Polyamory: A male perspective

A perfect arrangement...

There was a Jeffrey Archer novel I read as a kid where the main character was musing on the nature of marriage. A rich playboy, he surmised that if he could have a hundred horses and a hundred homes around the world, why could he not therefore have a hundred women. Welcome to the world of polyamory.

The Daily Mail readers amongst you will, upon perusing the above, no doubt cry out, ‘Shame! These poor women!’, but if I told you that in my fictional version of the above, each of those hundred women had themselves ninety-nine other lovers, and each of these lovers in turn etc., then all you are left with is a ‘tut-tut-tut’ on the way the world is going, these days.

A person is generally judged positively when they gain wealth, experience, intellectual capacity, knowledge, business or personal contacts, and so on. Imagine in contrast the father who scolded his child for having too many friends, or the mother who chastised her daughter for reading too many books, or even the friend who criticised his buddy for travelling to and experiencing too many cultures. Envisage further the absurdity of a culture that forced you to choose a language, house, car or job for ever, and that shamed and ridiculed you for daring to think that perhaps Surrey is not the be-all and end-all of your global horizons or that speaking English is not always the best way to voice your philosophical or romantic musings.

And yet, sadly, this is where we are at with marriage. Solomon had over three hundred wives and begat the lineage of Christ, but that was then and this is now. Now you have to choose one and stick to her, or him, and if you take your marriage vows seriously, that means for ever, ’til death do you part. Stay in Surrey, until you die.

Now, I am not knocking Surrey. I live there. I love Kew Gardens and Richmond riverside. But I also love the smell of Thailand and Singapore, or the vibe up at Potts Point above the harbour in Sydney. Does that make me a sinner? Does that make me evil. I suppose so.

There is, however, a fundamental difference between polyamory and polygamy that I want to make clear. When I did my training as a lawyer, I learned a concept called detrimental reliance. It means, essentially, that if I rely on a promise you have made, and suffer detrimentally accordingly, then you have to make good on whatever I have lost due to your promise. I don’t necessarily get what you promised, but at least I should not lose out for having trusted you. Sound like a divorce case or argument with your ex? Ex-actly.

What I am saying is that I can understand where the faithful partner in a relationship is coming from when the ‘unfaithful’ partner decides to spread his wings and seek sunnier climes elsewhere (like Thailand or Australia, for example!). She or he has given their all, cut off ties with other lovers, moved their stuff in and given up their job, and now boom!, it’s all over, and she or he is left to pick up the pieces whilst ‘that bitch/bastard’ swans around with her or his ex.

Polyamory gets around this by saying; ‘do not rely!’ I am not a permanent, dedicated and faithful monogamous partner, and we all know this, so don’t quit the day job. Now, that’s all very well for some relationships, which can remain at that superficial level of extended dating, or which have the strong and healthy boundaries associated with many modern marriages, where both partners have jobs, cars and friends of their own. But sadly, too, I am beginning to feel, there’s a certain lack of intimacy in that world of non-reliance. What if I want to quit my job, move house and go in deep, like so many of my married friends? By choosing polyamory, maybe we get ten 9’s and deny ourselves the real prize, a perfect 10?!

It is that search for both intimacy (the perfect 10, the deep dive with another soul or being) and freedom (the feeling that Richmond in the Summer and Sydney in the Winter would be just great) that leads me to be a confirmed polygamist. For those of you who have lost the Greek, that means that instead of the polyamorous world where we take, and presumably dispose of, many lovers, we now enter the world, mostly associated with Islam or the Mormons, of many wives (and in some tribal cultures, husbands).

Where’s the difference? Well, for me, it is as follows: I want a woman to rely on me, to trust me and to abandon her worldly ties to go deep into love, luxury and intimate liaison with me. It is the best feeling in the world. If I do this as a husband, I am a Saint. If I do it as a polyamorist, I am a player, cruel and perverted, or at best, callous in my insistence that she ‘knew’ in advance that I had other lovers, or that ‘we are all doing it’ the polyamorous way. However, I cannot help feeling that if I marry this woman, give her the love, support and consistency she deeply desires, and that I desire, too, then I am doing the better thing. Now, if somehow, through some feat of social reprogramming, or the accident of birth into a Muslim or Mormon culture, this woman can accept that I can take another wife, and give her the same consistency, love and support, then we are, finally, win-win.

My female friends laugh and ask me if I would have it the other way, myself as one of many husbands. ‘Not a chance!’ I say, sounding distinctly English, and lining myself up for the inevitable accusations of hypocrisy that shortly follow. But hey, nobody’s perfect and this is just a view. What’s yours?

There is one more small point I would like to make as a footnote, sort of a bio-mathematical addendum to the arguments and views above. It is this: There are cells in the human body that have one or two connections. Probably muscle cells and liver cells, which have a specific and defined function in life. They get by and do their thing and we are all very grateful for their consistent and dedicated approach. Yet then there are cells, like the brain cells in the head, which have thousands of connections to thousands of other cells, each of which also have thousands of other connections. It is this vast, multiplex neural network that allows human beings to contemplate their higher natures, feel art and literature and build scientific objects that change our world. What if humans could be the same? Some of us regularised and reliable, doing the same thing day-in, day-out with our respective partner cells, providing stability and reassurance to the whole, whilst others fire out at all angles, creating new options, new alternatives and new adventures to explore in the search for positive evolution.

What I am saying is that it takes all sorts, and perhaps polyamory and polygamy are nature’s way of reaching for that evolutionary edge in an otherwise stable world.


If marriage is a deep synergy of love, and if marriage can be expanded to three, four or more people, without the rot of jealousy, possessiveness or anger, and without the failings of want, need and neglect, then imagine how powerful the world could be! This is why the Romans feared the early Christians, who left their identities behind and bonded together into the Church, the whole, creating cross-currents of support and community that threatened to rock the cold individualism of the Empire. Do we have another model here? A powerful union of souls, who in sharing themselves without boundary or possession, are unlocking a spiritual human force that will change the way we think and feel in the future?

As a man, I like to have integrity. The integrity to care for and support my partner, but also the integrity to accept my own identity and put that forward as who I am, without shame or anger. In the monogamous world, a man who desires another woman whilst caring for his partner is wrong, deluded, egotistical and subject to shame or abuse. He must hide his inner thoughts and desires, a thought criminal or at best, the guy who jokes about threesomes whilst his wife’s friends frown and wonder why she ever married such a jerk. In a world of polyamory or polygamy, he can be both proud of the love he has built with his partner, and unashamed to say that he finds another woman attractive. He will feel safe in his identity and able to live with a greater sense of balance. One would hope that in turn, he would reward this freedom with effort and dedication to those he loves.

Related article:

Two for the price of The One: http://creatrix.me/musings/home-life/two-for-the-price-of-the-one/


Leave a Reply