Slog

Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Monday, November 26, 2012

Is Polyamory a Sexual Orientation?

Posted by on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 10:23 AM

I said "no" in last week's Savage Love, kicking off a shitstorm in the comments thread, in my e-mail inbox, and here and there on the interwebs. (Even the right-wing nutjobs have taken notice.) At least one poly person agrees with me:

There are a few problems with describing polyamory as a sexual orientation. The first of which is that polyamory is not sexual. Polyamory is about relationships, honesty, and intimacy. Look back at the definitions given by Loving More. Not a single one mentions sex. Calling polyamory a sexual orientation is a joke.

Secondly, polyamory is not an orientation. Polyamory is not a physical desire or a feeling. While there is not complete agreement on what polyamory is, there is clear agreement about it isn’t. And it isn’t just an attraction to multiple people. As Shaun pointed out, if you define polyamory as a feeling or an inclination, then half of the country is polyamorous, which is an absurd result. Almost everyone feels attraction for multiple people at the same time. This does not make them polyamorous.

A third problem with describing poly as a sexual orientation is that being poly is nothing like being GLB. Being GLB is about the type of person to whom you are sexually attracted. Being polyamorous is about the amount of people you love. Describing polyamory as a sexual orientation suggests a false equivalence between the groups, and seems like an attempt to coopt the sympathy that the GLBT community has built up.

I'm hearing from lots of poly folks who disagree. I'm going to let them have their say in next week's Savage Love.

 

Comments (95) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
seandr 1
The term "sexual orientation" as it has been traditionally used refers to the psychological dynamics that cause a person to prefer same- or other-sex partners.

These psychological dynamics are almost certainly not the same as those that cause people to prefer one vs multiple partners.

So, the debate is pretty much over the definition of a term - specifically, whether or not the definition of "orientation" should be broadened (and diluted) to also describe the psychological origins of monogamy vs polyamory.

Maybe we flip a coin?
Posted by seandr on November 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
2
Polyamory is probably the most radical of all sexual relationships where Lumpenobamanism is concerned. It's amusing, but not unexpected, that even the region's leading "edge" Sex Advocate, Dan Savage, comes out against it, because it violates most of the foundations of the New Liberal State, of which he is an acolyte.

The New Liberal State is less about individual freedom and more about creating a new norm. This is what it's adherents refuse to see -- or rather, they see it but they benefit from it, hence, they become the status quo.

The reason the New Liberal State opposes polyamory (the way it also is abhorrent by true heterosexuality and any kind of asymmetric relationships) is that Liberalism is really social control. It is an overly rational state whose ideal participant is the faceless, sexless, androgyne portrayed as the mascot of Greendale Community College.

The evolution of the New Liberal State is one where everyone is crammed into 210 ft square apodments, rides electric unicycles that have conforming sockets for attaching to fixed rail transit. Everyone makes the same salary except for a council of elders (all age 25) who look like Steve Jobs. These people are trillionaires and dole out ten dollar bonuses at Xmas time.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
venomlash 3
The way I see it (as a cissexual heterosexual male) is that gay people are only attracted to people of their own gender. Polyamorous people are attracted to others as individuals, not as a group. If you take two poly people in a group marriage, they'll still be sexually and/or romantically attracted to each other in the absence of their other partner(s), correct?
Posted by venomlash on November 26, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 5
Sexual orientation means what gender you are attracted to.

Not what body part, not what object, not what number.

Stretch the term to just mean whatever one's sexual fetishes/interests are, and the term becomes meaningless.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on November 26, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
6
I was poly for a long time. It was wonderful, and taught me a lot about how to be honest with a partner and how to recognize my own feelings. Today I have one partner - my husband and I are in a monogamous marriage. I went into it knowing he wasn't capable of being other than monogamous, and I made the decision to be with him because I felt, and still feel, the benefits of being with him far outweigh the drawbacks of not being able to be poly any longer. I'm very happy in my mono marriage, and I don't believe I could be if "poly" were my orientation.

Some people can't be happy being monogamous, and I can see how those people would feel that their poly status is an unchangeable, innate part of their being. And so it might be. But I still don't think it qualifies as a sexual orientation.
Posted by Hannah in Portland on November 26, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 7
On another note, Bailo seems to be getting dumber by the second.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on November 26, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
Fortunate 9
@2: Since when is Dan against Polyamory? He isn't. He just doesn't think it should be classified as a sexual orientation, and I agree.

Sexual orientation is about who you love and are attracted to, not how many.

Calling polyamory, or monogamy for that matter, a sexual orientation is like calling a fetish a sexual orientation. Saying that these things aren't sexual orientations is not the same thing as saying they are bad or wrong.
Posted by Fortunate on November 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this
10
My two-cents can be found here: http://poly-problems.tumblr.com/post/366…
Posted by Vexche on November 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this
12
@4 100% right, and the reason I have no interest in following this debate.
Posted by sahara29 on November 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 14
Does everyone want to see something really sad?

http://yrihf.com/

That is where SROTU (Bailo) goes to post things that no one will ever read or respond to. The whole thing is just the moderator and Bailo. Yet, he has made hundreds of posts that no one reads or responds to. Just the admin and Bailo, over and over since at least 2006.

Not to change the subject, but I just thought it was an informative look into his mind. One giant echo chamber with only him present, no one to temper the insanity.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on November 26, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 15
Some people have too much time on their hands
Posted by Urgutha Forka on November 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Bonefish 16
There's something ironically puritanical about people who have to wrap their desires up in the flag of some noble struggle before they can feel like it's valid to enjoy them.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM · Report this
17
What that writer said.

I've been in an open relationship for coming up on eight years now and I don't know that I'd describe myself as polyamorous. Monogamish for sure, but poly? Not really, not beyond the Sex At Dawn sense: "We're not wired for monogamy but if you're happy with it..."

In my experience, though, the folks I've met who are the loudest about being polyamorous strike me as the most selfish. "I love her but I'm poly and I want to have my cake and eat it too!!!"
Posted by Chris B http://eccentric-orbit.org on November 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 18
I'm not even sure what the polyamoric "orientation" would consist of. Loving more than one person? Anyone who didn't marry their first girlfriend/boyfriend would then be "polyamorous". Romantically loving more than one person at a time? Most people who have had affairs would qualify, which again is a large portion of the population. Ditto those who remarry after the death of their spouse.

The only sensible definition IMO is by conduct-- a person is polyamorous if they are in (or seeking to be in) a polyamorous relationship. Which makes polyamory a choice, not an orientation.

Sidenote: Not attacking polyamory as a choice. I've been in polyamorous relationships in the past and found them quite fulfilling.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on November 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Report this
19
I think 5 hits the core of it: mono/poly is one of those things that people feel pretty hard-wired about. They may be flexible, not remotely flexible, or never thought they would be flexible until they met the person they're with. This applies to a whole ton of sexual and romantic preferences, and making every one of those an "orientation" removes meaning from the term.

And Bonefish @16, loved your post on the column in question. It said everything that needed to be said.
Posted by IPJ on November 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM · Report this
I Hate Screen Names 20
Also, what @17 said.

