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Polyamorous Marriage and the Oneler October 2, 2008

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Reviews.
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In response to our post about Michael Turner’s The Trouble With Normal, Anita mentioned polyamorous relationships. This got us thinking–as proponents of people’s right not to get married, we also support people’s rights to be in non-heteronormative relationships such as same-sex. Does this mean we are also obligated, in theory, to support polyamorous relationships?

Yikes! My first instinct: polyamorous relationships are just asking for trouble. I’m imagining TWO men leaving soggy dishrags crumpled in the sink! And twice the morning breath! GACK!

My second instinct: I remember seeing a documentary back in the day about three people (two men and a woman?) who maintained a long-term romantic relationship. They seemed happy.  Maybe it works for some people.

My third instinct: But where’s the line between accepting alternative non-heteronormative lifestyles (such as singlehood AND polyamory) and accepting those extremist pseudo-Mormons who marry multiple fifteen-year-old girls and rank their wives like poker hands? I don’t know. Maybe our Copious Readership does. 

–CC

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Comments»

1. tami - October 2, 2008

Where is the line? It can be found in the term “legal consenting adult”. Sheesh

signed, very happy in a poly triad relationship

2. onely - October 2, 2008

Hi Tami —

Excellent point, and it’s taken. So just as it’s probematic to equate, say, Catholic priests who abuse little boys with homosexuality, it’s also problematic to equate “extremist pseudo-Mormons” with true polyamority (is that a word?). We want to clarify that we weren’t trying to make that kind of an equation and are instead just exploring our automatic reactions to the issue, but we understand that we could be misunderstood.

Thanks for contributing your valuable perspective.

— L & C

3. Shannon - October 3, 2008

The problem with ‘legal consulting adult’ is coercion – what about those adults who are brainwashed by perverts into thinking they want to become wife number 52, when without the influence they wouldn’t??

4. onely - October 3, 2008

Shannon-You actually hit on a point that Lisa and I were discussing separately on email and thinking of posting about. . . the whole control thing. I was concerned about that as well. But then, the potential for brainwashing exists in coupled relationships as well, as the number of emotionally abusive relationships out there testifies. So polyamorous relationships don’t have a monopoly on that! (Plus they are probably undersurveyed to begin with–so we have no way of knowing if statistically, polyamor participants are more or less satisfied than “normals”.) So I guess we need to define “polyamorous” for ourselves as an informed, consensual relationship between multiple adults. Ideally all relationships should be informed and consensual. But why only give COUPLED relationships the chance to be informed and consensual? Maybe that’s what we, you, and Tami are trying to get at. . .
Thanks everyone for commenting!! –CC

5. Anita - October 6, 2008

Hmm, late to the topic (again – darn it).
Shannon, what kind of brainwashing are you imagining? Because most relationships happen because one partner convinces the other to enter the relationship. Sometimes it’s sparkly and spontaneous, eyes meeting across the room type romance, but most of the time, one person courts the other to some extent. With polyamory, it’s a bit more complicated, because usually everybody does some negotiation. So it’s perfectly possible to enter a relationship that you wouldn’t have chosen if someone asked you on the street, but choose actively when presented with the option.
Of course there’s coercive relationships, but then many straight monogamous relationships are coercive, too, and have (at least in most parts of the U.S.) the added benefit of society’s approval. You have to give support to those who need to get out of bad relationships, but at the same time, painting an entire group of people (the single, the divorced, the women, the gays, the lesbians, the childless) with one portrayal is prone to horrid inaccuracies.
(Disclaimer: I’m not poly, although if I had any desire to be in a relationship, I might try it.)


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