Two for the price of The One

I'll take them all!


Two, three, four – maybe more! People; welcome to the colourful world of Polyamory! No: this is not some inane introduction to the latest sensation in children’s TV (to rival the success of the peerless Teletubbies); polyamory is the acceptance and practice of non-monogamy, which those among you with a smattering of Greek and Latin may have deducted.

The above introduction could easily reflect the cheeky tabloid perspective on the issue. However, a more recognisable reaction often voices its presence. Headlines designed to arouse public indignance – wringing their hands with woe, bemoaning yet another sign of the further erosion of morality, collapsing like rotted pier stumps into the murky swell of corrosive salt water (although they would doubtless make this point with far less panache!)

Options…so many options…

Read in conjunction with my earlier article on the relevance of marriage, polyamory may appear to be the next logical step for those who accept that the concept of ‘the one’ is unrealistic. We are surrounded by options; people can marry several times, have open relationships, booty calls, f*ck buddies, lovers, and all that lies between; it seems that we are partying towards the borders of the land of polyamory. The major stumbling block which prevents many from gleefully leaping over the border lies in the central requirement for polyamory to work: the banishment of those familiar emotions which we are all capable of and yet find difficult to admit to: jealousy and possessiveness.

Love does not convey possession, and yet possession is the very concept which our notions of love are founded upon. As such, the acknowledgement of polyamory as an option threatens to somehow dilute the capacity to love. As that intimacy is not focused on one partner, it becomes diminished and degraded. This would be true if love is understood as something which there is a finite amount of. I believe that love in itself, is unlimited. It is possible to love different people in different ways, just as it is possible to have sexual partners with varying levels of emotional intimacy. The prevalence of extra marital affairs, mistresses (and the male equivalent which I don’t know the name for – answers on a postcard, please!) and children by different fathers all indicate covert polyamorous urges – without the label, or the honesty.

What about the children?

The main objection to polyamory is the fear of children involved being exposed to an unstable environment. Children show their resilience and perceptiveness on a daily basis to various agents of instability such as unhappy marriages, divorce and absent parents (in the physical and emotional sense). They also absorb the values of those around them. An environment in which the adults around them demonstrate the value of authenticity in the lives they have chosen to live is not a bad quality to absorb. If parents bring up their children as confident and intellectually curious individuals, they will have the basis of becoming self-aware enough to make their own choices, regardless of those of others around them.

So what are you waiting for?

People don’t wake up one morning, stretch their limbs and decide that today is the day to become polyamorous. It is more a case of gravitating towards it as an option, particularly when you find yourself in a set of circumstances, where your personal values and inclinations hopefully align with others involved. There are as many variations as there are individual relationships. In this sense, polyamory is subject to the same considerations you should have in any healthy emotional attachment – where the essential elements of trust, mutual respect and honest communication still apply.

It is certainly not to everybody’s taste; so if you do happen to find the idea difficult to relate to, or even repugnant – don’t get too upset; it’s just an option.

Related article:

Polyamory: A male perspective:


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