A Gentleman's Guide

MARCH | 2019

MARCH | 2019 | LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

POLY SCI

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According to Harry Nilsson, one is the loneliest number that we’ll ever do, and two can be just as bad as one. But what about three, four, or more? When it comes to the subject of love and relationships does it take two to make a thing go right, or might we consider a more the merrier approach? Are those of us who are in search of the non traditional, traditional SGL monogamous relationship selling ourselves short by thinking that there’s only one Beaux out there with our name on him, or should we reconsider our approach? Polyamorous relationships are in vogue for some and others are just interested in how they work.They’re certainly not for everyone, but could they be for you? We’ll let you be the judge of that as we spend a little time exploring some of the pros and cons of the polyamorous relationship.

Of course the first thing that people think about when it comes to the polyamorous relationship is the sex. According to some, that’s all these types of relationships are about- people having their cake and eating it, too. Many have a hard time understanding how one person could commit to more than another single person, and the ways in which people involved in polyamorous relationships emotionally function. Yeah, we know, because we had, and still have, more questions than the people trying to solve the curious case of Jussie Smollett do. Thankfully the world is filled with tons of interesting people (most of them are more interesting on Facebook than they are in real life, but that’s another post for another month ) who have been open to sharing their experiences with being involved in these types of relationships. Its through them and the magic of Google searches that we’ve learned, and  we’re sharing what we’ve learned with you.

There is a difference between a polyamorous relationship and an open relationship. Open relationships exist where couples allow each other the freedom of sleeping with whomever they want and (hopefully) operate within specific parameters. For example, while both parties of the open relationship may be free to shoot up as many clubs as they’d like, they may not be allowed to cuddle, date, or even communicate with their side piece outside of sex. Open relationships might operate under a number of parameters around condom use, levels of intimacy, frequency and honesty given that both parties are fully aware of the fact that they are in an open relationship. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in an open relationship and didn’t know it. Hands? Hands?

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The polyamorous relationship is different in that all partners are fully aware of each other. As free as this may sound, there are as many rules as there are types of polyamorous relationships, so they’re more complex than they appear. There are open and closed polyamorous relationships where an open polyamorous relationship allows each of the partners to take on other partners and closed polyamorous relationships require all partners to agree to not take on any other partners. That’s the simplest way we could think to put it, but don’t get too comfortable because we’re not done yet.

There are triads and quads, where all parties are dating each other, hierarchical and non-hierarchical relationships where partners are ranked in order of importance (and that’s the best way we could word that), and a list of terms to describe who can and can’t do what with whom that includes, but (oh god), isn't limited to polyfidelity , geometric configurations, cluster marriages, free-mating, intimate networks and the list goes on and on...and on. We say all of this to say that while there are some aspects of polyamory that are solely centered around sex, polyamorous relationships are not as monolithic as a lot of us think they are.

If we are to believe the proverbial saying that every cloud has a silver lining, which conveys the notion that there’s always some good to be found in the most undesirable situations, then we should also believe that the grass is always greener on the other side, which assumes that an outsider looking in approach offers a skewed perception of someone else’s seemingly perfect reality. Both proverbs offer dualites and imply that all situations require closer looks, because while all that glitters is not gold. With that being said, we’re going to jump into the pros and cons of the polyamorous relationship.

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Although the pros of poly are somewhat simple, we shouldn’t take them lightly because this life isn’t for everyone. The first of these pros is the ideal of being able to love freely, where those involved in polyamorous relationships aren’t bound a zero-sum fidelity clause. The zero-sum fidelity clause is the idea that the infidelity of one partner results in a corresponding loss to the other partner. This loss can be in the form of trust, communication, and respect, where the trust is seen as having been broken by the other partner because they cheated.

The refusal or inability of the other partner to communicate whatever it was they were missing will almost always change the dynamic of a monogamous relationship and will most likely result in a loss of respect as a consequence of the loss of trust and his refusal or inability to communicate his needs.  The polyamorous Beaux seemingly lives a worry free existence when it comes to fidelity, because what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained, and he and his partners are free to love as many people as they’d like. We’ve got to be really carful in our assumptions, because Polyamory doesn’t mean multiple sex partners, it means many loves, which gives the  polyamorous Beaux the freedom to establish deeper relationships without being labeled an adulterer.

