Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cheating vs Polyamory

Anyone who knows me knows that my previous two romantic relationships were not consecutive; they were concurrent. This is a concept called "polyamory" where one is involved with more than one person at a time, each party with the full knowledge of the others. Not everyone understood that; more often than not, I'd get chastised for "cheating." In fact, I got that comment relatively recently from someone with whom the topic came up.

I'd like to explain my position on this here; that way, next time I get into this discussion, I'll just point people to this entry and say, "Here; fill your boots." ;)

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines "cheat" as, "To act dishonestly; practice fraud." Now it's obvious how this applies, for example, to the man sneaking around on his wife. By keeping his second relationship a secret from his wife (and, in most cases, keeping the wife from the other woman as well) he is being dishonest; he is a fraud passing himself off as a single man to the second woman and as a faithful man to his wife.

It is in this definition of "cheat" where the difference between a cheater and a person who practices polyamory becomes clear. Whereas the man above is misrepresenting himself to the women, I in my situation was not misrepresenting myself in any way. Both women I was involved with was aware of my relationship with the other and both gave full consent to my having relationships with both (actually, they even had a relationship with each other briefly ;)).

To me, the bedrock on which all good relationships lie, whether they be friend, family or romantic, is honesty. One thing I would never do to anyone is "cheat." I do believe one can be in love with, and involved with, more than one partner but only if all partners agree.

If, some day, I ever find myself in a new relationship with someone I truly love and my new partner wants me to remain faithful only to her I'll do that without question; I did it with Lisa for years, after all (we didn't start out polyamorous; Lisa introduced me to the concept much later). Given that, I must admit, when people ask me if I'm still polyamorous that's a hard question to answer; I still believe in the concept but one can't really be polyamorous when they're single... :P

I will say this. I try not to judge people but, honestly, I don't trust cheaters; I can't. The way I see it, if one can keep a secret that huge from someone, something they obviously have a right to know, I'll always question how honest that person is being with me, and not only in a romantic relationship; I would have trouble trusting a friend who cheats, too, because dishonesty is dishonesty regardless of its form.

One thing anyone in my life, family, friend or lover, can count on: I'll never keep anything from you that you have a right to know.

Anyway, as Forrest Gump might say, "That's all I have to say about that." :)

4 comments:

  1. Sure, you can be poly and single; or poly and only with one partner at the current time.

    Just ask monogamously-minded singles whether they still consider themselves fundamentally monogamous even though they aren't currently in a relationship.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
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