PolyLove is a new investigative documentary that explores polyamory, non-monogamy and the journey to redefine a ‘relationship’. Brace yourself, because we are going to a place where bravery and honesty are essential. A place where loving someone enough to set them free isn’t just a trite metaphor – it’s essential to your personal and relationship growth.
Single Married It’s Complicated
In North America, 48% of marriages end in divorce.* In business, if your product is failing for half of your customers, then you need to fix it or offer something better. * SOURCE ‘Divorce demography’ Stats Canada 2013
Non-monogamy and polyamory demand radical rethinking of our societal constructs. It’s not about breaking what’s unbroken. It’s about examining why ‘cheating’ is more socially forgivable than discussing the option of non-monogamy or polyamory with those we love.
More and more people are experimenting with monogamish and polyamorous relationships. We commit to each other, but have a porous boundary around our relationship, meaning we’ve agreed that it’s OK for either of us to express romantic feelings toward other people or to be physically intimate with other people, so long as we’re honest and transparent about our intentions with one another.
The thought is that these things don’t diminish the integrity of a relationship. Rather, they may deepen the understanding of each other’s wants and desires, and give us the space to grow independently, without growing apart. There’s even a new word for the emotion of feeling happy for a loved one’s bliss in another relationship. Goodbye jealousy, hello ‘compersion’.
So why non-monogamy and polyamory now?
Well, people haven’t changed much, but their environment has. Just think: Monogamy established itself thousands of years ago, when society was ruled by scarcity of resources and potential mates were in limited supply.
We’re now living in a period of great (though unequally distributed) abundance where our basic needs are sufficiently met, and reproduction is a choice. As a result, the reasons to be with a single mate for life are less urgent. With the rising ambivalence toward commitment, statistically most millennials will put off marriage indefinitely. In place of monogamous pairings, hookup culture flourishes and “open relationships” are commonplace. These are merely rational economic responses to excess inventory and changing expectations of romance. Viewed in this context, conventional monogamy is getting long in the tooth.
But just because more young people are choosing to say, “I don’t” than “I do” doesn’t mean monogamy is irrelevant. It just means that there’s now more than one option for building meaningful and satisfying relationships.
DIVE DEEPER: If you’re interested to learn more about polyamory, watch the PolyLove documentary and check out the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands where three men explore an unconventional relationship in the 1950s.
Some great reading materials include the non-monogamy intro reader classic, The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton. For my personal favourite on the topic try What Love Is: And What It Could Be by Carrie Jenkins.