Whatever the question, polyamory isn’t the answer

Regular commenter Theophrastus sends me the link to this article about – what else? – polyamory:

Sam and I have been together for almost a year now, and I don’t think he took me seriously when I first, briefly, mentioned that perhaps monogamy wasn’t for me.

One of the things which strikes me about polyamory is how soon its practitioners get into it. I could perhaps imagine a couple who’ve been together twenty or thirty years wanting to spice things up a bit, but these articles seem to feature people who, in relationship terms, have barely got out of the starting blocks. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that in many cases polyamory is an option taken by those who are bored in a relationship but lack the courage to end it. That seems to be the case here, at any rate.

But as time has worn on, we’ve butted up against my resolve like rubber ducks against an iceberg.

They’ve been together a year, and time has worn on since she first mentioned she wanted to sleep around. When did she originally bring it up, the first week?

Non-monogamy seems to be having a moment.

Among lefties with mental illnesses, yes.

I’ve never been a hardline monogamist. In my last (monogamous) relationship, I always contended that if my partner slept with someone else, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that it was, y’know, done.

In what way was this a relationship, I wonder? There doesn’t seem to have been much by way of mutual respect: he was shagging around, and she didn’t care.

It seemed reductive to boil down the suppers, red-wine-stained kisses, whispered secrets, adventures and grievances and confidences we shared…

Is she referring to her own relationship, or one she’s read about in Jane Austen book? Because I can’t imagine her relationship had much by way of shared confidences.

…the sheer everything of a relationship, to a shag.

On the contrary, the one thing which defines a polyamorous relationship as distinct from a normal one is, as she puts it, a shag.

If our relationship existed on so many levels – friends, teammates, confidantes, lovers – then it couldn’t be undone by one act; and that’s quite a noble thought, isn’t it?

I suspect the “if” which starts that sentence is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Polyamory has been getting a lot of press.

Oh, I know.

It basically means having concurrent relationships with more than one person. You might have one primary, but everyone you choose to be with is more or less equal in your affections. My preferred configuration isn’t actually that radical: ethical non-monogamy is basically a good old-fashioned open relationship.

Or shagging around, as it’s otherwise known.

There would only ever be two of us in it, but I’d like to trust that person so implicitly, and value them so wholeheartedly, that if they slept with someone else it wouldn’t damage us. I’d like for the other person to trust and value me just as much so that if I did the same…

Let me stop you there: any man who is happy to let you sleep with someone else doesn’t value you much at all.

…we’d be able to look at it for what it is: a banal act that is fun or weird or intimate or exciting, but ultimately not a threat to our harmony.

If it’s that banal, why construct your entire romantic life around it?

“A sort of flexitarian approach to relationships,” I said to Sam. “You have a primary partner, and they’re the important one… ” He rolled his eyes, and I told him he was being too middle class about it.

A freelance writer wittering on about sex in The Guardian thinks someone else is being too middle class. The barriers to entry into the world of polyamory may be low, but a complete lack of self-awareness is most certainly among them.

Finally, he admitted to me: “Maybe because of the traditional expectations that are put on men, it’s more difficult for us to be open about it. There’s something a bit embarrassing about the woman you’re dating wanting to sleep with other people; as if maybe you’re inadequate.”

Well, yes. Perhaps if you grew a pair you’d not find yourself in this situation.

Earlier this year we’d reached something of an impasse…

Meaning, she was bored, assuming she was ever interested in the first place.

Because we don’t like the idea of our partner being with someone else. But generally, it’s because we’ve been taught to believe this means that our partner will leave us.

Well they have left you, of a sort. If they’re not with you, and are with someone else, how else would you describe it?

Of course,” she continued, “the key point of non-monogamy is that even though your partner might be with another lover, they’re actually coming back to you.

Like all good ideas, it’s obvious once explained.

And that extra joy and love and happiness might even fuel and rekindle the relationship they have with you.

This is the kind of thing blokes say to their wives when they’ve been caught shagging the secretary. It’s rather odd to hear a bunch of enlightened feminists coming out with it, though.

We’ve been conditioned to believe other people are a threat to our relationships, but what if they aren’t?”

We’ve been conditioned to believe turds taste awful, but what if they don’t?

I soon put this to the test, when Sam failed to meet me one night as promised and instead went home with another woman.

These people deserve each other.

A little scab developed over the wound of not being chosen over a nameless woman in a shitty bar.

Say what you like about the guys on Jackass, at least their self-beatings are funny.

And we have had the conversation, over and over with each other, but also with others – incredulous friends who can’t quite believe that it’s “a thing”. We field the questions in turn: no, it’s not perfect; yes, we do row sometimes; yes, there are rules; no, we don’t know how long it’ll last.

I get the impression this is another reason why dull individuals get into polyamory: it makes them look edgy in front of their friends, and gives them an identity in the absence of any other.

And, yes, sometimes I get tense and irritable when we sit down to eat and he’s too tired to talk because he spent half the night with someone else.

Can’t you just feel the love?

