Different strokes for different folks

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There is a lot of focus on gay rights lately, which is a wonderful thing, but it seems a shame to me that so many other non-traditional relationships are still being ignored, disapproved of or even shunned.

Monogamy (an individual having only one partner at a time) is the most popular type of relationship in our western society, but it’s not the only option. Many people have found themselves in very happy, healthy and loving relationships with more than one partner at a time.

Polygamy vs. polyamory: Many polyamorous people tend to shy away from the term “polygamy” because it has a bit of a negative connotation associated with it. Polygamy, meaning many marriages, is often associated with religion.  While the term itself has no religious basis, it is usually associated with religious extremes, child marriages and male domination. This is obviously not true of all poly relationships but the stigma still stands. The term polyamorous, meaning many loves, is not as widely used, but holds more positive connotations. People who engage in polyamorous relationships are not necessarily looking to marry many people. Polyamorous relationships can be anything from dating or living together to raising children together, or they can be purely sexual relationships.

Gender roles tend to play a huge part in the misconceptions about poly relationships. A common belief holds that poly relationships are always male-dominated, involving one male with many female partners. In reality, polyamorous relationships can be any combination of male/female participants. There may be a hierarchy in poly relationships, such as a “primary” partner that holds a higher priority than other partners, but this is not necessarily determined by gender roles. Many modern poly relationships (with the exception of extreme religious partnerships) are egalitarian, where the partners are free to have as many partners of either sex as they want.

So, that must mean polyamorous people are addicted to sex, right? Not necessarily. Of course sex can be one of the reasons people choose these not-so-traditional relationships, but that’s definitely not all there is to it. People engage in poly relationships for a whole bunch of reasons, it could be anything from replicating the large family they grew up in, to creating a community atmosphere for their children, or taking a stand against religious or cultural norms. The reasons for engaging in any kind of sexual activity are just as diverse as the individuals who choose to do so.

Basically what I’m getting at is just because something is not “normal” to one person doesn’t make it wrong. Monogamy is kind of the default relationship and there are plenty of people who are happy committing to one person, which is really cool, but for some people, monogamy doesn’t do it for them. Everyone has the right to choose what is right for their lives and judgment from other people doesn’t achieve anything but bitterness and hate.