Does being polyamorous mean you’re more enlightened? Many polyamorous people would say: “No! It’s not more enlightened. We’re not better than monogamous folks!” Others would say: “Of course it is! It’s a much better way of living not being shackled to outdated ways of living!” I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the years. I’ve thought and I’ve thought and then I thought some more. And the conclusion I came up with is…
It all depends on what you mean by “enlightened”, it’s like that other bugaboo word “spiritual” it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Buddha was enlightened while meditating under the bodhi tree. We had the Age of Enlightenment. You can be enlightened as to the proper use of a computer program. But most people in this sense interpret “enlightened” as meaning “better”.
When I first opened myself to the idea of polyamory (even though on some level I always saw the appeal of open relating) I was very much convinced it was a more spiritual way of creating and maintaining relationships. I still believe that to certain degree, in an ideal sort of way. I am very much a student of self-actualization and self-development. Paramount to me is letting go of ego habits. The ego in this sense being the Gordian knot of beliefs that unconsciously run our lives. Usually those beliefs are indoctrinated into us from our parents, society, religion, and by extension various media. Polyamory certainly helps to shed some of those societal beliefs that get stuck onto us from an early age.
That’s how I view some aspects of polyamory. Yet “polyamory” is really an umbrella term that includes many variations and interpretations on what it means to be poly. To say it is more enlightened is a mistake. One can be monogamous and have many enlightened views on relationships and society. Just as one can call themselves polyamorous and still be mired in unconscious choices.
However, from a self-actualized point of view, polyamory is certainly one of the better ways of becoming more self-aware. If you step off the conveyor belt of societal norms you have taken your first step towards self-awareness. The majority of monogamous people don’t choose monogamy, it’s just the default setting of most peoples’ ideas of what relationships are and should be. Most don’t question it with any seriousness. Most don’t question any aspect of their lives, they’re happy to toodle along on the conveyor belt. Socrates said: “…the life which is unexamined is not worth living.” I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who calls themselves polyamorous who is living an unexamined life. At least where relationships are concerned.
So polyamory being a more spiritually enlightened practice? It can be but not always. A spiritual practice can be applied to anything. Polyamory offering a greater opportunity for self-examination and awareness? Certainly. Whether you chose to become polyamorous or not at least you’ve asked the question. That’s where enlightenment comes from.