Polyamory: Don’t Try This at Home?

JT Eberhard tried out the polyamory scene and lived to tell about it. The husband of the woman Eberhard slept with, for example, didn’t decide to change his mind about his consent, get jealous hearing his wife screwing another man in the living room of his own home while he was in the kitchen, and, with a butcher’s knife, kill Eberhard in flagrante delicto. Nor, apparently, did Eberhard wind up with HIV:

Polyamory is pretty rad, and for me it was worth the initial confrontation with uneasiness.  It’s comfortable to live without jealousy and to be free to express to others how you really feel without thoughts of hurting anybody for being yourself, without trying to own the actions of another human being and without having your own actions bound by someone else’s sense of ownership over them.

I have an evolutionary question: what would be the genetic consequences for the human species, over time, if most of us started to behave like those in the polyamory movement? After all, almost the whole history of mammalian—indeed, animal!—evolution has been driven by female selectivity and male competition and jealousy. Women have few eggs; men many sperm. In evolutionary terms, that makes for difficulties (to put it politely) in sexual negotiation.

Acting as if such difficulties are readily or easily transcended strikes me as a bit, well, naive. Accompanied by polyamory’s heightened pleasure must also come forms of psychic pain that polyamory’s cheerleaders, like those in religious cults, won’t readily acknowledge to outsiders.

But what say you? Live and let live? Evolutionary history is not destiny?

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I like this woman’s honesty, but I also think she’s rationalizing:

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Isn’t it curious that aggressive impulses (jealousy and territoriality) are being sublimated while sexual impulses are not? Usually, it’s the other way around. Interesting. Maybe polyamory is Freudian civilizing sublimation by other means.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Polyamory: Don’t Try This at Home?

  1. Paradigm says:

    LIve and let live, I guess. But they don’t sound very passionate about it. The tone is more like they are describing a cooking recipe or folding origami figures. Then again being passionate is giving it your all, and if you are in 3-5 relationships that becomes impossible.

  2. I’m in the live and let live side, of course, as it’s a private matter between those involved. It’s ok as far as it’s open, frank and honest. I have no moral objections. I do have however some practical ones, for me, personaly at least. I think it’s already so hard to keep an one-one relationship, specialy with kids, that to put more one, two, or three in the equation inevitably makes it too messy for my taste. I don’t think the extra fun compensates the EXTRA trouble.
    Of course, maybe this works realy fine for somebody who are very happy with the arrangement anyway.

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