You don’t have to go more than a week without seeing a popular news site write an article about polyamory. These past few years have been a firm introduction to ethical non-monogamy in the media.
I imagine a fair mix of writers here. Half of them veteran columnists, exploring polyamory as though it were Jeff Vandermeer’s “Area X” – a dangerous place where one ought not put themselves mentally for fear that they themselves too will change. The other half, actually poly, having either offered or been sought out to write a post on the mysteries everyone is hearing so much about.
My favorite part about a good poly article is when it’s posted on Facebook and I can read the comments people (probably those who only read the title) leave. I like to imagine that they are sitting in their little homes doing normal people things like drinking coffee or watching a sitcom and then – there it is. Something happening on the internet that they’re an expert at.
My favorite comment is some variation of this:
Great, it sounds like more vindication for cheating.
I love this comment so much because it has absolutely nothing to do with anything and makes no sense. It is so passive aggressive that half the time a little “awwwwwwwww” escapes. Like when you feed your cat something they’re not used to and they just sort of look at it like “what, do you think I’m an asshole? I’m not eating that!”
The great thing about polyamory is that you don’t have to like it. It’s been happening, and quite well, without you approving of it. And people are eating it up. Why? One reason is because it provides an alternative to infidelity. People who are satisfied in their relationships are less likely to go outside of their relationships to find satisfaction. So weird. Amiright.
Infidelity: the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner.
Unfaithful: engaging in sexual relations with a person other than one’s regular partner in contravention of a previous promise or understanding.
If we can trust the definition of words (which – y’know – I prefer to make up my own definitions, but lets go with it) we can come to some common understanding about infidelity here.
To put it in laymen’s terms: cheating is that thing that happens when you have sexy times with someone after you told your partner that you wouldn’t have the sexy times.
In the case of polyamory, that’s almost exactly the opposite. In many cases, polyamory includes a verbal understanding that sexy times will happen with other people. It’s also important to note that not all poly relationships involve sex. In fact, polyamory, looking at -amory, is really about love and feelings and emotional intimacy.
But who cares about that shit? Not the media! Not Miss Sarah reading The Atlantic or The Fox News machine! This pertains to her because… morality!
Some poly relationships are simply about exploring the vast emotional connections that one person can have and maintain. Some involve exploring new sexual relationships with those people. The whole tree of ethical non-monogamy and the various forms of relationships aren’t ever really brought into these articles, so it’s an understatement to say that these commenters aren’t getting the full picture.
Any relationship (monogamous or otherwise) is based on an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Any relationship, monogamous or non-monogamous, can struggle with issues of satisfaction and – potentially – infidelity.
Lesson? Don’t read the comments on news articles. If you do, do so as a reminder that there is work to be done.