I will write ocasional posts about the way in which polyamory and non-monogamy is portrayed in the mainstream media. Kimchi Cuddles is funny on the way in which poly pieces are always headlined by feet sticking out of a bed and there is, oddly, an emphasis on white people with coloured hair in triads. These seem to be the dominant, mainstream media images right now.
Images aside, there are also some unhelpful narratives about poly and one of these is that it is for “millennials” who are “not ready to settle down yet”.
This recent piece in The Guardian is a case in point.
“But there are many new relationship patterns emerging, polyamory being one, largely among young people who are not ready to settle down. They want to maintain a long-term partnership but also have romances on the side. And they want to be honest and transparent about it. Many people, particularly in the west, seem to be addicted to the initial feeling of falling in love“
Mmmmh. So, not only are young people not ready to “settle down” they are also “addicted to the initial feeling of falling in love”.
This misses two crucial aspects of non-monogamy.
First, non-monogamy is about consciously rethinking what commitment means. People are increasingly aware that a marriage or relationship is unlikely to last in one form for FOREVER and so non-monogamy and poly are about conciously committing and looking at what commitment means at that particular life stage. This is very much linked to the ideas explored in the Relationship Anarchy manifesto.
“Customize your commitments
Life would not have much structure or meaning without joining together with other people to achieve things — constructing a life together, raising children, owning a house or growing together through thick and thin. Such endeavors usually need lots of trust and commitment between people to work. Relationship anarchy is not about never committing to anything — it’s about designing your own commitments with the people around you, and freeing them from norms dictating that certain types of commitments are a requirement for love to be real, or that some commitments like raising children or moving in together have to be driven by certain kinds of feelings. Start from scratch and be explicit about what kind of commitments you want to make with other people!”
So, it is about crafting your own commitments – not AVOIDING commitment. This is based on the abundant evidence that the current, dominant meet-engage-move in-marry model have as much chance of success as you have of getting a head or tails in a coin flip – it is 50/50.
And, so, the next point is the “obessesion” with falling in love.
People engaged with non-monogamy and poly explore tirelessly the concept of new relationship energy (NRE). There are usually high levels of awareness amongst the community of the fact that this is a stage and to enjoy it but also not allow it to dictate behaviour or any changes that might be unhelpful or unwise in the long term. Hardly the behaviour of people “addicted” to falling in love…
The lack of media understanding comes, in part, I believe, from people not realising the degree of awareness non-monogamous people bring to all their relationships. These are people who are actively engaged with their relationships and who talk, talk, talk about every detail. No emotional, or practical, stone is left unturned.
It seems to me that many monogamous people could benefit from bringing a simialr level of awareness to their choices. And, certainly, the media could learn alot from LISTENING to poly people openly and fairly rather than projecting their own ideas and fears onto the relationships those people are having.