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Years ago, I chanced upon an open-for-all event online, where the group would meet and, under the facilitation of the organizer, discuss and share their views and experiences on a chosen topic. For that particular session, the topic was, “Is marriage the ultimate goal of a relationship?” That was something I had been asking my friends about, so seeing it as a sign (yeah, I’m your typical girl), I naturally signed up for it.
The meet was at the organizer’s house, and about ten plus people turned up that day. It started with some icebreakers and then proceeded to sharing of our opinions on certain common relationship concepts and issues — things like making compromise, dealing with cheating, managing communications, etc. Somewhere along the night someone brought up the topic of polygamy (a.k.a. open relationships) and all of a sudden, everyone has their two cents to voice.
For the record, all my past and current relationships have been monogamous and while I am aware of such alternative relationship structure, I am pretty much on the fence on this. On one hand, I totally understand that it ought to be a person’s freedom to decide how he or she wants to run their personal relationship (as long as no one is being forced into anything); but on the other side, I just don’t comprehend how it can work sustainably, and it just seems so inevitable that at least one party will get hurt in the process.
Following are ten (rather inconvenient) questions—and their related sub-questions—that I have on polygamy which I really wanted to ask some of polygamous couples at the event. But I didn’t, 'cause I guess I would just come off as judgmental and offending, so sharing them here is probably the best that it can get.
- Do you have a limit to the number of partners that you can have? Does that limit (or lack of) apply to yourself only or to everyone who is in a relationship with you? What do you do if you and your partners have a different view on the number of partners that each should have?
- How much are your other partners involved in your relationship with each other? Are your partners friends with one another or they are just aware of each other’s existence? Do others give you relationship advice when you are having problems with one?
- How much do you tell each other of the things you do with your other partners? How much would you want to know of the things between your partner and their partners?
- Is the concept of loyalty applicable in polygamy? If so, in what form is it expressed in?
- If you believe in continuing in polygamous relationships after marriage, how do you decide a particular partner is the suitable for marriage or not? How does this partner that you have married differ to you emotionally than from your other partners?
- In a monogamous relationship, cheating is THE line to never cross. Does it hold the same significance in a polygamous relationship? And what is considered cheating in polygamy in the first place?
- Assuming either you or your partners are bisexual, is it okay with you if two of your partners start seeing each other and get into a relationship themselves?
- If children are involved, are they the responsibilities of only their birth parents or every partner who agreed to be part of the polygamous relationship?
- Being over possessive and jealous has been a problem in a lot of relationships since the beginning of time, and to knowingly “share” your partners with other people seems to require a whole new level of trust and respect. Do people get jealous in a polygamous relationship? Is there a line between acceptable level of jealousy in polygamy and the convention desire to be each other’s everything in a monogamous relationship?
- Last but not least, what is your reason for preferring a polygamy structure? Is it a result of a push or a pull factor? Is it because it gives you the flexibility to seek for different traits in a partner or the idea of being with only one person is just too suffocating for you?
I know the answers would differ from one (polygamous) couple to another, and maybe they don’t even know that answers themselves. That is perfectly okay—we are only humans, after all. That is why until the day polygamy gets a wider stage of discussion, this set of questions will remain as inconvenient as they are today.