As far as I’m concerned, hardline monogamy is a recipe for disappointment…

As far as you’re concerned, I’m sure I agree.

…because even if you manage it, there will always be a part of you – that bit that has crushes on colleagues, and fantasises about handsome strangers – that your partner cannot share.

That’s why functional adults have such a thing called impulse control, and learn not to sacrifice long-term happiness for short-term gratification.

Maybe we should just burn them all down, these narrow streets that we’ve paved so that our desires move in straight lines.

I have severe personality disorders which prevent me from building lasting relationships, so we should burn everything to the ground.

Maybe it’s not committed relationships that non-monogamists are rejecting, but the idea that those relationships have to end when the romantic part does.

If relationships ended when the romantic part does, the divorce rates would be around 100% following the birth of the first child.

And isn’t that desire – to keep those crucial people in your life – deeply romantic in its own way?

Crucial for what? Paying the rent? How romantic.

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31 thoughts on “Whatever the question, polyamory isn’t the answer

  1. “Whatever the question, polyamory isn’t the answer”.

    I disagree: “What type of relationship is becoming increasingly common for narcissistic losers?”

  2. Polyamory serves a very, very useful social function: Selfish fuckers (literally) end up being lonely and unloved at that point in their life when they’ve run out of ammunition in the dating game – and thus face a bitter and angry middle age with their cats. Society can look on and learn.

  3. Follow the money.

    So the proposed question is “what might cats be encouraging in people to ensure the future supply of homes where resources will be lavished upon them”

  4. What is it about this which is so en vogue in the ‘right on’ world –
    see new BBC TV drama Wanderlust

  5. When aliens finally contacted our planet, we bravely asked; ‘Tell us, what is it about we humans that most astonishes you. Is it our arts, our love for life, our adventurous spirit?’

    The alien overlord responded: ‘Of all the species in the universe, yours is the only one to be able to endlessly manufacture excuses for insane actions and unrealistic hopes, and yet keep a straight face as if everything is normal. No other creatures so stupidly fool themselves as much as humans do and yet look so earnest about it.’

  6. @Steve
    “What is it about this which is so en vogue in the ‘right on’ world”

    This is an interesting question. The fact that same – sex marriage came from being legal in zero countries and a fringe issue even in the LGBT community to becoming a kind of litmus test as to whether a country is “civilised” can be attributed in part to a well-organised and funded international campaigning infrastructure. The rise in attention to transgender issues and the rows over eg toilet access has had a trajectory that suggests it can’t primarily have been driven by the people affected themselves since there just aren’t very many of them, and the majority of those will see it as largely a private matter rather than be full-time campaigners over it.

    But as to why polyamory is so on-trend my guess would be rather simpler – sex sells media content. If you go back to the nineties then media reporting might make you think everyone was swinging, in the noughties you might think that a young person’s typical night out involved a spot of dogging. “Bluetoothing” was a “thing” that wasn’t even a thing! (Though as far as I can tell tinder and the likes cater at least in part for that originally fictitious market.)

    If there’s a sudden and inexplicable rise in headlines demanding poly marriage then some heavy-duty lobbying apparatus, beyond what could be conjured up by the polyamorous community themselves, has clearly joined the fray. Until that happens though, there’s a rational economic reason for media prurience, and there are social and technical factors concerning the availability of sex and non-standard sexual relationships that could be helping more people experiment with polyamory. I think some cases that are currently labelled “poly” are really just old-fashioned “shagging multiple partners due to simultaneous dating but not finding anything serious”. How many people will find it emotionally successful and an enabler of their long-term objectives is something I’m more sceptical about, it would be interesting to know whether people tend to stick with it or whether for most who try it, it just represents a temporary stage (perhaps during the unwinding of a relationship).

  7. If it’s that banal, why construct your entire romantic life around it?

    V good point Tim.

    Judging from the quotes, the timeline seems to go like this:
    People meet, start seeing each other
    She suggests shagging around, he doesn’t like it, she belittles him for being narrow-minded
    One night a woman comes on to him; bearing in mind that his girlfriend has declared her desire to be unfaithful and degraded the value of their relationship in his mind, he thinks: “fuck it, what’s sauce for the goose etc…”
    Him doing what she said she wanted them both to do makes her unhappy
    They continue shagging around and resenting each other; a little bit of light and warmth goes out in the world

    I know that Sam had full agency in this, but it strikes me that at least he started off with good intentions. I suspect his next relationship will be lacking those good intentions.

    Aint progressivism brilliant?

  8. The pictures I’ve seen of polyamorists are not wildly attractive people besieged by umpteens of would-be sex partners. They are in paper-bag territory and some warrant double-bagging in case the first bag tears.

    I have an attractive cousin who professes polyamory but she doesn’t have a relationship with anyone. She has a string of stablemates who she bonks and they in turn shag whoever is available. It’s not really polygamy or polyandry because those imply a solid long-term core relationship. My cousin is just plain loose and not relationship material.

