Is Polyamory More Enlightened?

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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 It’s a much better way of living not being shackled to outdated ways of living!”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…

Maybe.

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.

My Introduction to Non-Monogamy

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Another article from my Tumblr:

Many people cite Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein as being their first glimpse into the idea of open relationships. I’ve never read it myself. My introduction to the possibility that there can be relationships other than monogamous ones came from an unlikely source. Comic books.

Many of us grew up on the misadventures of Archie Andrews and his gang of teen-aged friends. It was so fascinating to me that Archie (and Reggie) was dating both Betty and Veronica but he also had a wide dating pool outside of the two girls. Of course it was all supposed to be innocent but there was a lot of making out going on. It didn’t exactly make me question monogamy outright but it planted the seed in many ways. That affection and attraction need not be with just one person.

Archie-classic

As and aside, recently Archie Comics have been exploring what would happen if Archie married either Betty or Veronica. Some of the promotional art have been rather poly in their imagery.

Archie1 Archie2

The other famous love triangle, at least to comic readers my age, was the one between Superman, Lois Lane and Lana Lang.

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Throughout most of the 50’s and well into the 90’s Superman was involved in a love triangle between Lois and Lana. He spent most of that time avoiding marrying either one of them. He was often torn between having to make a choice but even then a small thought in my mind wondered why he had to really choose. He was happy with both of them. Seemed unfair to me that he’d have to hurt one to make the other one happy.

However, as a young comic reader in the 80’s it was these pages:

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That made me very aware of the real possibilities of open relationships. Here and in the following pages of Elf Quest sex and romantic relationships were shown to be open and playful. Jealousies existed of course but for the most part love and sex was shared where it was desired without judgment. It was a huge revelation to me. This was very different from the open dating of Archie and Superman. This was openness within the parameters of a committed relationship.

Returning to Superman many years later there was an Elseworlds (a DC imprint that explored alternate versions of their characters) series, Whom Gods Destroy, where at the conclusion Superman, Lois and Lana form a triad and live on the moon. I remember reading that and being so happy for them. The stupid love triangle and childish jealousy games were over and done with. Of course it was only an “imaginary” story but it still opened my eyes even wider.

Superman - Wonder Woman - Whom Gods Destroy #4 - Page 47

The rest of my transformation came about in other ways but I credit comics for opening the doorway all those years ago.

And what the heck, one more Archie:

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A Poly Story by Way of Introduction

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I originally published this article on my Tumblr page but I thought I’d re-post it here as it’s as good an introduction as any. I’ve decided to move my more serious and “wordy” posts here. I like this new WordPress.com.

Like many people my age the idea of having more than one committed romantic relationship at one time was the realm of fantasy, sci fi, cults or hippies. It just wasn’t the norm.

But then when have I ever been normal?

I have been open to alternate ways of thinking and living all of my life (much to my father’s chagrin) so when I heard about polyamory for the first time I knew it was for me. Little did I know how life changing, and painful, it would be.

My Previously Enjoyed Spouse and I thought about opening up our marriage as swingers but decided it wasn’t really for us, for various reasons. Around the same time I was reading Conversations With God and had joined a Yahoo group about CWG. The books have many radical ideas about intimate relationships and sex and a discussion was started about real open love. Someone posted about polyamory and I felt such a charge of familiarity. It was like reading about something I had forgotten about. More love, more expression, and I’ll admit it, more sex.

After many discussions with my wife we decided that it sounded so perfect, so idyllic, but it just couldn’t work in real life. We shelved the idea and went back to our typical marriage.

The idea never really stayed shelved in my mind. Several years passed and one night my wife quietly asked me as we were in bed for the night: “Do you think polyamory could work?”

My heart just about jumped out of my chest. “Yes!” I said barely containing my excitement. And so began our adventure. I started researching (big on research, I am) and soon had my profile up on various sites. My wife seemed a bit less gung ho but soon admitted that she already had someone in mind. An acquaintance of mine and a friend of hers. Someone I had introduced to her. They had never met in real life but she had feelings for him.

I was so happy for her. I really was. Compersion we would say now.

I started seeing someone and things were going well. Then they fell apart. One night she revealed that she had fallen in love with this other man a couple years before but hadn’t said anything but he was now porced. Then came the bombshell, she didn’t love me anymore and hadn’t for sometime.

Now I knew what devastation felt like. The woman I had loved since the first moment I laid eyes on her no longer wanted to have me.

We made some effort to repair the marriage but her mind was too much on the new relationship. It was over. So was my other relationship. It was time for healing, learning, and a great deal of self examination. I realized I didn’t have the relationship skills I thought I had. I also realized that much of my desire for poly at the time was for ego gratification and validation. I was coming from a deeply wounded place of ego and desperation.

Despite it all I still believe in polyamory. I’ve had a couple poly relationships since the break up and I look forward to any new relationships I’ll have in the future. I’m single right now but I’m loving it. Loving me. When others are ready to enter my life they will be welcome.

I still love my Previously Enjoyed Wife but it’s a love of friendship now.

So that’s my poly life in a very simple nutshell.