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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Polyamory

Polyamory.

I've never heard of it until today.

But I've discovered something that amazes me.

Yesterday I was discussing with Penny my involvement with Wakana. I was talking about how Wakana joked a number of times that if I ever wanted to see another woman, I should. As long as I maintained a relationship with her, she was happy for me to be with other women. At the time I didn't understand it. I thought she was joking with me, testing my commitment to her. I told her I'd never be with another woman while I was with her.

When I was recently investigating Japanese customs, I learned something that shocked me. In Japan it is common for men to sleep with other women. It's part of their culture that they understand and accept that one person cannot fulfill all the needs that a person might have. While women commit to their men, they accept that the men go off and sleep with other women.

This shocked me, because it showed me that Wakana was serious when she was suggesting it to me. The concept in Japan is something that causes their relationships to last a long time, if not until they die together. When the women allow their men to go off and sleep with other women, for them it continues the security of the relationship, according to what I read. There's no need for the man (husband, father, whatever) to leave her under those circumstances.

So I was discussing this with Penny yesterday. I was saying that if I had known this was something that was part of Wakana's culture and she was absolutely serious about her suggestions, I could have potentially explored a relationship with Nicola, while maintaining one with Wakana. It seemed an attractive concept yesterday, in hindsight.

But we discussed how that fits in with Western culture, and how I would feel about maintaining two relationships. It would just feel wrong. But still, the concept was attractive. I admired the Japanese for having that security within themselves to let their partners go elsewhere, knowing that they'll come back home.

Today, the universe shocked me even more. I discovered something that amazed me. The universe certainly works in mysterious ways.

I went to pay for continued membership on a dating site this morning, and found my credit card was declined (although I've got plenty of available funds in it). This had happened a week ago at the same website, and I rang up and asked them why it was declined. They told me they were having problems with transactions with my bank, so they gave me a free week's access while they sorted it out. However, the problem continued today. They gave me another free week while they investigated.

In my curiosity about my credit card account, I decided to go to amazon.com and buy a book online, to see if the card would work elsewhere. I logged in, browsed the books, saw a Relationships category and went into there. I saw a book about polyamory. 'What the hell is polyamory?' I thought. So I checked out the reviews to the book and discovered it was about having multiple relationships at the same time with different people, and getting your needs met via different people without threatening any of the relationships you have with those people.

I was curious. So I did a web search on polyamory and discovered that this is far more widespread than I thought! There's websites everywhere that are devoted to it, and on yahoogroups there are 211 mailing lists for different areas. The best website to explain it all is this website: http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html

The concept interested me greatly! And I also realised that it was exactly what the Japanese do.

I've learnt that in Western society we practice 'serial monogamy':
...jumping from lover to lover to lover, while claiming to be "monogamous" with each one. While no reasonable person expects every relationship to last, it seems that many "serial monogamists" see their partners as expendable, or treat their lovers as a commodity, to be disposed of when someone better comes along...

So, why? What do you get out of this? Besides shagging a bunch of people, I mean.

For starters, being polyamorous doesn't mean you're shagging a bunch of people. It may mean that you only have one other partner.

But that's beside the point.

The answer to this question actually addresses who we are as human beings. Why do people get involved in interpersonal relationships at all? Why become romantically attached to anyone? The answer, of course, will vary from person to person, but at the end of the day we're all social animals. People are happier when they're romantically involved with someone than when they're not. Intimacy adds to the quality of your life.
In relation to my views about relationships, marriages, etc, I feel that this is a healthy way of living and dealing with those people who are important to us. Our Christian-oriented Western society, based entirely on marriage being a commitment of exclusivity, is outdated for modern times. People meet, get married, and then get divorced. Why?

Maybe because it's constricting. Society promotes freedom, but there's no freedom in marriage. People want to explore their lives and their sexuality, and while divorces are common, so are extra-marital affairs.

I really believe that with maturity, honesty and understanding, this new concept of relationships can work. It's been working in Japan, I'm sure it can work with mature people in Western society as well.

Anyone want to discuss this?

Posted on 11/22/2003 05:12:00 PM Backlinks


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