Not only sex. But involving sex.
“Polyamory isn’t about sex! It’s about love!” A common cry from the polyamorous communities. I completely understand where they are coming from, as well. People in poly relationships are sick of being told how their relationships are just about sex; that they can only have multiple sexual relationships; that only one can be a deep, emotional relationship.
There is, believe it or not, a difference between an open relationship and a polyamorous one; one allows for multiple sexual (physically intimate beyond hugging and platonic gestures) and one allows for multiple Relationships with all the trappings and expectations one might have in any typical monogamous romantic relationship (though any particular relationship may have any number of traits associated with mono relationships).
I’ve stopped saying that. I’m more likely to respond to the question, “Isn’t polyamory about sex?” with “Well, relationships are often about sex, if that’s what you mean. And generally, even in monogamy, one doesn’t establish rules and expectatations around non romantic relationships, i.e. friends and family, the same way one does around the Relationship we associate with sex, i.e. romantic relationships. So, yeah, polyamory is about the latter form of relationship.”
There are, after all, many loving relationships in any person’s life, polyamorous or not.
The many other forms of relationships still exist. So, if we’re saying that it’s all relationships, sexual or not, well, everyone is polyamorous. Everyone has multiple loving relationships, because we love our children, our family, our friends. But we don’t say everyone is polyamorous, because we’re not talking about those kinds of love. We’re talking about Romantic Love. And even if a particular Romantic relationship isn’t sexual, it’s still societally accepted to have sex with that person, without raising any eyebrows.
I don’t like when polyamory forgets the simple fact that multiple loves are not the exclusive domain of polyamory. Please stop saying that you are polyamorous because you “just have too much love in your heart.” You can have all that love and give it friends. You don’t have to give it to romantic partners. That is just a personal preference.
Just because you are monogamous does not mean you should not cultivate multiple relationships (just look at the many, many struggling stories of single mothers and fathers who lose their childrens’ other parent– and find themselves with no village at all to help them.) They may not be Romantic relationships, but they are still valid relationships.
Just because you “only” have friends beyond your “significant” other, does not mean you shouldn’t treat respect their time in the same way you would respect your husband’s. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, monogamous people also have multiple loves.
People in polyamorous relationships also, of course, have non sexual, non romantic relationships. But—
When it comes to talking about Polyamory, we’re often referring specifically to their multiple sexual, romantic relationships.
For purposes of discussing or understanding polyamory, we’re not talking about poly folk having friendships. Because, yes, they do, but so does everyone. So I will allow that polyamory is about commitment. Relationships. Love. But, also, gasp!, sex!
I don’t want to be afraid of the fact that sex is important to me in my life and in my romantic relationships, though not a requirement. I don’t want to pretend that it isn’t important, as important as any other feeling I desire that makes up the emotion I call “love.” And I don’t want to pretend that this doesn’t hold true for many other polyamorous folk.
It is, of course, also possible to be non monogamous and monoAMOROUS. In other words, they could only have deep emotional attachment, commitment and love with one person…but also have multiple sexual relationships. But that just means that, in this case, polyamory IS literally just about sex. Which is also okay.
So I might leave off the judgmental attitude that polyamory isn’t just sex for another reason. Saying that polyamory is “more” than “just” sex, implies that if you are in a lot of sexual relationships without emotion that what you have is “less.” Let’s stop with that, no?
I think acknowledging that “Polyamory IS (often) About Sex” strengthens non sexual relationships.
I love that my friendships can be deeper than they’ve ever been before– because I’m not held back in developing close relationships with others, simply because I’m dating a person (or two…or three…)
But, now, even if I returned to monogamy, I would never return to monoamory. I couldn’t stop being loving with my friends. I couldn’t do the jealous, possesive kind of monogamy that I now find toxic. The idea that having close emotional connections to other people is threatening? Nope. Never doing that again. Don’t think anyone should, either.
Now, if I were to functionally be monogamous, i.e. in one romantic/sexual relationship, I wouldn’t do what I did before. I wouldn’t feel any differently. I’d practice monogamy the same as I did polyamory, but I simply wouldn’t be, ummm, I actually don’t know. I guess I’d only be physically intimate with one person. Maybe. Or maybe I’d only have one person that was at the “partner” level for me. I still would stay emotionally close to anyone I had been earlier.
Monogamy doesn’t have to be toxic. It can look and feel as healthy and open minded (or as unhealthy and close minded, as the case may be) as polyamory, only with a lesser number of partners. But even that I say with a bit of skepticism, since perhaps their “best friend” is just as supportive and close as any spouse or primary partner. So, really, no difference at all. Except for the sex (which if it did involve sex would at least make the person non monogamous, so I’ll make the assumption here that sex is not involved).
Polyamory is about love, but why shouldn’t any relationship style be all about love?
In my worldview, anyone can be about love. I do often refer to “just” my relationships that involve sexual intimacy when I refer to my partners and my polycule/polyship.
But love? Let’s make love something that we all make a habit of doing more? Loving our friends. Loving and understanding those with different views than ourselves (while also not compromising on our basic morals; this doesn’t mean we have to be gentle and accepting of abusers, racists, narcissists, etc.)
Love is good and I think the world would be better off if we had more of it.