not.  If they start to disbelieve in any or all of the doctrines of the church, those feelings don’t go away.  So even if they leave the church, they seek out some sort of substitute, or create atheist churches (*gag*).  And from time to time, they will think about and miss what they left.  Their emotions bond to such sounds, smells, images etc which they formed in those places while they developed as people.  And sometimes, especially if they experience trauma, hard time, etc, they go back.  They regress.

The same thing often  happens to people who are interested in, or try, polyamory.  It gets hard, their emotions–which were tied with ideas about love and security which are antithetical to being polyamorous–pull them towards the cultural norm.  It’s the path of least resistance, after all, to appear normal.  it’s even easier to actually just be normal.  Polyamory is not normal (and it may never be).  The normal alternatives, whether monogamy, serial monogamy, or even swinging (which is, let’s be honest, just couples who like to fuck other people sometimes, and not a real challenge to the fundamental norms of couple-based relationships) requires less personal struggle and work, it’s easier to explain to co-workers and family, and it does not force you to grow.  Growing is hard, fitting in is easier.

And we as sensitive, caring, and mature people, are supposed to sympathize with their struggle when they regress in such ways.  We are supposed to allow them to go the path they want with our blessings and support, because their life is theirs.  Well, sure it is, but that does not mean that the decision to regress towards the norm is not often based on some fear, unwillingness to be challenged, and even cowardice.  That does not mean we have to actually agree with them.  Also, it does not mean we have to respect their decision.  We are supposed to not challenge them when shit gets hard for them because shit is already hard for them, I understand.  We are supposed to be patient (and some patience is fair to ask for, but their must be a limit).  We are supposed to not rock the boat.  We are supposed to behave ourselves. we are supposed to know our place.  Our place is not to question the norm. Most people will defend their norms all day and all night because it is comfortable, and they will do it with a smile and get offended when you find them ridiculous, because they are so conditioned to see it as right even if it might not be.

They are so easily offended, those open-minded, liberated, progressive normal people.  Not to mention the conservatives; they are a whole different problem.  But the liberal-minded mainstream normal people who find us weird people so interesting to hear stories about on NPR or have representative friends to make them seem interesting…. They are very often, to this weird person anyway, quite amusing and interesting.  They are like the Unitarians from the point of view of radical new atheism; not the source of the problem, but not really helping either.  They are just sort of boring, trite, and uninspiring.  They just sort of blend into the background of the culture, which we already (hopefully) agree is not ideal.

And we are supposed to respect them and their lives.

That’s another part of the values of our mainstream culture.  That is the quiet, brilliant lore of mainstream inoffensiveness.  That is what feeds and keeps alive what is wrong with mainstream culture.  Where privilege of all kind lives, it is guarded by the desire to be polite, because being polite is nice and it won’t offend your grandmother or the neighbors.  Where injustice lives, so does the smiling, ubiquitous face of “it’s just how people are” and “live and let live.”  Where cowardice, fear, and conservative tendencies live, so do the values of tradition and “just fitting in”.  And so when shit gets hard, it’s easier to just fall back into the tendencies of the lazy and cowardly culture that we live among and within.  When shit happens, it’s easy to just blend into the background pattern of normal culture, and appear as just another person who feels more evolved and liberated because you had this time in college (or whenever) when you tried that weird thing, but it wasn’t for you.  Or perhaps you have some weird friends who are interesting to invite to parties and amaze the other normals with how many interesting people you know.  Don’t I look all open-minded now? Aren’t I a mature and responsible adult? Aren’t I interesting?

Not necessarily.

So this is where I regress to being (a little) mean.  I don’t respect the majority of our culture or its values.  I don’t want to be nice or to sympathize beyond a reasonable level of time to allow you to get used to the culture shock you have when you run into weird people or radical ideas.  I’m willing to allow you some time to calm from your privilege or parochialistic shock, but then I expect you to actually grow up a little or go away where I don’t have to tolerate the inoffensiveness you reek of.  And, unfortunately, most will go away and regress to their mean.  That’s fine, my world is better without you anyway, but I will be disappointed because this reaction is so common.  I’m not going to be nice to you just because you have some emotional attachments to being normal and unchallenged, and you would rather run away or hide behind wanting to fit in or not offend your co-workers or your family for the sake of something that scares you to think about doing.

