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Where polyamory is needed; relationship advice blogs. September 11, 2012

Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
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Occasionally I check out the blogs at wordpress (which is the software this site is run on) for tags like “religion” or, in today’s case, “relationships,” to see what people are writing about.  And most of the time I find a bunch of crap, but occasionally I find something interesting.  Today, I found a couple of posts that touched on polyamory.

Over at Emilystarz, we have a post simply called “My Life” which is about a fairly common situation of a woman who has a man in her life who has been, and wants to be, sexual with other people.  The added complication of a baby between them makes the situation more frustrating to see, and it is obvious to me that this is just one more situation where monogamy is not working for at least one person in the relationship.

Now, all I know from the post there is what is written, so any advice I have is most-likely crap.  But I think people in such situations should be aware of polyamory, even if they ultimately decide against it, part ways, or whatever.  I think that this issue of responsible non-monogamy needs to be part of the conversation, not only in specific cases such as this, but in all similar cases with relationships.

I think it needs to be part of our cultural conversation about relationships.  With that in mind, let’s move onto the next post I found.  In this case we have a writer asking for advice, and getting an awful response.  It’s over at lovejays.com, and it is entitled “Playing the Field.”  here’s the gist:

Q: Dear Love Jays,

Is it okay I’m dating one guy (we aren’t exclusive) and sleeping with another?

A: Dear Double Dippin’,

Non-exclusive dating gives you the freedom to date, sleep, or hang out with anyone your little heart desires. Dating is a time when you get to explore several options and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious.

So, is it okay that you’re dating one and sleeping with another? Technically, yes. Would I recommend continuing this behavior? No. Sex embodies much more emotions than just the physical exchanges of pleasure between our “money spots”. Sex was designed to be shared between two people who are committed to each other and share something special. Casually having sex with people will eventually take its toll on the mental psyche of woman or man. I’m sure there are several of you who want to rebuttal my last statement, but rest assured – you will have your “aha” moment one day. Long story short, sex simply makes things complicated – physically and emotionally.

Easy advice – pick one and stick to ‘em! It’s much much easier to focus your attention on one person and will save you from emotionally damage, even if you are unaware of it at this moment.. If you get bored of him, on to the next one. That’s the beauty of dating!

Sincerely,

Mr. J

This, quite frankly, is the poly equivalent to reading a creationist argument for an atheist.  Reading this is like looking at a train wreck of relationship advice.

To deconstruct what is wrong with this advice, I would have to start from page one of polyamory.  I’d have to link so many posts from this blog in the past…I just don’t have the energy to do it.

Oh fine…here a couple of examples:

  1. The Bachelorette and Polyamory
  2. Poly lessons I learned from cheating while monogamous

But, onto the post.  Let’s do it a piece at a time:

Non-exclusive dating gives you the freedom to date, sleep, or hang out with anyone your little heart desires. Dating is a time when you get to explore several options and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious.

This is not awful.  If I were to try and be fair to this, I could even partially agree with this.  The first sentence, in fact, is spot on.  It’s a statement of fact, but then with the following sentence it takes a turn for the worse.

Where it says “…and decide which person (if any) has the potential of becoming more serious,” it could be read to mean that we use this time to decide which people are worth keeping around, which is true for polyamory as well.  But the “more serious,” as we shall see, implies exclusivity.  Exclusive does not mean more serious, nor vice-versa.

“Mr. J” continues:

So, is it okay that you’re dating one and sleeping with another? Technically, yes. Would I recommend continuing this behavior? No. Sex embodies much more emotions than just the physical exchanges of pleasure between our “money spots”. Sex was designed to be shared between two people who are committed to each other and share something special.

Sex does often involve many emotions, and should be dealt with responsibly, both in terms of physical safety and emotional maturity.  My experience with sex with many people over the years in serially monogamous, polyamorous, and group sex environments has shown me that we are capable of sex in more ways than most people have imagined.

Sex is great between two people.  It has the capability to draw them emotionally close, bring great pleasure, and is even good exercise.  But there is no necessary damage to that relationship just because you have it with other people.  The only way this is possible is by not being safe (and thus subjecting yourself to potential infections) or to not developing your emotional self such that you deal with emotional issues such as jealousy.

Things like jealousy are real issues that need to be dealt with, and it is fortunate that they can be dealt with.  And let’s not forget that some people are simply not prone to it in the same way.  But jealousy is not, in itself, an excuse not to pursue our desires.  Rather, it is a challenge to work on.  Like fear, it stands against us and makes us dip into the well of our baser instincts.  It makes us act irrational, possessive, and petty rather than mature and rational.  Jealousy is not something to be proud of; it is something to try and heal if we can.

Sex can be shared between two people who share something special, sure.  It’s great when that happens.  But it does not imply that at some other time those same two people might also have some special sexy time with some other people with whom they share a close and special relationship.  Further, sex can also can be shared between three or four people who share something special, or even between some people who just sort of like each other a bit and like each others’ bodies.  This conservative view of sex espoused by “Mr. J” is simply not true in general, and so it should not be espoused as general advice.

It may be true for Mr. (and/or Miss.) J, but if it isn’t true for many people, then it’s only true by accident and not by necessity or generally.  Nonetheless, he continues:

Casually having sex with people will eventually take its toll on the mental psyche of woman or man. I’m sure there are several of you who want to rebuttal my last statement, but rest assured – you will have your “aha” moment one day.

I, and many other committed polyamorous (and swinging) people out here in the world have a different experience.  My “aha” moment was realizing that the mythology of the ideal “one” that exists for each of us was the problem.  Mr. J needs to check his assumptions about the very nature of relationships before proclaiming general truths about love and sex, because there are many of us who find his view, well, parochial.

Still, he persists:

Long story short, sex simply makes things complicated – physically and emotionally.

It sure does.  How does this imply that we should have to limit ourselves to one person, ultimately? Because it’s easier? It might be easier, except when you are in love with two people, when you have to repress your natural sexuality in favor of a cultural construct which asks us to repress much of that sexuality, etc for the sake of an ideal.  There is a real existential agony that can exist in moments when we yearn for two loves, and feel like we have to choose.  How awful to be told that you, in fact, should choose rather than consider other options, such as polyamory, swinging, etc.  How trite.  How small-minded. How limited—and limiting!

Why, for the sake of all that is not holy, would anyone have to choose simply because it is superficially “easier”? It’s only easier because it conforms to the narrative you, Mr. J, are drowning in.  Swim to the surface, Mr. J, and breathe pure air.

So, my advice to Double Dippin’; Love who you love, how you love them (even if it’s just dirty, fun, sex) openly, honestly, and with consideration and respect.  Don’t let Mr. J’s conservative views on sexuality ruin your ride in life or force you to choose when you may not have to.

That’s all I can stomach, today.

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