Is polyamory an “enlightened” way of love?

Written by:

Winston Lam

Winston Lam

Winston is a psychologist who is passionate about the underlying mechanisms that influence social interactions, human behaviour, and self improvement.

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Asia is catching up very slowly to the sex liberation of its western counterpart. Open relationships are not even considered the norm among gay men here, let alone polyamory.

Most gay guys here have not even heard of the concept of polyamory. This article serves as a short introduction to what it is, and what the current, albeit limited, research says about it. I will also provide an argument on how it might, in theory, be a better way to love than the conventional notions of love.

What is polyamory?

Polyamory is the practice of having consensual intimate relationships with more than one person. A polyamorous person can be in romantic love with multiple people at the same time.

Polyamory also comes in many forms. It is a spectrum just like how open relationships are. Throuples, also known as a three-way relationships, are a more common example of it. Note that polyamory is different from polygamy, which is more an institutional concept, of a person being married to multiple people.

What does the research say?

Since polyamory is still a fairly uncommon trend in LGBTQ+ circles, there have been limited opportunities for scientists to research it. Of the few research that was done on it, here’s what they’ve found so far:

Firstly, there is no evidence so far that either monogamy or polyamory is better than the other in terms of relationship longevity, happiness, intimacy, and satisfaction.

Every relationship is different, and how good your relationship is to you depends more on you as an individual and how compatible you and your partner is. So, choose what feels best to you and your partner(s).

Secondly, gay men are more likely than any other group to practice polyamory, but they still struggle with jealousy.

In fact, the fear of jealousy is probably the biggest reason people are deterred from having a polyamorous relationship, assuming they do not have any moral issues with non-monogamy.

This is especially apparent when one of the partners feels he has less opportunity for intimate connections with other people, be it due to the perceived lack of desirability or any other reason.

Lastly, polyamory is a great way of addressing personal issues and forging personal growth. It provides opportunities for dealing with dynamics that typical relationships do not have. It would require emotional maturity, and the ability to communicate healthily.

It is also a great way for someone to learn the path to unconditional love, through jealousy.

Why polyamory may be the “better” way?

While serial monogamy is still popular, lifelong monogamy is pretty much out of existence, which sort of already defeats its purpose.

If you are sex positive and have a healthy approach to dealing with jealousy, polyamory is an obvious solution to a relationship facing unequal or different sexual desires. But that is not why I think polyamory might actually be a better way to have relationships.

When we think about higher power, or enlightenment, “all-loving” is a concept that is often agreed to be a feature of it. Isn’t polyamory closer to that ideal than monogamy?

It is not a form of lust, but actual, intimate care for more than one fellow human.

Think about it, it does not seem right to limit your love to only one person when you are capable of loving all. And you are capable. We all are capable of loving many, many people. In a way, we already are doing it. Many of us love multiple members of our family.

While that is a different kind of love, it is love nonetheless. Romantic love is no different.

I will end by noting that my argument is only theoretical. Therefore, I could be wrong. I unfortunately do not have enough experience with polyamorous people in real life to make a judgement on how well my argument manifests in reality.

Another thing to clarify is that I personally do not believe in any religion, so do not mistake my argument as a theological one.

While I do not necessarily believe in the existence of a higher power, I definitely believe that these conceptions of ultimate life are ideals we ourselves should all strive to become. It may be counterintuitive, but I do think polyamory could be humanity’s future.

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