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.



1 comment:

livingtotears said...

although some people and religions might hold those beliefs, premises and opinions, i hope that is the rare exception.

in my personal and through-friends' experiences in monogamy, it's seemed that there isn't stagnation, perfection, or assumption that one person can fit/address every need. it's been more that two people find it mutually desirable to plan and promise sexual exclusivity, with intent and promise to try to grow through life in ways that enable mutual benefit in staying together throughout life.

even in polyamory, many people i know are hoping, intending, planning, and working to remain together throughout their lives.

in monogamy or polyamory, it has seemed that people often still surround themselves and connect with relatives and friends to meet various needs: sharing hobbies, activities, and ponderings that their spouse(s?) might or might not be interested in.

yet in polyamory, it seems people also opted to consider acting on connections with others in ways that may include emotional, romantic, and sexual connections. this choice seems to enable wonderful aspects of "more" that also brings potential for more work and more risk.

perhaps it's a cost/benefit thing for many people... is the potential "more" worth the potential extra work and complication? people who choose monogamy might not think so. people who choose polyamory might think that the potential "more" is worth a try in spite of the potential higher risk and work.

that said though... perhaps i've just been lucky not to have experienced much of the religious aspects you describe. the negative input i've heard has mostly been connected to how will this affect kids? and is my husband ok?

and/or perhaps i sucked at monogamy. i never expected, thought, or imagined that any relationship would/could expect *emotional* exclusivity. so i never gave that and i'd never ask for that. the concept hurts my head and my heart.

sexual exclusivity seems like no big deal. but limits on who/how i can connect with emotionally? that's beyond what i understand.

i love your words about making decisions in ways that we are personally responsible for shaping the happiness within our own lives.

i hope and wish that the majority of people want that, aspire to that, live that, in polyamory or monogamy.

thanks so much to each of you for sharing your ponderings along your journey. it's been very helpful in pondering aspects of my own journey.