What really pisses me off is when people "discover" they are polyamorous while in a long-term relationship. They then attempt sexual identity bullshit to guilt their partner into (essentially) sanctioning their affair. Talk about having their cake and wanting to eat it too.
Posted by I Hate Screen Names on November 26, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
21
@2 A lot of people define being trans as a matter of gender identity, not sexual orientation. It doesn't mean they're against transsexualism. It's a matter of definition.
Posted by oskomena on November 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM · Report this
in-frequent 22
well, if it is an orientation, it's kind of funny that the original letter writer thinks his partner might change her mind if only she is exposed to it properly.
Posted by in-frequent on November 26, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Norbeck 25
@ 14 holy crap! I almost got sucked into that black hole.
Bailo, why not just e-mail directly back and forth with your "moderator" ? The longer I lurk here the more wtf you get.
Posted by Norbeck on November 26, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 26
I tend to think of it as something like sexual temperament. Yes, it’s fairly hardwired in most of us, but it’s not “orientation” (direction, what you’re pointed at).

I’m not especially jealous or possessive and at different times I have tried to maintain multiple simultaneous relationships more or less successfully, but I’m basically monogamous by temperament. I don’t get crushes on other people when I have a partner. It just doesn’t happen. I can think someone’s hot, but it’s a fairly intellectual observation.

Among people of less-monogamous temperament, what makes the difference between being poly and being a CPoS is the outcome of a combination of various character traits like narcissm, communication skills, patience and conscentiousness. None of those are orientations.

Some people don’t tolerate poly relationships particularly well, but they hate the oppression of coupledom even worse so they make it work. That’s not an orientation either, that would be a “lifestyle choice.”

Not sure why someone would want to call it “orientation.” Get your own word.
Posted by Alison Cummins http://cleanmyscreen.peghole.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
27
@2

>implying that savage is against polyamory
>misconstruction of statements to fit a manufactured ideological fallacy
>doing so in savage's paper's own comments section
Posted by K on November 26, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
STS 28
I think polyamory is one of those things that are both hardwired AND a relationship structure decision. There are people who must be in a multi-person arrangement. those who are open to multi-person, and those who cannot be in a multi-person arrangement. Those people then go further to choose the person(s) they will be with and a structure for those precise relationships.

Here's the interesting part: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of my relationships, or whether I am polyamorous or I do polyamory. Neither answer gives anyone else the right to treat my family like shit. Neither should it give anyone smug self-satisfaction about their own "normalcy", because there is absolutely nothing to win or gain for those who would judge us.

The reason people are tempted to call it an orientation is because of the very real legal issues polyfolk do face. I've been stable in my three partner relationship for almost eight years, but most states would still take my kid because the relationship isn't monogamous and therefore is inherently "unstable". We have to start a company to buy property or insurance together. We can be fired for our relationship if our boss feels like it.

The problem isn't whether we are born this way, it is whether it is ever okay for society to treat people the way it does.
Posted by STS on November 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
29
Seems to me that GLB individuals could also be polyamorous. If so, guess the discussion is moot...
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on November 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
30
I'll try to refrain from adding any more shit to the storm, but I'd also have to disagree. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual aren't physical desires or feelings by themselves either. They refer to physical desires and feelings that a person might have. It's a similar thing with polyamory and monogamy. A polyamorous person wants to experience multiple concurrent relationships, and most would be miserable in total monogamy.

I don't think that by calling it an orientation, anyone is trying to say that being polyamorous is the same thing as being gay with the same kinds of struggles and feelings. I do think there's enough overlap to use some of the same terminology, and that orientation is a reasonable word to use.
Posted by redsweater68 on November 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Report this
31
I think that part of the online criticism that is happening is because Dan not only denies polyamory as a sexual orientation, but as an **identity** as well.

"It's not something you are, it's something you do"
"There are only people - gay, straight, bi - and some people are in monogamous relationships, some are in open relationships, some are in polyamrous relationships, some are in monogamish relationships, some are in four-star general-relationships".

There are a lot of people in the polyamory community who believe that the ability to love multiple people simultaneously is a part of who they are, and thus see it as a part of their identity.

There's a lot of politics around ... identity politics - especially when it comes to issues of discrimination. Polyamory is not considered a protected class, so those who identify as poly and are out risk their jobs and custody of their children by being out. As mentioned in a previous comment, those who are polyamorous and acting on their beliefs/needs also run the risk of breaking the law in states that have tighter adultry/fornication laws.

Rather than nit-picking on how others perceive themselves and drawing lines on what counts as an orientation or identity, we should work towards equality for all who live in an ethical and loving manner - whether they love someone of the same or opposite (or non-binary) gender, and whether they love one or many people simultaneously. Ultimately this is about the fundamental right for each of us to build our family as we see fit.
Posted by Polyamory Pundit on November 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 32
Pollyanna is NOT a sexual orientation!
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
samktg 33
My god, SRotU. What the fuck is your malfunction!?
Posted by samktg on November 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
34
Comment 22: Nailed it! If being poly is in the same category as being born that way than his partner cannot be changed on the subject any more than he can. If she can be convinced that poly is the way to be than he can just as easily be convinced that monogamy is the price of admission for this particular relationship. I dig that the poly crowd has found a community and acceptance of and for each other--as a dyke I am all for finding strength by finding others--but surely not everyone who finds a community of like-minded individuals is by definition born that way. There's a poly group that meets every week at my favorite coffeehouse. On a different day there's a Scrabble group. Does this mean that the Scrabble group, though the power of having met online and then in person, can ONLY play scrabble? Can Doctor Who fans not watch Star Trek? I know these are not all the same things, but I do think it's important to make a distinction between who we are and what we like. Not every part of our identity is hard wired. Perhaps the writer of that letter is not as selfish as has been assumed. Maybe he is not just trying to keep the door open to sex with other people but instead is trying to keep the door open on a community and identity that has given him strength and hope in darker times. All well and good, but is it not also possible to be part of that community while in a monogamous relationship, or would these loyal and true friends desert him?
Posted by LDuP on November 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Bonefish 35
A lot of people are confused because of the "choice vs orientation" dichotomy that's been highlighted during the gay rights movement. Homosexuality's status as an orientation is usually mentioned in response to accusations that gay people are simply choosing to be gay. So when poly people observe that they didn't "choose" to be attracted to multiple people at once, their polyamory must be a sexual orientation too.

The problem is that the term "orientation" isn't supposed to include everything that isn't a choice. The word has a fairly specific use regarding sexuality; it's used to differentiate people according to the gender (male, female, both, trans, intersex, all, etc) that they're attracted to. It's not meant to differentiate sexual practices that are valid, or important, or natural, or that involve romance and commitment rather than "just" sexual acts. Something can be all these things and still not be an orientation. To argue that something is not an orientation does not mean that one is denigrating or "lessening" it. Status as an orientation is not a prize given to mark importance or social approval. It's a description.

Most people, whether they admit it or not, are attracted to multiple people (some genuinely aren't, but they're rare). At humanity's beginnings, polygamy was the default. Whether committed relationships were formed or not, most people were fucking and forming emotional bonds with a lot of other people (some same-sex, some opposite-sex, some both). Monogamy is a relatively recent sexual/romantic arrangement that mostly came about as a byproduct of how society has organized itself over the past couple thousand years (and it's been considered compulsory to varying degrees in various places/times).

Given this, it doesn't make much sense to use "monogamy" or "polygamy" as sexual orientations, since (unlike sexual orientation) they are more clearly delineated by the arrangements people choose than by their inner desires. The desire for multiple people is something that most monogamous people SHARE with polygamous people, so these two groups aren't really separated if this unchosen desire is the basis for classifying them.

Monogamous people have many reasons, valid and not, for being monogamous. Maybe they've thought about the genuine tradeoffs (lower risk, lower effort, etc) and decided monogamy is better for them. Maybe they're insecure and would feel threatened by competition over their partner. Maybe their partner requires monogamy and being with him/her is important enough to them to pay that price. Maybe they're just monogamous because their religion or culture would disapprove if they weren't, and they don't want to rock the boat. Etc. The point is, out of all these reasons, being only attracted to one person in the world is a rare one. The arrangement that these people choose is a more significant common factor than their reasons for choosing it.

It therefore makes more sense to differentiate according to the arrangement people have chosen rather than according to whether they're attracted to multiple people, even if polyamory is the only arrangement they would ever want or could ever successfully engage in.

Now, polyamory as an IDENTITY is something I'd find more accurate, because each of your partners might be important to your social and family life, making it important to identify as poly for practical reasons. This is another parallel with homosexuality that adds some cloudiness to the "poly as orientation" debate, but identity is not the same as orientation.
More...
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Report this
36
It's all a bunch of bullshit. People fuck things. Sometimes they have preferences for what they fuck, or how they fuck, or how many they fuck.

Culture, ingrained ideas about gender and performance, physical environment, personal preferences, etc. all may contribute to this. Some people may be more flexible in their fucking/loving than others.

The very concept of "orientation" is a culturally derived idea. We can argue about how to apply this human-made idea all we like, but it's just bullshit. It's bullshit so deep we can't even look around and realize--holy shit!--our ideas about sexual preference and gender are a little over a hundred years old at best and a few decades old at worst. The current concepts of orientation and identity are all incredibly new.

One person may only be capable of being happy in poly relationships; another person may spend thirty years in straight relationships and then discover that she only wants to be in lesbian ones for the rest of her life, having been perfectly satisfied with both during those periods of her life. We are all variable and pretending like orientation is some discreet, easily classifiable thing that has existed in its present form throughout human history and across cultures is laughable.
Posted by Zuulabelle http://www.mellophant.com on November 26, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
37
The funadamental flaw in the question "is ployamory an orientation?" is the mistaken idea that language is about reality. It's not. There's no real thing called polyamory or orientation. Or bloody gender for fucks sake. These are ideas we map onto reality.

That's not to say those things aren't real either. Nor that realness should matter the way we make it. The whole dichotomoy of going "things are real" so we have to acknowledge them and respect them or things are not real "so we can treat them like crap" is a strange politic. It's a hangover from a struggle for legitimacy that needn't have ever been framed in those terms. It's succumbing to something called the reification of sexuality.

The question is only whether or not something is benifitial not real. Is it benifitial to say that someones polyamory is a relatively fixed and salient feature of their relationships across time? If so call it an orientation or whatever. Is it useful to describe it in less fixed, less important terms then call it something else. Best of all keep open the cognitivie space to call one persons "polyamory" an orientation and anothers a kink and anothers a passing fancy - without judgement on either of these terms.

I try and make these points here regarding same-sex attraction http://humblewonderful.blogspot.com.au/2…

It hasn't been purely benificial to accept the idea of sexual orientation generally though I think its probably done more good than harm. But its not "real" or "not-real."
Posted by humblewonderful on November 26, 2012 at 1:18 PM · Report this
38
Why are people who live in Kent commenting on this post? Shouldn't you be reading the Weekly or something?
Posted by JimmyCap on November 26, 2012 at 1:21 PM · Report this
39
@37
That's not to say those things aren't real either. Nor that realness should matter the way we make it. The whole dichotomoy of going "things are real" so we have to acknowledge them and respect them or things are not real "so we can treat them like crap" is a strange politic. It's a hangover from a struggle for legitimacy that needn't have ever been framed in those terms. It's succumbing to something called the reification of sexuality.

You put this much better than I did. Thank you.
Posted by Zuulabelle http://www.mellophant.com on November 26, 2012 at 1:24 PM · Report this
41
I agree with Dan; poly is a choice if fidelity is. Each to his own to be sure- whatever gets your dick hard. But when my wife and I are together, communing to conceive a child, we fly. My point is polygamy is better than polyamory (and monogamy for that matter), and it should follow ‘gay’ marriage down the slippery slope.

Obvious Caveat: Polygyny works when the wives want to marry each other.

Having a wife and a mistress be good friends isn’t at all uncommon in the land of menage a troises. Some say not just the French but all people are bisexual, and they operate somewhere on the continuum from fanaticism to 50th%ile depending on their degree of freedom and curiosity. Anyways undoubtedly some women are. And what woman wouldn’t want a wife? Someone beautiful who loves you too to kiss and cuddle and shower shave and shit with, a cooperator not a cooperator, to cherish til death do you part even if your husband is late. To raise the kids with, to lean on, a strong sister who contributes harmony and laughter to the team, i.e. family, aka tribe.

But I’d be devastated if either of them had something on the side; so would they should I.

I read an article about how being poly could help you transcend your ego; that jealousy was an attachment which leads to suffering. It was very Buddhist- I liked it. But I don’t allow other men’s dicks anywhere near my wife. She’s appreciative. My dick for her is enough. I’m appreciative. Slutty isn’t my type.

However I do like various vaginas you know? I think I might, like, identify as polyamorous-orientated and that.

My wife is 31 and childless; all she requires is that she bear my first. She knows I dream of children (literally); that I want to create some in a spiritual sense, and by doing so, hopefully achieve my own brand of enlightenment, i.e. vocation, aka purpose.

She would be more than happy to have extra energetic hands around. Of course, if we did ‘marry’ our lover, we could only call her our spiritual bride. That’s even lower than domestic partner.

Everyone knows we have a 14th amendment right to do whom we choose but I’m talking about about the FIRST amendment: Freedom of Church.

Which is also of course a good excuse for assfucking strangers in masquerade masks at full moon drunken orgies.
More...
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
TVDinner 42
@14: Holy jeebus.

Bailo, do you not work because you have been declared disabled due to mental illness? That's a serious question.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on November 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
43
I believe being polyamorous is part of my identity, of who I am, and I believe that it is not something I have control over. That is the part of my identity. I certainly have control over my actions, but then again, a bisexual person doesn't become straight when they're involved monogamously with the opposite gender. They're still bi and it's still part of them.

So I believe that even in a monogamous relationship, a polyamorous person is still polyamorous. That's why I believe that there is a difference between the relationship description, and the person's "relationship orientation". I don't think it's the best word do describe it, either, but I don't know of a better one.

Of course, it's not a sexual orientation the same way straight, gay, bi, pan and asexual are. A poly person can be any of these things, they're on a different level.

Nor does it mean that a poly person has to be constantly in love with more than one person (just like a mono person isn't constantly in love with one person).

But what I know is that when I was in a monogamous relationship, and trying my hardest to be monogamous, I was denying a part of who I am. I knew that I formed personal connections faster and more involved than the average person, and to control myself I had to stay away from situations where I could socialise. In the end, I became so paranoid about it that I left my job and didn't even go shopping.
Obviously, I was over-reacting. But it was terrifying to me that just by liking someone (not acting on it, just having feelings for them) I would already be committing emotional cheating and hurting my partner.

After I came out to my partner, I still didn't meet anyone else for two years. But during these two years, I felt free to be myself, and accepted, and nothing like the emotional wreck I was before.

I wouldn't describe polyamory as a fetish, or a sexual preference. I think it is just a different way of relating to people. And I do think some people are wired mono, some are wired poly, and some can go either way. And in that way, it seems similar to me to an orientation, albeit not a sexual one.

Had I understood more about myself, I would have told my partner from the get go. This relationship has ended now, it was years ago, and it can be hard to find partners who are fine with polyamory, but I remind myself that if they aren't, one of us is just going to end up hurting the other, and that's not what a healthy relationship is all about.
More...
Posted by Avistew on November 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
seandr 44
@40: I would argue that the vast majority of people would have multiple sexual partners if they could manage the jealousy and proprietary stuff.

I'd put it somewhat differently. Most people experience a number of different natural impulses with respect to sex and relationships. Some of those impulses (jealousy, stability, shyness, safety, familiarity) favor monogamy. Others (adventure, stimulation, attraction) favor polyamory.

Depending on how strong those competing impulses are in a given individual, they'll prefer one or the other arrangement.
Posted by seandr on November 26, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
45
I am going to end with a question: is masturbation a sexual orientation?

First a thought or three. In practice, every person has their own sexual orientation. No two people are oriented, sexually, the same. Speaking in terms of a trend, definition or label, to understand whether polyamory is a sexual orientation we would need to define the terms, and do a study.

Or we could ask people their experiences. We could relate, from an introspective point of view, our experience of orienting. My experience is that I knew I could love more than one person without conflict from about age 7 or 8 (2nd or 3rd grade in the U.S. school system). Obviously I did not have the word, but I knew, just like a gay boy knows he's gay because he's attracted to other boys, that I was attracted to, and could, and did, love, more than one person.

Part of the issue of "is polyamory a sexual orientation" involves the definition of polyamory, which is a byword or umbrella term describing many different modes of relationship. They are as different from one another as intimate network (the original definition of poly, according to C.T. Butler) to group marriage (also included under panfidelity -- of which there are several styles).

Part of the problem with this discussion is that both terms -- polyamory and sexual orientation -- are neither well understood, or well defined. So it's difficult to say, "Is this, that?" when your this and that are vague.

None of this would be an issue were there not some controversy around being anything other than monogamous heterosexual. I would for the sake of inclusiveness include any mode of sexual or emotional expression other than mono hetero as a sexual orientation, and I would toss in mono hetero as well (to the extent that it exists, which is a big question).

As for masturbation. Is being self-sexual a sexual orientation? Is it one, when someone also has sex with other people? Is it possible to be your own lover, as your primary orientation? Is one of the most significant and meaningful differences between people the way they relate to themselves, which influences how we relate to others more than any other factor?
More...
Posted by Eric Francis on November 26, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
46
I am going to end with a question: is masturbation a sexual orientation?

First a thought or three. In practice, every person has their own sexual orientation. No two people are oriented, sexually, the same. Speaking in terms of a trend, definition or label, to understand whether polyamory is a sexual orientation we would need to define the terms, and do a study.

Or we could ask people their experiences. We could relate, from an introspective point of view, our experience of orienting. My experience is that I knew I could love more than one person without conflict from about age 7 or 8 (2nd or 3rd grade in the U.S. school system). Obviously I did not have the word, but I knew, just like a gay boy knows he's gay because he's attracted to other boys, that I was attracted to, and could, and did, love, more than one person.

Part of the issue of "is polyamory a sexual orientation" involves the definition of polyamory, which is a byword or umbrella term describing many different modes of relationship. They are as different from one another as intimate network (the original definition of poly, according to C.T. Butler) to group marriage (also included under panfidelity -- of which there are several styles).

Part of the problem with this discussion is that both terms -- polyamory and sexual orientation -- are neither well understood, or well defined. So it's difficult to say, "Is this, that?" when your this and that are vague.

None of this would be an issue were there not some controversy around being anything other than monogamous heterosexual. I would for the sake of inclusiveness include any mode of sexual or emotional expression other than mono hetero as a sexual orientation, and I would toss in mono hetero as well (to the extent that it exists, which is a big question).

As for masturbation. Is being self-sexual a sexual orientation? Is it one, when someone also has sex with other people? Is it possible to be your own lover, as your primary orientation? Is one of the most significant and meaningful differences between people the way they relate to themselves, which influences how we relate to others more than any other factor?
More...
Posted by Eric Francis on November 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
anitawagnerillig 47
Dan, thanks for being open to all the feedback, including my own, and thanks for giving our community the opportunity to address this question in your next column.

I agree, as I did in my blog post, that polyamory is not per se sexual orientation. And you are quite right that PP uses the word poly incorrectly. Still, I don't want to be too hard on poor PP, he has enough to deal with without our taking him to task for misusing words. I created and moderated a very large yahoogroup for several years that serves people in PP's situation (LivingPolyMono). I have seen SO many people come into the polyamory community trying to work out this kind of conflict, and I know we will continue to see it happen as more and more people realize that monogamy isn't their only option.

As to the question of orientation, it's important to acknowledge that for a significant number of polyamorists, having more than one romantic partner with everyone's knowledge and consent truly is something they experience as a part of who they are. Like being gay, it doesn't go away if they happen not to have other partners at any given time, so it's not to them about what they do. It's still how they see themselves, the way they frame their lives, or at least the part of their lives that have to do with love and intimate romance. Yes, they can make a choice to not have other partners. Some do so more comfortably than others do. Some have happy monogamous relationships regardless - and some don't. The choice is definitely much more difficult for some than for others. And just as regardless of your sexual orientation you can choose not to partner with men, polyamorists can choose not to partner with more than one - but it doesn't change their orientation toward nonmonogamy.

I believe we need new language for this. Sexual relationship orientation or romantic relationship orientation is a mouth full, but it's all I've got. I've been using those terms to refer to myself for lack of anything better for a few years now.
More...
Posted by anitawagnerillig http://www.practicalpolyamory.com on November 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 48
Count me as one who does not consider Poly a sexual orientation. You can be straight and poly, gay an poly, bi and poly. Being polyamorous (or not) has nothing to do with your sexual orientation.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on November 26, 2012 at 3:52 PM · Report this
50
@41 - You "don't allow" other dicks around your wife but you want more than one vagina? Are you for real? I'm not a hardcore feminist but that is the most misogynistic thing I've read in weeks!

Not to mention, as a straight woman, I sure as hell don't want a wife... But my husband and my partner sure make me wish polyandry was legal.
Posted by OpenSourceHeart on November 26, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 51
4,12: it's all fun and games until you're in family court trying to keep custody of your children, then suddenly your 'privilege' buys you a fuckload less than you'd expect if the judge decides s/he doesn't like the cut of your jib.

(That said, calling it a sexual orientation is nonsense.)
Posted by Doctor Memory http://blahg.blank.org on November 26, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
Posted by wfenza on November 26, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
53
*Some* people also consider kink or bdsm a sexual orientation. If they can't get off without it then I'd say it is.
Posted by loveofmystery http://loveofmystery.com on November 26, 2012 at 5:13 PM · Report this
55
As a life time Polyamorous person, and a polyamory awareness and rights educator and activist, I agree that Polyamory it is not a sexual orientation. I do feel that it is a "relationship" orientation.....and indeed an orientation. One might even go so far to say that monogamy is a relatively modern invention, brought on by massive cultural shifts, by which it was determined humankind must be reprogrammed to accept. This no one is actually monogamously oriented, but rather just programmed to accept and even idealize the monogamous dream. One might consider the observations expressed in the book, "Sex at Dawn".

Tara Shakti-Ma )O(

Join us at any of the following groups. Each also has a Facebook presence...

~http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ExpansiveL… - An internationally serving on-line group for spiritually and new-paradigm inclined poly-folk.

~ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NEAPN/ - Serving as a central announcement resource for poly-folk in and around the New England area.

~ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BMAPN/ (Berkshire Mountain Area Polyamory Network) - A polyamory social and support group that meets regularly in New Lebanon, NY.
Posted by Tara Shakti-Ma on November 26, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
54
Not a sexual orientation? That's exactly what they used to say about gay orientation. It's not a sexual orientation, it's an abomination, a mental disorder, a crime.
Poly is certainly not just a feeling. But it does not follow that if half the country is poly, then it can't be an orientation. More than half the country is hetero and yet we accept that as sexual orientation. Is that absurd?
It does not involve the type but the number? So? Since when orientation is determined by type but not number? If you can't function under exclusivity, if you need S&M to feel sexually fulfilled, if whatever, all that are different orientations too.
The key is whether you want and are ok with the traditional sexuality model (hetero, monogamous, vanilla) or whether you need something else to feel happy (gay, poly, BDSM).
Posted by hidden self on November 26, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
56
just some definition clarification.

polygyny is one husband many wives, polyandry is one wife, many husbands. polygamy is an umbrella term for both, a marriage of more than two partners.

it annoys me so when they are mis-used.

the mormon "polygamy" (grr) was shot down, legally, in our country because it was in fact polygyny, thus un-equally between parties.
Posted by enoch on November 26, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Report this
57
@56 you might want to check that fact.
Posted by Eric Francis on November 26, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
58
I'm fall in love with genitals, bis fall in love with people, polys fall in love with crowds.
Posted by DisorganizedReligion on November 26, 2012 at 7:29 PM · Report this
Lissa 59
@41: I'm with 50.
You come off as touchyfeelycreepydouchey. What's good for the gander should be good for the goose as well. And that description of, essentially sister wives, you gave......just ew. And I say that as the fast friend of my husband's girlfriend.
Posted by Lissa on November 26, 2012 at 8:08 PM · Report this
60
Polyamory absolutely is about sex and physical intimacy, even though it is also about other things. A person in a monoamorous relationship might have friends outside that relationship. He or she might even love those friends. But they're not having sex.

As for whether or not polyamory is a "sexual orientation," that is entirely dependent on the definition of the term. Is it sexual? Yup. Can one be oriented toward it? Yup again. Is it consistent with the current official definition and unofficial connotations of the term "sexual orientation" as an unchosen state of being rather than a deliberately selected way of life? Nope.

I would say that Mr. Savage's response to last week's letter writer reminded me of "homosexuality is a choice" rhetoric, but the conclusion was correct: Most people crave the freedom to sex with all sorts of people; we curtail those desires because that's what it takes to be in most committed relationships. People who find this too restrictive should not enter into most committed relationships but should rather remain uncommitted and free. People trade the freedom to have sex with many partners for the security and focus of a one-on-one relationship.
Posted by DRF on November 26, 2012 at 9:09 PM · Report this
mtnlion 62
For the love of God, I need a vibrator to come, but I don't claim it's part of my orientation.

I think some people just need to feel persecuted/misunderstood in order to feel they have meaning.
Posted by mtnlion http://radicalish.wordpress.com on November 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM · Report this
63
This whole fucking conversation gives me a headache. But, I must agree that polyamory is not a sexual orientation, it is a preference for the manner in which one engages with others (be it none, one, or many) surrounding relationships and sexual encounters.
Posted by Ciaran on November 26, 2012 at 9:55 PM · Report this
balderdash 64
@54, I feel like it's more akin to the question of whether there's a "gay gene." It's a meaningful distinction, whether homosexuality is a choice or not, and whether or not it's determined by genetics or environment if it's not, but it's not THE meaningful distinction. In the question of what is right, and what people's rights are, the cause is a red fucking herring.

Similarly here. Whether poly is an orientation, a lifestyle choice, a social philosophy, or something that mixes any two or three is an interesting discussion but entirely beside the point when determining whether or not it's right, permissible, or ought to be legal. And yes, I know words have power and rhetoric shapes politics, and that is precisely why it's a bad idea to let discussions like this become ideological battlegrounds. The ultimate redoubt of champions of equality is always people's inalienable right to self-determination so long as they're not hurting anyone. Losing sight of that is bad news.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on November 26, 2012 at 9:55 PM · Report this
65
I strongly disagree with your position on this one.
Natalia Garcia
Creator/Director/Executive Producer of Showtime's "Polyamory: Married & Dating"
Posted by directornatalia on November 26, 2012 at 10:51 PM · Report this
66
I strongly disagree with your position on this one.
Natalia Garcia
Creator/Director/Executive Producer of Showtime's "Polyamory: Married & Dating"
Posted by directornatalia on November 26, 2012 at 10:53 PM · Report this
67
@50 You're exactly the jerk-judge-me-misogynist can't-recognize-irony same-as-me-slut I'm talking about. You want 2 husbands I can't want 2 cunts?
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 11:42 PM · Report this
68
@59 What's good for the duck duck goose I agree, certainly, I only speak of my personal experience. How would you feel about your husband impregnating the friend of whom you wrote? How do you presume he'd feel about it? Ever ask him? I would never dare to underestimate your understanding of my position but have you even seen sister wives? It's the furthest thang from freaky.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM · Report this
69
@59 What's good for the duck duck goose I agree, certainly, I can only dicktate my personal experience. How would you feel about your husband impregnating the friend of whom you wrote? How do you presume he'd feel about it? Ever ask him? I would never dare to underestimate your understanding of my position but have you even seen sister wives? It's the furthest thang from freaky.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 26, 2012 at 11:56 PM · Report this
70
@56 Thanks for the clarification of terms on behalf of anyone interested.

@57 In response to that fact check request:

The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act (37th USC Sess.2 Ch. 126, 12 Stat. 501), which was signed into law by that great emancipator Abraham Lincoln, banned bigamy and limited Mormon church ownership of U.S. territories, although laws specifically targeting of any subgroup -such as Mormons- are flagrantly unconstitutional.

In Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145,162 (1878), the Supreme Court opined that polygamy was ‘Non-Christian’, and ‘more appropriate for Asians and Africans’ than for Americans, and that, like human sacrifice, polygamy was not a legitimate spiritual practice which should trigger First Amendment protection. Embarrassingly, this case remains good precedent today. See, e.g, State of Utah v. Green, 2004 UT 76.

Here's what happened:

Right when Utah wanted to become a United State Mormon fathers had a convenient revelation that bigamy was suddenly bad and some families fled to the wilderness, which wilds man, and pederasts perverting teachings proclaimed themselves prophets. Then came the stories, which colored the headlines, and the perception of latter day polygamists.

And maybe some do still live in inbred and abusive situations, who knows. But there are many others of us than that, and any list of sexually perverted horrors which names bigamy in the same sentence as bestiality is an excellent illustration of a radically underinformed point of view (Lawrence v. Texas).

It's equitable when it's consensual.

Just like it would be between two boys and a girl.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM · Report this
71
@52
Interesting. I do happen to be a Scot.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 27, 2012 at 2:41 AM · Report this
Lissa 72
@69: Surprised. He's been snipped for decades, so that scenario is unlikely. I think the underlying question you are asking is actually about jealousy.
Posted by Lissa on November 27, 2012 at 5:25 AM · Report this
smajor82 73
@2 If you want to sound like a pompous blow-hard, it's "Neo Liberal", not "New Liberal". Jackass.
Posted by smajor82 on November 27, 2012 at 6:10 AM · Report this
Bonefish 74
67: Yep, that post doesn't make you sound like a creepy misogynist at ALL. Hopefully your "sister-wives" will wise up someday and enter a poly arrangement with someone who's actually mature enough to handle it properly.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a polygnous arrangement if that's what everyone agrees on of course, but a healthy polygynous arrangement wouldn't involve a bunch of talk about "wanting two cunts" and "allowing" dicks near your "sister-wives." Unless that's also some type of 24/7 kink thing that they're on board with, it's creepy no matter what number of partners you have. And that's the difference between you and the "slut" who wants two husbands.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM · Report this
75
I heard that the current Mormon take on marriage and polygamy is that it's spiritually okay but not temporally okay. For example, if a married Mormon couple divorces, the woman would need a Mormon annulment to remarry within the church but the man wouldn't.
Posted by DRF on November 27, 2012 at 10:10 AM · Report this
76
Calling polyamory a sexual orientation is patently ridiculous....I know what this is all about, this is about moving the idea of poly forward and trying to have rights and equality afforded to poly relationships....before everyone starts beating the crap out of me, I'm totally for the idea of plural relationships...HOWEVER. This is uncharted territory for many people, and until folks can show responsible and respectful models for poly relationships I think people should cool their jets. I see a whole lot of f**ktarded behavior in these circles, and there's no flipping way that the normals are going to get on board with the idea that plural relationships have any tangible outcome. The perception is that poly relationships are a freakshow, and unfortunately the poly people aren't helping themselves....
Posted by verycarrie1969 on November 27, 2012 at 10:57 AM · Report this
GhostDog 77
I'd say that when I look at my own experience I'd say that poly isn't an orientation.

The way I understand something as strong as an orientation is that even the most abusive and hateful arrangement that leans toward your situation is better than the best situation that doesn't.

I was in a poly relationship for almost seven years until I was tossed out. A few months later I started seeing someone monogamously. If poly was an orientation then it wouldn't matter how good the other person was to me I would still feel unfulfilled because I didn't have other relationships.

And I can assure you that is not the case in any way shape or form. At this point I see absolutely no reason for me to be poly and honestly am a bit confused why any guy not in San Francisco or maybe New York City would do that to themselves. By whatever metric you want to use I get more and better in a monogamous relationship then I ever did when I was poly.
Posted by GhostDog on November 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Lissa 78
74: Truly Bonefish, I must agree with your assessment.  A triangle of his description, if agreed upon by all participants is one thing, but the way gypsysattva describes it….ick. Just ick. His posts set off all my “Here, let me adjust your chakra/lay the Holy Spirit on you/get those kinks out of your neck, oops is that my hand down you pants?” alarms.  Like I said: touchfeelycreepydouchey.
@77: That rings true to me. I've gone back and forth between poly and monogamy depending on the relationship and persons involved as well.
Posted by Lissa on November 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Report this
Megaera 79
Looking back at the original letter, I see that PP describes poly as his 'sexual identity' not his 'sexual orientation.' Of course, there is more to that letter that was not published, so perhaps he referred to it as an 'orientation' elsewhere in the letter. The discussion is interesting anyway.
Posted by Megaera on November 27, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
Stacy in Austin 80
We're primates, and generally like to bone as many different people as we can, as far as basic biology goes. Most of society teaches us not to do this, and gives many reasons (some good, some bad), but I'd guess that a vast majority of the monogamous folks out there have gotten tingly over someone who isn't their partner- barista, porn actor, etc. The urge is there, but the moral code/cultural indoctrination/whatever you want to call it tells them to ignore or repress or sublimate the urge.

Polyamory is one particular variation of how to organize your sexual relationships. Monogamy, serial monogamy, cheating, and swinging (and I suppose contented onanism) are some other ways. You may be temperamentally pre-disposed to be good at any of these- you're not prone to jealousy, you might be good at poly. But I don't think anyone is born "a poly". It's not an orientation in that sense. Neither is religion, but there are definitely examples of different personality types fitting better with one religion or another, and religion is protected under the law. So I don't think it lessens the legitimacy of polyamory by saying it's not an orientation.

Personally, I think polyamory is a type of specialized relationship structure that takes a lot of skill to do right. Arnold Schwarzenegger does monogamy badly, and I've met plenty of people who do poly badly. You may like the idea, and you may have a good personality for it, but if you don't do a lot of work and get your relationship/communications chops up you're going to suck at it. The same is true of monogamy, by the way; monogamy is less complicated but farther from our natural state. Being good at relationships of any sort takes work, but poly is more of a challenge because most of us didn't grow up even realizing it was a possibility, so there's a lot of flailing around when you first start out. I think this is true in the personal sense, and in the cultural sense as a whole- I see the poly community as flailing around while it figures itself out. But I don't think there's any doubt that polyamorous relationships are possible, and work really well for some people. Eventually one hopes it will be as accepted as a legitimate option, and this talk of poly folks getting fired or poly families getting children taken away will seem as idiotic by the general population as it does to us weirdos today.
More...
Posted by Stacy in Austin on November 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
GhostDog 81
@ 78

Exactly! If by some bizarre set of circumstances a poly arrangement(please note, this does not necessarily mean I have two people who can't do things with other people of any gender. Two girls who are dating a guy and a girl each? Sure! Three girls who each have two separate guys? Groovy!) happened all at once that would allow me to get all of my relationship needs met(i.e., I'm not going months without sex because the one person I'm intimate with can't keep up with having sex with 3 people at once) and didn't make me want to choke myself with my own intestines due to the drama I would be willing to hear the interested party/parties out.

But at the same token if I was with the person I'm with now for the rest of my days or things didn't work out and I ended up having a chain of monogamous relationships if they were of the quality I am enjoying now I'd be just fine with it.
Posted by GhostDog on November 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
82
I demand that my desire for blow jobs from twin red heads (followed immediately by pizza and a nap) be recognized as a sexual orientation and my right to that be enshrined into law!
Posted by tkc on November 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
John Horstman 83
Bonefish is wise; I have nothing to add to hir assessment.
Posted by John Horstman on November 27, 2012 at 1:53 PM · Report this
84
@80: Actually primates use a number of different models, including both monogamy and one male with a harem as well as the lots of sex with everyone model. If you fit us into the other primate groups by sexual dimorphism, you get mild polygamy as the expectation.

Posted by IPJ on November 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
85
@60 - beg to differ. for me, poly is about emotional and physical intimacy, as well as sexual intimacy. and it is all about being committed. it's hard to find the right language, but i'll try.

i consider myself autonomous, because i have no 'primary' - no one who has veto rights of any kind. at the same time i have two people, who have been my family for more than 18 years. there have been every possible combination of living arrangements, the longest standing being one living down the road(with another partner) from the other two. we have all had other relationships, some of which have become 'family', some not. some of those 'other' relationships were long term, six or ten years, and a couple were considered a primary/monogamous-type affair. we have had two kids. it is possible(though unlikely) that there could be more.

where is this only about sex, or the absence of commitment?

if i have any partner, i have two. one is kinda my wife. the other is definitely my best friend. sometimes one of those relationships is sexual, sometimes both, sometimes neither - just like any long-term relationship, i'm guessing. but none of that changes the very deep and real commitment. and while the details may change, none of that real stuff changes, even when i have another(different) lover.

this doesn't mean that it has always been easy. these were my high-school sweethearts. we have put each other through hell a few times. :-) personally, i feel that my commitment to these people is such that who lives where, or who fucks who/who else, is just not the most important thing.
Posted by sappho on November 27, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
86
@ Lissa and Bonefish

Thank you for taking the time to read my comments and to reflect upon what they meant to you. Bonefish, I had a good little chuckle at the image my words apparently put in your mind. I can see how you wouldn’t totally respect someone who utilizes a thing as powerful spirituality to trick drunk sorority girls into having threeways.

Just for the record, this isn’t first date banter stuff, I’m describing my relationship with my WIFE with whom I intend to spend the rest of my LIFE and another woman who we BOTH want to MARRY. It’s serious.

Which is exactly the distinction I would like to point out between polygamy and polyfuckery: One is VERY SERIOUS, one isn’t. Obviously there are many polys out there in long-term committed partnerships with people not their husband or wife. That kind of situation strikes me as preferable to having an ‘open marriage’ or ‘swinging’ or ‘sleeping around with permission’, but according to MY particular innerGod fidelity is critical.

You both seem to find my intensity slightly offputting; probably I’m not your ideal partner then. However I AM exactly what the women who did choose me want. And that’s what I want. That’s vital for me. I want women who want me exactly as I am and each other too and nobody else. Call me a caveman. Call me a misogynist if you must, but that’s not who I am. In fact I am a romantic, and my harem bastards and I prefer the term Tribe.

I told my wife I identify as plyg before we got serious, indeed, as we were having our first discussion about the possibility of getting serious. It’s what she wanted too. She identifies as bisexual, which obviously helped. I knew she was bisexual when I began to date her. Maybe that’s even a big reason why I fell for her (well, one of uncountably many). But I didn’t coerce her. I’m not Charlie Manson, praying with and preying on runaways. We’re not a cult. We’re a family, dedicated to cornerstone of society freakin shit.

BTW I never said “sister wife”. I believe this is the passage to which you are referring:

“Someone beautiful who loves you too to kiss and cuddle and shower shave and shit with, a cooperator not a cooperator, to cherish til death do you part even if your husband is late. To raise the kids with, to lean on, a strong sister who contributes harmony and laughter to the team, i.e. family, aka tribe.”

I didn’t mention it, because I thought it obvious (and crude), but they also girlfuck.

To me, the “Big Love” or “Sister Wives” model seems like a ton of work. As does polyamory, what with the SCHEDULING! Both situations seem ripe for misunderstandings and jealousy and drama and furthermore less fun. Trust me, a bisexual triad works nice. As you’ve both admitted, in theory it doesn’t necessarily seem so terrible.

Just not with me because I’m gross then?

Perhaps it was my use of the word “allow”. Admittedly, I can see how my point could have been misinterpreted by someone of a mind to misinterpret it. So let me make another distinction: Unlike Warren Jeffs and his ilk, who dictate people’s futures for them, in keeping horny men away from my partners I am actually acting on THEIR desires (that is, my girlfriend’s and wife’s desires, not the sleezeballs’). Most people who aren’t looking for sex don’t love getting hit on, and they’re happy when they can beckon over a lion to do a bit of growling. I protect my women, which is what they WANT me to do. THEY want only the One Dick.

Perhaps you yourselves prefer not to be possessed by a man, perhaps that’s the “ick”?

But some women do want to be possessed. For SOME women (like my wife) that’s a very comfortable, very very nice feeling.

I know I want partners who won’t ever stray. I don’t think that’s so uncommonly rare. I knew what I was looking for, and I looked for it, and I found it. I would never have committed to having a serious relationship with either of my mates before laying every single card on the table, making sure we were all on the same page, and otherwise thoroughly mixing my metaphors because we’re talking about an ENTIRE LIFE together here, hopefully one lived with as much SPIRITUAL PURPOSE as we can muster. Marriage is different than any other type of relationship. It’s a union; you become one. Yeah I know, that’s corny. But

“touchyfeelycreepydouchy” kind of hurt my feelings.
More...
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 27, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
Lissa 87
@86: God dammit now you just poked me in my empathy gland. Sigh.
I'm sure that people of good will here on Slog would wish your tribe nothing but happiness as it is an arrangement upon which you all agree. Indeed, finding partners with whom one is so compatible is a rare and wonderful thing. Since you have this in your life, don't take on so the words of strangers on the internet. You don't have to convince us of anything. The women in your life presumably love you. You don't need Bonefish, or me for that matter, to swoon as well do you? Your writing style is indeed off putting. You're not a lion ok? That just sounds grandiose and insecure. But so what? I'm just some pixels.
I'd like to write more but I have to go to work, so I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. Now go have fun and stop writing like yoga instructor who "accidentally" rubs his dick on people during class.
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 7:26 AM · Report this
Lissa 88
"a" yoga instructor.
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 8:07 AM · Report this
89
I appreciate the empathy Lissa, and you're right about "who cares what other people think", however it IS frustrating that so many people (LGBTs and polys seemingly especially) have this knee-jerk reaction to polygamy (especially polygyny)- that it's somehow misogynist per se.

Unfortunately to make any headway towards being able to marry officially we're going to need a buttload of people on our side. Hence the First Amendment (freedom of Church) argument.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 28, 2012 at 8:31 AM · Report this
90
@ 85 I didn't say it was only about sex. I said, "Polyamory absolutely is about sex and physical intimacy, even though it is also about other things." This was a response to assertions that polyamory was not about sex.
Posted by DRF on November 28, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
Lissa 91
@89: We don't have a knee jerk reaction to the idea of that kind of triad. We are having a reaction to the way you are presenting it. Terms like "let" and "allow". The imagery of you as some dominant beast of prey, the overly specific description of a hetero normative fantasy of how women should interact with in an haram like situation etc. Frankly it's gross and skeevy. If you had described your situation more matter factly, like " hey this is the way we do it and everybody is on board" I doubt you would be getting so much push back.
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Lissa 92
DAMMIT! "an hetero normative " and "harem" not haram which is entirely different. I hate my phone.
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
93
@91 I am hetero (though far from normal), and I suppose it's fair to think of me as the leader of my pack, but I certainly don't prey on my partners. Perhaps some day they'll feel differently about wanting to make me as happy as they possibly can -and the thing that makes me happiest is that they love and respect each other & think of us as a team- but I doubt it.

What you choose to call gross is up to you of course, but I'm guessing you haven't had too many spiritual experiences while naked. If so (and if you're polyamorous) thank you for illustrating my point about the critical nature of fidelity.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Lissa 94
@93: You’re not listening.
Again, nobody here on Slog has a problem with your situation per se. You and your partners are on the same page, and happy, and I’m sure we all wish for you to remain so, because love is grand.
I have explained to you what the problem is, and why. You are, of course, free to express yourself on this topic in any way that you care to, but please stop pretending that the cool reception you have received here has anything to do with poly itself, or the lack of spirituality (experienced naked or otherwise) on the part of those posting here.
You’re a guy in a fulfilling relationship with two women, which is awesome, who creeps people out when he talks about it, which is unfortunate. That’s it.
 
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Bonefish 95
94: This is why I don't find him worth arguing with anymore. What he's doing is disingenuously framing any criticism of him as a sign that the critic "just doesn't get it." This is a commonly used cop-out and it's usually a sure sign that the person using it has no valid point to make.

It's the same as any Catholic priest who claims that anyone who questions them just isn't holy enough: in this case, he's decided that we're just not enlightened or "spiritual" enough to interpret him correctly when he communicates poorly.

It doesn't matter that none of our criticism has to do with being polygynous in general and that all of it centered on his creepy phrasing (like calling women "vaginas" in his original post). He's decided (wrongly, based on no evidence) that we're just bitter monogamists who are "of a mind to misinterpret" his words because we've never had spiritual experiences while naked, and he just repeats that in one form or another whenever corrected. Chalk this up to another case of fake open-mindedness and move on.
Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on November 28, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Lissa 96
Sigh, you're right Bonefish. I don't supposeI can be any more clear with him can I?
Guess I'll just head on home, draw a nice bath, and get spiritual. :)
Posted by Lissa on November 28, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
97
This has always been an obvious no. And it is the matter of fact obvious reason why the Republican "gay marriage=horse marriage" doesn't work. Sexual proclivity, and life style CHOICE aren't the same as ORIENTATION. Dumb sanctimonious liberal naval gazers overly concerned with being P.C. are holding us back.
Posted by bleepinbleep on November 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM · Report this
98
@ Bonefish

I don't know what your orientation is, but if you consider yourself polyfuckerous perhaps you wouldn't be if your partner(s) made you feel like a God (or a lion, or what have you)?

My purpose in attempting to describe this feeling was to elucidate the importance of fidelity to my particular situation, not to claim I am holier than thou but rather to provoke the question: Don't you want a bit of divinity in your life?

If you will grant me that marriage can be a conduit to enlightenment, will you then entertain my point that polygamists should be protected by the First Amendment?

For the record, here is the quote to which you referred: “I do like various vaginas you know? I think I might, like, identify as polyamorous-orientated and that.”

I'll leave it to others to judge whether they think I might've been going for a slightly ironic voice.

General criticism of my tone well taken though- thanks for the tip.
Posted by gypsysattva http://albloggo.blogspot.com/ on November 29, 2012 at 7:36 AM · Report this
99
I kind of wish polyamory were a choice for me. It certainly is for many (but then, it appears that many bisexual and gay men, especially if they're Republican politicians, "choose" to be heterosexual... with more or less success, that is).

I've always been poly, even before I knew there is a word for it. I've tried being monogamous in a relationship for three long years, and was miserable the entire time. A number of long, otherwise good relationships with good people ended because I couldn't "choose" to become monogamous for them(even though they were always told up front about my poly whatchamacallit). In my late 30's, I finally found myself with people who are happy with me the way I am, but it's been a long, hard road. Yes, being poly is not just a sexual orientation - it's, for some of us, a core personality orientation. But then, being transgendered is not a sexual orientation either; it's a core gender identity, Dan, and there's still that T in LGBT.

You may squabble about what word to use - orientation, identity, whatever - but, some of us *can't* choose, because we were born this way. One of my partners is a genuinely monogamous person, and he can't choose to be poly any more than I can choose to be mono. *It's how he's wired.*

If it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck...
Posted by Webmistress http://lovings.com on December 1, 2012 at 7:37 PM · Report this
100
I kind of wish polyamory were a choice for me. It certainly is for many (but then, it appears that many bisexual and gay men, especially if they're Republican politicians, "choose" to be heterosexual... with more or less success, that is).

I've always been poly, even before I knew there is a word for it. I've tried being monogamous in a relationship for three long years, and was miserable the entire time. A number of long, otherwise good relationships with good people ended because I couldn't "choose" to become monogamous for them(even though they were always told up front about my poly whatchamacallit). In my late 30's, I finally found myself with people who are happy with me the way I am, but it's been a long, hard road. Yes, being poly is not just a sexual orientation - it's, for some of us, a core personality orientation. But then, being transgendered is not a sexual orientation either; it's a core gender identity, Dan, and there's still that T in LGBT.

You may squabble about what word to use - orientation, identity, whatever - but, some of us *can't* choose, because we were born this way. One of my partners is a genuinely monogamous person, and he can't choose to be poly any more than I can choose to be mono. *It's how he's wired.*

If it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck...
Posted by Webmistress http://lovings.com on December 1, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
watchout5 101
I wouldn't call BDSM a sexual orientation, and while it's pretty easy to see the differences in that and polyamory I think there's a common link between them. They're both about what you do sexually and why. Rules of the game, if you will. When I hear sexual orientation I think of what you do with other's genitals. In some ways I don't think I choose polyamory as much as it choose me. Is that what makes something an orientation? I guess in that sense BDSM could be a sexual orientation. Probably too complicated for me, but I'm not going to go crazy if we have to chance a definition or 2.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on December 4, 2012 at 3:52 AM · Report this
BatMastersonJr 102
Polyamory not sexual? LOL. Grow a brain.
Posted by BatMastersonJr on February 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
104
Dan, I'm surprised at you. "Seems like an attempt to coopt the sympathy that the GLBT community has built up"? That feels very Olympics of Oppression-y. Does it really harm anyone's cause when they open their arms to embrace more misunderstood categories?

On the contrary--it makes a group seem hypocritical and elitist when they say "We deserve to be recognized! We deserve understanding! How dare you look down on us! Oh, hey guys…can you go away? You're making us look bad."

I hear the same tone here that people often use when speaking of homosexuality--as though it's not only self-indulgent, but selfish at the expense of the community, as though we're somehow our pleasure cruises are fueled straight from the (nearly exhausted) public morality reserves. We're just like anyone else…pursuing happiness in the way that makes most sense to us.

I blog at theartoftransgression.com about the unique challenges and rewards of a poly relationship. I've been pretty judgmental of such things in the past. I've also found that when I stop judging others, I stop fearing judgment myself.
Posted by Joycebird http://theartoftransgression.com on September 24, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.
Advertisement

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy