Apr 3, 2010

Lavendar Lens/ Part 2

I received a comment to my original Lavender Lens post and figured I should respond to it in part 2. This is the comment I received:

"My impression is that the standard word for a three-person relationship is "triad."

I feel like the losing-ground-for-gay-marriage argument is a dangerous one. If there's a majority shift away from monogamous relationships, wouldn't that indicate a problem with prioritizing marriage, and therefore prioritizing the recognition of monogamous queer relationships over multipartner relationships? Monogamous gay politics often takes a worrying "us first" attitude towards polyamorous lifestyles, just as cis gay politics sometimes does toward trans folks.

The marriage debate in general tends to do this -- many of the rights associated with marriage are things that people in nonmonogamous relationships want and deserve, and even that single people want and deserve. People sometimes neglect the need to challenge why it makes sense to be restricting these rights to people in particular kinds of relationships in the first place, in the process of trying to expand the category of relationships to which they're restricted -- and by doing so, they can leave out not only poly people but asexuals and single people."

Here's where this gets tricky. Let me just state here that I've never been part of a polyamorous relationship, so my views are relatively young and sheltered, and I am more than willing to listen to others' views and opinions to help enlighten myself on this topic.

When discussing the multi-partner relationships I had originally assumed there is a level of fidelity involved. I thought that, though there are more than two people in the relationship, sexual interactions would be pretty limited to the people in the relationship, somewhat like a group marriage. A group marriage has no main husband or wife with whom the others interact (polygamy), but rather everyone interacts equally(polyamory). I had imagined this scenario with love and lasting affection.

That is my ideal multi-partner relationship. A group marriage situation, where everyone is equal, individual, and safe. I feel like if I were in a relationship with two or three people and those individuals were having sex outside the relationship, I wouldn't be able to handle it. I would feel "cheated on" because that person is having sex outside the relationship we have established with however many people.

Is there a level of required fidelity in these types of situations?
As of right now I don't know.

This is part of the reason why I'm reluctant to get into a marriage debate here. At what point can you give everyone equal rights to marriage without spreading the umbrella so far that people can cheat the government? Marriage is to bind. Marriage is to become family. Marriage is to show that you are the most important thing in each others' lives. So while I see a group marriage situation as one that definitely qualifies for the right to bind to each other, I'm not sure how like that example most polyamorous relationships are.

To be realistic, American mainstream society is more comfortable with gay monogamous relationships than they are of polygamy or polyamory. The Mormon sects who promote polygyny (which means one husband with multiple wives) have created a bad public image of having multi-partner relationships that fall under many catagories. To gain equal rights, I feel like gay marriage has to come first. It has to be a stable stepping stone before mainstream society will even think about the possibility of legalizing group marriage.

Expect more pros and cons as I mentally think this through, day after day.

To be continued...


  1. I'm going to comment - but I'm also thinking I'm not the best person for this one. There are a lot of very smart poly(amorous)people out there who would say this much better than I who have no experience.

    First, you mean poly-amorous not polygamous. Since polygamous is more of the one person has many wives type scenario. The "wives" don't interact other than as support. They are not in a sexual relationship. They're both tied to the "head of household". Now this doesn't have to be gender based, but doesn't sound like what you're aiming for.

    Polyamory is the idea that you can love more than one person. And a triad (I think) would all love one other and support one another. Although the idea of "sacrosanct" space is awesome! The three would function as a family.

    The big key that I've seen is communication. And like in any relationship the partnership may change over time, you may lose one partner or find another. It's up to you as a group to define your roles. If you all agree there will be no outside relationships beyond the "family" then that is what works for you. Some people might have gf's, or "play partners". But the level of emotional attachment is different.

    As for how this is going to work in the gay world (I've not seen any poly blogs that are all one gender - but that doesn't mean they aren't out there) - it might rock a few people's worlds to think of non-monogamy but I doubt it will become widespread. People have to do what works for them.

    The issue about marriage is a definite can of worms. The straight world already has a problem with acknowledging partners that have more than one husband (or wife). Would it have a negative impact on the push for gay marriage? I don't know, maybe it would have a positive impact on the realization that there's a need for new ways to look at that legal binding of people.

    Good luck with this. It's never easy trying to find your own path to walk.

  2. Thank you for the comment. I was not using the term polygamy correctly at all! I will go back and rewrite the posts as needed. I love your use of the word "family" to describe the unit.

    For the purposes of this particular example, I was using an all female model, as the idea came from a magazine on how to break the traditionally intense highs and lows of the lesbian relationship cycle, and I was indeed aiming for a polyamorous, triad, family unit where all parties are equal and everyone has sexual relations with all parties.

    You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you!