Monogamous: To Be or Not to Be?

young-polyamory-350The one thing you don’t expect to see in any of the Bible Belt states (where most have amended their constitutions to define marriage between one man and one woman) is an organization promoting polyamory.

Last month at Atlanta’s Pride Parade the group “Atlanta Polyamory Inc.” did just that—and in the wide open light of day. The result was the shock, awe, and disgust of a mixed group.

Atlanta Polyamory Inc.’s purple-lettered banner read:”Polyamory: Having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals.”

While many religious conservatives might argue that the legalization of same-gender marriage and shows like HBO’s “Big Love” —about a fictional polygamist Mormon family plant seeds to destroy the conventional family unit,— we have to ask ourselves is monogamy a natural instinct in us or is it a social construct which was obviously devised to protect and to regulate the institution of heterosexual marriage?

To be non-monogamous in this culture carries pejorative and judgmental connotations for both heterosexuals and LGBTQs. It assumes sexual promiscuity, a sex and love addiction as well as the inability to achieve emotional and sexual intimacy. But it also ignores the reality that some people really are polyamorous, and their ability to love more than one person at a time is not about a lust-fest for them.

Deepak Chopra, a renown spiritual master and director for educational programs at the Chopra Center for Well Being in California states ”As far as monogamy is concerned, I honestly believe that human beings are not monogamous biologically; they were not created that way. However, it is certainly helpful in society and social structure…because of the family structure…. with gay and lesbian relationships…you’re going to see families. You’re going to see children. So in the interest of family structure, we’ve evolved biologically to the point where we are social creatures.”

But the purported evolutionary benefits of monogamy have not panned out as expected. And the biggest benefit touted out in support of monogamy is that it’s the best social and psychological arrangement for children. However, evidence has proven over and over again if couples are in a monogamous relationship solely for the kids, the children, too, suffer because they witness no love, compassion and sometimes respect between the parents.

Contrary to popular belief, sociologist Elisabeth Sheff forthcoming book “The Polyamorists Next Door” reveals that polyamory is a “legitimate relationship style that can be tremendously rewarding for adults and provide excellent nurturing for children.”

“I’m more involved in their lives (referring to children) and more aware of their inner thoughts or aspirations; I’m more involved in their long-term happiness,” Mark told CNN reporters. Mark who’s a computer programmer, and his wife’s an electrical engineer have been married for over a decade. They have no children; however, they are actively engaged with the children from the two couples they have been sexually involved with for six years.

Societal condemnation of not being monogamous has halted many from taking the walk down the aisle, knowing the wedding vow to stay married until death cannot faithfully be upheld.

polyamory-350The evidence is the skyrocketing divorce rate among heterosexuals. Gay and lesbian couples are not immune, and as the number of states with marriage equality climbs, so will our divorce rate.

Many social scientists are recognizing that sexual fidelity to one person is a doom aspiration. This notion will soon evolve into an antiquated notion because as our human clock ticks longer than previous generations while our appetite and yearning to experience sexual variety—with people of same and opposite genders—will also expand.

Our polyamorous nature, many contests, is evident in our acts of serial monogamy, which speaks to our need to fulfill the impulse for variety. Once marriage shifted from its historical moorings of being solely economic and political arrangements to now romantic and consensual unions, sexual fidelity became the barometer of a successful relationship, marriage or true love for a person.

While sexual jealousy and possessiveness would appear unavoidable in polyamorous relationship there is also data revealing how having open relationships keeps these couples intact, and the love very much alive.

irene monroeThe practice of polyamory was once thought to be an absurd issue to explore as a relationship choice. But today’s it’s not. More and more organizations like “Atlanta Polyamory Inc.” are popping up across the country. Their members are coming out of the closet. Perhaps this will be the new civil rights battle before us.

Whether someone is monogamous or polyamorous is solely a personal decision.

And let’s remember same-sex marriage was once upon a time seemed as a preposterous proposition to argue as a civil right.

Rev. Irene Monroe

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

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Comments

  1. JoeWeinstein says

    The article concludes with two statements with whose SENTIMENTS I strongly agree:

    ‘Whether someone is monogamous or polyamorous is solely a personal decision.
    And let’s remember same-sex marriage was once upon a time seemed as a preposterous proposition to argue as a civil right.’

    Unfortunately the second statement implies far too rosy a picture of FACT as to where we actually are in regards the US Supreme Court. Let’s look at the Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 decisions of this past summer, and the justices’ opinions on these cases – both those in support and those in opposition to the decisions taken.

    In all those opinions heed to individual civil rights was almost totally absent and of scant importance. Instead the opinions addressed how and where to draw lines between alleged states rights and alleged federal rights.

    What a terrible contrast to Brown 1954! That far more enlightened decision and its opinions held not merely that certain LAWS were unconstitutional violations of civil rights but more than that, that certain PRACTICES – namely enforcement of or preference to racial segregation – by government and other public endeavors, even if based on custom and consent and not on law, are unconstitutional. By comparison, this summer’s decisions reek of the anti-human-rights legalisms of Citizens United and even of Dred Scott 1857 (which upheld and extended the legal scope of slavery).

    Had the Court done its proper duty and addressed the civil rights issue, its decisions would have outlawed as unconstitutional any attempt to deny same-sex marriage under any jurisdiction in the USA.

    Government recognition of a union of adults as a ‘marriage’ above all signifies that government recognizes the partners as closest kin – at least for legal purposes. It should be obvious – but the Court took no notice – that such recognition IS a civil right. That is, it should be obvious that the voluntary solemn publicly entered union of two competent adults, whereby each adopts the other as closest kin for life, merits recognition by all governments – and no matter what features the partners may happen to have individually or in comparison with one another (same sex, different color, etc, etc).

    For any authority to refuse to recognize such a union indeed is a violation of a clear civil right: for it means that that authority instead imposes for legal purposes its own arbitrary definition as to who the partners’ closest kin are. [If a government doesn't recognize your chosen partner as your closest kin, it could very well by default - thanks to accidents of survival plus happenstances of OTHER people's unions - be recognizing as your closest kin someone who is now (and perhaps always was) utterly estranged from you - for instance some estranged sibling or inlaw or cousin.]

    Rev Monroe here raises the issue of closet-kin unions of more than two people. Insofar as we are speaking of recognition of a voluntary solemn public choice by competent adults, there is every reason for governmental recognition of such a union to be deemed a civil right of each partner.

    By the way, as for unions of two persons, so too for unions of more persons. There is no reason to assume that in every such case the reason for union is really ‘polyamory’ – i.e. feelings of ‘love’ among all the partners. Why be pre-judgmental? It should suffice that the uniting persons deem and proclaim themselves closest kin, for whatever reason.

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