Polyamory (having more than one long-term intimate sexual partner) is increasing in popularity in the UK, and it has many advantages compared to committing to monogamy, at least according to Ana Kirova, CEO of the FEELD app – which helps people interested in Polyamory find others with similar interests.
This interesting topic, very relevant to the families and households topic was explored recently on an edition of ‘Positive Thinking‘ BBC on Radio Four.
What is Polyamory?
Polyamory literally means ‘many loves’ and engaging in a Polyamorous relationship is certainly a challenge to the standard monogamous relationship with the idea of committing to one sexual parter at a time.
Ana Kirova who is herself polyamorous defines polyamory as an ‘Ethical non-monogamous’ relationship in which more than two people make up a ‘polycule’ (excuse spelling) – everyone within the polycule consents to everything everyone else is doing.
She describes polyamory as an open and explorative relationship which has at its core the concept of ‘Dynamic Consent’ – Communication is essential in this ‘contemporary’ form of polyamory – there has to be regular ‘checking in’ sessions to make sure that everyone is oK.
As an example of a Polyamorous relationship you might have two couples, and each couple is for most of the month a regular couple (even with children in some cases) but maybe once or twice a month they just swap partners.
Of course there are many other possible variations – the more people involved the more complex obtaining dynamic consent is going to be.
Kirova describes regular monogamous relationships as ‘static’ whereas Polyamorous relationships allow people to explore their sexualities and identities more fully than being committed to just one person.
Jealousy is an obvious problem that can arise with this type of relationship, but Ana says with her and her partner this was an early stage problem which they worked through and after that it was all fine, it’s just a matter of working through it!
Who is into Polyamory and why is it growing?
Anecdotally younger people in their 20s are most likely to adopt this type of relationship.
Ana Kirova suggests this is because younger people grew up with the internent which exposed them to a wider range of identities and possibilities.
The empowerment of women and LGBTQ plus people has also had a massive impact, as the later especially have had to redefine what a ‘good relationship’ looks for them.
35% on the Feeld App identify as different to heterosexual and most are in the 20 to 30 age bracket.
The show had three ‘experts’ in to discuss Polyamory…..
- Pam Spur – psychologist and relationship expert
- Anita Cassidy – embraced a polyamorous life style, life coach 38
- Andrew G Marshall- marriage therapist.
Together they made the following evaluative points:
Monogamy seems to work best for most people – there are many supposed advantageous of Monogamy which stand in contrast: Monogamy is…
- More stable
- More Secure
- Easy to legislate
- Religiously sanctioned.
HOWEVER, there is no suggestion from Ana that Monogamy isn’t an option, one of the panelists, herself polyamorous, was going through a phase of being ‘consciously monogamous’ while her parter had a ‘play partner’ he met up with once a month.
They seemed to agree that ‘Toxic relationship normality’ is a problem – having a concept of ‘normal’ can be harmful. IF we all think we have no choice but to stick with a monogamous relationship this might just lead to more abuse and affairs within that relationship. This inks to the dark side of family life uncovered by Feminists.
Furthermore, children may be better off with their parents NOT sticking to a dead monogomous relationship…
Kirova for example says her parents had fallen out of love after 20 or 30 years, and they were unhappy because they didn’t know how to live a life apart. She says she had stability but with parents who were not their best selves, and possibly having the option of polyamory may be better all round.
So what’s she’s saying is that it’s maybe even better for children to learn relatively early on that it’s OK to leave a monogamous relationship behind if it’s not working and find someone else, or more than one ‘someone’ else!
Loving more than one person – jealousy…. many people just can’t get one over it, it can be pathological. HOWEVER, maybe it’s better to learn from it than run away from jealousy, and with Polyandry that’s something you’re going to have to do.
NB there is maybe a problem that you will get a lot of bored people using the app – Polyamory isn’t an easy way out of a failing relationship!
Relevance to A-Level Sociology
The programme was clearly pro-Polyamory and seems most in line with the concept of the negotiated Family associated with Late Modernism.
It’s doubtful whether the New Right would agree with the concept of Polyamory, but they’d maybe have a difficult time arguing against it when monogamy is seen as an option and there’s little evidence of people being harmed by Polyamory!
Positive Thinking – BBC Radio 4.
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