ARE WE REALLY MONO-POLY? by Janet Kira Lessin
Doctors Hal and Sidra Stone teach us that we have many “voices” within ourselves. We each have our own set of voices, be they the Inner Critic, the Inner Child, the Inner Pope, the Inner Aphrodite or any of a myriad possible combinations.
At different times these voices battle for dominance within us. We each have inner dichotomies — poles of opposition vying for the upper hand. The Inner Catholic conflicts with the Inner Atheist, for example.
Where we find ourselves in any given point in our existence, we tend to throw stones at our opposites. In life we tend to attract to us, to “hire” in a sense our “disowned selves.” We see in others what we least like about ourselves. These “mirrors” act as a reflection to us of those parts we need to incorporate into our being, in order to feel whole and complete.
As we seek to come to complete integration of our many selves, or subpersonalities, we strive to come to our center, or as we say in voice dialogue, to develop an “aware ego”. Many books have chronicled this search for enlightenment.
Two complete opposites, almost universally, are our Inner Monogamist and our Inner Polyamorist (loving more than one in an intimate relationship). Never before has there been such debate, especially in this Judeo/Christian culture. Why does it seem that so many polyamorists are attracted to and marry so many monogamists and vice versa? If we were to imagine the center for this dichotomy, what would we find? Could it be a combination of the best of both worlds, that which I refer to as Mono-Poly?
As we observe the world around us, it doesn’t appear that mankind is truly monogamous; with our incredible divorce rate that is rapidly heading towards sixty-five percentile for us “baby boomers”. That’s not counting our infidelity rate, which is staggering. Add on top of that the “happiness factor”, those who stay together only because of the kids, the bills, the family, habit, etc. and the figures really get alarming. What’s going on here?
Despite all of the above, it does appear that we humans do tend to “pair bond”. Even at the east and west poly conferences last year, it was observable; twos seeking three, couples seeking couples, even those “expanded group marriages” within them appeared to have groupings, two by two! Lets now examine the pros of each lifestyle.
With monogamy, one can embrace the creation; man/woman, Adam/Eve, two by two, the dyad, romanticism. Many find it fashionable to trounce romanticism, but face it; romance is fun! It gives one that chemical rush, that “high” of a new love, NRE (New Relationship Energy)!
Monogamy reinforces the security of a stable home, Mom and Dad, someone we can turn to in thick and thin, loyalty, commitment, our “best friend”. Monogamy provides that special someone to whom you can confess your deepest, darkest secrets; that person with whom you have that “special” something that only you two know and share.
Monogamy resonates the feeling the feeling of forever, security, safety, warm fuzzies. It provides that person to whom you return when your poly adventures turn sour and they “dump” you.
Spiritually it resembles “the split-apart”, the “twin flame”, symbolized in the yin/yang. The twin flame is that one special person that for some inexplicable reason you feel this incredible bond that transcends time and space. When you meet that person, it bowls you over. You connect, not just on one or two chakras, but on all chakras. You realize how you never really completely connected with anyone else before and if they left, you would never go this deep ever again. It is a merging; a oneness with Man/Woman/God/Goddess/Universe.
Historically, says Dr. Helen Fisher (Anatomy of Love, Norton: 1992), monogamy insured at least two people stayed together and committed to their child’s survival; staying together until he was “weaned” and somewhat self-sufficient before parting (about 4 years).
Now that we’ve shown the virtues of monogamy, what possibly are the the pros of polyamory?
Obviously the first thing is “variety is the spice of life”. In polyamory we have sexual variety, which is very exciting and attractive to many of us. We also have more than one person with whom do things with, so one person is not trying to meet all of our “needs”, which is virtually impossible.
In polyamory, one has many mirrors in which to reflect; many points of view in which to learn and grow. In a poly household, there are many hands to accomplish tasks, to pull resources together.
Polyamory resonates the security of the “tribe”; the memory of which resides deep within many of us. With numerous to defend the women and children and assure their survival, the survival of the tribe, the children and continuance was assured against predators and foes.
