When most people think of polyamory, they think of cult-like homes and sister-wives. Despite it having a large community in florida, polyamory still has a pretty heavy stigma attached to it.
Polyamory is defined as “the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners”. To wit, a polyamorous relationship, is more or less a relationship -of any kind- between multiple partners.
The stigma against polyamory comes from people who claim it to be nothing more than a cop-out, a way for partners to ‘cheat’ or see other people without having to worry about committing. Others still consider it immoral and picture everything from swinging to an eight-person orgy whenever the concept comes to mind. When it comes to raising children in such a household there’s no holding back the criticism. This can lead to people who identify as polyamorous to hide it from others, unable to really be themselves and talk freely about their lifestyles.
This is a stigma that really needs to disappear since as stigma tends to do, it’s hurting a community of people and giving them a bad connotation with harmful stereotypes.
Like many stereotypes, these ideas of what polyamory is are pretty removed from the truth. An a closer look at polyamory will reveal just that.
First of all polyamory isn’t cheating, or a cop out to do so. Polyamorous relationships can be just a committed as mono amorous ones ( that is to say, those with only one partner). The commitment is simply shared between more people. To say that commitment to one partner invalidates the other is tantamount to saying that if you have more than one kid, or more than one friend, you absolutely have to love one over the other.
It’s kind of a horrible thought, and one that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even in monogamy, it is impossible to experience everything with just one person. Your dynamic with your partner will vary from your dynamic with your friends and family; and -hopefully- you’ll be able to love all the people in your life without having to put anyone above the other.
So it is with polyamorous people, the level of commitment stays the same, it’s simply to two people, the same way if you have two siblings, you will -hopefully- be as loyal and loving to one as you are to the other. They’re both your siblings, and having more than one doesn’t hinder your love for the other.
They’re both your partners, and having more than one, doesn’t hinder or invalidate your love for the other.
It should also be noted that polyamorous relationships are consensual which completely invalidates the cheating argument. To wit, the fact that both partners are aware and okay with the situation pretty much takes cheating ( which is defined as “acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage” ) pretty much off the table. While a lot of people would also find it amoral, these same people would probably find any kind of sex ( even monogamous) as such. Whether it’s cohabitation, or an open relationship, what people do with their bodies is really not for us to judge as long as they’re consenting adults.
What’s more, polyamory may not even be that strange. According to an article in scientific America “University of Michigan psychologist Terri Conley has estimated that about 5 percent of Americans are in one of these types of relationships at any given time.” more and more people are trying them out and what they’ve found is that they’re a lot more healthy than monogamous relationships. Open relationships for the most part are…well, open. They need more communication than monogamous relationships due to having more people. Because the people in these relationships know going in how much they need to communicate, jealousy also tends to diminish in relationships like that.
Hopefully with articles such as these and efforts from the polyamory society ( which holds events for polyamorous people and their families in a safe environment.) more people can realise that different relationships don’t necessarily equal less.