Below are some excerpts from an article on Wikipedia about Polyamory.
Polyamory (from Greek πολυ (poly, meaning many or several) and Latin amor (literally “love”) (and from polygamy) is the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time, generally with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamorous perspectives differ from monogamous perspectives, in that they reflect one or more partner's wish(es) to have further meaningful relationships and to accommodate these alongside their existing relationships.
The term polyamory is sometimes abbreviated to poly, especially as a form of self-description, and is sometimes described as consensual and/or responsible non-monogamy.
Polyamory is usually taken as a description of a lifestyle or relational choice and philosophy, rather than of an individual's actual relationship status at a given moment. It is an umbrella term that covers many orientations and modes of relationship. There is fluidity in its definition to accommodate the different shades of meaning which might be covered. Polyamorous relationships are themselves varied, reflecting the choices and philosophies of the individuals concerned.
Polyamory is distinct from polygamy, being closer to a personal outlook than a predefined bonding system. It is grounded in such concepts as choice, trust, equality of free will, and the more novel idea of compersion, rather than in cultural or religious tradition.
Because of its fluid nature, polyamory is sometimes loosely defined. Nevertheless, people who identify as polyamorous typically reject the view that sexual and relational exclusivity are always necessary for long-term loving relationships. Those who are open to, or emotionally suited for a polyamorous lifestyle, may at times be single, or in monogamous relationships, but are more typically involved in multiple long term relationships.
Polyamorous relationships, in practice, are highly varied and individualized. Ideally they are built upon values of trust, loyalty, negotiation, and compersion, as well as rejection of jealousy, possessiveness, and restrictive cultural standards. Such relationships are often more fluid than the traditional "dating and marriage" model of long-term relationships, and the participants in a polyamorous relationship may not have preconceptions as to duration.
Sex is not necessarily a primary focus in polyamorous relationships. Polyamorous relationships commonly consist of groups of more than two people seeking to build a long-term future together on mutually agreeable grounds, with sex as only one aspect of their relationship.
Values within polyamory
Relationships classed as polyamorous involve an emotional bond and often a longer term intent, though these distinctions are a topic open to debate and interpretation.
Also note that the values discussed here are ideals. As with any ideals, their adherents sometimes fall short of the mark — but major breaches of a polyamorous relationship's ideals are taken as seriously as such breaches would be in any other relationship. Common values cited within such relationships include:
- Fidelity and loyalty: Many polyamorists define fidelity as being faithful to the promises and agreements they have made, rather than in terms of per se sexual exclusivity. Having a secret sexual relationship which violated one's negotiated agreements would be seen as lacking fidelity. Polyamorists generally base definitions of commitment on considerations other than sexual exclusivity, e.g. "trust and honesty" or "growing old together".
- Trust, honesty, dignity and respect: Most polyamorists emphasize respect, trust and honesty for all partners. A partner's partners should be accepted as part of that person's life rather than merely tolerated, and a relationship that requires deception, or where partners are not allowed to express their individual lives, is often seen as a poor model.
- Mutual support: This requires that each partner will support, and not undermine, the other, and will not deliberately use a secondary relationship to harm another party or relationship.
- Communication and negotiation: Because there is no "standard model" for polyamorous relationships, and reliance upon common expectations may not be realistic, polyamorists often advocate explicitly deciding the ground rules of their relationships with all concerned, and often emphasize that this should be an ongoing process of communication and respect. Polyamorists usually take a pragmatic approach to their relationships; they accept that sometimes they and their partners will make mistakes and fail to live up to these ideals, and that communication is important for repairing any breaches.
- Non-possessiveness: Polyamorists believe that restrictions on other deep relationships are not for the best, as they tend to replace trust with a framework of ownership and control. They tend to see their partner's partners in terms of the gain to their partner's life rather than the threat to their own (see compersion). Poly relationships do vary and some can be possessive or provide for the primary partner's veto or approval, whilst others are asymmetrical—possessive one way, but not the other.
As with many lifestyles, there is considerable active discussion about philosophical approaches to polyamory.
In Echlin's article in The Guardian, five reasons for choosing polyamory are identified: a drive towards female independence and equality driven by feminism; disillusionment with monogamy; a yearning for community; honesty and realism in respect of relational nature of human beings; human nature; and individual non-matching of the traditional monogamous stereotype. Jim Fleckenstein, director of the Institute for 21st-Century Relationships, is quoted as stating that the polyamory movement has been driven not only by science fiction, but also by feminism: "Increased financial independence means that women can build relationships the way they want to." The disillusionment with monogamy is said to be "because of widespread cheating and divorce". The longing for community is associated with a felt need for the richness of "complex and deep relationships through extended networks" in response to the replacement and fragmentation of the extended family by nuclear families. "For many," Echlin writes, "it is a hankering for community …we have become increasingly alienated, partly because of the 20th century's replacement of the extended family with the nuclear family. As a result, many of us are striving to create complex and deep relationships through extended networks of multiple lovers and extended families". Others speak of creating an "honest responsible and socially acceptable" version of non-monogamy — "since so many people are already non-monogamous, why not develop a non-monogamy that is honest, responsible and socially acceptable? …It seems weird that having affairs is OK but being upfront about it is rocking the boat." "Polys agree that some people are monogamous by nature. But some of us are not, and more and more are refusing to be shoehorned into monogamy."
A sixth reason, a couple's response to a failure of monogamy, by reaching a consensus to accept the additional relationship, is identified by other authors.
Because of the heightened trust and self-determination required for a polyamorous relationship, some who practice polyamory consider it a superior form of relating to people. Monogamist opponents of polyamory often claim that it weakens, or is a failure to adhere to, the values that others in society uphold. Many who practice polyamory would probably prefer not to philosophize, but simply hold that polyamory works for them.
Division of love
In The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (writing as 'Catherine Liszt') described an argument against polyamory to the effect that, when one's love is divided among multiple partners, the love is lessened. They referred to this as a "starvation economy" argument, because it treats love as a scarce commodity (like food or other resources) that can be given to one person only by taking it away from another. This is sometimes called a "Malthusian argument", after Malthus' writings on finite resources.
Many polyamorists, including Easton and Hardy, reject the idea that dividing love among multiple partners automatically lessens it. A commonly-invoked argument uses an analogy with a parent who has two children—the parent does not love either of them any less because of the existence of the other.
A more common view is that since each relationship requires time and energy, most polyamorists do not simply acquire relationships open-endedly.
Another viewpoint is that the love from the third is just added to the total amount of the couple, and therefore, the amount of love is increased because all parties are providing it to all other parties
See whole article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory
I'm curious to hear what people's views are on the subject of intimate relationships, attachment, jealousy and sexuality.