As souls we appear to be created in soul groups that find one another lifetime after lifetime. We have many “soul mates” that we have loved through many lifetimes; that we have loved in various fashions time and again. As souls we know that we have an endless, boundless capacity to love. Polyamory brings our natural state of loving oneness and that ability to love all into the physical.
Statistically it appears that our marriages and dyadic relationships seem to last on the average of 3.5 to 4 years. Currently there are no real statistics available on poly relationships. We can only speculate as many remain hidden to protect their lifestyles and their families.
In my poly group, I have seen first hand the trials and tribulations of loving more than one. It is certainly not an easy path to undertake, no easier than monogamy, it appears. Broken hearts happen here as well.
Recently, I heard one staggering statistic from a local Hawaii talk show host, Kevin Hughes, which made me stand up and take notice. He said that swingers stay married on the average of 23 years! Wait a minute… 23 years! Let’s take a look at that one! So I did.
I had noticed in conversations on the Internet that there are many who define themselves as “swingers” who are actually couples seeking other couples with whom to love. They just don’t have any other models. They’ve never heard the vocabulary. Perhaps they really are poly?
I had noticed that I myself had been passing judgment and throwing stones at swingers, if only to myself. I wanted to observe things first hand, see what was really going on. So, I asked my husband, Sasha, if he wanted to check out one of the swinger’s parties. After some debate, we decided the best course of action was to open up invite the local swingers organization to have a party at our house. This way, we would be able to make the most scientifically accurate observations. With some reservations and much anticipation, the party began.
What we discovered from our party is that swingers traditionally do not allow any single men in their functions. Parties are strictly couples with once in a while the occasional single woman, who is usually bisexual.
They do what I call “inclusionary lovemaking”. One man told me, “I would never imagine going somewhere and making it with anyone without my wife. We are a matched set. Love me, love my dog”.
In swinging, there doesn’t appear to be any “mini-monoging; that little mini-affair away from home, discreet, unseen, separate from one another. Swingers seem to love together, in parties, with another couple, in the same room, or out of the room but not very far out of site from one another. They always remain connected in some way; sensing each other; feeling each other. Rather sweet, huh?
I’m not advocating that swinging is “THE MODEL” for all of the world. It is just that I no longer throw stones at them and I’m now taking a deeper look. I see the love. Many swingers develop lifelong friendships with those whom they engage in sexual play.
One thing to notice is that there are only about 200 in attendance at each poly conference each year where there are more than 3,000 who attend the Lifestyles Conference for the whole time with approximately 10,000 additional attendees for the daily events attending the workshops visiting booths and exhibitions.
I feel that, in the final analysis, we act from “choice.” Even if we define ourselves as belonging to one relationship type, it appears that life throws a wrench at you; someone comes into your life; you respond with love; and soon you find yourself somewhere else along the continuum. After all, the only thing constant in life is change.
Perhaps that’s truly what Hal and Sidra Stone talk about when they speak of centering oneself and the “dance of the selves” as the path to awareness and wholeness in life.
As we seem to go from lifetime to lifetime experiencing being every religion, race, color and creed, we find within our soul group that we have experienced being every imaginable configuration of friends, family and lovers. We do this dance time and again, hurting and being hurt, until one day we, find that we have completed all karma, our soul group reunites in bliss and we return home to “go out no more”. Bless free will. Enjoy the adventure.Namaste
BISEXUALITY, MONOGAMY AND POLYAMORY by Jillian Page in The Montreal Gazette
One of the biggest misconceptions about bisexual people, I am learning in my
exploration of the subject, is that we are all polyamorous, that we have open
lifestyles that see us engaging in multiple sexual relationships. Note the word
“open” in that sentence. People who engage in polyamory, in theory, have the
full consent of partners, as opposed to people who have “affairs,” in which they
don’t have the consent of partners and are basically cheating on them.
And then, apparently, there are some who think being bisexual is all about
having sex, sex, sex and more sex with multiple partners. It’s not, of course.
Being bisexual doesn’t mean we are all “swingers.”
The fact of the matter is, bisexual people are mostly monogamous, from what I am
reading. We have the capacity to love men, women and gender-variant people — as
in, love transcends gender — but when they fall in love with someone and settle
down, they do the traditional mating thing and are faithful to each other and
yadda yadda yadda . . .
