Opinion: Polyamory – From ‘Never!’ to ‘Maybe?’

By Simon Katz

I volunteered to begin writing for this newsletter with the idea that I’d be able to get progressively more involved. I thought I would simply be writing book reviews, initially, but as I was reading One Big Happy Family, something happened to me, something that put the message of the UE into such a clear perspective for me. And that experience is what I’d like to share with you now.

I think that there is one family category which we as Americans experience an extreme aversion to, over and above the aversion people feel toward same-sex marriage or interracial couples or any other general category. That is polyamory. I know that many people cannot comprehend a relationship that exists between more than two people. I know this because I couldn’t either. So at the start of my spring break while I read the opening essay in One Big Happy Family,
“And Then We Were Poly” by Jenny Block, I was lost. I finished it, and all I could say was, “Good for Ms. Block, but that just isn’t for me.”

Why should I think any differently? Isn’t it hard enough to love one person? Why would anyone want to be involved with more?

Of course, other people have many different aversions. Most people who
experience distaste katz.jpgview it as an illegitimate form of love: it can’t
be true love if it isn’t between two people, or it’s cheating. But
whatever way you look at it, a lot of people can’t wrap their heads
around polyamory.

I kept reading, and I kept moving along through my spring break,
spending a significant amount of time around one of my friends. For the purposes of this blurb, let’s call him Nick.

A little background: I met Nick in June 2008, and we instantly
became best friends. We discovered that we think the same way about
everything. In all honesty, we’re a perfect match romantically, too,
which has been discussed many times between us. We understand that there are factors that make anything outside of friendship unrealistic for us. And for me, a large deterrent was the knowledge that Nick is
completely head-over-heels in love with (for the sake of the article) John. This love has always been reciprocated, but distance and time forced them apart.

Back in the more recent past on the last night that I was going to see him before returning to school, Nick, his current boyfriend, and I were supposed to rent and watch a movie. Shortly before starting, there came a knock on the door. Low and behold, John had decided to make a random weekend visit. Of course, the current boyfriend was unhappy and made a quick exit. This was the first time I had ever met John. While I sat there, I began to understand why Nick was so drawn to him. As the three of us bonded and laughed and shared a close, unusually caring and immediate friendship, Block’s article also began to make sense. In front of me was one person for whom I already knew I cared a lot about and who cared for me as well. And John and I were easily getting along.  It was so clear to me, due to Nick’s and my similar personalities, that caring for him could be just as easy.

In that moment, I saw a space for polyamory. It made sense.  This incomprehensible form of love that exists so far outside of social and
legal acceptability made perfect sense. I couldn’t help but think that  if I went to the University of Miami, instead of Tufts University, I  would find myself in a stable, loving, polyamorous relationship.

The point I’m trying to make is that we, as people, often judge others based on what we believe we would or would not do given similar situations. It is unfeeling to approach life and other people with that mindset. We cannot know exactly how we would feel or act until we experience those circumstances. I am calling for people to take a step back from judging the relationships and lives of other people. Nobody has the same life, nobody truly knows the experiences of another
person, and we cannot pass judgment on a loving bond without causing damage to other human beings. Believe that there is a point at which their reality could be your reality, and accept them as humans, just as you are, in need of love and companionship that meets their needs. Just because some people choose to be different does not mean that they are any less deserving of their choice than someone who chooses to be mainstream. That is the call of Unmarried Equality.
And that is a call I choose to echo, sharing it with all who will listen.