A key thing to understand about polyamory is that it is known and consented to by all parties involved. When someone is cheating on their partner, it is not polyamory because one party does not know or even if they know, most likely does not consent. Cheating is in fact ‘social monogamy’.
People have a common misconception about polyamory and that is that polyamory is all about sex. This is not the case. Polyamory is about intimacy. Sex may or may not be a part of intimacy, but it is definitely not intimacy in and of itself. Intimacy is closeness; I even go so far as to say that it is closeness to the degree that you penetrate someone’s internal world. You see into them, feel into them, listen into them, and move to understand them. And Vice versa. It is a deep act of sharing.
Because polyamory is really about intimacy, there are many different kinds of polyamory. For example, there is emotional polyamory where people are emotionally intimate with multiple partners but are romantically and sexually monogamous. Most spiritual people fall under this category and are therefore technically polyamorous. There is romantic polyamory where a person is emotionally and romantically polyamorous, but is sexually monogamous. There is sexual polyamory (often called swinging) where one is sexually polyamorous, and may or may not also be romantically and emotionally polyamorous. There is bigamy where one person is married to two or more spouses. There is cluster marriage where two or more married couples cohabitate and exchange partners. There is complex marriage where all male members of a group are marries to all female members of a group. There is intentional family where a group of multiple adults decide to consider each other a single family regardless of the fact that no marriage or blood relation unites them. There are just too many types of polyamorous arrangements to detail each one in this article. So what is important to know is that polyamory is intimate relationship with more than just one person when all parties involved are knowing and consenting of those relationships.
It is true that the human mind thrives on single pointed focus. This is why the fixation with one primary partner feels so sweet. But it is often short lived and monogamy is in fact more a byproduct of societal structure than it is a natural state for people. And the world today is proof of it. Faithfulness to one spouse and life long monogamy (though it is a societal expectation across most of the world today) is in fact very rare. Let us not forget that physical humans are mammals and only a very small number (less than 5 percent) of mammals form life long monogamous bonds. As a species, we have not socially expected life long monogamy from one another until land ownership came about and suddenly women and children became extensions of property. Before that, females were more monogamous than males as their fidelity guaranteed a provider for them and their children for at least as long as it took to raise a child to the point that they could fend for themselves. To some degree, both males and females began to pair bond for the sake of the offspring. But sorry to say, it was natural to our organism for a male human to mate with multiple females.
Essentially both males and females over the course of history played a cost versus benefit game when it came to fidelity. And usually, women had much more to lose. A genuinely monogamous species does not address fidelity through the lens of cost versus benefit. So essentially there was a point in history (as we were becoming more and more modern) that the social cost of infidelity became so high that life long monogamy became a societal expectation. And society was built upon that monogamous structure. We then adopted the belief that life long pair bonding (otherwise known as marriage) was the end all be all of your life. Before we dive into more conversation about the benefits of polyamory, it is critical to know that we can override our more natural urges. Humans can maintain fidelity with one person without becoming miserable as a result of resisting themselves. We are after all a species that is capable of being conscious. But fidelity is something that needs to be a conscious choice and a conscious discussion between partners. To understand more about this, watch my video on YouTube titled: Fidelity and Infidelity in Relationships.
What we may do well to consider is the possibility that in our day and age the cost versus benefit of polyamory within our current societal structure may still be too high to make it a good decision overall. We also must know that regardless of our more natural tendencies, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with marriage. Marriage can be an extremely beautiful thing and even a beneficial idea in today’s age. To understand more about this, watch my video on You Tube titled: Marriage.
Let’s address some of the costs of polyamory first…
1. To engage in a polyamorous lifestyle, you are currently working against society. This is not going to be easy. People are going to harshly judge you for it as a result of their own societal programming and there can be serious consequences on a temporal level such as losing custody of children for example that can occur as a result of those judgments. They will think you are doing something wrong and bad. You will most likely grapple with a heavy dose of shame. And today’s society is set up to legally recognize only one partner and only a nuclear family unit. Given all this, it is difficult for your polyamorous lifestyle to not turn into a method of rebellion instead of a genuinely in alignment choice.
2. You will be working against your deeply implanted societal programming. You are going to come up against all levels of insecurity relative to relationships within yourself. This is why jealousy is such an issue when it comes to polyamory. One example of the societal programming you will come up against within yourself is that you have been taught that love is a finite resource and so it needs to be exclusive instead of inclusive. When a person chooses to love you and only you, you are taught that this means you are good, worthy and lovable. Therefore, if your partner loves someone else too, it means there is something not good enough about you and so not only do you lose connection with them, you also lose face. I have gone so far in the past as to say that the human race will only be ready for conscious polyamory when we no longer have any of our sense of self worth wrapped up in relationships. In other words, we will be ready as a species when your partner loving someone else, does not have anything to do with you being good enough or lovable enough or desirable enough. And this evolutionary step has more to do with us altering our parenting methods with young children than it has to do with how we approach relationships as adults.