  9. ethical non-monogamy

    Standard modern use of ‘ethical’ – now means an action which becomes perfectly acceptable, even admired, when SJWs do it.

  10. Tim, you post on this subject quite often, perhaps for research purposes only you should shack up with a few of these freak crusties and fill us in on all the details….well maybe not all perhaps.

  11. Why’s this an article about polyamory? As I understand it, polyamory’s three or more people in a stable relationship. This bint doesn’t seem to have got that far. She’s just advocating shagging around.

  12. Steve–CM seeks the absolute destruction of the West.

    Polyamory is just one more minor tool in that attempt. Undermine the family and destroy is the name of the game. Push it to middle class twats and hope the BBC/Sky etc and the rest of the media can get it to become trendy.

    Al in all , another brick in the Wall.

  13. Thanks for the responses – my question was mostly rhetorical, but I agree with your answers lol

    And the the comments regarding the lack of attractiveness in the participants (unlike the aforementioned BBC show)

  14. “In what way was this a relationship? He was shagging around, and she didn’t care.”

    Isn’t this standard operating procedure in France? Or have they moved on with the times?

  15. What I find interesting is that the bulk the article is devoted to describing the various ways that the “open relationship” rules that she asked for have made her sad. Then she abruptly transitions to “Still, I prefer it this way…” and justifies her own unhappiness with a bunch of psychobabble.

    Seems like confirmation of the old saw that what a woman wants, what a woman thinks she wants and what a woman says she wants are three completely unrelated things.

  16. Nicely fisked, Tim.

    Like all neurotic women, this girl is self-deluding and has no idea of what she wants or needs. My guess is she wanted her boyfriend to commit to her and to make her feel special and cherished; so she suggested they sleep with other people in the hope he would say ‘No, I love only you…’ and then ravish her in every orifice. But he didn’t; and when he shagged another woman, she was consumed with jealousy, even wanting to know about the other woman’s lingerie!

    Her gambit has failed. Yet she’s too insecure to end her relationship of convenience, so he opts self-deludingly for an open relationship in the hope that she will meet Mr Right in this way, and then she can slip seamlessly from one relationship to another.

    All the while, she justifies her behaviour with liberationist psychobabble. What she needs, of course, is a strong, kind, stable man who will make her feel valued, who won’t take any nonsense and who will monogamously impregnate her. Sadly for her, that isn’t likely to happen…

  17. @Southerner on September 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Depends, some require more than a bag.

    Laurie Penny needs gagged to – the sound causes erectile dysfunction.

  18. Is it just me who thinks we’re being softened up for the inevitable legalised polygamy, which will have nothing to do with what people like this want, and everything to do with with what the RoPers want? But selling it with examples of mentally deficient white folks is easier than Abu Hamza?

  19. @Southerner

    I have an attractive cousin who professes polyamory but she doesn’t have a relationship with anyone. She has a string of stablemates who she bonks and they in turn shag whoever is available. It’s not really polygamy or polyandry because those imply a solid long-term core relationship. My cousin is just plain loose and not relationship material.

    What a l(o)oser – hope y’all appreciate the pun.

    Got her number, by the way?

  20. Polyamorists (cucks and adulteresses) are similar to vegans in that they can’t stop self-advertising their unnatural “lifestyle,” clearly due to deep-seated misery.

  21. “Is it just me who thinks we’re being softened up for the inevitable legalised polygamy, which will have nothing to do with what people like this want, and everything to do with with what the RoPers want? But selling it with examples of mentally deficient white folks is easier than Abu Hamza?”

    Jim–Their marriages should be legally recognised as equal to ours and then charge them with bigamy –including the women who have knowingly entered such relationships. To escape jail (only pre-existing cases–not in new marriages) they will have to divorce and pay alimony to up to 3 wives/kids etc who will also have to leave the UK. As an alternative, hubby can take all the family to some region of the Earth where their practices are legal –and perhaps receive a small bounty as an incentive. Cheaper than civil war.

  22. I keep saying polyamory is wrong … you can’t mix Greek and Latin in the one word.

    It is either Multiamory or polyphilia.

    Does No one nowadays have an even vaguely classical education? >};o)

  23. “Nobody serious finds small green vegetables sexually attractive do they?”

    Gwyneth Paltrow, perhaps?

    My wife’s friend enjoys a large, cold cucumber occasionally.

    It takes all sorts…

  24. I saw this and thought of Tim straight away. The thing is … the girl doesn’t look half decent unlike the normal tattooed, pink hard lard buckets that frequent the polyamory articles. This makes me think something strange is up. Oh and note her partner doesn’t want his photo out there to brand him a loser. There is hope he’ll dump her yet and get a normal life.

    She is looking for Mr Right but has found Mr Ok Right Now so needed to justify to herself why she is staying and shopping around at the same time. This fits in with Tim’s theme of them not having enough strength to move on, and Jordan Peterson’s writing on friendships as well. The author’s boyfriend needed to dump her but now he gets to sleep with multiple partners and have someone tidy up and make dinner. What a winner, or whiner.

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