Monday, 5 December 2011

Hogamus Higamus: Polyamorous Addendum

A part I realize I didn't fully address in the last post was polyamory, which I mentioned but didn't expand upon. Polyamory is another brave & respectable attempt to find a workable model for men & women to be together. If anything, I feel much closer in my personal life to that as an ideal than either polygamy or monogamy, as it is more thoughtful & open-ended, & actively looking for a better solution than just the accepted norm, but in its present form it is fundamentally flawed in that it refuses to acknowledge the differences between the sexes. The party line is still that both sexes are essentially the same, & whatever works for one will work for the other: if you don't agree you just need to work on yourself some more.

This leads to some obvious imbalances straight-off: men generally have greater need for sexual variety but also experience greater possessiveness & revulsion at their partners having sexual contact with other men. Women, on the other hand, feel more uncomfortable with their partners building emotional ties with someone else. In addition to that, encouraging women to be as promiscuous as men want to be is asking women to do something that will in the long run lower their SMV (sexual market value) & so their chances of getting what they more often want, a long-term committed relationship in which to raise a child. I don't see a way of making it work on a wider scale until these ideological positions are overhauled.

Still, as I say, I feel closer to that than what we have at present, & any system in which private morality is not driven by religious or political manipulation to be what you aren't seems to me a good thing.


  1. As always I find your writing to be intelligent and thought provoking. Outside of the current debate raging at HUS about this subject, I've given it a LOT of thought since my separation and divorce. I accept that I am weird when compared to the "normal" man. I have never, ever felt stress over lack of sexual variety, and I have never felt such an urge to get it that I went outside of a committed relationship to do so. But, I also know that I am far too jealous to have a truly open relationship, even if I wanted sexual variety. Furthermore, even if I was on-board with having casual sex (which I'm clearly not), I would not expect my mate to remain faithful to me while I was out getting my variety. If I am allowed to have outside sexual relationships, I would only see it as fair that she have the same option. And again, I'm WAY too jealous for that. (I went through a period in my life where knowing about my SO's past would trigger massive jealousy. I can only imagine how badly I'd trip if it where current!)

    Now, I'm perfectly able to accept that some people may be perfectly fine with it. And I'm not interested in pointing fingers at "sinners", as I'm no saint. However, I don't know how well society can function under a model where everyone goes their own way. Right now monogamy is the norm, and for the most part that is keeping other forms of sexual relations under control. The first levy to break came with the sexual revolution and the rise of casual sex as an accepted form of sexual expression. Now, we see many people struggle under the current SMP as the ripples from that flood subside. If polyamory (or some other similar model) becomes the norm, where will that leave people like me that like monogamy? Even worse, what would the SMP look like if both were widely accepted? As if we don't have enough problems finding a suitable mate, now we have to ask if they are monogamous or polyamorous or something else?

    I think, as a society, we need to adopt a standard and stick to it. We can't all go our own way, or we go from civilized society to some type of chaos.

  2. Byron,

    Just curious if you have any overall summary thoughts on the comment thread that transpired over at HUS. I must admit it left me exasperated and disappointed, especially some comments from some people I really didn't expect although perhaps emotions were running high. IMO, there was way too much focus on Doug, and his relationship with hundreds of comments of back and forth between Doug and various women commenters, and way too much personalization of the discussion. In terms of general principles, I thought little to none was accomplished in terms of integrating male preferences with a monogamous relationship (did a single female commenter talk about mixing anything up to simulate variety?).

    I was particularly disappointed by the reaction to the idea that on *some level* monogamy is a sacrifice for a guy and a gift he gives to a woman he loves. There seemed to be enormous pushback on this concept, and wanting to draw absurd equivalences about the "sacrifices" women make to enter a monogamous relationship (which of course is their preferred arrangement). I'm sort of left scratching my head in bewilderment. Presumably, women want men to be monogamous yet they appear to want to give zero credit for it, as it is "what is expected".

  3. It's kind of gone full circle there back to the place which started me writing the first of these posts, an utter breakdown in communication. It's really sad but on that issue I don't see anybody making any headway at HUS. That particular topic provokes such hostility in the women that there really is no dialogue to be had, just a lot of ganging up & shouting.

    However, I do sympathize with Susan, as her blog IS essentially about giving advice on monogamous relationships to college-aged American girls, & she's never claimed it to be anything else. Widening the conversation to include theorizing alternate ways of being with each other is simply never going to be on the agenda there, so right now I think it's probably better to write about such things elsewhere. If what we come up makes sense then eventually it will catch on above ground.

    As I've written before, if we accept that the reproductive roles & goals of the sexes are necessarily different, then the next logical step HAS to be to have different expectations of how those sexes will behave. But anything that women perceive as being a threat to their feathering their nests is treated as simply that, a threat, & all logical debate immediately ceases. I'm kind of coming round to seeing this as simply biology, though, so it seems as pointless to be angry at women for behaving that way as it is to be angry at men for their desiring many partners. We're made the way we are: let's forgive each other a little more.