Polyamory is becoming more mainstream lately — mainstream enough, that is, to be the subject of a lifestyle piece by Alex Williams in the Times yesterday. It's still fringe enough, though, that the Times could only get two polyamorists to go on the record about it, and that Williams treats the whole practice as sort of charmingly kooky. Polyamorist Ed Vessel bought a toothbrush for his girlfriend — and his other girlfriend! They all coordinate using GCal! Despite its gee-whiz tone, the article does make one thing clear — polyamory is a lot of work.First of all, there's sheer logistics. Since Vessel sees each of his girlfriends several times a week, he has to keep an overnight bag packed and is often away from home for four or five nights at a stretch. And he had difficulty explaining to his parents why he brought one girlfriend home to visit them but kept talking about another. The hardest work, though, is emotional. One of Vessel's girlfriends, Diana Adams, was jealous of another girlfriend's toothbrush — not because Vessel had purchased it, she claims, but because it was nicer than the one he'd purchased her. After they talked about it, Adams says, "I just decided that this was an example of a jealousy that is not warranted." When you're in a monogamous relationship, jealousy is your prerogative. Excessive jealousy is, of course, a problem, and it can sometimes be hard to know where the line between reason and excess lies. But if your boyfriend buys another woman a toothbrush for her to use when she stays over at his house, you're allowed to be angry, and it's understood that you're angry because of something he did. But with polyamory, jealousy becomes something you just have to deal with. Even if you're open and honest with your partners, you still have to change your feelings — they don't have to change their actions. Much like nations, relationships have to balance freedom and security. If you're polyamorous, you have the freedom to choose multiple partners — but not the security that your partner won't hurt you by loving someone else. Of course, you don't necessarily have that security in a monogamous relationship either — but you do get to ask for it. As Moe quoted in a post earlier this year, some polyamorists share "a cynical belief that the monogamous are stuck in a myth, one that leads to cheating, unhappiness or divorce court." And the monogamous, for their part, often take a dim view of polyamory. Sex researcher Edward O. Laumann callously told the Times that polyamorists are "just talking like that because they haven’t found somebody special." But like in so many aspects of sex and love, people probably fall along a spectrum, from those who crave security above all else, to those who are willing to put up with some heartache in order to love as many people as they want. Hopelessly Devoted to You, You and You [NY Times] Earlier: Is Polyamory Not Such A Retarded Idea After All?
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