I’m sympathetic to emotional difficulty when it’s warranted, but the common emotional attachments to a set of values affixed to a broken and stupid culture are not sufficient warrant after a while.  If you are exposed and given time to adjust to the weird alternative to the norm, and you don’t adjust, then I’m no longer sympathetic.  You have time, especially if you have the time to read blogs like this, to think about the nature of our culture and your relationship with it, so do it already and stop being boring.  If you don’t do that work now, then I hope that if you eventually figure out that the (for example) monogamous marriage which you willingly enter, but later find yourself stuck in, was the result of unrealistic expectations about relationships which you learned from our culture, then you will be willing to do the work.  I also hope that you will then be willing to start re-thinking your values and your attachment to the dominant cultural values.

I hope you figure that out before all of that, and I hope that our experiences and insights as (polyamorous, atheist, social justice activist, etc) people, while not perfect (I’m certainly far from it) might be more than mere interest from afar.  Because for many people out there, the weird stuff around them is just a way to play with ideas while not really questioning your very basic values and assumptions in any meaningful way.  Weird sub-cultures and counter-cultures are a sort of cultural clothing that makes our culture look interesting to those living in it, when it is not interesting in itself.  In short, I’m not impressed by your emotional freak out because you are more comfortable with what is normal than with doing the real work to challenge your cultural conventions and assumptions. I’ll be impressed when the freak out happens when you are genuinely trying to adjust to the fact that the dominant culture inculcated so much crap into you and you are trying to change those ideas for better ones, actively, painfully, and most of the time.

I am no longer impressed by the values, methods of solution, or rules of a culture–any culture–which is fundamentally broken as our mainstream Western culture is.  And if you don’t think this mainstream Western culture is broken in many ways, then you might be part part of the problem.

Why knot – Breaking the Silence of Monogamy (upcoming documentary) December 4, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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I was contacted by Dhruv Dhawan from Film-Real about a documentary entitled Why knot, which has a page at indiegogo, where they are trying to raise funds to complete the project.

As the indiegogo page says,

This film’s objective is not to advocate for or against monogamy, but to break the silence and provoke thoughts on an issue which affects so many relationships and families today.

Our vision is to empower relationships and to encourage communication within, hoping that one day, infidelity and the containment of our desires may only be a remnant of human history.

which I think is a good conversation for humans to be having.  Much like religion, monogamy often gets a free pass in our culture, and it seems that pass is also present in other cultures (being that this is a project originates in India).

From the email:

The director is an acclaimed filmmaker (http://www.film-real.com) who has been researching this film for 5 years and shooting for the past 2. Dhruv completed his BA in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Film Production at the University of British Columbia. Through his latest film, WHYKNOT, Dhruv aims to break the silence on monogamy and question whether we as humans can resolve conflicts between our instincts and our morals.

Why Knot is a journey through the intellectual and emotional landscape of monogamy which features prominent scientists in the field and members from Dhruv’s personal sphere. During the production of the film we had the privilege to interview and research several polyamorous individuals and communities and take into account their insights and opinions. We would love to hear what you think/feel about the film trailer, so do spare us 4 minutes and give it a watch! Go on, Why Knot 🙂

Here is the trailer:

It looks interesting and promising, and I hope it gets fully funded. If you want to and are able to contribute to the project, head on over and do so now.

When polyamory isn’t an option, is cheating an option? November 19, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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Nearly a year ago, Wes wrote this post on the blog about whether it is permissible, morally, to accept an offer of sex from someone in a monogamous relationship.  I was not in agreement with him when I read it, but my disagreement was based on a moral foundation I know Wes does not accept (primarily Kantian), so I didn’t argue since it would have turned into a meta-argument.  I find his logic sound, I just found the basic assumptions to be lacking somewhat.   I carry different moral foundations that the argument presented in that post, and so I realized that it would turn into a conversation about meta-ethics and moral foundation theory, rather than about the question at hand.

Over the last year I have thought about this issue a little, and I have come to agree with his argument, Kantian counter-positions or not, but only in some cases.   I agree that the point of harm is the decision to cheat, and that acting on it only adds the potential harm of STDs or pregnancy  (if precautions against such things are not taken, of course).  The emotional harm was already done, and it is this point where the other person should focus their attention on why they care if their partners wants other sex/romantic  partners, and possibly accept polyamory as another option.  

My reason for refusing the proposition of sex from a monogamous person, morally, has to do with what Wes Said in his post:

the fact that someone is a cheater raises all kinds of concerns about that person’s trustworthiness, character, compassion, and decency. I have absolutely no problem with categorically turning down cheaters for those reasons.

I think that everyone should have a negative response to such a proposition if the person asking is untrustworthy.  I think that a decent person would not even want to sleep with someone in a situation where you can’t trust their character, personality, etc.  I have trouble finding it possible to both be a decent person and wanting to say yes to such a person.  But if an untrustworthy person is still appealing to you, then I suppose you can do whatever you like, even if I don’t think it’s the right decision.  I would not will that maxim to be universal law, but I can’t make decisions for other people either.

However, not everyone who requests, or at least wants, to have sex with someone besides their committed and supposedly exclusive partner (married or not) is untrustworthy or a bad person.  Sometimes, they have good reasons to want and request such a thing.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, because I had a long conversation with a long-time friend today that both depressed and angered me.  It spoke to all the reasons why I advocate for non-monogamy, especially where it rubs against traditional and conservative (patriarchal) notions of marriage, relationships, and commitment.  I’m writing about this because this friend of mine needs and wants romantic, emotional, and sexual intimacy in her life, and is not getting it.

 

The occasional 2 minutes is not enough.

My friend, who will obviously remain anonymous, divulged to me today that she has been unhappy with many aspects of her marriage for a while.  Sex happens perhaps every month or two, and lasts just about long enough for her husband to be done.  The old squirt and snooze.

Now, she has talked to him about her lack of satisfaction with this amount of physical intimacy, and he had insisted that things are “OK” and that he’s just not going to change.  He’s happy, he’s not going to change, and with her not being able to support herself right now (she’s a house-mom), leaving is not much of an option.  She’s stuck in a situation where she is unhappy, stuck at home most of the time, and wants more from life.  He’s not going to give it to her apparently, and her transparently finding it elsewhere is not a realistic option.  Polyamory is not an option.

She does not want to hurt him, she does not want to put the kids in a situation of going through a potential divorce (her parents were divorced, which was hard on her growing up), and her kids are fairly young.  But she is also seriously considering accepting what she knows are open offers to receive some level of emotional, sexual, and possibly romantic intimacy from other people she knows. She’s thinking about the possibility of cheating.

I want to tell her to do it.  I want to tell her to find the happiness she wants, even if it means cheating.  Her situation, with a selfish and un-giving husband, is a situation where the chains of monogamy are most clear to me.  This type of situation is why Ashley Madison exists.  My friend would benefit from polyamory (ideally, if she wanted that), but that is not an option she can count on happening with any level of probability.  She wants real intimacy, and cannot get it because of this traditional definition of marriage which keeps too many people (both men and women) in unhappy situations, which lead to cheating.

Eventually she will likely leave him (that’s my guess) when she is able to be economically independent.  Whether she would be better off doing now, I cannot say.  I’m leaning towards yes, but I don’t have to deal with all of the consequences of that decision.  But for now, she remains unhappy, unfulfilled, and there is a world out there full of people who would love her more and give her some of what she desires.

And I know there are many people like her out there.

Is cheating sometimes the only option?

So, what is she supposed to do? She has the option to cheat, if she wants it.  She has said that she has people who only need her “yes” to get at least some of her desires fulfilled.  She could do so in a way that would almost certainly not be found out.  She could do so with people she knows and trusts.  Does she have a better option?

Is it better to live with this lack of fulfillment while not breaking her marriage vows and possibly exposing her family to harm, or is it better to take the risk of having an affair and possibly having a secret boyfriend? In her place, I would be very tempted to take the risk and have some happiness, rather than live unhappily.  Of course I don’t have to make that choice, which is why polyamory is the shiznit.

