Why Polyamory Has NOTHING To Do With Whether Your Guy Can (Or Will) Commit

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Why Polyamory And Alternative Lifestyles Have Nothing To Do With Fear Of Commitment

Totally unrelated.

So in my daily Google Alert email, I have keywords such as “psychology” and “polyamory” and “sex” and “kink."

I get ideas for things to write about, I learn about new research, alternative lifestyles, and I keep a pulse on opinions and thoughts about all the topics that I care about.

Lots of people have opinions that I don’t agree with. That’s fine.

I have a big crush on the Vulcan motto: “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."

But when people complain about feeling pressured to try things they don’t like, my default reaction is to respond, “Who asked you to?”

Recently, writer Kerri Sackville made this whining comment in an article she wrote for New Zealand’s Southland Times:

"It’s not fair. I can’t even seem to find one decent partner, and these men are looking for their second?"

Well, I can’t seem to find more than one client who’ll pay me money on the regular, but you don’t see me writing thought pieces about how the other freelancers are hogging all of them.

Look, Kerri, I’m sorry that your dating life is crap. My dating life is crap, too.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all the fault of polyamory.

It sounds like the “poly” men you've been on dates with haven't been cool, because they should tell you that they are poly BEFORE you even meet them.

On dating sites, I mention that I’m poly right there on my profile so that I don’t end up going on dates with people who aren’t into that.

But that’s the fault of assholes, not polyamory.

If these guys can’t be open about their relationship style, then I doubt they’ll be open about other important things. 

In the same article, Sackville also states the following:

"Well no s..., Sherlock. Monogamy isn’t natural. But you know what else isn’t natural? Pants. Also medication, currency, cars and fashion eyewear. And yet none of the people in open relationships seem to have a problem with those."

Actually, Kerri, I agree with you on this.

I doubt that polyamory is a genetic thing. It’s probably completely socially constructed ... But so is monogamy.

When talking about poly, I never refer to it as “more natural," because I don't believe that nature cares about us and what we do with our relationships, anyway.

Liking chocolate isn't more natural than liking vanilla. It’s simply a matter of taste.

I’m truly sorry you’ve been on the receiving end of these terrible arguments.

When people get past the excitement of their first months of exploring polyamory, they typically realize that it’s no better or worse than any other relationship model. We just tend to identify with it and then to protect that identity because it’s still considered transgressive and sometimes unacceptable.

But that's not the fault of polyamory.

Towards the end of her article, Kerri also mentions this:

"Human beings do have a strong drive to pair bond and to establish sexual exclusivity. And it’s kind of lovely not to have to share the joy of your partner’s body."

I will agree with the first part — with a caveat.

Sexual exclusivity is also (mostly) socially constructed, especially in regard to the institution of marriage.

I can imagine there being a community somewhere in the world in which a handful of people have everything in common, and the men have children with several women or the women have children with several men, and that for them, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Whether or not that actually exists somewhere in real life, I don’t know. But yeah, there are biological processes at play for pair-bonding.

However, that doesn’t mean these processes work in the same way for everyone. They can be weaker for some people and they can be stronger for others.

And that’s also the moment where your piece falls apart.

On the one hand, you dismiss the measurement of what can be considered “natural” as a means for determining the validity of a relationship type, only to turn around and use the exact same argument in favor of your preference for monogamy just a few paragraphs later.

Either monogamy is natural or it isn’t.

You can’t say that polyamory is just as unnatural as monogamy and then argue that monogamy actually is natural and therefore more valid. 

Pair bonding is not a relationship model.

You wouldn’t argue that prairie voles have a relationship model, even though they tend to be monogamous (although not all of them are).

Given that we humans have big frontal lobes and a highly developed cortex, we actually have a lot of control over what we choose to do or not do. We have constructed civilizations and technologies that are definitely unnatural, as you rightly say early in your piece.

So I have to wonder why you then resort to citing the “strong drive to pair bond" in order to support your own choices. That’s just another essentialist, naturalistic argument.

I mean, we used to have a strong drive to hunt animals for dinner, but now we just go to the grocery store. See how that works?

In short, I’m sorry that your dating life is disappointing.

Finding someone is hard. It’s hard for poly people too, you know.

Those men you talk about, you have a reason to resent them. They weren’t honest about their relationship status and they should be. A proper poly person wouldn’t date them, either. 

But that’s not the fault of polyamory. 

Don’t want to be poly? Then don’t be.

There are plenty of monogamous fish in the sea.

This article was originally published at The Story Of A. Reprinted with permission from the author.