Sunday, November 15, 2009
Our Subtle Imperfections
Polyamory charitably tries to defend itself by pointing out our own raw imperfections. Polyamory tells us that we are not perfect for all people and at all times; not one person can ever hope to satisfy all of your needs - sexually, emotionally, or socially - at once. In polyamory, we are admittedly, honestly imperfect.
Western religion also capitalizes on our gross human imperfections. Fundamentalist ideas surrounding monogamy attempts to rationalize a doctrine built on the idea that love is an instrument of the divine and is thus its perfect, and wherein we struggle in marriage is a symptom of our own imperfections as people. Imperfections are revelation of character flaws: sin. Transgressions in love and fidelity translate into failures of faith requiring penitence, self-condemnation, shame, and guilt.
Therefore, polyamory might suggest that humans are capable of a broad range of emotional freedom that reveals too much about ourselves. Surely, isn't the iconic western marriage just an attempt to dismiss our imperfection in a foolish attempt to grasp the divine?
An extravagant white dress so pure as the fallen snow couldn't possibly harbor guilty imperfections. Honestly?
A beautiful ceremony held within the chambers of the Numinous, blessed by the offices of the Otherworldly, codified by the social order around them? Honestly?
Vows that stress all of those lovely ideas concerning obedience and perfect unions, forsaking all others, forever? Honestly?
And within the marriage, it is expected that both partners will cease "needing" any more that they can give, and that they never evolve as people, and that it's okay to habitually pretend and lie about those changes, and to deny those subtle imperfections we acquire through time. Honestly?
Insomuch that I would argue that western religious views on monogamy have come to define coupling in our modern culture as an act of guilt, denial, suppression, and a desire to impossibly live-up to an idyllic, perfect love, and when we falter in love we stray from the divine, and - boy - do we so love beating ourselves up for that! We love beating ourselves up on sin!
Polyamory is at once then a challenge for each of us to strip those notions of guilt, failure, and shame to constructively engage relationships as flawed and imperfect human beings. Honesty and compassion is not sinful. And it's okay to be imperfect. It's okay to admit that we all change over time, and it's okay to recognize that needs and priorities will shift over time. Polyamory presumes that we're emotionally mature enough to realize we're capable of making decisions outside of a "divine plan" and that we can be personally responsible for shaping the happiness within our own lives.