I would not want to live a life of quiet desperation.  I would not want to hurt someone I loved, but in this situation that love seems to be mostly one way (I’m assuming she still loves him, and his actions clearly indicate he does not love her; at least not well).  I would want to broach the subject of polyamory with my partner, and if that didn’t work I would be very tempted to leave and/or cheat, if I were in a similar situation.

So, what would I suggest she do?

You are probably guessing that I would advise that she try to have a serious conversation with her husband about some sort of non-monogamous arrangement.  And ideally, I think she should do that.  But then I think that if she does that, he will suddenly look differently at her going out on a Saturday night to see friends.  He might, in fact, insist that she not do so.  That would make any cheating harder to pull off, even if she didn’t accept his (hypotheitical) insistence of not going out anymore, because he would be curious and prying if he suspected she wanted to do so.  So, given that, is it not only easier pragmatically, but in terms of her ability to find some happiness, just to cheat?

He seems to think that things are fine.  He’s happy getting his rocks off every several weeks, but she wants more and she could get away with doing so.  Probably.  So, in this situation, is it better to cheat?

In a world where polyamory is more mainstream, no it would not be better.  We, however, are not going to get to that world any time soon.  And yes, the idealist in me wants her to take a stand for her desires openly, and demand that he make a better effort to try and fulfill her needs (she has done this, somewhat, to no avail), and to demand that he either let her go find it willingly or share, and fly the polyamory flag.  Or, at least fly the find-a-partner-who-treats-me-well flag.  She has not said she wants to be polyamorous per se, but she has said that she wants sexual and emotional intimacy, and he will not give it any more than he already does.

So should she cheat?

Yes.  I think she should.  And when she can get away, she should.  Because in this case it is not the seeker of extra-marital sex who is untrustworthy or a bad person, it is the person she is stuck with who is.  And I am not convinced that such people deserve the respect of marriage vows.  I don’t think he’s given all he can give to their relationship, and she shouldn’t have to suffer because of that.

Polyamory is great, but it can’t solve this problem because polyamory requires the consent of her husband, and he almost certainly will not give it.  And if he should be hurt by any such cheating, he should take responsibility for being a terrible partner, both emotionally and sexually, and deal with it.  You can’t be an un-giving partner and also expect your partner to be happy just with you.

Just a Friday morning October 11, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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This morning was a little different than most.  But in another way, it was not all that strange, for this house.  Last night, Jess and I had a date which involved her coming over here after work and hanging out with me around the house for the evening.  Jess is the woman I started seeing recently, and despite the fact I’ve only known her for 4 weeks, things are going very well and I see signs of it continuing for some time.  In short, she’s amazing and I’m really glad I met her.

We stayed in, while many others went out for karaoke, and we watched Doctor Who (she’s new to it, and is hooked!).  So, most of the evening was spent in the living room, cuddled up on the couch, but eventually we got tired and we went to bed.  Since we don’t have an extra bedroom, I fixed up the futon in the library (which is really just a part of the living room), so really we went to futon.  When we all win the lottery and we have a huge mansion with a dozen extra bedrooms, that won’t be necessary.  But that hasn’t happened yet.  Also, none of us play the lottery.  I guess I’m just going to have to sell a million copies of my book.  But seriously you can get it for free (or whatever you want to pay).  But if you all acquire it for free, my ‘selling’ a million copies is not going to get us that mansion/castle/small island with its own airport and private beaches.  You will totally be invited to our 25-person hot tub.

*sigh*  I’m going to have to continue to work and earn money like everyone else, aren’t I? Oh well….

