Saturday, May 08, 2010

E Pluribus Amor

So convinced is Erich of the virtues of polyamory that he feels it will, one day, become the norm. "Fifty years ago pre-marital chastity was unquestioned," he says. "Now it seems little more than a peculiarity. One day monogamous relationships may be seen in a similar light."

Yeah, um, I think we can file this away next to hippie communes as something that will only ever appeal to a select group. Personally, I don't know why anyone familiar with the nuances and intricacies of an intimate relationship, and all that goes into making it work, would want to double or triple the drama, and all at the same time, no less! You crazy kids...

Of course, I don't doubt there are people who could make it work. I also don't doubt that most people will never be able to set aside feelings of possessiveness and jealousy over their romantic partners, nor will they be eager to give up the pleasure of controlling someone else's sex life (even if no one wants to admit we enjoy doing that). As the persistence in the belief in a personal, loving god makes clear, and against all evidence, people want to feel special. Everyone wants to be a unique snowflake. Exclusive relationships may not be able to last for a lifetime, but at least for a while, they can make someone feel like they, and only they, are the most important person in the world for someone else, capable of providing something that no one else can. That's no less of an addicting thrill than the urge to have sex with multiple partners. Speaking of which...

“Orgies do happen," he admits. "But they really are not the point of what we do. The point of polyamory is to enable people to have loving relationships with more than one person."

But why, I ask, for a final time, must a loving relationship include sex?

Erich looks at me. "But why," he rejoins "Must it not?"

Look. Do it, or don't do it. There is no "must". But I think what she's really asking you, dude, is: is this really about love, or is it just a rationalization for being unfaithful? I mean, let me reiterate, I'm all for whatever consenting adults want to do. But I have close female friends who are smart, attractive, funny, all that good stuff, and I don't feel the relationships aren't "loving" just because we aren't sleeping together. On the contrary, I'm more than happy to enjoy those aspects while avoiding all the drama that comes along with a sexual relationship. The intellectual and/or emotional intimacy is fulfilling enough for me without adding physical intimacy to the equation. Granted, I'm strange like that, and I have a need for a lot more personal time and space than most, so that kind of distance works for me. But still, I think the problem with monogamy isn't that it's harsh to expect a person to remain sexually exclusive for the duration of a relationship, it's that no one seems to want to acknowledge that, even if it turns into marriage, it's not likely to last much more than a decade, let alone a lifetime. Keeping that perspective in mind from the start would seem to me to make for a happier time together and a less traumatic end.