Entry 2

Immediate reply to the archipelago of Polyamory

Dear friend,

you asked me why I have left the versatile archipelago of Polyamory for a yet unknown island.
First and foremost I want to reassure you that I’m not completely gone out of your world, because my new domain – remote as it might seem – is and will be part of your archipelago, still.
At the same time I want to give you an explicit answer to your question, as the issue matters to me a lot as well:

Apart from the meanwhile excessive use of the term “Polyamory” concerning rather different varieties and lifestyles of multiple relationships (as I outlined in Entry 1), in my view there have emerged three problematic issues regarding the very core of Polyamory itself at he beginning of the 21st century. And these issues are representing constantly recurring stumbling blocks in the whole philosophy to relationship persons like myself.
Furthermore, these neuralgic topics seem to be linked to each other in some way. They are:

1) Sexuality as main reason for mutuality:
I must start this paragraph by ascertaining that I am in no way “sex-negative”. I cherish, enjoy and practice sexuality in a number of ways, and my high sensitivity alone sends me flying high regularly with my loved ones.
But in regard to Polyamory I’m repeatedly annoyed, when even in serious newsgroups and subject-specific contributions sexuality is emphasised frequently as essential and indefeasible ingredient to any real polyamorous relationships.
This emphasis is especially pointed out when the particular importance of polyamorous mentality and its pending way of life are to be highlighted concerning their relevance regarding individual sexual liberation and ethical nonconformity as a result.
But that relevance – which therefore is in a narrow sense a socio-political argument as well as an argument of cultural policy sprouting from feminism and the “Free Love-Movement” – is quite capable to lead into trouble if applied to emerging romantic relationships in real life.
First of all simply because in that case “Poly-Amory” is vulnerable to being acted out mainly quantitatively as “loving-many” with the understanding of “make-love-with-many” – thereby becoming a kind of promiscuity.
But even to a lesser extent there is a risk that sexuality can become the main and only reason for mutuality in such a relationship – and its abuse as a kind of “door-opener” or even “compatibility verification” concerning potential new mates.
Albeit I have asserted above, that mutual consenting sexuality can be delightful and life-enhancing, there is the substantial probability that by this means affection might remain continually only on the sexual level. And even if this is absolutely okay for all parties concerned, I still have the following two demurs:
a) Regarding mere serial or rather parallel (multiple) sexual commitments without additional dimensions in the manner of an intricate relationship, there is no need for a (pseudo-)legitimation by means of citation of a sophisticated relationship-philosophy like Polyamory. Open relationships, swinging-arrangements and casual dating cover that territory since decades – so please: Let’s call things what they are.
Underlining sexuality as main feature of polyamorous relationships will evoke above all further debatable media coverage – and continuing confusing of terms in public awareness.
b) In those agreements I am actually compartmentalising my potential partners, by reducing them to their sexual aspect only. That way, I’m no longer addressing them as a whole and evolved person.
As a result the danger of seriality and substitutability increases in my opinion – especially if, for example, appeal or performance are declining – accurately because the whole “relationship” had been founded mainly on that single purpose.
For my part, that would display a rather unethical treatment of my loved ones – and I myself don’t want to be viewed or even treated accordingly by my beloved vice versa.

