Love the one you're with

2015-01-25 12:30

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The responsibility of monogamy might be second only to parenting. When we agree to be the one and only for our partner, we vow to be our lover’s everything. Forever. This responsibility can be overwhelming for some people.

And, withthe divorce rate on the rise, why should you chain yourself to one person for the rest of your life?

There are existing and successful models of relationships with people having more than onepartner. This is popularly known as polyamory.

Put simply, polyamory is the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at the same time withthe full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.

It is different from swinging, which emphasises sex with others as recreational and may or may not include polysexuality, the attraction towards multiple genders.

The boundaries of these relationships are varied and depend on the parties involved.

Human beings are one of only two species that are monogamous. It is not the natural order of things, but is a system thought up in biblical times for men to own women and children. But I digress.

Like any successful relationship, trust, ongoing openness and honesty are essential in polyamorous relationships. Consensual non- monogamous relationships try to avoid a break of trust and dishonesty by giving all parties involved a platform to vocalise their needs, be they sexual, emotional or otherwise.

Communication is emphasised to manage any jealousy and feelings of being excluded. It is natural to assume that people in polyamorous relationships are unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their primary partner. This is not true. The multiple relationships are independent of each other. One study showed that a person averaged nine years with their primary partner and two and a half years with their secondary one.

The arrangement does not dispense with commitment. Polyamorous relationships can last a long time, are committed to the various partners, and are stable and formal or clearly defined. The only area where extensive research has not been done is the effect of this relationship on children.

But early research has shown that polyamory doesn’t have to negatively affect the offspring of such relationships.

I’m not saying polyamory is better than monogamy – neither is better. It is important to know the options available to us before making such long-term commitments. I lived in a non-monogamous commune for three months in San Francisco in 2012. The couples seemed more fulfilled and genuinely happy. Everything was discussed at great length.

Sometimes the attraction to another partner only lasted until after the initial date and sex, but people got to exercise their curiosity. The spread of sexually transmitted infections was curbed by open communication and using condoms.

With HIV infections on the rise, it might seem irresponsible to write about multiple partners. Perhaps the more accurate and appropriate slogan should be “be honest”.

Talk to us: Do you have a question for Jade? SMS us at 34263 using the keyword SEX. Please include your name. SMSes cost R1.50 each

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