P is for Polyamoury

Posted on January 15, 2011 by

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[Guest Blog from Wanderings of a Lapsed Luddite by Debi Menescus.]

P is for Polyamoury. What does polyamoury mean anyway? We have Wikipedia’s succinct definition of “Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved” which I greatly appreciate. I’m also somewhat interested in etymology though so, once I get past the mixing of Greek and Latin (which I hadn’t even noticed until a certain friend pointed it out to me – thanks!) then I start thinking about the concept of poly as many and amor (amour) as love… many loves.

This leads me to wonder about our choices in how we define loves. When advocating for the legalization – or at least decriminalization – of polyamourous relationships, we are fighting for the right to have more than one romantic relationship at a time. It’s all very much about sex, and how many people it is okay to be sexually involved with during any particular moment in a person’s life. This to me is indicative of our obsession with sex and our perception of sexual intimacy as being the ultimate form of intimacy, so much so that there is a balking at the thought of someone sharing that type of intimacy with more than one person. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the idea that one cannot truly love another if they can make love with a third. But why? We don’t say that a parent must not love their child if they have another one, or that a person must not truly love their friend if they are close with others. So why do we do this with sex? And on the flip side, why do we give so much more value to sexual relationships?

One very blatant example of this that comes to mind is a dynamic that seems to occur frequently in polyamourous families. There will be three people involved, all of whom have close emotional ties with one another, but not everyone is having sex with each other, ie. person Q is sexually connected to both persons M and G while persons M and G are not sexually connected to each other yet care very much for one another. I have heard this situation described as both a triad because there are bonds of affection between the three, and I’ve heard it described as a “V” based on the lines of sexual connection. Personally I think of it as a triad due to the bonds of affection but more strongly believe it is up to the people involved to be able to choose their own identity and definition, and now I’m wandering off topic.

When I hear of a situation like that described as a “V” I feel as though the non-sexual relationship is being invalidated and devalued. Do we really need to fuck for it to mean something? Don’t get me wrong, I love sex, but some of my strongest and deepest bonds are with people I have never had sex with, and doubt I ever will have sex with. Does that make them any less relevant to my life, the relationships any less real? I don’t think so. Is a person who is only sexual with one person yet sharing deep loves with others polyamourous? I think it is possible. My personal tendency seems to be towards serial monogamy, yet I share deep loves with others with whom I am not sexually connected…  to the degree that there have been jealousy issues in a number of my sexual relationships… so now I am toying with different ways of looking at relationships…  if I am sexually connected to only one person yet have a friend with whom I am deeply emotionally attached and make time to spend together one-on-one, is that or is that not polyamoury? If each person has a special, huge place in my heart, and that heart would break at the thought of losing either of them from my life, is that or is that not polyamoury? Do we really need to be fucking someone for the relationship to be acknowledged and valued for the great love that it is? If so, how sad. If not, then maybe we really are learning more ways of loving.

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Posted in: QTC