After several years of making fun of them, I am a little sheepish about the fact that I am starting to come around to what the polyamory people have always espoused, though, I think, for different reasons.
Our society is losing connection between people, and has been for a long time. I don’t mean this new ‘interconnectivity’ bullshit given to us by texting and i.m. I mean a legitimate emotional connection between individuals. I think an increase in sex and non-possessive relationships would help that, but we would have to change our motivations and the way we view sex.
Too often in our society sex is something we have in the presence of a partner, not really with a partner. This is because we often hook up because we want the sex, not the person. I’m not a prude preaching abstinence, I’m merely saying that sex should be a channel through which two (or more) people learn and love* each other, even if that connection will only last the day.
* Not Love, the Romantic term. I mean a deep appreciation for and cherishing of a person. In this context, love does not include any duty, responsibility, or expectation beyond simple honesty.
Note: Prostitution is still fine. If you just need to get off, then by all means, hire a hooker. Don’t pick up a drunken sorority girl. The hooker will be better anyway, and probably smarter.
Let me be clear: sex does not equal love; I know this. But it can be a way for people to learn and appreciate each other, if everyone goes honestly. Sex and emotional investment with multiple people (particularly if concurrent) creates a network that I think many or most americans (at least) are lacking. If we could give up jealousy and possessiveness, such a network should not have to interfere with or prevent long standing, committed relationships such as marriages.
Rarely in this society does the term ‘friends’ include a sexual relationship, and I think that his is a failing of our social understanding. Speaking as someone who’s done it, sex can be a very functional addition to a friendship. the reason it doesn’t work ore often is that people can’t figure out how to treasure that connection without turning into something bigger in their heads, or thinking that it must exist to the exclusion of a more serious romantic relationship. It can and should be an easy, casual, enjoyable, reaffirming act, but it seems to be too complicated (or perhaps too simple) for Americans to figure out.
We already know that most Americans are not sexually satisfied by a single partner. The astronomical rate of extramarital relations shows this, but the problem is that our society had decreed that a relationship must be monogamous. Having studied monogamy among mammals, I can say that it barely exists in the animal kingdom. Why fight it? Wouldn’t if be nice to enjoy sex with multiple partners without having to lie about it, or risk losing a marriage? Eliminate jealousy, remove the concept of possession from sex, and we would be free to connect ourselves much more thoroughly within our social networks.