All together now*
Concerning my last Entry 53, another idea emerged in my mind, which regularly appears in almost all Polyamory discussion groups from time to time.
Discussions there e.g. might start like „Well, my sweetheart, Konrad, he is such a great polyamorous partner, but unfortunately his wife is strictly monogamous and therefore poor Konrad wouldn’t tell her about his other poly-advances, because she would never be able to understand that – but, good Konrad, alas, he also loves his wife and would like to keep her as well– in short: Anyway, that’s why he doesn’t talk at home about him being poly and all – and, of course, he never mentions any of his other relationships…“.
Or they say: “You know, my girlfriend has a metamour¹ in our network/polycule², who behaves totally polyamorous in her direction, but he would have to separate that for himself, because on the other hand he also conducts several sexual affairs on/off with two or three women, but that wouldn’t be polyamorous at all, and therefore they wouldn’t know anything about his lovers in the polycule – and of course not about each other as well…”.
In a nutshell: How do we want to react if someone in our network of loved ones – in the first, or even in the second or third line of acquaintanceship – practises “non-ethical non-monogamy” – in the Queen’s English: is dishonest in one or more directions or cheats straight away?
“Oh come on, Oligotropos…”, I can hear them already calling, “You’re uncompromising, strict and controlling…!”
As early as in my second Entry I criticize tendencies in the polyamorous scene, which primarily postulate in the name of “free” or “universal” love, that our love – if it were to be “evolved” – would above all have to be unconditional and devoid of need. People who are attached to this way of thinking wish that “love-fulfilled” and “mature” beings should »let each other be as they are«.
“Ok”, I reply, “of course I can leave all those human beings out there »as they are«, comma – but.”
And “comma – but” refers in my view precisely to Entry 53 and likewise to Entry 33 quoted therein.
In that Entry 33 I describe the heartfelt sigh of the singer Alice, who fails to reconcile the AfD-membership of her potentially chosen mate with her own ethics, her own view of the world. So does that render Alice “unevolved” and “loveless”?
I don’t think so – but, evidently, in this case she puts her own ethics and her own well-being in that regard first. Of course, for the sake of her potential partner she could also choose a socially acceptable evasion and tell him “Oh, what each of us thinks and does politically, that can be left out of our loving relationship…”.
But Alice obviously knows that there are certain boundaries in human life and in human relationships that can never be completely “eliminated from the equation”. And that’s probably why she turns on her pillow sleeplessly in the music clip, while realizing that the same person with whom she is currently sharing familiarity and closeness may tomorrow spray synagogues with anti-Semitic slogans or even might manhandle Syrian migrants.
So if I would let a person in my relationship »be« in such a case, then this would already be my search of an excuse for myself why I would rather not include certain characteristics of him in my love…
Or expressed in a more consistent – and hence uncompromising – manner: Yes, of course I can let all human beings out there »be as they are« – BUT I could not be in a familiar, close and intimate loving relationship with all of them, because some of their qualities would contradict my personal view of integrity and responsibility.
“All right, Oligotropos. So by now you have now shown in two of your Entries why – despite an open attitude and some integrity – not every person would be a suitable romantic partner for us. But don’t your demands concerning the metamours (i.e. partnerpartners and their other optional partners) push far beyond any reasonable goal, since you are trying to manipulate hemispheres beyond your control there?“
Mahatma Gandhi once said “The smaller sibling of violence is called indifference”.
If he would be able to read this Entry, he would probably now pluck at my sleeve and say: “Remember the knotted carpets…!”
„Knotted carpets ???“
“Yes, what the oligoamorous natives said about the knotted carpets, in Entry 7! Do you remember their example concerning the dishonest and the honest carpet dealer?
Let me extend their example by one more dimension:
Suppose you have found an excellent dealer who serves you sincerely and to the best of his abilities. In that case, would you be able to live in peace with the fact that he treats only you in this way and continues to treat everyone else with inferior quality and minor dishonesties? For example, if you had just concluded a good bargain with him and – while already departing – you would notice him deceiving the next customer as you walked away – how would you feel? Would you be relieved not to be treated like this? Would you perhaps even be gloating over the fact that the next person was affected – and not you? Could you »leave them be« because it wouldn’t concern you personally, and go your way in complete composure?“ “Dearest Oligotropos,” the famous Indian would perhaps continue, “we humans possess this ‘composure’ or rather ‘indifference’ usually just as long as we ourselves aren’t the deceived ones… So – how can you be sure that you are always treated correctly by your supplier when you have long been aware that your trusted (business) partner behaves like a moral chameleon towards his other loyal customers?“
Oh, darn – the Oligoamorists and that Gandhi, they would be right. Because all the other things they also addressed in Entry 7 would fit perfectly into this “example extension”:
My “total freedom” and my »letting everyone be as they are«, is – if I want to enter into trusting and predictable relationships – brought into a balance that is beneficial to all sides through responsible integrity and consistent commitment. Which means that all parties involved should have a similar conception of “integrity” and “commitment”.