2) Unconditionality & Needlessness:
Even some entries on Wikipedia regarding Polyamory are currently mentioning “non-possessiveness” as favourable prerequisite. Some people conceive this as “unconditionality” (of love) though. Often “unconditionality” is also paraphrased by terms like “to be free from (mutual) demands” or even “needlessness”.
Polyamorous circles in particular, who deal with political “Free-Love” or spiritual “Universal Love” or – as I pointed out in 1) – with Poly- or Pansexuality are placing a lot of emphasis on those precepts. Often they are stating that only if a person has surpassed all its (pre-)conceptions, pretensions and needs, he*she would gain the ability of evolved multiple or universal love (to each and any being).
In my opinion, even as an idealist, this assumption appears to be literally in-humane. Because, on the one hand, it seems to set the bar all too high, to the point that Polyamory becomes attainable to a somewhat demanding elite only (who points out often enough that one probably has to be born as a “true Poly”) on the other hand this way the rest of us will feel permanently “immature”, “unevolved”, “backward” or at least “failing”. And, from my point of view, that can never be an affectionate attitude towards anyone. Neither I want to consider my partners in such a way, nor do I want to be evaluated by them accordingly.
But what concerns me the most, is the fact that there is being framed an ideal, to which we human beings can’t live up to its requirements in any possible way: Should I be really capable of loving anyone with all my heart? Will it be arbitrary then, with whom or what I initiate a relationship?
I say: As humans we all are individuals with unique prerequisites – usually combined with a specific biography. Both has made us to what we are here and now.
Those uniquenesses in particular induce the special attraction I appreciate in my (potential) loved ones – and I hope I am appreciated by them for my idiosyncrasies… – and for that reason I love them and hope to build close-knit romantic relationships with them. According to that, their and my (emerging) love are therefore directly linked to our uniqueness, idiosyncrasies and characteristics, for those qualities are evoking mutual interest and enrichment.
We human beings posses those qualities exactly because our biological and biographic diversity caused these distinct preferences, which are bestowing attraction only to distinct uniqueness, idiosyncrasies and characteristics. As a result, it is not at all arbitrary, free or universal who or what contributes to our personal well-being. It is rather profoundly human, if we have needs, wishes and even demands concerning exactly those select dear people we gather round ourselves to form companion-, fellow- and relationships with.
Conditions demanding unconditionality, however, which are bound to deny our biological scaffolding as well as to marginalise our biographies, reveal themselves to me as contradictions in terms.

3) Pokémon-Poly and the boundlessness of love(s):
Last but not least I receive the increasing impression that “Polyamory” is being propagandised much to vehemently as role model for “highly topical relationships” by some of its adherents. The concurrent emphasis on sexual liberty and non-possesiveness of the individual has thereby led to the odd manifestation of a kind of “Pokémon-Polyamory”, to which our lifestyle with paradigms of a western industrial nation (e.g. appraisal of independence, ideal of meritocracy, migratory employees and resulting singledom…) has probably contributed a lot.
As a result, this cute sounding lifestyle is mainly – but not exclusively – practised by Solopolys¹, who often offer the following polyamorous or rather realtionship-anarchic rationale. For concerning their liberal-enlightened view, “…it is never possible for just one relationship person to be apt/in the position/utilised in regard to the upcoming or existing wishes and needs of another individual.”
According to this doctrine, the resulting solution is to subsequently acquire one potential partner for each possibly accruing need – and to bond with this person only in a relationship according to its situational aptitude: Shopping with René, intimacy with Lou, literature with Alex, workshops with Fritzi, kitesurfing with Micky and cooking with Jojo…etc.
To my mind such an approach is neither polyamorous nor overly enlightened – or even anyhow highly topical. I perceive it as particularly egocentric and as being inappropriate towards the involved persons in their capacity of whole human beings. Because here too the same compartmentalisation and purpose-reduction takes place that I already criticised in 1): The whole human being with its strengths and shortcomings is not being required, least desired or even loved wholeheartedly. By this means people are turned into need-fulfillment-machines.
This kind of “Poly-Amory” frightens me terribly, because I fear that down that road we will find ourselves sending former loved ones packing if they are no longer able or willing to perform their designated purpose. And what might befall us if one day we ourselves become ill, senile or handicapped? How much loving and caring is left in such a strategy after that?

No, dear friend. These are reasons I don’t want to be part of my obituary, by the time I have perished in loneliness and frailty because I treated my fellow human beings under the pretext of “Polyamory” as sex objects, arbitrary beings or service provider.
Therefore I sat sail to yon island of Oligoamory, since the “loving-many” threatened to become too discretionary to me.
And here I hope to establish with those select few, who are willing to accept my every peculiarities, those committed-sustainable multiple relationships, lest we might become companions and perchance soultribe to each other.

With the promise to keep on writing regularly, I send kindest regards


Oligotropos

PS: Concerning the question if we/I need just another term to describe multiple relationships, I, as the leader in this venture, answer: Yes, of course!The implicit reproach, that doing so would be pigeonholing, I counter – as usually in such cases – that a term, as a start, is just another term. A “pigeonhole”, however, is only being constituted if a mere term is combined with a (commonly negative) assessment.
In my opinion, terms facilitate proper communicating, to the end that people can describe themselves and agree on something. For example they might outline their own initial position. And from there on people have to talk to each other anyway, to ensure mutual apprehension.
For instance, one could start off as follows: “I would like for myself to be engaged in a close-knit oligoamorous relationships. Oligoamory is associated with polyamorous and thereby transparent multiple relationships, which in turn represent in the broadest sense a kind of open relationship.”



Footer:
¹ Solopoly: A polyamorous person that lives indeed solitary, but who nevertheless can be part of multiple relationship(s) at the same time.
² Relationship anarchy: A kind of multiple relationship in which all pending relationships have no hierarchy or emphasis in regard to each other. All pending relationships are conducted in equivalent coexistence.

Thanks to Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash for the image!

6 Replies to “Entry 2”

    1. “Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie, und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.” Mit diesen Worten weist Mephisto im 1. Teil von Goethes Faust im 2. Teil der Studierzimmerszene den Schüler auf die Unzulänglichkeit eines nur theoretischen Wissens hin.
      Da bin ich ganz dabei: Hoffentlich gelingt es uns, ermutigende Erfahrungen im “grünen Leben” zu sammeln und umzusetzen. Eine Gemeinschaft einander zugewandter Nähemenschen ist das Ziel. Die graue Theorie ist dabei im guten Sinne (nur) unsere “Werkzeugkiste im Kopf”.

  1. Stimme Dir sehr zu. Das Thema ist im Prinzip, dass erwartungsfreie/bedingunngslose Liebe nicht verstanden wird. Sie bedeutet eben nicht Willenlosigkeit oder Bedürfnislosigkeit. Sie ist nicht ein Gefügigsein oder dem Anderen alle Wünsche zu erfüllen oder ohne Widerworte alles mitzumachen. Sie ist keine Selbstaufgabe.
    Sie bedeutet, das, was ist zu lieben. Sie bedeutet Menschen zu lieben, mit all ihren individuellen Besonderheiten. Vor allem jedoch auch sich selber. Und auch liebevoll für sich zu sorgen. Ich kann lieben, muss aber keineswegs deshalb alles “bedingungslos” mitmachen oder hinnehmen.
    So gesehen, widerspricht Polyamorie, so wie oben von Dir beschrieben, dem Anspruch einer erwartungsfreien Liebe schon in sich.

    1. Genau. Und was noch verhängnisvoller wäre, ist, wenn das eingegangene Beziehungsmodell als “in-sich-Begründung” für solch ein Verhalten angewendet wird: “Du wolltest doch mit mir oligo-/polyamor leben, darum mußt Du jetzt auch…”
      Wenn die Beziehungsform oder deren “AGBs” in so einer Form den Partner*innen um die Ohren gehauen werden, daß ein Konsens eingefordert wird, der ein “Wegverhandlen” persönlicher Wohlfühlgrenzen betrifft – dann ist das “gemeinsame Wir” und das liebevolle Sehen des gesamten Partnermenschen schon längst entwichen.

  2. Ich trauere um den inflationär verwendeten Begriff der Polyamorie… Wo ist die Grenze bei Oligoamorie? Wie viele Beziehungen kann man führen?

    1. Der britische Psychologe Robin Dunbar hat als Index menschlicher Beziehungen die sogenannte “Dunbar-Zahl” etabliert.
      Seine Zahl bezieht sich wohlgemerkt nicht auf die mögliche Menge intimer Liebesbeziehungen, die ein Mensch aufzunehmen in der Lage ist, sondern auf unser individuelles Gesamtbeziehungsnetzwerk sämtlicher Sozialkontakte: Von unserer Geburtsfamilie, über den Freundeskreis, unser Arbeitsumfeld betreffend, Kontakte in Kita oder Schule, aber auch unseren übrigen Alltag mit Automechaniker*in, Bäckereifachverkäufer*in, Postbot*in etc.
      Wer also eher extrovertiert ist und ein reiches Sozialleben im Privatleben und am Arbeitsplatz hat, wird, wenn man überschlägig zusammenzählt, doch alsbald genau an eine Grenze kommen, an der all diese Beziehungen noch überschaubar sind, bzw. überhaupt gepflegt werden können, ohne daß aus den Individuen “der Dingsbums aus Dingenskirchen” wird.
      Was intime Nahbeziehungen im oligoamoren Sinne angeht, sind wegen unserer direkten privaten Ressourcen, insbesondere an Zeit und Energie, vermutlich irgendetwas zwischen 3 bis maximal ein Dutzend möglich, wenn diese Beziehungen noch Kriterien von tiefer Einlassung, Verbindlichkeit und Identifikation (miteinander als zusammen-gehörig) erfüllen sollen (siehe dazu auch Eintrag 12).

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