Only monogamy equals commitment?

One of the common misconceptions about nonmonogamous (including polyamorous) folk, is that they can’t commit. If they really loved someone, they’d stop all this nonsense. If we were really committed to a relationship, we simply wouldn’t have others. And, of course, you can’t possibly be committed to more than one person at a time, right? How on earth would that work?

Well, it depends on your definition of commitment. I’m pretty sure that most people who would describe themselves as being in a committed relationship would say that they value trust, honesty, loyalty, communication and respect. The thing is, people who are polyamorous consider commitment to encompass all those things too, they just wouldn’t add exclusivity to that list.

It makes sense that some people will inevitably find it impossible to have a committed relationship with more than one person, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is the same, does it? I very much doubt that anyone would question a parent’s commitment to their child if they decided to have more children. In that case, people assume commitment to all children unless evidence to the contrary is presented. So, why can we not assume that it is perhaps possible for some people to be completely and utterly committed to more than one romantic relationship at the same time?

I guess, for those people who consider legal marriage between two people to be the only true form of commitment, they will never be able to view poly folk as in committed relationships. But then, those people are already discounting a lot of long-term committed monogamous relationships too. Commitment means many things to many people. It’s a shame that society hasn’t worked this one out yet.

For more information on polyamory and commitment, I recommend reading Elaine Cook’s paper ‘Commitment in Polyamory‘ in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Shaun McGonigal’s article on marriage, commitment and polyamory on polyskeptic.com, and the values section of the Wikipedia entry on polyamory.

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers – ALBJ, An Open Book, Delightfully Queer, More Than Nuclear, Rarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin – will write about their views on one of them.

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