Most people in the house are early risers, having to get to work and such.  I am working today, but I don’t start until around 3:00 today, and then I will be working until midnight or so (Friday night, w00t!).  But this morning was a day when everyone besides me had work early, and so the morning was a house of bustling, ready-getting people buzzing around me as I watched them all do their morning things.  I’m a very light sleeper, so there was no way I was sleeping through any of this, but rather than go upstairs to our bedroom to go back to sleep for another hour or two, I just watched.  A house full of people, all getting ready for work in an environment that is not completely unlike any other family.  The difference between what I watched this morning and, say, a married couple with a few kids was not big.  Rides to work and train stations were worked out, people were doing coffee, perhaps some breakfast on the go, and I had the three women I am involved with all there, together, talking and saying good morning, kissing me good-bye as they left (they all ended up leaving at the same time), and it was actually quite hart-warming.

For anyone who thinks that polyamory is strange, that this thing we do here at the PolySkeptic compound are unbelievable or somehow wrong even, I dare you to see what I observed this morning.  I dare you to see this group of adults, and how we share space, time, etc and to continue to think of us as doing something weird.  We are doing what most people do.  we are trying to maintain the daily stresses and joys of life with jobs, bills, fun, and self-enrichment .  We are just doing it outside the mononormative narrative, which is very strange to some people.  Those people have strange ideas about the world, or something.

It’s a wonderful life, and I’m glad that I was fortunate enough to be here.  And when I get home late tonight, I may see a bunch of people in the hot tub or I may find that everyone is asleep.  Either way, I am working this weekend, I have beer maturing and fermenting in the kitchen, and I have life to look forward to.  Strange though it may seem to some, I know many readers here understand and I’m glad they are out there being weird too.

Take that, rainy day! You aren’t gettin’ me down.

Monogamy and meeting someone new September 19, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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2 comments

Way back in the 20th century I discovered polyamory while in college.

First, there was Erin.  We met early in our freshman year, had instant chemistry, but she had a boyfriend.  But our intense chemistry did not slow us down much, and eventually her and her boyfriend went their separate ways, and Erin and I dated through sophomore year.

When junior year came around I met another girl, Lauren while Erin and I were still going strong.  These two women complimented each other for me in many ways, and as I started to spend more and more time with Lauren, Erin started to worry.  Eventually I (stupidly) broke up with Erin and dated Lauren.

And then I started dating Erin again, this time while not breaking up with Lauren.  They both were friends, they knew that I was dating both of them, and they were comfortable enough such that the 3 of us spent a lot of time together.  Then I discovered the term ‘polyamory.’  To make a long story short, all that ended badly, due to being young, immature, and not having the experience that could have made it turn out better.

I bring this up today because it is a pattern that is familiar to many people, including monogamous people, and because there is a variation on this theme that comes up with polyamorous people a lot; meeting a polyamorous someone while monogamous.

Now, I have not had this happen to me in my own life, but it happens.  And, as a polyamorous person, I see the other side of this frequently.  Just recently, I’m seeing the other side of this in my own life.  Just recently, someone who has been monogamous with someone for a few years met me.

Over the weekend, at the PA State Atheist Conference, I met a lot of people.  I got a chance to hang out with some fellow atheist bloggers, old friends from the community I have not seen in a while, and made some new friends.  There were a number of intelligent and attractive women there, and because I like attractive and intelligent women I flirted with some of them (because yes, that is still allowed…) and got some flirting back.  In the end, I met someone fantastic.

So, as the conference was ending and people were leaving, I found myself sitting with a woman who I had noticed checking me out, and decided to just go for it.  I asked her out.  She smiled and said some words that told me that she was monogamous; “I have a boyfriend.”  Because, see, a polyamorous person saying this would not be a no to the date, it would just be information about them.  But the fact that this was the answer to being asked out, I figured that this was the end of that line of conversation.

As we kept talking (because a no to a dating proposition is not necessarily the end to a conversation, especially since I tend to ask people out I like and I am able to have attractive female friends), the sense of flirtation never quite left but I figured this was an example of how monogamous people are still attracted to other people, even if they may not do anything about it.  Then I mentioned my girlfriend, and she gave me a confused look.

Oh, I never told her I am polyamorous, I thought.  We had talked some, but it hadn’t come up because we were at an atheist conference and other things were going on.

And then the conversation changed a little. I explained polyamory (she already new what it was), and she expressed some interest in attending the Doctor Who burlesque that most of us here at polyskeptic were putting on that night.  It turned out there was one extra ticket, and she showed up!

