Before we dive into this topic, you should know that anything I present in this video is just the most miniscule tip of the iceberg. I am presenting the itty-bitty tip of what could be books upon libraries worth of information. Much of which would cause you to question everything that you have been indoctrinated to believe.
So, let’s start with this curveball: Human beings are not a naturally monogamous species. And you must be very, very careful to triple check and question the information presented by experts that say otherwise. Because what you will find as a general trend is that those studying human nature, including scientists, tend to project their own beliefs, practices and preferences onto what they are observing. And even more so, they tend to validate the beliefs, practices and preferences of whatever regime just so happens to be sponsoring them.
Cultural changes that occurred thousands of years ago, made the true story of human sexuality so threatening that for centuries, it has been turned against by government authorities, warred against by moralizing religions, covered over by scientists and anthropologists, pathologized by doctors and psychologists and denied by everyone. Except, none of it has worked. Despite the thousands of years of war waged against human biology, specifically in order to make them behave in a monogamous way, what we find is not that people have become monogamous. Instead, they practice serial pair bonding. They struggle endlessly with fidelity. And they are endlessly hypocritical with regards to what they profess vs. how they actually behave. Just think of the conservative politician who preaches monogamous morals, and who risks his entire reputation, family and career by hiring a hooker. Or a culture that professes that sex is a pure act that should only take place within marriage and only for the purpose of procreation, that at the same time boasts the highest rate of porn subscription in a nation.
Rather than take you down this rabbit hole today, think about this: If monogamy were in fact a natural characteristic of the human species, the intense enforcement of it would not be necessary. No being needs to be threatened by law, religions, cultural taboo, media or experts across various fields with public shaming, ostracization, loss, punishment or death to act in accordance with its own innate nature.
The discussion around innate human nature set aside, we should instead explore the idea of polyamory from the understanding that polyamory is not just a lifestyle choice that people make. Polyamory can be either a lifestyle choice or an orientation. It can also be both. People don’t think about polyamory as a potential orientation. When it very much is. And just like it was for homosexuals throughout history, polyamorous individuals find themselves in a massive conundrum in today’s world.
Polyamory means “Many Love”. Most of the time, this implies having intentional, intimate emotional and/or romantic and/or sexual relationships with more than one partner at the same time. This being the case, all relationships in the individuals’ life are technically “open”.
Most people who are polyamorous want the term polyamory to represent consensual nonmonogamy. For the sake of this conversation however, let’s say that it is possible to be polyamorous in a fully conscious way that does not harm others and that is done with the full consent of all involved. It is also possible to practice it in an unconscious way that hurts others and is not done with the full consent of all involved.
The pain that polyamorous individuals or those who are practicing any of the forms of polyamory as a lifestyle choice are facing, is deep and multifold. Polyamory is a term that most people have a negative association with. The world has become monogamy normative. Despite the extreme discrepancy between people professing monogamy and actually practicing it, in today’s world, monogamy is assumed. The same way that heterosexuality was assumed in decades past. Monogamy is assumed to be what is natural, what is healthy, what is moral, what is ethical, what is right and therefore, the only way to have a relationship that is secure, ethical and successful.
Monogamy is definitely seen as the superior way to practice partnership. Polyamory is demoralized, discriminated against, stigmatized and pathologized. And in today’s world, polyamorous individuals face things such as the loss of their jobs, ostracization and discrimination by society, culture and family. Losing children by courts using it against them in custody proceedings, false accusations and even losing their lives in some places. Polyamory is not a legally recognized or protected status. If a person has multiple partners, they cannot legally marry them and in today’s world, that comes with many negative consequences. We can only hope that the youth of today usher in a complete shift to the standard model of relationships that changes this for polyamorous individuals.
Polyamorous communities have a whole set of terminology unique to them. And there is tons of disagreement in polyamorous groups regarding this terminology. In this same vein, something that many people don’t know is that there are many forms of polyamory. I can’t introduce you to all of them in such a small amount of time, but let’s look at some of the most common forms of consensual polyamory that a person might choose to practice.
- A vee. This is a relationship where one person is in a relationship with two people, who are not sexually or romantically involved with each other.
- Kitchen Table Polyamory. This is a network style interrelationship where there is an integration of multiple people into one life-group. It is communal. In kitchen table polyamory, there are close relationships between all members of the group. These relationships between everyone may or may not also involve romance or sex. There is a strong emphasis on open communication and friendship (or more) between all partners involved.
- Parallel Polyamory. This is a form of polyamory where relationships run parallel, but don’t usually interact. In this arrangement, a person has multiple romantic or sexual partners, but those partners, though aware of each other, are not involved in each other’s lives.
