By Em Mais
poly • am • ory
The non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time.
The polyamorous community and the queer community have long been interwoven in their own unique ways, seeking support and acceptance from each other and creating safe spaces for people to love regardless of society’s views, judgements, and misconceptions. That being said, there are many individuals in both communities who don’t support members of the other. While these two communities may have their differences, it is important for us to understand each other, particularly in two groups that intersect as much as the queer and polyamorous communities do. This article aims to bridge this gap by covering the basics of what polyamory is and is not, displacing common myths around polyamory, and talking about the basics of a healthy relationship (polyamorous or not).
Different relationships have different rules, guidelines, and structure that, if broken, would be considered cheating.
Polyamory should not be confused with polygyny (when one man has multiple wives), polyandry (when one woman has multiple husbands), or polygamy (having more than one husband or wife). Unlike the aforementioned practices polyamory is not religiously based, and emphasizes communication, honesty, and an individual’s choice in their relationships. This is also how polyamory differs from cheating: individuals who are cheating on their partner(s) would fail to communicate openly and honestly with them, and in doing so would eliminate their partner’s (or partner’s’) choice in the relationship(s). That being said, polyamory is usually not a free-for-all, do-whatever-you-want kind of setup. Different relationships have different rules, guidelines, and structure that, if broken, would be considered cheating.
One of the most common misconceptions is that humans are naturally monogamous; in fact very few animals naturally are. According to the national health and social life survey, Americans have an average of 7.2 sexual partners over the course of a lifetime. That in and of itself proves that we are not monogamous, as the definition of monogamy from a zoological perspective is “the practice of having only one mate in a lifetime”. This is not to say that people should not or do not get jealous; however, it is important to find the root cause of the jealousy rather than attempt to eradicate the feeling from the surface. Putting a bandaid on the emotion will only cause the jealously to eat away at the person until it can find other avenues of release. Honesty, communication, consent, and boundaries are key in any relationship, but are essential in polyamory to avoid damaging relationships. It is much more likely that a partner will feel jealous or have other emotions that could negatively impact all aspects of their life if these things are not happening.
Polyamory is a way for people to freely grow in their relationships with others without the confines of a typical relationship. Humans are complex and have many different needs that must be met, and by giving someone the freedom to get their needs met by multiple people rather than attempting to get all their needs met by one person, there is the potential for less stress and more joy in all of those relationships.
It is essential for marginalized groups to support one another, and regardless of your own views on any topic it is important to be aware and considerate of those around you and the impact your words could have on others. There are so many ways to love and so many fights that still must be fought for the equality of love.
If you are interested in learning more about polyamory or how to be a good queer ally to the polyamorous community, check out these links: