The plural of spouse is spice

What are the relative pitfalls, benefits, morality, legality of polygamous, polyamorous relationships? What should the laws be?

Oh, and no mentioning Mormons. I have nothing against Mormons, I just want to debate polyamory not Mormonism.

There are two thread open on this issue in the Forum General Questions. You might want to take a look at them. :slight_smile:

I just looked at GQ and only saw one thread on the topic in the first page of the index, and it was specifically about Mormons, which the OP explicitly excludes from discussion.

pifalls: jealousy, insecurity, potentially more difficult to establish deep trust/love

benefits: reduced jealousy, security, expansive possibilities for deep trust/love.

morality: Not intrinsically different from any other human relationship.

legality: Varies by jurisdiction, obviously. Polyamorousness might be illegal in some states, but I doubt such laws are enforced aften. Polygamy is, I believe, outlawed by many states.

my position: If it works for you, great, but be very honest with and about yourself. It took me several mistakes and some serious pounding to my self-image before I concluded that I was woefuly ill-suited for polyamorousness. I have several friends, though, for whom it seems to be a much better option.

Read the alt.polyamory home page and the links provided. Needless to say (but I shall say it anyway), these present almost exclusively the positive side of polyamory.

Some guidance you are. :slight_smile:

What can I say. The pitfalls are from personal experience, the benefits are from the observation of friends over many years. Just because I was bad at it doesn’t mean it isn’t a good answer for some folks.

[spiritus]I have never heard that polyamorous relationships are outlawed…how could you outlaw such a thing? Unless you mean the group sex act. I can see that that might be outlawed. Polygamy is obviously outlawed in many places.[/spiritus]

I’m all for a free-love society, but I find the monogomy aspect(what would you call this before marriage?) to be deep-seated in our beliefs, mainly because love is a pretty greedy feeling (from a non-religious standpoint as was alluded to in the OP). Polyamorous relationships are the epitome of sharing, as far as I’m concerned.

I saw a discovery channel show on this and it mentions that many of the couples who enter into such a contract are soon to dissolve. However, what is our current divorce rate? And on top of that, how often do couples stay together to make it to marriage anyway?

I see amorous relationships of any sort an extremely difficult thing to keep at for most people. Myself included, I guess. I think “Not intrinsically different from any other human relationship” pretty much spells it out, even for things not included in morality. Polyamorous bonds would only be more difficult by way of the number of people involved. I mean, assuming everyone is well aware its going to be a “poly” in the first place. Entering a “mono” on the “mono”'s traits and then hoping to push it into a “poly” would probably present more troubles than if simply stated in the beginning.

But, I couldn’t do it. Too greedy.

So how do you deal socially with friends that are poly? Especially if other friends are conservative Chritians?

Since the law recognizes one form of marriage shouldn’t it recognize poly marriages?

I deal with friends as friends. If some of my friends don’t get along (which has happened) then I do not usually go out of my way to bring them together. If a social occassion does call us together, I expect both sides to behave politely. Again, I se this as no different from any other relationship. I have friends who are libertarian and friends who are strongly socialist, too. That doesn’t mean we can’t all sit down to supper. In fact, it often makes for very lively conversation.

But if you’re rude to my guest, you get out of my house. Or you’re rude to your guest, I get out of your house. It isn’t really that hard.


I’m not sure about the legality of polygamous marriage. The law in Canada says that you’re not allowed to go through “a form of marriage” with more than one other person, but it’s my hunch that that means a ceremony that is or is presented as a legal marriage. I presume that there would be nothing wrong with having your friends over, exchanging rings with your fiancé(e)s, and drinking champagne, or the like.

so long as the only people involved are adults.

I don’t know how I feel about all this creativity when there are children involved. Not because it’s inherently wrong to introduce children to the alternative lifestyle of polyamory, but simply because one of the greatest gifts you can give a child is stability. The more people you add to the mix, the less stable it becomes, I believe, and I think it is cruel to unnecessarily drag your kids into too many parental-type relationships that could blow up, taking the kid with it. The situation can be reassessed as the child or children grow, but I’d put an arbitrary absolute minimum age limit on introducing additional partners into the family at maybe 12, if you insist on doing it at all, and I don’t think you ought.

There are many sacrifices that must be made in order to be a really good parent who brings up a really healthy, happy, well-adjusted human being. I think eschewing polyamory for the duration of the child’s minority is one of them.


