Polyamory n : is the non-possessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. . . . [Xero]
So, polyamory. It’s a fairly taboo subject about which to talk, right? Even more so, in a lot of ways, than queer stuff or trans stuff, race or class (although those can also be really sensitive subjects). That’s kind of silly, though.
There’s such a stigma about polyamory and open relationships, and I don’t really get it. I mean, I understand why the social stigma exists, given society’s overwhelming fixation with the (straight, hetero, white, cis, able-bodied, Christian, middle- to upper-class, capitalist, monogamous) married couple. But aside from social/governmental control, keeping the status quo, and various religious objections (which, frankly, don’t phase me all that much, given all of the perfectly acceptable things to which religions sometimes object), I don’t really understand why people actually care so dang much about other people’s consensual relationships. I mean, if you’re happy, and you’re not harming anyone (e.g. you’re not cheating, you’re not coercing anyone into being with you, etc), how is that my business?
And let’s address that whole concept of cheating because it feels like that comes up whenever polyamory comes up in conversation with people who (I can’t think of a way to put this tactfully) don’t really know what it is (or have a lot of unfortunate misconceptions about what polyamory means). Polyamory does not mean cheating. Open does not mean cheating. To quote Franklin Veaux, “Cheating is breaking the rules. If you aren’t breaking the rules of your relationship, you are not cheating, by definition.”
Could there be cheating within an open relationship? Yes. It’s not as though “open” means “anything goes.” As Veux put it, it all depends on the rules of the relationship. But getting involved with someone outside of a pre-existing open relationship is not necessarily cheating. That concept often seems to be difficult for some people to grasp, perhaps because U.S. society is so insistent on monogamy (or perhaps I should say “monoamory,” if that’s a word, since societal norms deal with more than just marriage).
I just don’t really see there’s such a fuss about it. I mean, I recognize that it becomes more complicated if, for example, a person wanted to have a closed relationship and the person with whom they wanted to have that relationship wanted to have an open relationship. That would be something they would need to figure out, but it’s not as though I should have any say in that.
And maybe I’m wrong about all of this. I don’t identify as poly, and I’ve never been in an open relationship, so I’m not writing from personal experience. But ultimately, I think polyamory is just another form of loving and having relationships. It works for some people, and it doesn’t for others. Perhaps it’s that some people simply are polyamorous, and some aren’t; perhaps it’s that some people choose to be poly, and some don’t. To a certain extent, I don’t suppose it matters. A little like the whole queer thing, perhaps — whether it’s biology or choice doesn’t change that, either way, it’s okay.