Polyamory is defined as the “the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously”. In other words, having more than one relationships at the same time with the consent of all people involved.
We grow up to believe that a monogamous relationship is the right thing to do. Society tells us that there’s no choice when it comes to having a relationship, one must always be faithful to their only partner. But polyamory seems to work fine for those involved even if society blames it. There are some religions that practice polygamy such as Mormon fundamentalism, Christian Plural Marriage, Islamic, etc. However, in western cultures nobody has the legal right to marry more than one person and the traditional family concept is still encouraged.
There are different types of polyamory:
- Polyfidelity – all members of the group are equal partners and are only sexually active with the other members of the group.
- Polyamory with sub relations – there’s a primary partner which comes before the secondary and tertiary partners.
- Relationship between one couple and another couple
- Group relationships or group marriage
Fidelity and loyalty is seen in polyamorous relationship not as having one sexual partner but more like keeping the promises, committing to the relationship, and being completely honest. Communication plays an important part in this type of relationship and those which are part of a relationship try to work together even if they often make mistakes.
Gender equality is another important part of polyamory as there are no gender rules when choosing those who will be part of a group, except those involving personal needs.
I found a great article in which the view of therapists on this lifestyle is discussed. It seems that it’s difficult for psychologists to understand that polyamory is a personal preference and not something caused by different problems or fears. In the study presented in the article, therapists were asked to imagine the psychological profile of a polyamorous person. They found that:
24% of these therapists imagined that polyamorous individuals feared commitment or intimacy, 15% of these therapists imagined that they were in marriages that were not fulfilling, and 7% hypothesized that they might have identity problems
Another study presented in the paper the results were similar:
Knapp (1975) found that 33% of her sample of therapists believed that people who pursued a polyamorous lifestyle had personality disorders and neurotic tendencies, and 20% suggested that such people might have antisocial personalities. 9-17% of the therapists stated they would use their professional skills to try to influence clients to abandon sexually open marriages
So, is polyamory a way to obtain a healthy relationship? If it is, we need to stop thinking that only people who have certain problems will accept such a lifestyle and psychologists need to think beyond the classic views and embrace a new way of love. On the other hand, if people's desire to be in a polyamorous relationship indeed comes from a problem (fear of commitment, personality disorder, etc.), should they be influenced to have a monogamous relationship even if their polyamorous relationship is fulfilling their needs?
PS: Thanks http://cooking-varieties.blogspot.com for the 7 Facts blog award. :)