In my previous post, I examined how monogamy developed as a means of control, ensuring that the State had a better control of the populace. I talked of “taking the red pill” and stepping away from our assigned roles in society and relationships and making decisions free from cultural expectations.
I concentrated a lot more on expanded cultural norms but we do not go into relationships for the benefit of society so I think it is worthwhile examining the small private benefits to individuals who feel called to adopt a Poly lifestyle. So whereas my previous post was collectivist, this post is more individualist but as with anything to do with Poly, the benefits to the individual only comes through the collective. .
By family I mean any two or more people living together.
A note about exclusions
Normally my posts are relevant to all sets of non monogamous lifestylers, however, many of these things may be excluded from Polygamous individuals because I concentrate on liberties mostly gained through egalitarianism, independence, freedom and security, which not all Polygamous people have. Similarly, open couples who have casual or hierarchically structured dyad protecting relationships will also not gain all the benefits.
This is about expanded families, whether you live together or not, this is about people who have created Intentional Families for the purposes of love and support.
You may have heard these popular phrases “United we stand, divided we fall” “Divide and conquer” “Many hands make light work” and similar. In a biological sense, this alludes to biological altruism an aspect of ‘Evolutionary Game Theory’ which is concerned with strategic decision making amongst a group, cooperative behaviour ensures the survival of the group as a whole, which seems to be at odds with Darwinian (survival of the fittest/Competitive) theory.
Regardless of the science behind it, it is clear that there is strength in numbers, if one is vulnerable, two is less so, three is stronger still and so on and so forth, and yet romantic woo-woo, with a side order of social convention has meant that for the purposes of family, romantic and sexual partnership only comes in twos.
And we, very often, sacrifice a great part of our being to become one of two, in a way we would not have to as one of four or five. As a single person, it is important for you to take care of all your needs, to earn money to pay all your bills, to feed yourself, clothe yourself and take care of yourself when you are sick. As one half of a couple, you make an exchange, I will take care of some of your needs if you will take care of some of mine.
So, what is wrong with this model? Admittedly, many people are 1) Satisfied with their lives as Lone Wolves, they do not need anyone, nor do they want anyone complicating their lives and 2) The pair bond strategy, when it works is very efficient, providing there is ample room for self actualising within the partnership. Bearing in mind the heavily socialised gender roles of yester year, in a world where your only expectation was to be a wife and mother or being able to earn enough money to keep your wife and offspring healthy and happy, well there may have been little room to explore other aspect of your personalities and/or passions.
But times have changed, many of us are over burdened by the pressures of just existing within this social framework. Till Death do us Part was easy when life expectancy was 40. Juggling the pressures of modern life and trying to be a whole person is exhausting, but carving up some of the demands of this modern life means we may have the opportunity to be who we need to be, whether that is being able to become an overseas volunteer, march against some injustice, spend a few months as a contemplative on a mountaintop or even just to have a career that takes a lot of time, these things are often incompatible with a fulfilling family life, having and raising children are seen as sacrifices to which you must put all other needs aside until they are grown. To do otherwise is selfish.
But is this a necessity of child rearing in itself, or just a by-product of the system? It is my belief that it is system that needs changing not people. Depending on how many children you have and how they are spaced out, you can spend thirty or forty years of your lifespan raising children to adulthood. What if children were able to benefit from their parents being more fulfilled and enriched rather than stressed out guardians? What would the nature of adulthood look like if we did not need to take a sabbatical from self actualising until middle age?
This is a good idea, why isn’t everyone doing it?
Because the form that has persevered through social tradition, is maintained by Woo-Woo romance. What do I mean by Woo-woo romance?
Our popular Sex and the City era terms such as ‘The one’ ‘Your Soul mate’ ‘your other half’ are exactly such mystical romantic WooWoo. With the great power of woo, two people are destined to be together and will each fill each others needs so completely that it is clear that they need to be together to the exclusion of all others. It is that strong belief in romantic Woo which earns millions of revenue for Hollywood’s Rom-Com Industry. Woo makes people believe that Passion is synonymous with Jealousy and if a man is really possessive, he must love you even more. Monogamy is completely and totally reinforced by the idea that there is One True Love out there for everyone and if you have two beaux, one of them is definitely not true and, at some point, he will let you down by being immoral, stupid or passionless…..Welcome to the WooWoo world of black and white romantic relationships. As we know, life is not really like that, falling in love with someone whilst already in one romantic relationship does not mean you no longer love your partner and many hearts and relationships have been broken and many people have been wracked by guilt at being the heartless bugger who caused it. Yet, it persists and many of us who accept Polyamory have an uphill battle to re-condition ourselves away from WooWoo romance and towards healthy functional relationships that rely less on mysticism and more on communication and yes, jolly hard work.
So why bother?
Because serial monogamy is very destructive, to society, to families and to individuals, it creates a sense of failure and insecurity and when the person expected to be your “one and only” and breaks faith with you, by not living up to your expectations the resulting pain and resentment can last years and effect future generations.
Is it possible to be an uncritical and unexamined Poly?
Yes, very much so, especially if you may consider yourself Polyamorous without actually having a practical experience of living as such. Or, if you are still working within the framework of existing gender and social norms. Poly, like any other lifestyle can be entered into selfishly with little care or regard in creating healthy, functional relationships. When entered into with an open mindset and with the best intentions of making your Poly relationships work for everyone, there will not only be physical practical benefits but also personal benefits which are rewarding pay offs for all the hard work you have put into it..
And when it is done well?
Living any kind of functional Poly is like working towards a Master’s in Communication Skills, at the very least you will grow into a person who will be able to make themselves heard in relationships, who will let go of dysfunctional passive-aggressive communication and become self assertive in getting their own needs met.
Sharing the pain, the additional support of other partners means never having to say you’re “fine” when you are not "fine" because your single other partner in a dyad may have a greater need than you.
Becoming a whole person and fulfilling your potential should be at the forefront of our personal path but instead we have been brainwashed into believing that we ought to be responsible to society first and we have been bound into it by our responsibilities and our over reliance on existing familial structures.
In conclusion, I feel that living in Poly Families can enable not only strength in the unit, but allow for a great deal of growth for the individuals within it, not just the kind of growth one gains from being in a larger or more complex family, but also the sort of personal growth which comes with learning complex communication skills and with working towards your personal goals, some of which may never be obtained due to the stress of modern life and socially imposed productivity.
Some people never meet one person they want to share their lives with, some dyads never expand to include more. Some Poly families can not take advantage of these benefits due to personal limitations of specific special needs.Not every person who wants to receive these benefits will get a chance to, but as always it is something to consider as we look into expanding our families to include more partners than social norms allocates us.