And then the real flirting started, after the show that night.  There was real sexual and personality chemistry between us, but she still had a boyfriend.   I knew that at some critical stage that attraction would become too difficult to manage, so rather than suppress it I made sure she knew exactly how I was feeling, what I wanted, etc.  She knew I was into her, she told me she was into me, and I knew where it was going if we didn’t get off that train.  She showed up, again, after the third show two nights later, and we talked more.  I knew we were in trouble, and it was crystal clear when we kissed.

All this time, she had been in open communication with her boyfriend, who is out of town with family business.  None of this was completely surreptitious.  Had she been hiding her flirtation and interest in me from him, I would have not continued (despite my attraction) because that is a terrible way to start a relationship.  I could not trust a person who was lying about me to their partner(s).

Being caught up in all of this whirlwind of the genesis of a potential new relationship, having new feelings for someone I just met, has taken me back to those early college days when I was first falling in love with Erin while having to navigate the right things to do, what to say, etc to try and respect an existing relationship while not pretending that I’m not burning up inside with desire.  The difference here as compared to then is that then I saw no alternative to replacing the boyfriend, and this time I find myself wanting to make sure that the boyfriend does not see me as a threat.  I don’t want to replace anyone.  I just want to love who I love, how I love them, and understand that they want to do the same.

I want to add to, not subtract from, the life of this woman with whom I’m sharing this whirlwind.  I don’t want to have her boyfriend see this as a threat, I want him to see that polyamory has the potential to have our horizons broadened, our ability to love enhanced and strengthened, and to break down the walls of social expectations around love, ownership, and exclusivity.  A Brave New World indeed!

But from his point of view this is all scary, sudden, and confusing. I have not talked to him so far, but I know this is causing stress to both of them, and all I want to do is make it better.  There is not much I can do, however, and so I find myself struggling with wanting to see her again (and again) but knowing that the more time we spend together, the harder it will be to not look threatening to him.  Also, the more time I spend with her, the harder the potential end to this ride will be.  I would be hurt if it had to end as things are, and so I find myself trying my patience in order to make sure it doesn’t have to.  But it’s difficult.

I have to balance the desires that the two of us have with the struggle that her boyfriend is going through, and it is not an ideal situation for any of us.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I know that this woman (who I will not name because I have not asked her if she would mind my doing so) is the kind of person I could stay with long term, potentially.  I know she loves her boyfriend and does not want to hurt him (neither do I).  I know I want her in my life, and that includes all of the sexy feelings we have for each other.  Being just friends would be painful, inauthentic, and would ultimately fail in the long run. (I’ve been through a similar situation in the past, and that did not end well.  I want this situation to end well).

I know I’m nervous and anxious about this.  I know that he must be terrified.  But I want him, and any other person in this type of situation, to know that I am not here to hurt anyone or break up any relationships.  Poly people (ideally) do not end other people’s relationships; they add to them.

I just want to love who I love, as I love them, and understand that they will want to do the same.  I am not a threat, even if the situation seems threatening.  That is so hard to understand from a monogamous point of view, and it is a reality that much of our culture still has to learn.

So, here’s to monogamous culture adjusting to a growing polyamorous world.  And to all of us loving who we love, how we want to love them, and understanding that they will all do the same.

Sin responsibly August 17, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory, Religion.
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You know how people, after reaching a rock bottom point in their lives, often find religion? You know, the old redemption and salvation story.  They have had evil done to them, did evil themselves, but now they walk the righteous path!  It’s a powerful narrative, and the times it has been utilized in story-telling (both in text and in personal behavior) are countless. It’s a ubiquitous narrative structure of religion, literature, and personal psychology.

In sort, it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of being human.

Now, I could go on about how this narrative is flawed, especially in how it is utilized by religion as a vehicle for more than mere narrative, but of actual truth, but that’s obvious and banal.  Besides, many atheist commentators have made that point numerous times, and blogs which keep pestering the same points get stale after a while.

So, how about this; Let’s try and take that narrative and fit it onto a different vehicle.  Let’s see how, perhaps, this narrative relates to how we create a false dichotomy in terms of relationships, specifically when it comes to cheating and exclusive commitments.

Similar to the penitent sinner, there is the repentant adulterer.  Yes, there are the people who have cheated and who try and commit themselves to being successfully monogamous, but I’m interested in the less obvious versions of this story.  I’m interested in a story of the person who struggles with the desire to cheat, and who fights of this desire with an ideal of monogamy and exclusivity.  I imagine that this struggle has many facets that we would recognize in man other tropes, including many “romantic” ideals which include concepts such as “one true love,” “soul mate,” and “belonging” to someone.

Somehow, the natural, and undoubtedly widespread, inclination to be attracted to many types of people is shrugged off by rationalizing some special exceptionalism or superficial romantic notion of exclusivity by people who are struggling to fit into respectable expectations.  To fit in.  They see their desire as a roadblock, rather than as an alternate route.  They probably don’t even see the path less traveled.  They see the road, the obstacle, but not the other lanes of traffic.

Why is this narrative so clean and obvious in our culture? Is it as simple as the fact that many cultural forces, including the conservative influence of religion, have tried to battle our animal nature, trying to beat the swords of our lust into ploughshares of civil monogamy?  Is it as simple as groupthink and herd behavior?

In today’s cultural and political climate, “family” (usually meaning a man and a woman who have children) is often held up to be the foundation of our society and culture.  This structure, solidified in monogamy, sexual exclusivity and (ultimately) ownership, is thought to be what holds all of this together.  If it disappeared, it would lead to anarchy (“yay” the anarchists may say).

So to not struggle against our instincts is to invite destruction.  Not merely of our relationships and our personal salvation and redemption story, but to that of our entire society.  This is why I think that the insights of both atheism and polyamory, founded by skepticism (the method, not the community), are so radical.  They question the very dichotomy of not only our instincts with many assumed ideals, but they present an alternative perspective through which to view these instincts.  They seek to deconstruct the problem, very much in the tradition of the best of postmodern criticism (yes, there are good aspects to postmodernism, believe it or not!) so that we can see the problem from a different perspective.

At bottom, the answer is not to repress, struggle against, or transcend our instincts, but rather to find a way to make our instincts the fuel for creating a responsible, mature, and enjoyable life.  The answer to desire is not always denial; sometimes it’s merely to re-think the nature of that desire in terms of what is possible, even if not popular or easy.  Our instincts are not good nor are they bad, but they are real and they will continue to pester us, so we might as well get comfortable with that.  And since we are getting comfortable with them, we will have to live with giving them some limitations, boundaries, and maybe even rules.

Monogamy is not the answer to variety of sexual and romantic desire.  Monogamy is the answer to a genuinely limited set of such desires.  Monogamy is what happens when happiness involves one person.  Religion is not the answer to our metaphysical needs (cf Nietzsche).  Religion is only such an answer when it happens to be true (and unlike monogamy, religion may never fit this bill.  That is, monogamy may be rational, but religion may never be so).

We have the capability to re-define things such as “family,” “commitment,” and “love” to be broader than the exclusive and restrictive definitions which are common today.  We, if we are to care about progress over the conservative impulses of some of our culture (conserving a system that simply does not work), must continue to demonstrate that progress is not only inevitable, but that it is morally superior.

We should be struggling along with our instincts and desires, rather than against them.  It’s not only a pragmatic strategy, but an authentic (and thus moral) one.

In short, keep sinning because it’s not actually a sin.  But do it responsibly.

Writers Block June 3, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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9 comments

So, in an attempt to not have PolySkeptic disappear into complete (rather than relative) obscurity, I’m deciding to write about the fact that I have been unsure what to write recently.

I feel like I should be writing more often.  But here’s the thing; I feel like I’ve said most of the things that I think should be said about atheism, polyamory, etc already.  Yes, when issues arise I find ways to comment on them using those same themes, but I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who just writes the same posts over and over, in different ways, just to keep content flowing.  When I write something, I want it to be at least a little fresh, even if never completely original.