PS: This does not necessarily apply in a true group-living situation, as in a commune, where there is a whole community of people participating in rasing the children. I’m not sure how I feel about that, either, but I think it is different that otherwise being a relatively average family leading average lives, and introducing additional sexual/love partners into an otherwise average situation.

I think it is perfectly possible to have a stable, caring relationship between multiple people. However, I will also be the first one to admit that it’s not for everyone. On the other hand, neither is “monoamory”. It follows the general rule of thumb: if you try to force yourself into a relationship that doesn’t “work” for you, then you’re going to be hurt. (been there, done that) Love is greedy, but at the same time, it’s also the most selfless act possible. Bear with me on this one:

Sure, there’s the greed/jealousy aspect to it for a great many people…part of the thrill is the ego boost from being everything for someone. You want to curl up and retreat away from the world at large.

However, there’s also the “if you love something, set it free” aspect, where the most endearing sign of love is giving someone complete freedom to choose, and they still continue to choose you with full awareness of the alternatives. I lean strongly this way, and I find it much more supportive to respect a partner’s choice than try to lock them in with me.

I also think there’s a bit of realism to it. I don’t pretend that I can meet everyone’s needs…as much as you might dearly love someone, I don’t believe it’s possible that one person can ever embody EVERYTHING you like…you might like someone else just as much, but for slightly different reasons. Having to choose between the two is agonizing for all those involved, so I say, why not bring the other person into the fold as well and see if it can work for everyone?

I think the biggest flaw of “polygamy” as it is commonly meant, is that it’s a one-way relationship. It usually refers to a case where the multiple partners are all satellites devoted solely to one: the harem aspect of it. This, I think, is the most damaging thing possible. This naturally leads to contests between the satellites, and I can’t possibly imagine such a relationship being too close between any one of the harem and the central figure, much less between any of the harem themselves.

I think a better solution is for all to treat each other equally. Yes, it does require a bit of open-mindedness (and obviously some bisexuality/homosexuality is by defintion going to be involved with more than two partners) but the benefits from such a relationship are indescribable. Far from inspiring jealousy, I find that it does just the opposite for me: I’m actually rather fond of seeing affection between my loved ones. It’s just a great big warm fuzzy to see everybody happy :slight_smile:

And I have to admit, it’s a whole lot of fun seeing what other people can bring out in a partner’s sexuality :smiley:

I am wondering if we should revisit this one. I want to discuss why polygamy should be recognized or at least laws making the practice illegal be removed.

Stoid wrote:

Nuts to that! The greatest gift you can give a child is a G.I. Joe doll. With the Kung-Fu Grip. (You hear that, Santa?)

Grrr. I have defended myself on this many, many times (not here on the board, mostly IRL). There is no way, no way, NO WAY I would expose my children to something I believe would harm them. Just like a two-parent family. Just like a single parent. Just like a divorced or widowed parent. My children are loved and cared for by everyone who knows them. Every person I have allowed into the lives of my children I would have trusted with my very life. I am one of the most (over)protective parents I know, besides my husband. My children have never been in day care (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) or left with a paid babysitter. I am not a negligent parent. My kids eat broccoli. I am, if I do say so myself, a damn good mother.
I just happen to subscribe to a different philosophy regarding romantic love than most.

Forgive me if I seem a little on the defensive. This topic seems to do that to me. I know I’m a good parent, and that isn’t changed by whom I sleep with. It irritates the hell out of me when people say something like “Do whatever you want, but when there are children involved…” Thanks. When MY children are involved, I’ll decide what’s best for them. You worry about your kids, I’ll worry about mine. For Stoid or anyone else to say I should “eschew” polyamory until my kids move out and then spring it on them when they come home from college at Christmas is ludicrous. My kids are too young to know anything about anyone’s sex life right now. I am aware that’s a condition they will grow out of. However, as I said before, they don’t see me have sex with their dad - how the hell are they gonna know who I’m having sex with, period?

Polyamory is a lifestyle choice that is not for everyone. Neither, it seems, is monogamy. One of my poly friends likes to say that “Monogamy has failed millions of times more than polygamy.” I realize she’s only joking, but it seems to be that in the poly relationships I’ve been involved in, and even those my friends have been involved in, that even when a breakup occurs it’s not as “heated” as a traditional breakup. Maybe it’s because someone else is there, sort of a supervision thing. Maybe it’s because with an increased number of variables, at least one will have a cooler head. I don’t know - but in my personal experience this has been the case.
In my opinion, polygamy should be legalized. So should a lot of other things, but I guess we have to pick our battles.