Polyamory: the next sexual frontier

Polyamory is a term of fairly recent coinage that describes a situation whereby someone is in a sexual relationship with more than one person and all parties to the relationship know this.

The concept is now gaining acceptability as evidenced by the cover story of the Boston Globe’s magazine section two days ago. The story is called ‘Beyond Monogamy’ and it describes how the number of people in a polyamorous relationship in the Boston area now runs into the hundreds.

Some of these people are now demanding their rights, for example, the right to visit a loved one in hospital, something previously given only to married couples and family, as well as more social acceptability.

Social and legal recognition of polyamorous relationships can ultimately really only come at the expense of marriage and therefore at the expense of children. The more recognition is granted to sexual relationships other than marriage, the less incentive there is to marry, and the less incentive there is to marry, the fewer children will be raised by their own married parents.

It goes without saying that the adults involved in polyamorous relationships often have children and because these relationships are, by definition, open, the children will frequently know that dad, or mum, or both, have more than one partner. It may also be the case the mum and dad haven’t bothered to marry.

There is already a great deal of fluidity in the sexual relationships that take place between adults compared with in the past. This means that children can find themselves with a new ‘dad’ or ‘mum’ today, and another new ‘dad’ or ‘mum’ tomorrow as the biological parent who has custody of the children moves from one relationship to another.

Growing acceptance of polyamory will only lend itself to yet more ‘fluidity’ and therefore to more confusion and more disruption in the lives of children.

Of course, this kind of fluidity, or freedom, will suit many adults, but it will rarely suit children who will just have to make do. 

As one couple who are in a polyamorous relationship put it to the Globe: “Kids deal well with things they think are normal. To the degree that we can help them be comfortable with this, then they will treat it as normal. That’s the theory, anyway.”

Yes indeed. And a theory is all it is, but it is a theory that is very convenient from an adult point of view because it lets the adults think their kids will be ok just so long as they think everything is ‘normal’.