I’ve long thought that the numerous articles appearing in fringe media about polyamory are part of a campaign to give legal recognition to such relationships. Now CBS, a mainstream channel, are putting out a documentary on how wonderful it is:
“One big orgy.” That’s the stereotype about the lifestyle of consensual non-monogamy — an arrangement where committed partners openly agree to have sexual relationships with other people.
But people who have practiced non-monogamy for years say it’s not all wild sex — or even all that wild. It takes a lot of work, and it carries a lot of stigma. There can be serious consequences for the family life and even careers of those involved.
The consequences for family life aren’t so serious they consider quitting the practice, though. Apparently the right to have multiple sex partners trumps all other considerations.
“Many people are trying to create families in different kinds of ways. And a lot of people see that as dangerous,” Diana Adams, a Brooklyn-based lawyer who represents polyamorous families, says in the CBSN Originals documentary, “Non-monogamy.”
Brooklyn, eh? There’s a surprise. And yes, a lot of people do have the welfare of children and wider society in mind when looking at deviant behaviour. We’d not be much of a society if we didn’t, would we?
She advises clients in non-monogamous relationships to be careful about telling their employers. She’s seen some lose their jobs over it.
“There are places where it’s not safe to tell people that you’re polyamorous, and many people are not out,” Adams said. “I think employers are aware that they don’t have to allow employees to express themselves, in terms of their relationship status. Because that isn’t a protected class.”
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about. Polyamorists want their sexual preferences – which are less lifestyle choices than coping mechanisms – accorded special protections from the government.
There is no legal framework for polyamorous families to share finances, custody of children or the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.
That’s because they’re not married. Similarly, I rarely get tax relief on pension contributions I don’t make.
Likewise, there are no legal protections against people facing discrimination for being in a non-monogamous relationship.
Nor for people holding conservative views.
Mahdy, a man who lives in Brooklyn, New York, had to end his marriage to keep his relationship together. He is part of what’s called a triad or thruple — a polyamorous relationship between three people who are all actively involved with each other. But because it’s illegal to be married to more than one person, only two people in his triad can be married.
Imagine the oppression!
Mahdy, who did not want his last name to be used, met his first partner about 14 years ago and married her in 2011. One year later, the couple met another woman, and the three formed a triad. But it could have fallen apart after the second woman ran into problems with her immigration status, he says.
For her to remain in America, Mahdy and his wife divorced, and the wife married the second partner. It kept them all together — but he is still reeling from the ordeal.
This is about par for the course for Brooklyn polyamorists: mentally ill foreign woman arrives in the US, gets into polyamory, someone agrees to marry her when her visa expires to keep her in the circle. It’s hard to see how this obvious gaming of the system benefits American society.
“Dissolving the marriage … that was really, really difficult for me,” he says. “I don’t have the legal protections I had when me and my first partner were married. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had health insurance since.”
I’m of the opinion that polyamorists are generally f*ck-ups. That this chap has two “wives” and doesn’t know if he has health insurance doesn’t do much to persuade me otherwise.
For many people in non-monogamous relationships, there’s nothing strange about their arrangement. It’s just romance — plus one or two other people, or more.
There’s nothing strange about Siamese twins. It’s just a person, plus another head.
“People think that there’s this magical thing happening all the time,” says Brooke Houston of Kansas City, Kansas, who has been in a triad for more than a year.
More than a year. I guess they couldn’t find anyone who’d managed to keep it up longer than that.
“And half the time we’re just chilling. … Whoever has the energy for a big orgy 24/7, let me know. Tell me your secret,” she joked.
In 2018, Houston formed a triad with CJ and Brandi George, a couple who have been in an open marriage for four years. She has a sexual relationship with both CJ and Brandi — sometimes individually, and sometimes all together.
LOL, we don’t have orgies! Just threesomes. We’re normal.
It’s not all about sex, though. The three of them live as one unit — sharing a bed, but also sharing dinners.
It’s not all about sex: sometimes they eat food.
Brandi said that years ago, someone wrote an anonymous letter to the school district where she works as a teacher, outing her for being in an open relationship. The district called her in to discuss it. She didn’t end up losing her job — but she feared that she would.
In other words they couldn’t find anyone who’d actually lost their job for being polyamorous. This hardly sounds like an oppressed group desperate for special protections.
“I was terrified that I would be let go from my job or that I would have people that wouldn’t accept me,” she said. “My students, like, they give me oxygen, they give me life. And so to have that taken from me would have just like devastated me. So I was just very aware that that could happen and that I would have nothing. And how could I provide for my kids if I don’t have a job?”
None of which actually happened.
CBSN Originals spoke with two women in Durham, North Carolina, who have been in what they call a polyfidelitous closed quad for more than seven years. That means the two married couples are romantically involved with each other — each woman has sex with the other’s husband — but outside of that the couples don’t see anyone else. The women asked to remain anonymous to protect their families, and for fear of consequences in their jobs.
Which is pretty much where Trump supporters stand in many professions.
“It’s not just about sleeping with each other’s husbands. Our lives are meshed together,” one of the women said. “Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays are the nights we spend with our extramarital partners. And Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays we spend with our marital partners.”
I don’t want to ask how often they change the bedsheets. My guess is the sheets wait for a window of opportunity before walking themselves to the washing machine.
One of the hardest parts of the arrangement is the children. One couple does not have kids; the other does. The couples care for and parent them together, though there is no question about who their biological parents are. And those children had to have all of this explained to them.
Because God forbid the parents and their sex partners adjust their lives so children don’t have to get their heads around the intricacies of sexual degeneracy.
“It involves a lot of trust,” the woman with children said. “I, as a mother, have to think, ‘Do I trust these people?’ This could really, really impact my children’s life for the worse.”
But I’ll take the risk anyway because, frankly, it’s all about me.
“What we were hoping for was that giving the children more adults in their lives that love them would counterbalance giving them a strange life, and would outweigh it,” her partner added.
And thus began a whole new parenting philosophy which went some way to explain the rash of suicides and instances of clinical depression 15 years later.
Last year, the American Psychological Association created a task force on consensual non-monogamy to promote awareness and understanding of non-traditional relationship structures.
“Finding love and/or sexual intimacy is a central part of most people’s life experience,” the APA website says. “However, the ability to engage in desired intimacy without social and medical stigmatization is not a liberty for all.”
I suppose the APA is wholly uninterested in 1) the effect on any children caught up in this and 2) the psychological state of polyamorists to begin with.
People who engage in or support non-monogamous relationships argue that it’s simply an option that should be available for those who choose — just as monogamy should be an option. And for now, they’re just asking for acceptance.
For now. Then as soon as you’ve got that, compulsory celebration and outlawing criticism will follow.
“It’s never gonna be equal for us,” Mahdy said. “I only ask that people don’t interfere with what we have.”
Erm, they’re not. But you want the law changed so you can marry some disturbed foreigner without having to divorce your current wife, all so she can be permitted to live in the USA.
This whole campaign is just the latest battle in the war on traditional marriage which, once won, will usher in a Utopian society in which anyone can sleep with everyone willy-nilly, and the children all take part and are happy. What could go wrong?