I’ve considered writing about every day life, living as an actively polyamorous person, but that seems sort of uninteresting.  As I thought that, I thought about how that idea itself is sort of interesting.  I mean, I live with my wife, my girlfriend, her husband, and his girlfriend (they are actually getting married, non-legally, next year).  That is abnormal from the point of view of our culture, even for those who are familiar with polyamory.

But the fact is (and I believe I’ve said this before) that it does not feel abnormal.  I mean, there are house chores, shopping, budgets, and all the other things that families do here at the PolySkeptic compound.  We all have our schedules, routines, times when we do things socially (my birthday just passed, and we all went to have some delicious Moroccan food, for example).  It’s just life, settled into a polynormal framework.

We are not throwing orgies every weekend (or ever, really), we are not always parading around naked (except in the hot tub, from time to time), and we are not knocking on doors together to sell polyamory (although that idea seems sort of hilarious to me).  No, we are just doing normal stuff in a non-normal relationship structure.

So, as I navigate this life of mine, I occasionally think that I should blog about stuff that happened to me today, just in case what seems normal to me would seem interesting, bizarre, or just identifiable to other people.   I mean, I come home from work at night and I say hello to those sitting in the living room (often Gina, Wes, and Jessie) walk over to give Gina a kiss, then usually walk over to the office area (where PolyBar Galactica is) and then kiss Ginny hello.  Is that weird to some people? Does that just seem fitting? I cannot tell how interesting, boring, or whatever that is to other people.  It seems normal to me, but then again so does atheism, feminist criticism of our culture, and having a wife and a long-term girlfriend whom I live with. I don’t know what other people think of as normal.

What I do know is that making a commitment to be with just one person, sexually and romantically, seems utterly silly and bizarre to me, knowing that it seems normal to many other people.  I know that believing in a god seems very strange and irrational to me, but it feels normal to other people.  I know that applying skepticism to as many aspects of my life is natural (now) and feels right to me, but most people do not do that nor would they want to.

So, my perspective on what is worth talking about here is skewed, and so most of the time when I have the thought, ‘I should blog this,‘ I don’t because of this uncertainty.  Perhaps I should just blog right through this uncertainty.

Thoughts?

Queer Youth Radio on Polyamory May 9, 2013

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

I ran into this today:

I saw it on a blog called Youth Media for Building Healthy Commnities, which I just discovered today.

It’s a fairly good, and short introduction to polyamory intended for young people, specifically in the Long Beach, CA area.  I’m glad to see that resources for young people are inclusive enough, and aware enough, to include polyamory into it’s programming.  The video is pretty low tech, and I don’t know what kind of reach it has, but seeing it’s existence is at least encouraging to me.

I noticed that the video made the claim that polyamory fits under the umbrella of “Queer,” and thus LGBTQ generally, which is an idea which is not universally accepted by all poly people or by all LGBTQ members and allies.  That the struggles which poly people  endure are comparable to those of the traditional LGBTQ community is a tough sale, even if in some philosophical sense there is an affinity between the two groups.  There is a sense that poly people are queer, and perhaps the relationship is more obvious to younger people than it is to me.  I’d be interested to hear from younger people about how they think about that relationship.

I believe that the LGBTQ community should be generally informed about polyamory, especially because there is a natural affinity between minority groups who are struggling for understanding, rights, and community.  We have things to teach one-another, and projects like this video, and the blog with which it is associated, are good positive steps in the right direction.  Also, I would very much like to see a future when comprehensive sex education includes the basic concepts of polyamory as a possibility for people to explore, especially since it will be preferable and more healthy for many people (at least).  We need young people, for the sake of our future world to be a more sex-positive place, to have understanding about their sexuality, possibilities for relationships, and all things related to those two.

I also noticed that they said, near the end, that “monogamy is  an equally valid lifestyle choice, just as polyamory is a great fit for others.”  Putting polyamory on equal footing with monogamy is an improvement over the usual view that polyamory might merely be right for some people, which seems to imply it’s a weird thing that weird people do (well, it is that often too).  I might be willing to go further, and say that polyamory is superior (with the appropriate caveats, of course), but i appreciate the equal footing here.

More of this, please!