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MUCH LOVE TO MANY LOVERS: An Exploration of Polyamory

If one has been an inhabitant of a typical monogamy-adhering household, they would have been fed with navigation leading to the idea of it. More specifically, the dictated convention of man-woman-stay-together-forever will be hammered with the aid of monogamy-holds-majority media examples. And while there’s been a detectable change in how the LGBTQA+ community is coming out (acceptance is a few steps slower), the change in viewing love with the idea of many people alternatively is questionable.

Take a long, filling look at a painting that’s not uni-coloured or bi-coloured. If it has more than two gradients, note how they complement one other, like a mosaic. Maybe the blots and stroke flaws are apparent. But that’s universal to art, right? A perfect piece, an imperfect piece, a uni-coloured block, a bi-coloured painting-it’s all art. So is love.

As blooming adults, we often reel in questions that in turn question adults’ perspective. A teen once asked, “How can I live with the same person forever, when I have an addition to my crush-list everyday? I mean, I really like Enrique Iglesias, but I also like Nick Jonas. I like them both for their own thing, and I like them at the same time.” Turns out, it’s a valid point that strikes adult reality.

What is polyamory and how does it work?

Vikas (name changed), who’s actively involved in a polyamorous relationship, explains, “Polyamory is the custom of engaging in multiple romantic relationships with the knowledge and consent of all partners concerned. The key aspects here are consent and communication. That’s how it works.” How did the realisation dawn on him? “My wife (well, girlfriend at the time) and I were talking about what “fidelity” meant to us, and the conversation just evolved from there.”

The colloquial language for terms related to polyamory is gaining momentum too. So while a couple is distinctly identified with two people in a relationship, a ‘throuple’ is defined by three people in a relationship.

How is polyamory different from polygamy?

Polygamy is essentially rooted in the idea of having multiple spouses. Polyandry refers to the practice of a woman having two or more husbands in the same time space, while polygyny is the custom of a man having two or more wives together.

Polyamory stands on the same spectrum owing to the aspect of ‘poly’ (many). The difference then is pronounced by marriage, a rather formal declaration of a relationship. Vikas informs, “It’s dependent on how you’re structuring your relationships. It’s (marriage) not necessary at all.”

Jumping in too quickly

A teenager’s thought that has evolved into an adult thought bears an element of logic. It seems quite an escape, or a solution to the boredom of monogamy, or the fear of having a lifelong attachment to a partner. But polyamory comes with its own share of concerns.

Firstly, devoting time and space to multiple people can be a challenging task in itself, if everyone is on a different wavelength. It can be tricky, for instance, spending quality time with someone who is engaged with another person. But, “Time division comes down to the individuals and their needs. There’s no set formula for anything,” says Vikas.

Also, if one’s need for polyamory is instilled in a temporary spark arising out of sex-boredom, it’s a good idea to reconsider. Because polyamory is dynamic, just like monogamy. Loving many people in the same capacity requires understanding, devotion, care, affection and perhaps even love-making, the very premises of a monogamous relationship.

The current landscape:

The young seem to be proponents of the idea of giving love to many lovers. For instance, Aditi Sharma, a 23-year-old lawyer believes that “It is human to be in love with more than one person at once. Human beings are anyway not monogamous by nature, it (monogamy) was inculcated to make society organised.”

Rahul Arya, a journalism student feels that love can often be fogged over lust. “One can love someone and still have lust for many, but the heart belongs to one.” Desire as a sole criterion for a polyamorous arrangement does seem invalid.

Vikas believes that polyamory has existed for quite some time in India, but it is mostly unknown to the society here. “It has become an ‘alternative lifestyle’ only fairly recently, all over the world.”

Things seem to be changing, although sedately. What’s sure for now, is that love needs to prevail, in all positive forms acceptable to people.

What’s your outlook on polyamory? Let us know!

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