Note that I started the last sentence with the personal collective pronoun “We”
and switched in the middle to “they.” It wasn’t a grammatical mistake. I am a
polyamorist at heart, as well as a bisexual. But just because I embrace
polyamory in my heart doesn’t mean I actually practice it: I don’t, because I
have never had a significant other (SO) who accepts it. Every SO I have had in
life would have dumped me if I actually engaged in a polyamorous lifestyle.
Sigh . . .
I’ve also been reading that bisexual people face a fair bit of discrimination,
known as biphobia, from not only some heterosexual people, but from some gay and
lesbian people, as well. Yes, you read that correctly. It kind of startled me,
too. Apparently, many gay and hetero people believe you must be either
heterosexual or homosexual. There has even been talk of removing the “B” from
LGBT. I’m still researching all of this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this
sort of biphobia is rooted in monogamy and the incorrect belief that bisexual
people are compulsive swingers.
Sooo, now I’m wondering about the discrimination faced by polyamorists, or
would-be polyamorists. Suddenly, instead of seeing sexual orientation as
heterosexual or lesbian or gay or bisexual, I am seeing a bigger picture with
monogamy vs. polyamory, and I am getting the sense that polyamorists may face
more discrimination than all of the others combined. Sure, polyamorists can be
heterosexual or lesbian or gay or bisexual and face discrimination for those
orientations, but then we face even more discrimination from HLGB people because
we are polyamorous . . .
Hmm . . . Interesting, though I am not going to lose any sleep over this. But my
new exploration has now expanded to include polyamory.
|The stimulation and energy was so intense that I thought I’d pass out from excitement. I rode the waves of my orgasms higher and higher and higher. I’d never experienced so many types of orgasms; they were so awesome they amazed me. Unlike any I’d ever experienced before, they came in so many variations increasing in frequency and intensity as the night rolled on.Feeling the different and diverse energies of the four penises that freely flowed in and out of me was extremely stimulating and erotic. I connected with something deep and ancient within me. I thought ‘‘this is the true nature of woman; this incredible ability to experience this depth and intensity of erotic joy, love and bliss’. I felt that in that moment, I represented all women throughout all time. I knew that the experience I was so blessed to feel that night is every woman’s birthright, if she so chose. I knew deep inside that feeling many penises and the love and adoration of many men at once is the natural state for women. I knew that there were other times, other worlds, other universes where females were free from inhibitions and shame.For that moment in time, I was totally free of any fear and inhibitions. I shed a lifetime burden of repression. Once free, I became aware how cumbersome that pain, guilt and fear was upon my soul. The weight, once realized, is so impossible to bear. How have I been enduring it all this time? It’s a wonder any of us survive it.Periodically we seven lovers took a break and moved to the hot tub. We needed to slow our hearts down now and again for fear they’d explode. But we were so hot, we continued loving each other wherever we were.
We were beyond control. Even when we stopped to catch our breath and drink fluids so as not to dehydrate, we’d fondle each other. I remember smiling as I watched Stan slip up behind Jill and enter her, their hips gently pulsating as we paused momentarily to talk.
I felt intense love for everyone. I’d died and gone to heaven; or perhaps for that moment, we’d brought heaven to Earth. We’d dived in a pool of love which completely surrounded us, immersing us in divine love and sacred spiritual sexuality. We felt the oneness of all, experienced universal consciousness and connection to God herself.
I looked over and saw Jill riding Sasha’s lingam as he lay beneath her, a silly grin frozen on his face. I thought how cute he looked and felt such love for the two of them. Jill was moaning and singing, rocking, deep in a trance, obviously in a state of extended, full-body orgasm. Suddenly, she moaned and let out an incredible sigh of release from deep within her soul. She rolled off Sasha like a limp, wet doll, collapsed and instantly fell asleep.
Sasha was still erect. We have a relationship agreement that he saves his ejaculate for me. He nodded and I crawled up on top of his still throbbing lingam and eased it deep inside me. I groaned. He felt so good. Sasha loves nothing more than to service his Goddess, his beautiful wife, me.
