POLYAMORY: MULTIPLE MUTUALLY RECOGNIZED LOVERS by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.
- POLYAMORY: MULTIPLE MUTUALLY RECOGNIZED LOVERS by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.
You're polyamorous; you love many people. "Amorous"
means "loving." "Poly" means "many." You love many. You love
parents, kids, friends. Technically, you're poly because you're
human and you love; that's how you're wired. This literal
translation of polyamory as "muliple love" is not, however, what the
popular media and people who call themselves polyamorous mean when
they use the poly word. Media adds sex; poly people add honesty.
Popular media, then, uses the term polyamory to refer to multiple
contemporaneous sex partnering. Mainstreamers use the word
polyamory to refer to what I call "polycoity," sexual intercourse
with more than one partner. Or "polyorallity" for those--and we've
met quite a few--who engage in oral sex with several lovers, but
reserve intercourse for only some or one of these lovers. Most people
who call themselves poly accept the multisexuality part of the
media's definition of polyamory.
But in the literature of self-identified polyamorists, polyamory has
come to imply a crucial ethical aspect that the media ignores:
Candor. Disclosure of multiple relations is the critical factor that
differentiates polyamory from the surreptitious cheating rife among
conventional folk. Polyamorists tell allor at least most people--
involved; cheaters hide their sexual connections from each other.
When my wife Janet and I vet potential poly partners, we contact each
of our potential lovers' Sos to ascertain whether or not they
consent to our loving their lover. We refuse to contribute to the
grief or distress of mates or significant others who are involved
with those who wish to connect with us.
Not all polys share our concern with lovers' S0s. Some self-
identified polys believe it's not their responsibility or concern to
check out a potential lover's relations with others, or not, at
least, to check it out before they connect sexually. They may tell
their actual lovers of each other, but let the new lover cheat on his
or her mate. In time, such cheating's often discovered and leads to
upset that could have been avoided with the courtesy of honesty.
I'm interested in what you think. What do you want from your lovers
in the way of advanced notice before you connect? What do you do
about your lovers' significant others? How do you check out potential
Sasha Lessin, Ph.D. is Program Director and a featured presenter at
the Annual World Polyamory Association's Harbin Hot Springs CA
Polyamory Conference, "Celebrate Relationship Choice" October 5-7,