Another polyamorous pro can be found in the relief one experiences by not having to break someone’s heart as poly is all about understanding that one person can’t be expected to be someone else’s everything. Such, those who are involved in polyamorous relationships aren’t bound to expecting the objects of their affections to meet all of their expectations, because they’ve got options. Its similar to having a Beaux for every occasion, where we go shopping with Monday, clubbing with Tuesday, go to the movies with Wednesday and do the funky chicken wing with Thursday through Sunday, respectively. This might seem too good to be true (and we’re getting really close to addressing this) but there are, in real life, Beauxs who exist within a reality where this is a thing.

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While we’re not one hundred percent certain, we’re at least forty percent sure that the polyamorous Beaux is a card carrying member of Jimmy McMillan’s Rent Is Too Damn High Party, a satirical New York political party operating on the tenet that the rent is too damn high. And it is. Regardless of his political affiliation, the polyamorous Beaux and his partners are able to support each other physically, emotionally and (most importantly) financially. Such, he doesn’t have to worry about getting sick and having no one to take care of him, because he’s got at least two other people he can depend on. Also, let’s not act like splitting the rent three ways down the middle isn’t a luxury we’d all enjoy, as the polyamorous Beaux who cohabitates with his lovers doesn’t find himself worried about the financial burden of paying one-third of April’s rent. Additionally, polyamorous Beauxs enjoy the benefit of additional emotional support from their partners as they are able to lean on multiple shoulders when they experiences problems with their friends, have a bad day at work, or if they’re just not feeling like themselves. Many of us have this option too, but from what we’ve been told there’s nothing like having two (or more) boyfriends in your corner when times get hard.

While the polyamorous relationship might be good enough for the goose, it might not be good enough for the gander, which is why it's important that we take a look at some of the poly cons. Being involved in one relationship occupies a lot of time, so can you imagine the amount of effort required to maintain multiple relationships? Doing such requires the ability to evenly distribute time and attention among partners, and that’s always going to be easier said than done. An inability to do so can (and most likely will) result in one partner becoming jealous, arouse feelings of insecurity, and create an atmospheric tension greater than that experienced with only one pissed off partner.

Another con can be found in managing the different expectations of you and the relationship you have with your Beauxs. The monogamous relationship trumps the polyamorous relationship when it comes to managing and maintaining expectations, because there’s only one set of expectations to manage and maintain. Polyamorous relationships can find their participants feeling as if they are being pulled in multiple directions at once as it can be extremely difficult focusing on attending to the needs of multiple Beauxs at once. While there does exist the idea that one person can’t be another person’s everything, there exists a greater struggle in trying to satisfy the needs of multiple partners, as you can’t give one hundred percent of yourself to two Beaux because that’s just bad math.

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Polyamorous relationships face their biggest challenge in the court of public opinion as they’re not widely accepted as being normal. This is the result of the highly held belief that one cannot fully love multiple partners, and that anyone interested in having more than one intimate partner is selfish. Society has done a good job convincing us that monogamy is the best and only choice, and such, there aren’t many who won’t look at the polyamorous Beaux with a side eye. This isn’t really a big deal, because people are allowed to love whomever they’d like to love, and to love as many people as they’d like, but things get tricky when it comes to marriage because the practice is illegal in every state in the United States, but not on a federal level.

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So whether you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too, or if you’re trying run with the hares and the hounds, remember that the polyamorous relationship isn’t something one should enter into with reckless abandon. Polyamory presents the opportunity for those involved to experience more intimacy than they would experience if they were monogamous and there’s always the excitement that comes with the economic advantages. Although you might experience more freedom in exploring relationships with multiple people at once, there may exist potentially increased instances of partners leaving the relationship as a result of jealousy, social ostracization and an inability to cope with having to divide time and attention.

As with any romantic relationship we involve ourselves in, we’ve got to be real careful in weighing our options when it comes to polyamory. There are thrupple who thrive as the result of having a bonus partner, but the practice is not something that everyone is interested in, and that’s okay. There’s no perfect rule book for any particular type of relationship, because human behavior is hard to predict. However there’s always the promise of practice, and those who are either interested or already involved in a polyamorous relationship should feel free to explore the science of poly without being judged. Polyamory may not be for you but, different strokes for different folks as some believe that two’s company and threes a crowd while others exist in realms where too many chiefs don’t spoil the stew, but add extra flavor.

Jeremy Carter