I looked into his eyes, my beloved, my twin flame, soul mate, the other half of me. The connection was complete. I was so highly aroused I hadn’t realized that I was simultaneously in my body and above it, experiencing and observing all that had happened. As I rode Sasha harder and faster, I zeroed in on his left eye, the God eye, and found myself again amidst the now roaring waves of pleasure. I grabbed his astral hand and rode on home back to source while sending energy in a circuit up my chakras, through his chakras and back again through mine. I sent my full consciousness to my genitals, connected with my power chakra and felt the deepest most intense orgasm I’ve ever imagined. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.
Acetylcholine (ACH), that delightful body chemical that makes one fall asleep, raced through my body and began to overcome me. I felt myself relax. I stopped moving, sensed my body and expected to collapse into dreamland as Jill had done shortly before. But relief did not come.
I was still aroused! I looked at Sasha and he nodded and smiled. I went at it again, riding his lingam. I moved faster, harder, faster, harder. I felt myself rising, higher and higher. We merged completely. We became ONE! We flew outside of time and space. The orgasm I felt was so intense my brain exploded with stars in a cosmic display of creation. The energy blew out the top of my head, cascading in a thousand invisible lotus blossoms all around us. Chemicals rushed through every molecule of my body, clear to my fingers and toes. I heard myself sing the lover’s song of bliss while Sasha let go his familiar regal roar as he released the seed he’d accumulated from the whole night of building up and holding back. His love juice poured deep inside me. It felt so warm and loving as his fluids filled me. His love poured from his heart and consumed me. I was eaten alive as I gobbled up every morsel of him. Yummmmm. I kept coming and coming, so much I thought I’d never be able to stop. My body pulsated with creas, those kundalini energy waves and pulsations that look like a petite mal seizure but feel exquisite to the one experiencing it. Sasha and I gave God a high-five as we looked her right in the eye!
We laughed, wiped the tears of joy from our eyes, collapsed and at last fell fast asleep and dreamed the well-deserved dreams of angels.
Despite recent advances for marriage equality, the rights and protections associated with that ancient institution remain reserved for pairs. Folks whose romantic and sexual relationships include more than two are still widely scorned in popular culture, so much so that same-sex marriage campaigns often emphasize that the couples they represent are “committed.”
But commitment is not the sole purview of monogamy. For those who practice polyamory (and it does take practice), the challenges inherent in holding space for and communicating with more than one person are outweighed by the opportunities for personal growth — and, to be fair, getting laid.
THIS IS WHAT POLYAMORY LOOKS LIKE
Take Kyra Fey, 42, and her partner Earthquake, 54 (not their real names). The couple is currently laying the groundwork to open up their relationship. Because each has been in a polyamorous relationship before, they know that ethical non-monogamy takes work.
“I understand why Kyra Fey is seeking another primary partner, and that it may take a long time for such a relationship to arise, with lots of dating and possibilities between now and then,” Earthquake says. “Nevertheless, we have already made plans to adjust our lives to include this person.”
These adjustments may include taking stock of one’s needs, talking about boundaries, and, eventually, sending out a signal about the change in relationship status.
“I don’t think I could be in a monogamous relationship anymore,” Kyra says. “As I’ve explored my sexuality I’ve learned that I have needs that by definition cannot be met by a single person.”
While others may describe their diverse and diverging needs in vague terms, for Kyra it’s clear and specific.
“My kink requires me to be poly,” she explains. Because she identifies as a dominant-leaning switch, Krya says she wants both a full-time submissive partner and an occasionally dominant one.
Whether connected to kink or not, polyamory appeals to a desire for freedom, wholeness, connection, and growth. Contrary to popular (and contrasting) images of free-loving hippies and religious zealots with a harem of sister-wives, polyamory can elevate both commitment and equity.
OPENING UP TO INFINITE POSSIBILITIES
Jake (a pseudonym) is 34 and currently considers himself “single.” But he is involved in a matrix of relationships, ranging from deep friendships that occasionally get physical to “flovers” (between a friend and a lover) and lovers with whom he shares physical and emotional intimacy.
“I don’t think I can ever be fully monogamous for a long period of time,” Jake says. “I’ve seen mine and others’ ability to love multiple people, and it’s transformed me for the better.”