And only then a relationship in the oligoamorous sense would be sustainable ( = consistent/suitable/satisfactory – see final paragraph of Entry 3) – because in all other cases, as far as my (business) partners are concerned, there would always be something irritating scratching in the back of my head and in my heart: “Today they behaved like that – and I just can hope that they will repeat it tomorrow… They treat me like this – but I can see that they treat X like that; I don’t want to be treated like X…”.
Such “scratching” will lead to a permanent, subliminal anxiety after just a short period of time, as we can never really be constantly reassured. And permanent anxiety leads to the fact that our famous inner “alarm switch” gets stuck half activated – what scientifically is called “stress” – and that is exactly the opposite of any satisfaction or “being at peace”.
So with indifference or by actively looking away, I continue to sanction dis-peace in my network of relationships, which in the end will always return to me in one way or another. For it is precisely regarding loving relationships – no matter whether they are tied across corners or around three edges – that another Gandhi saying applies: “You and I are one: I cannot hurt you without hurting myself.”
Concerning Oligoamory, there is no way around complete goodwill and network-wide respect for one another. Because otherwise it would be a bit like in the joke about the tea-party where the wife comes home at midnight and is confronted by her husband: „Petunia, why do you return so late?“ “Oh Vernon, every time one of us left, the others talked about her so badly afterwards, I just didn’t dare to leave…!”
So in such a case, indifference can even be the smaller sibling of disrespect, when for example someone in your polycule says: “So, Olaf’s still with that vegan drama queen he was dating last weekend?” or “Yeah, Cathrin is sleeping over at Mona’s, that left-wing-bimbo, I don’t know what she likes about her, but thank god I won’t have to cope with her at all…”
In the end, if we were able to include all other participants in our favourite-people-networks into our relationship- equation, we are also talking about energetic hygiene. Or, as psychologists and psychotherapists would call it, the “emotional field”. Or to put it prosaically – if you’re more down-to-earth –, “the overall mood”.
In “The Tale of Anday and Tavitih” in Entry 6, I quote Anaïs Nin, who recognized that each new person represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
In this sense, relationship-networks are like colourful solar systems into which new planets or suns are sometimes literally “born” – and of course it plays an enormous role in the dynamics of distance and proximity, of all-round magnetism and equilibrium, which energies such a new world adds to the unfolding “solar system”. Because energetically, in terms of the emotional field or the mood, it is very soon no longer possible in such an (overall) system to assign exactly where “mine” or “yours” begins – since all participants aim hopefully and intentionally towards a common “ours“. And thus the “moral” of the “Tale of Anday and Tavith” gains once again even more importance:
»Namely, what a strong force the others are in ourselves.
And how important it is for any oligoamorous relationship to recognise the unrefusable presence of the people involved in the other participants. That it is important to understand that one contains the others involved in oneself as soon as any loving relationship starts to emerge.
And that it would be a wonderful goal to respect these other persons in the hearts of all the parties involved and to love them passionately and dearly therefore.
But that it is at least important for mutual success to accept the other loved ones in each other, in order to perceive yourselves further as whole human beings and to value each other as such.«
Insincerity, even if it comes across as socially accepted whitewashing or as an accepted “blind spot”, can therefore have no place in oligoamorous relationships. For in the end we would not only be advancing towards a “reality of separation” (see Entry 26), in which we give up our responsibility for the fact that all people are equal – at least concerning their dignity. We would also deprive ourselves and our loved ones of the opportunity to make informed choices – and therefores deprive all of us of our freedom.
*Key line of the famous song by the group “The Farm“, (version 1990)
¹ “Metamour“ – compound word made up of “meta” = with + “amour” = lover. Intentional meaning: The partners/lovers of one’s partner(s)/lover(s) with whom one does not necessarily have a direct sexual/intimate relationship.
² “Polycule” is a humorous portmanteau word made up of “Polyamory“ and “molecule“ and refers to a group or series of people who are in an ethically non-monogamous loving relationships with each other. Since the “structures” of such groups, when sketched for illustrative purposes, can look like hydrocarbon rings, complex molecules or other medium-chain compounds, the witty expression “polycule” was created.
Thanks to Steven Lelham on Unsplash for the photo!