Polyamory is the practice of loving, or ability to love, more than one person at a time. The word is derived from the Latin poly, meaning many, and amor, meaning love. Polyamory is about multiple loves; not necessarily about multiple sex partners. Perhaps it would also be best if we establish a working definition of love before we go much further on this subject. For our purposes, we’ll use Robert A. Heinlein’s definition of love, which is, “that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” The elegance of this definition allows us to sidestep the sometimes thorny problem of trying to differentiate between romantic love, familial love, sexual love, or any other kind of love that can be imagined.
If you are one of those people who has a difficult time understanding how loving multiple partners can be accomplished without jealousy, instability and strife, consider the love that a mother has for her children. With each new child that comes along, a mother seems to have an infinite reservoir of love to share with each new addition to her family. She doesn’t love her first child any less just because a second child has come along, nor does she love her second child any less when a third one is born. Each child is loved for his or her unique and special qualities, and while their mother may love each in a slightly different way, it is rare for a mother to love one child significantly more or less than any other. Do siblings often vie for their mother’s attention, and sometimes feel shortchanged or jealous? Of course they do. Yet, for the most part, these feelings rarely lead to destructive behaviors, nor do they undermine their love for their mother, or for that matter, for each other. All things considered, most people believe that a child who grows up with siblings reaps many intangible benefits that an only child does not. So why are we, as a society, programmed to believe that polyamory, which works so elegantly for parents and children, is next to impossible in other kinds of loving relationships?
In the D/s lifestyle, polyamory is typically far more prevalent than in the general population for three simple reasons. First, a Dominant usually has far more discretion to do as he pleases than the typical non-Dominant outside of the D/s lifestyle. Second, the D/s lifestyle tends to attract people who are inherently willing to swim against the tide of social conventions. If this were not so, they wouldn’t be in the lifestyle in the first place. Third, many of the people in the D/s lifestyle participate in group activities within their local BDSM organizations, and sometimes develop close relationships with the playmates they meet there. D/s folk are no more or less likely than anyone else to be sexual swingers, however the cultivation of BDSM friendships with common kinks makes polyamory a more likely scenario. Let us not forget, however, that just because polyamory is relatively common in the D/s lifestyle doesn’t mean that people in the lifestyle are any better at it than anyone else. It is a profoundly difficult thing to be successfully polyamorous in any relationship, D/s or otherwise.
©2013 Michael Makai, All Rights Reserved
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