Unlike those who hold out for their “one true love” or put their partner on a pedestal, polyamorous folks don’t expect their partner be their everything. This frees them up to act on other chemistry and connections while taking the pressure off to be all-providing.
Polyamorous relationships can take many forms and may shift over time. Rachael Palmer, 32, and Devon Chase, 30, have been married/partnered for seven years and each has casual secondary partners in addition to their primary relationship. Devon’s current secondary partner also has a primary partner and family of her own.
“The nature of our polyamory has changed a lot since we first got together,” Rachael says. “We used to only date people together and that came with its own set of rules that changed with who we were dating and, again, what made us both feel safe. For example, originally we would only date/sleep with people together and we wouldn’t interact romantically with said date without the other person around, but as we got more comfortable that changed, too. Now we date people together and separately.”
CONTROL VS. SAFETY
Though people often cite jealousy as the reason they prefer monogamy, those who practice polyamory are not immune to its effects, nor do they expect to eliminate it completely. Instead, poly folks strive to recognize, understand, and address jealousy within themselves while creating and maintaining healthy relationship boundaries to protect their physical and emotional safety.
“I do experience jealousy. I think there is a common misconception that if you are practicing non-monogamy that you don’t,” Rachael says. “For me it’s all about allowing myself to feel jealousy but taking my time in thinking about how I want to react to it. The end goal [is] to eventually not experience it, but until then I tend to try and work through it on my own. It has really forced me to rationally focus on my emotions and desires, which has led to a lot of personal growth and a strong focus on emotional self-care.”
As a result of that self-reflection, Rachael has the tools to identify and assert her needs, working with Devon to establish boundaries that respect and affirm them.
“Boundaries for me have a lot to do making sure you and your partners feel safe within the relationship — the relationship they are having with you and the relationship they in turn have with your other partners,” Devon says. “It’s all based on love, intention, communication, and treating everyone in the situation with tenderness.”
Because even if you aren’t sleeping with — or even hanging out with – your partner’s partners, you’re still in a relationship with them on some level. Which is why, even when straight folks practice ethical non-monogamy, there’s something inherently queer about it.
LGBTQ … P?
In some ways, polyamory seems like the next frontier of relationship politics. A bill that would have allowed children to have more than two legal guardians made it to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk in October, only to be vetoed over concerns regarding unintended consequences.
While the bill wasn’t presented as a measure to protect poly families, but rather to prevent children from going to foster care when a biological or stepparent could take custody, it is a step toward recognizing diverse family structures.
“I know some amazing triads and communal relationships that I believe deserve the same legal protections and responsibilities to property, hospital visitations, and taxation as dyads,” Jake says. “If I end up in such a relationship, I would certainly hope to be able to visit my beloveds should they be sick and have the ability to make important legal decisions with regard to them.”
If Jake’s call for relationship protections sounds familiar, it may be because many poly-identified folks are also queer. A 2012 internet survey of 1,100 polyamorous individuals conducted by a researcher at Simon Fraser University found that 68 percent of poly women and 39 percent of poly men identified as bisexual (3.9 percent and 2.9 percent identified as exclusively lesbian and gay, respectively). The survey — which is the largest of its kind to date — may not be a representative sample, but it reflects anecdotal perspectives.
“We’ve already had to step outside of our social programming in order to express our queerness — gay, kink, trans, fill in the blank,” Jake says. “That gives us the experience of being able to face our fears and embrace ourselves more fully in order to reclaim our sexuality, our power, and our identities while shedding guilt and shame.”
Despite that increased openness, however, many people are still closeted about their polyamorous lives. Coming out as queer may be challenging enough for friends and family to understand without throwing multiple partners into the mix.
While Jake doesn’t think his parents could wrap their minds around polyamory, Rachael decided it was important to share that part of her life with her family, for the sake of her partners and simply to clear the air.
“I think for people who don’t know much about polyamory it is easy to assume that my primary and I are having problems and that’s why we are sleeping with other people, when in actuality it’s the opposite,” Rachael says. “We fuck other people because we want to be together for a long time and indulging our fantasies and desires keeps us happy and healthy.”