3. Polyamory is all too often the method people use to avoid intimacy and commitment. This is especially true for people in the new age community. Polyamory becomes a method of relationship anarchy. Relationship anarchy is a philosophy or practice in which people are free to engage in any relationships they choose. In this sense, personal freedom is all someone genuinely cares about. With relationship anarchy, a person believes that committed relationships restrict personal freedom and that no relationship should be entered into or restricted from a sense of duty or obligation which means that any relationship choice is (or should be) allowable, and so there is no clear distinction between “partner” and “non-partner.” If we are afraid of intimacy because we have experienced pain as a result of forming bonds with people in the past, polyamory enables us to never have to face that fear and never have to face the fear of committing ourself to anything. Instead, the minute the going gets tough, instead of facing our own shadows, we can immediately jump to a new partner. Most of the polyamorous relationships you see today are in fact not polyamorous relationships at all because they do not involve genuine intimacy. They are swinging relationships done specifically to avoid intimacy and commitment. Don’t confuse promiscuity with intimacy.
4. It is going to get complicated. There is nothing simple about relationships. It’s hard enough to have an intimate relationship with one person, much less several. If you want to avoid drama, polyamory in today’s day and age (with people where they are emotionally and mentally), polyamory is a bad idea. 5. Polyamory can be a way to try to incessantly fill the inner void. The same can be said for marriage. We believe a lover can fill the emptiness and loneliness we feel inside so instead of being present with and resolving that inner void, we continue to use people like an addiction to escape the way we feel. People and sex become a temporary fix. 6. Any downside you could imagine that could come along with sexual infidelity, or being emotionally or financially involved with multiple partners or cohabitating with people is possible with polyamory.
Now that some of the costs have been outlined, lets look at some of the benefits.
1. The idea that relational exclusivity or sexual exclusivity is always necessary for a deep, committed, long term relationship is inaccurate. Genuinely Polyamorous people experience deeper levels of intimacy with their fellow men. Human beings lived according to their less than monogamous impulses for thousands upon thousands of years. This was not something that was done consciously, it was done unconsciously. It was done from a limited perspective. Our own evolution caused us to gravitate away from unconscious polyamory to monogamy. This choice was made and passed on for both positive reasons and negative reasons.
Our own evolution will inevitably again take us back down the path of polyamory. Only this time, it will be conscious polyamory. Many people whose consciousness is awakening can already feel that this is the impending path of evolution for our species. We are meant to awaken to and practice inclusive instead of exclusive love. However, by becoming polyamorous because it is the inevitable path of evolution is to rush progression. It’s the same as trying to force a baby that is crawling to run before it is naturally ready instead of honoring that healthy monogamy may currently still be the path of highest progression for most people on earth at this time. It is not a shortcoming of consciousness to be monogamous any more than it is a shortcoming for an infant to crawl instead of run on two legs. Some of the most awakened people on this earth have chosen to be monogamous because it, and not polyamory is in alignment with their current highest good at this time. We are capable of having deep, long term, committed relationships with multiple people regardless of whether they are exclusive or not. Those of us who live in intentional communities can attest to that. 2. Consciously polyamorous people often experience much more support than those who are engaged in monogamous relationships or who have formed a nuclear family unit. Where there is more love to go around, there are more people there for you and greater support going into lifestyle and more financial contribution and more people available to support the children if there are any.
3. You get to experience much more of the gifts that come along with intimacy. You will feel much more connected to others and to the world and you will be closer to the living experience of oneness and inclusive love.
4. You will be forced to face all of your shadows involving relationships. This creates rapid expansion. You will have to separate your sense of self worth and self esteem from other people. You will also have to face all your shadows about control. The more people you bring into a relationship, the harder it is to control your external conditions. The ego has a difficult time thriving in an atmosphere of genuine polyamory the same way that the ego has a difficult time thriving in an atmosphere of healthy monogamy. 5. There are more people available to meet your various needs. Often in monogamous relationships, we end up emotionally starving because we try to get everything through one person who can’t give it all to us. We feel terrible and they feel terrible as a result.
6. You will become an expert at conflict resolution and you will be forced to see things from multiple different perspectives. You will have to create a meeting of minds between all those various perspectives. It is highly expansive. 7. It never gets dull. When life is full of drama and intrigue and you have multiple people available to you, you will never get bored emotionally, mentally, physically or sexually.
There is nothing inherently wrong with monogamy and there is nothing inherently wrong with polyamory. There is also nothing inherently right about either. We must guard against making things broadly right and wrong or good and bad when it comes to making conscious decisions. We must instead make decisions according to our own highest good at the time. We can be in a monogamous relationship to escape ourselves and we can be in a polyamorous relationship to escape ourselves. We can be in a monogamous relationship because it is in alignment with our highest good and we can be in a polyamorous relationship because it is in alignment with our highest good. What is most critical is that we objectively become aware of ourselves completely so that we are not allowing our own shadow to drive us into or out of relationships.
Do not use polyamory to avoid and bypass what is painful to face within you and do not use monogamy to avoid and bypass what is painful to face within you. And so, I urge you, instead to consciously consider the costs versus benefits of whatever style of relationship you are considering so that you can consciously decide in favor of whatever style is actually in alignment with your highest good. And allow that conscious decision to potentially change.
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