Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is Three Really a Crowd?

I often have very non-traditional views on life.  This is another one of those cases.  When polyamory is discussed with the general population (on the rare occasion that it is), the concept is often met with looks of disgust.  People's thoughts generally go to polygamy and certain religious groups who marry off multiple underage girls to older men in a sort of subservient breeding harem.  I want to make it perfectly clear that this brand of polygamy has absolutely nothing to do with polyamory.

 From the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association:
"Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Among the concepts critical to the understanding of consent and of ethical behaviour within polyamory are gender equality, self-determination, free choice for all involved, mutual trust, and equal respect among partners."

 From this definition we have desire, acceptance, intimacy, knowledge, consent, ethics, equality, trust, respect....  It certainly sounds like a good thing to me.

Yet, currently in Canada it is illegal to enter into any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time regardless of whether it is recognized by law as a binding form of marriage. gets worse!  It is also illegal to celebrate or assist with such a union.  Therefore simply attending a ceremony could get you up to 5 years in prison!!!! That is ridiculous!!

I personally have never been in and am not looking for a polyamorous relationship.  I think it's hard enough to find one person that you can live with in harmony.  For those who find multiple partners who are all able to live and love together, I am happy for them, and a little bit envious.  After all, human beings are complex and one person could never truly meet every single one of your needs.  There would be a much higher chance that more of your needs would be met with a multiple partner union.  In my personal situation, my additional needs tend to be met by my friends outside of my marriage - shopping or dancing or a chick flick - but I can see how awesome it would be to have that special someone right at home.

I can also see the benefits of poly families with kids.  Imagine having the ability to have dual incomes as well as a stay at home parent.  As sexist as this sounds, I have often expressed to my hubby that I wished that we had a wife - especially one who liked to cook and clean.  With all the hustle and bustle I see with the typical families these days (ringette, swimming lessons, hockey, soccer, girl guides, ....), multiple parents would make the scheduling chaos so much more feasible.

The arguments against polyamorous unions are pretty diverse, but I haven't yet heard anything that would be a catastrophic problem. 
'How would you handle a divorce?'  - Same way it's handled now.  A marriage is a legal contract and the dissolution of any contract would be handled by the courts using set rules.
'As a business owner, why should I have to provide dependent benefits to multiple spouses?  That costs me money!' - For the same reason that you provide dependent benefits to multiple children.  You couldn't make a rule that you'll only provide benefits for one child so why should the same be true for spouses.  Whether an employee has no children or 20 children, you're going to have to cover them all.  Let's face it - Even if polyamory is deemed legal, it still most likely won't be that common.  And since families seem to be having fewer children these days, maybe it will just be a trade off. 
'What about the children?  They'll be traumatized!' - This argument was used for homosexuals too and those kids seem to be doing just fine.
'This is just another form of adultery!' - No it's not.  Adultery involves deception and a general lack of respect for your partner.  When everyone involved is a fully aware and consenting adult, there is no adultery.

The likelihood of me ever being involved in a polyamorous relationship is quite low - mostly for the reason I mentioned above:  It's hard enough to find one person with whom you are truly compatible.  But if for some reason that perfect person appeared I would be very open to the possibility.  It would have to be a full triad.  I could never be in a relationship where one person had two spouses.  If I would do this everyone involved would have to be equally engaged with everyone else.  Since I am married to a 100% heterosexual man, this would mean that the third person would have to be a woman and we would both have to be in love with her and she would have to be in love with both of us.  So while this all seems wonderful in theory, seriously - what are the chances?

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