12 Comments

This is just soooo good. Thank you for the important, respectful, wise truths you’ve articulated here.

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Thank you!!!

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Feb 21Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

This is fantastic. I am sympathetic to your position. Only my first relationship in college had an agreement to be open. I thought we were too young to close off all of the potential encounters with hearts nad bodies in a lifetime and hoped that freedom to experience our full erotic possibilities might mean we could stay together forever. It didn't work out because my partner felt ashamed of her explorations and was unkind. But I still think what you say about how polyamory can strengthen the core relationship can be true. I also dislike the politics that people try to bring to love, even though I love my queer history and identity for its revolutionary potential.

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Thank you for this!

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Feb 21Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

Beautiful, incisive and touches on all the main fors and against I've seen so far. Kudos and happiness to you, Rhyd.

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Thanks so much mate!

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Great article, Rhyd! I’m curious about your thoughts on something...I’ve noticed that in my life, the couples that tend to work best monogamishy in the long term are gay male couples without children. This is just my anecdotal observations of course, but it makes me wonder if it tends to work better for gay male couples because men, on a population level, have a higher “sociosexuality” (a term I learned in the last couple years which refers to the desired number of partners and to the desired amount of casual sex - not necessarily the same thing as just sex drive, but obviously overlapping).

My husband and I started out poly, and that definitely didn’t work out for us, but I think it did, in the long run, increase the stability of our relationship by making us question some societal programming...like that flirting with or being attracted to other people really is natural and healthy.

I’m thinking about your point about poorer urban people choosing poly as a means to have a more secure community and support system...I haven’t seen this personally, probably because I haven’t been in the right spaces. But when I do look at my friends in hetero relationships who are struggling to make it financially, I just can’t imagine, having been through poly, having watched those exact couples dabble in poly, how it would do anything but weaken their foundation. And having been poly for a few years, I of course don’t buy that they just need more time to deprogram their jealousy, or whatever they say in More Than Two/The Bible 😂. I just keep having the suspicion that poly, on an average, population level, hits men and women differently, and that it works, on average, better for men and gay male couples. That being said, of course, like I said above, it could be that I haven’t spent enough time with people for whom poly is a practical (and actually effective, sustainable) financial strategy. So I’m curious about your thoughts.

And a lot of this, for me, is informed by the inner reflections I’ve done after reading some of the work by people by Louise Perry and Mary Harrington, which, while often oversimplifying things or needing to see everything through one lens only, really did hit on some truths for me...mainly about how much I, as a young woman, sacrificed my body to the lie that casual, emotionless sex is empowering for women, that it’s empowering for women to “fuck like the guys” or vaguely prostitute themselves online. I always felt angry about the beauty and makeup industries and objectification in advertising, but I fell hook, line, and sinker for the lie that I would be happier and more empowered by seeking out casual sex with guys with whom I hadn’t established any emotional connection. Years later, I still am healing from the sexual dysfunction that came from my choices, so it’s a topic that has some real feeling to it for me. The class analysis from this perspective (according to the writers I mentioned, anyway), is that monogamous marriage is more important for lower class women, who need that level of security and stability more than upper class women, although they would argue that most women are losers in the cyborg-birth control-fueled sexual “revolution.” They would argue, I’m sure, that the stability of a monogamous marriage in turbulent, financially unstable times, is preferable for women (on average) to the benefits of a marriage-centric poly arrangement. It’s certainly been my personal experience as a woman who gets little out of casual sex and can’t easily engage other people sexually without it becoming a huge can of worms...it would make sense to me that on average, this would not feel the same for men and women (obviously it’s not the same...the history of prostitution and its gendered roles seem to indicate as much). And it would make sense to me, because of that population-level asymmetry, that being “monogamish” would work better for gay male couples, where the asymmetry is less likely to exist, or to be less. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this, though.

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I'm not Rhyd but for what is worth the ideas you shared have been voiced to me by a ton of women.

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Thanks Julia, I really appreciate your comment. It’s good to know that it’s not just me and the people I’ve encountered in my life!

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You’ve made some fantastic points here. A lot of the talk around polyamory is coming from academia, and therefore has a liberal lens

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I tend to roll my eyes at anything involving polyamory, but this has me thinking. Its a new take I hadn't considered. Its refreshing.

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You had me right up to “deluded fantasy of sexual revolution.” Why are you against the idea that this experimental deconstructing and reconstructing of cultural norms is revolutionary?

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