- Non-Hierarchical Polyamory. This is where a person has more than one simultaneous relationship without hierarchy being imposed and without a ranking system in those relationships. In today’s world, most relationships come with a kind of hierarchy implied or imposed. For example, in most monogamous relationships, one’s romantic sexual partner enjoys more importance, status, prioritization, power and privilege than other people in that person’s life. In non-hierarchical polyamory, the mentality is one of: Everyone is loved and valued equally, everyone is important and has an equal say. But every relationship is unique, irreplicable and valuable in a different way.
- Hierarchical Polyamory. This is where there is a defined ranking system among romantic and sexual relationships. Some relationships are considered more important than others and thus, some people in the relationship experience more importance, status, prioritization, power and privilege than others. Many of these groups use the terms primary, secondary and third or tertiary etc. to describe these various levels of hierarchy within the group.
- A Mono-Poly Relationship. This is a relationship where one person in a partnership identifies as monogamous and the other identifies as polyamorous. The Polyamorous partner establishes emotional, romantic and/or sexual relationships in addition to their relationship with the monogamous person. But the monogamous person does not.
- A Poly - Intimate Relationship. This is a relationship where one or both people in a relationship are sexually exclusive with each other. However, they are emotionally polyamorous with other people in ways that a typical monogamous relationship would not tolerate and would most likely call emotional cheating.
- Swinging. This is a relationship where couples engage in sexual activity with other couples, individuals or groups.
- A Poly - Fidelitous Relationship. This is where three or more people are in a relationship. But their relationship is closed to any additional people.
- An Open Relationship. This is a relationship where one or both people in a relationship have sexual or romantic relationships outside of their primary partnership.
- Solo – Polyamory. This is where a person seeks to maintain a degree of agency that is not normally experienced in a “couple” or “group - life” lifestyle. They maintain a lifestyle that is more comparable to a “singles” lifestyle where they have the autonomy to choose to have romantic/sexual relationships with multiple people at the same time without seeking permission from others. They don’t have one or multiple primary partners, instead they tend to see themselves as their own primary partner.
- Relationship Anarchy – This is when a person does not reserve intimacy or romance for the people they have sex with. They don’t make a distinction between the importance or value of their sexual or romantic partners over the other people in their life, such as friends or colleagues. And they don’t believe sexual and romantic relationships should be prioritized over all other forms of love.
Polyamory tends to be much more flexible than the standard model of relationships. So, you could find almost any kind of multi-person arrangement in a polyamorous dynamic. Long story short, it’s complicated. This is why, when it comes to understanding polyamory, one of the most important terms to know is: Polycule: Where as most people tend to use the word “relationship” to imply a dyadic dynamic, polycule is the word used to describe a network of interconnected relationships between multiple people. The word polycule is used to refer to the whole network itself. This word is a portmanteau of “poly” and “molecule,” the reason being that all the possible relationship configurations tend to resemble charts of the chemical structures of molecules. You will find that groups and networks larger than four people often simply use the word “polycule” to describe their network, because the specifics of the unique and complex relationships between all people involved can get complicated. Alternatively, you may hear them being called “constellations” as well.
Polyamory is where the human species came from. And it is also where we are headed as a species in the future. But that does not mean that people are ready for polyamory. And it does not mean that polyamory will solve the avalanche of relationship problems we are having as a human race. You can be a relationship idiot and be monogamous. You can be a relationship idiot and be heterosexual. You can be a relationship idiot and be homosexual. You can be a relationship idiot and be bisexual. You can be a relationship idiot and be pansexual. You can be a relationship idiot and be asexual. And you can be a relationship idiot and be polyamorous. We must master relationships regardless of who we choose to have relationships with and in what configuration. And that is no small task.
Also, the fact that polyamory is where we came from and where we are going, does not mean that it is right for all people or that people should just start practicing polyamory. You cannot just discount the reality of the effect that thousands of year’s worth of belief in and enforcement of monogamy has had on people. You cannot deny the fact that this is a world that is organized by and around a monogamous mentality and that almost all people are still governed, even at a subconscious level, by that mentality, including you. You cannot undo that effect with the snap of your fingers. You cannot just erase the fact that you live in a world where monogamy is still the unchallenged social construct and where not conforming to that construct absolutely comes with negative consequences. You cannot deny that changing society so that it is no longer based on the structure of a monogamous relationship or a single-family household is a massive undertaking with many inherent challenges. And you cannot deny that both monogamy and polyamory come with their own unique set of benefits and their own unique set of challenges. People should choose what challenges are right for themselves to sign up for in exchange for what they are wanting.
Given that more and more people in the younger generations are choosing polyamorous lifestyles, I will be teaching more about it as time goes on.
But, no matter what you, yourself choose, at the very least, polyamory needs to be de-stigmatized. It needs to be recognized as an orientation, not just a life-style choice. And those who choose to practice it in a conscious, consensual way, deserve to be supported by the families, cultures and societies they live in.