“We have a generation of people coming up who are saying, we also want stability and committed relationships and safety and security, but we also want individual fulfilment. Let us see if we can negotiate monogamy or non-monogamy in a consensual way that prevents a lot of the destructions and pains of infidelity,” a British “couples counselor” Esther Perel explains in that BBC piece on making polyamory work.
“Manag[ing] relationships” is something she says she “sees people struggling with all the time.” The choices, as she views it, are: “You can live in a monogamous institution and you can negotiate monotony, or you can live in a non-monogamous choice and negotiate jealousy. Pick your evil.”
Marriage as we knew it is evil, and then there is “love” on the other hand:
When they had been a couple for just two weeks, Tom suggested to Charlie [a woman] that they be non-monogamous.
“It was a light bulb moment for me,” she says. ‘I had been scared of commitment because I had never met anyone I felt I could fall completely and exclusively in love with. The idea of this not being a monogamous relationship allowed me to fall as deeply in love with Tom as I wanted to without fear that I would break his heart by falling in love with somebody else as well.”
But how did she feel when, a year into their marriage, Tom fell in love with another woman?
“Well, Sarah’s lovely,” says Charlie. “I was just so happy that Tom was happy with her.”
Sarah’s partner, Chris, was less comfortable with the situation at first. They had agreed that they could have other sexual partners, but forming an emotional attachment with someone else was a different matter.
So when Sarah fell for Tom, she agonised over how to tell Chris.
“We sat down and talked about what it meant to be in love with more than one person, and did that mean I loved him less. Well, of course it didn’t.
“It’s not like there’s only so much love I have to give and I have to give all of it to one person. I can love as many people as I can fit in my heart and it turns out that’s quite a few.”
With the help of Google, the sky’s the limit for love. And it could even end jealousy.
“Compersion,” explains Tom, “is the little warm glow that you get when you see somebody you really care about loving somebody else and being loved.”
“There’s always a small amount of insecurity,” reflects Sarah, recalling how she felt when her fiance fell in love with Charlie. “But compare my small amount of discomfort with the huge amount of love that I could see in both of them, and honestly, I’d feel like a really mean person if I said my discomfort was more important than their happiness.”
Sarah goes onto explain: “The way I see it, it’s only a problem if I feel like one of my partners is spending more time with all their other partners than with me. . . . It just leads to people feeling hurt.”
Rest assured, “A shared Google calendar is the answer.”
“We mostly use it for keeping track of date nights,” says Charlie. “The couple who is on a date gets first pick of what film goes on the TV and it helps keep track of who’s in what bedroom.”
We teach children to have no higher expectations than possible pregnancy at age eleven. So they grow up believing that no one can be trusted (not the least themselves) in the realm of sex; it’s always about managing the evils of jealousy and monotony, while hoping for finding something that looks like it could be love and happiness in a culture that has stripped fundamental words of meaning. “Freedom” is in having no standards by which to make choices, and having anyone who wants to propose something better marginalized.
Love and marriage and the baby carriage might be boring in comparison, but it’s not doomed if the Google server crashes. It’s also not all about adults, but is open to higher expections and a commitment to rise to responsibilities and challenges together, toward good and actually away from evil.