What is your opinion about polyamory?
Okay, this is not my baileywick. Let’s start with that disclaimer. However, I am around a whole lot of young people nearly every day. Polyamory, by definition, means multiple loves and polygamy means many marriages. As a group of people supporting “An it harm none, do what you will” this lifestyle becomes something of a challenge. (Don’t give up on this post right away, I’m getting there.)
You see, I grew up with parents (meaning Gavin and Yvonne, of course) who had an “open marriage.” They came together, dating in the late Sixties and formalizing their marriage in 1970. I do not have good memories of the “open marriage” dynamic of my childhood. I, personally, have zero interest in exploring the option of more than one partner at one time, being a formal serial monogamist. BUT I also knew Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart quite well. They seemed to make the nature of open marriage including polyamory and polygamy work for them in a more comfortable fashion. These are people that I love since I knew them nearly as well as my parents.
Does judging others violate the Rede? Short answer, possibly.
I have learned over the years that judging other people closes doors – emotional, intellectual and eventually, physical. I have challenged myself not to judge. While I might still do judge people from time to time, I work really hard to excavate these negative aspects of myself. Do I feel judgey, I ask myself. Why, yes, yes, I do. Well, then, stop that! But, before you do, why do you feel judgey? What’s wrong with you, Jo, that you are judging someone? Some days are better than others. We don’t always achieve our goals every day, but we also can strive to better “harm none” each day.
I try not to judge the group of non-traditional relationships. I feel no judgement about people who embrace non-traditional lives, but non-traditional relationships are harder for me. What I saw last week, however, got me to considering. And it was this: I watched students enter the building in a trio holding hands instead of a traditional “couple.” I thought, “there it is.” What Oberon and Morning Glory and Gavin and Yvonne and so very many others have done was to begin the process of normalizing non-traditional relationships.
In “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” Jill Lepore speculates about familial relationships between Wonder Woman’s creator and the women he loved. From that time period, a polyamorous relationship was much more questionable perhaps causing more of a sensation, much like Frank Lloyd Wright did. It may still be sensational for the tabloids if someone famous were publicly practicing a more open-natured relationship. However, as our horizons are expanded, as people like Oberon and Morning Glory or Janet, Stuart and Gavin Bone publicly practice more non-traditional relationships, this is normalized for future generations.
I feel privileged to witness this normalization among my students. As my daily trio wanders by, all holding hands and talking things through, their closeness is evident. They have still made a non-traditional choice, but it is more normalized because they have examples. Our families did not have examples to turn to in the same way young people do now. While it may not be my practice, I am so happy that these young people have examples and sources to turn to to help them on their journey as they follow a less traditional path.
It’s up to you (and me) to open your mind
As US culture struggles with polarization including less and less kind speech to each other, either on social media, or in person, that we are moving forward in at least one aspect of our shared lives is a reassuring sign. I am so grateful that young people today have such a wonderful variety of examples of outstanding people who practice polyamory more successfully than has been done in the past or can lead more fulfilled lives as they become their authentic selves which was so much less possible even two decades ago. Most of you cannot hear inside my head, but it’s so important to me to embrace broader horizons – I imagine that it can only result in an eventual positive outcome. I am certain that Gavin and Yvonne’s practice of open marriage would have been significantly more successful if they had had others to chat with about their successes and failures as they worked through their open marriage hurdles. They were somewhat isolated in those challenges, just as others were 50 years ago.
She is doing well, but we have been working our way through a medical mystery that we may have sorted out finally. Just as with her difficulties with mishandled chronic low sodium, I’m attempting to figure out the best way to improve her nutrient absorption. (We, including her doctors, are satisfied at the moment and we’ll know in a few months if the nutritional changes we made are helping.) She wishes everyone well and Blessed be!