Nobody really knows the number of people living in polyamorous relations in Germany or in other countries. Is it 600 or 6,000, as the german newspaper BZ wrote on 20.08.2011? Or maybe 10,000, as estimated by Polyamorie.de website? There are no reliable statistics of course, but it might well be somewhere in this scale. At least if you stick to the usual definition of polyamory, which holds that these are people who openly and honestly maintain several relationships simultaneously.
If we define it somewhat less strict, then the number is in the millions. They are all the millions of people in Germany who are unfaithful to their official partner. Once again there are no exact statistics, but on various websites and in books you find figures of 30% to about 60%, links to german websites with some statistics can be found in the footnote.1 Unless they have one-night stands, the Unfaithful also entertain multiple relationships simultaneously. The only difference from the Polyamorous: the Unfaithful are not doing it openly and honestly.
This last remark is not meant to be an attack or reproachful comment about unfaithful people. I just find it sad that when it comes to an apparently very common behavior – sex with different partners – we lie to each other so much and so often injure each other deeply. Dishonesty about sexual and emotional needs in marriage, especially about the desire to have sex with others, has unfortunately been the standard behaviour for centuries in Germany and Western societies.
Let’s try and look at this situation in a different way then it is usually considered. There are two people who have begun a relationship of love. But at some point – often after four years, when sexual interest usually subsides – one (or both) becomes unfaithful. Perhaps the unfaithful partner still loves the other one, but … we all know that there are many reasons to be unfaithful. Mostly it is caused by the desire to have sex with another partner. Then secrecy, lying and cheating begin. And why? Just because we have been indoctrinated for centuries that sexual relationships with different partners at the same time or to simultaneously love different partners is not possible, is hurtful, is infidelity, is morally reprehensible, and so on.
All this could be done different, with openness and honesty. One step towards this is to take a step back from the common ideals of lifelong sexual and emotional exclusivity. I deliberately did not call it fidelity, because what happens here is not fidelity, but the exclusion, or to be precise, the suppression of feelings for other people outside the current relationship.
Many factors cause this behavior, which i can describe here only briefly and without a claim to completeness. First there are the understandable fears of loss. Another strong influence is only about two hundred years old, the dreamy ideals of Romanticism of love to a “soul mate” who fulfills all your emotional needs. To my knowledge, hardly any of the romantic writers lived according to these ideals, and nowadays many relationships break down under the burden of this unrealistic ideal. Even the old ideal of courtly love affects us, where a knight worships a lady, and usually does not have sex with her because she is often another man’s wife. Many of the early minstrels, the troubadours, other than subsequent recipients of these stories, were aware that this was only a fictional idea that made good stories but was unrelated to reality. They, like their great patron Eleanor of Aquitaine, had a lot of sex with lots of partners. They were, to use a modern term, Swingers. And not least of course the prohibitions of the Christian Church play a part. These prohibitions were originally – and are still – set up by people who really had no particular interest in this world. They longed for the end of this world and thought of sexuality as sin. Certainly the right people to give good, reality-based advice for such worldly things as love, marriage and sexuality.
I beg you to understand me correctly. I grew up in this society, and i am influenced by all this like most of us, and in my polyamorous relationship i am not free from fear of loss and jealousy. But, as in any good relationship, if the partners ‘work’ on their relationship, these feelings slowly become less frightening. And when they arise, it is easier to deal with them, instead of being dominated by them.
I’m not saying that monogamy is wrong for all people, many people are satisfied or even happy living monogamous, even for a whole lifetime. But for the majority of people monogamy does not seem to work. In view of our evolutionary history this is no wonder, and I highly recommend the book “Sex at Dawn” if you want to know more about this. If a role-model does not work, you have to ask why, instead of blaming yourself for not living up to the ideals that others have invented.
You might ask, for example, if the first person you have to be loyal to, is not yourself. And to be faithful to yourself includes being honest to yourself. Loyalty / fidelity to someone else of course also includes honesty. Perhaps loyalty / fidelity is even possible when you love more than one person. For why love for one person has to mean excluding feelings for another person, I do not understand.
I hope this article encourages you to at least consider trying to look at these matters differently, and there is a lot more information about it on this website. And while you look around, dare to think outside the usual, outside the common, outside the normal, and maybe you´ll find that individuality is a good thing, even if it includes polyamory.
Notice: This article is translated from an original article on one of my german websites Viktor-Leberecht.de or Polygamie-ist-gut-fuer-sie.de (engl:Polygamy is good for you). How i do my translations. Last updated: July 20, 2012 at 17:49 pm © Viktor Leberecht All rights reserved. Please feel free to share my content, but on republishing this post please provide a link to the original post, which happens automatically when you use Social-Sharing-Services. What do you think? Leave a comment here or send me a question through the contact form or the FAQ. You may also use your Facebook or your Twitter account for commenting (Twitter and Facebook login is above the comment field. The plugin that is used for this will ask for permission to access your respective account, but only in relation to your comment here.). All comments will be moderated due to legal regulations and to avoid Spam.