Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Polyamory or Ethical Non-Monogamy (ENM) is a relationship between more than two consenting individuals. This relationship can be sexual or romantic in nature. It validates being in a polycule (like a throuple, quad etc) or going about dating multiple people at once, with the consent of all parties involved, of course.
However, the very idea of this concept being a valid or acceptable expression of love has been called out as flawed, been excluded massively and only been, I dare say, effectively shown in porn, profanities used in sex-shaming or in the appeasement for the patriarch, mostly under a polygynous system (one man with multiple wives).
More often than not, one who chooses to have multiple “casual” relationships is advised by one’s dearest friends to keep looking for the right person, who is apparently on their way into the one’s life. One must not stop endeavoring till such time one falls in true love and chooses to settle.
I would like to ask one’s friends if this one true love that you speak so extravagantly of- I’m sure it’s Notting Hill that’s making you talk this way- is singular? I wonder how are you sure that one wouldn’t have multiple true loves in any case? Would that be so strange a concept for even one’s friends who’ve been themselves trying to find a safer space?
What worries me even more is that one’s friends would be more willing to accept the concept of loving multiple people as a concept alien to their own being because as soon as that alienation goes away, they lose the underlying sense of entitlement that they have over their loved one. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to invalidate whatever kind of love you and your partner share and neither should it be the case in any way, but what I am here to do is that make you question- is your love not love enough if it hasn’t got a sense of ownership?
ENMs gained traction during the second wave of feminist movement as polyamory was seen to be a way of breaking free from the shackles of the patriarchal society, from men establishing their property over the women. In the book Feminism is for Everybody, Bell Hooks talks about women wanting more partners as an act of rebellion against the norms of the society, an important step towards liberation of women.
Polyamory's acceptance and normalization is a very important step in the process of unlearning this systemic internalization of wanting to own people. The capitalist patriarchy wants to convince you that all people you love are commodities that you’d want to possess, that these commodities are objects of your desire and will only remain yours till such time they’re nobody else’s. At this point I’d like to reiterate that monogamy is valid if you two consent to it, but if there’s four of you consenting then that’s valid too.
Polyamory, or more specifically, relationship anarchy, seeks to do away with the power dynamics that lie within the dyadic at first, and then starts to question all the systems within a differential power dynamic. It starts small and revolutionizes the way one would perceive all kinds of systems.
Polyamorous people are very conveniently left out of the homonormative demands of marriage equality and adoption rights. Even in countries where polygyny is acceptable by law, mutual marriage between more than two people is not. So, when gay people talk about marriage equality, often times, we forget that marriage equality/adoption rights wouldn’t just be for two individuals of the same-sex, but also more than two individuals.
I would urge the readers one is valid if one chooses to be polyamorous, one is valid if one chooses to be monogamous, but one must always attempt to question everything, especially when it is given set strictly on a platter. It’s a scary process, it takes a lot of time, mental space and energy to question how one would want to express love, especially if it is deterring from the “normal”, but trust you me, it’s a step towards liberation of one’s self. Because then it is one’s choice whether to have just one partner, have multiple partners or have none for that matter.
Moreover, polyamory would solve the problem of cliched storylines in romantic movies. Love triangle? Polyamory. Boom. You’ve got a triad now. Couple falling apart? Open relationship. Boom. Everyone’s happy. Love actually? All the 10 couples fall in love with each other. Boom. Wholesomeness tenfold.
Lastly, I hope the reader would endeavour to educate themselves before they give polyamory a bad name.