Those Who Love Many
When I was younger, the drama of love triangles made perfect sense to me. Unrequited love was so tragic. I just wanted everyone to be happy, but I saw no way for that to happen - one person had to end up losing. Movies and books aimed at teenagers especially love to play up the love triangle. I remember watching Twilight with my friend - she was obsessed - and falling for the drama between Bella, Edward, and Jacob. The same happened with Hunger Games, but even in my youth I realized that Katniss was dealing with much more important issues than having to focus on making a choice between two men she cared for. Even shows I watch now that are aimed at older audiences put their main female characters into love triangles - Scandal and Jane the Virgin have done just this.
However, I have since realized that no one needs to lose. For one thing, love triangles often involve one woman who has fallen in love with two men who then must compete to win her. I would prefer if we didn’t treat women as prizes to claim, or invalidate their feelings because they may love and want to be with more than one person. Why must Olivia Pope choose between lovers? Why must Jane Villanueva? Both of these women were treated as if they were leading the men on and were “teases” because they stayed involved with both of them. However, these women were truly in love with both men and didn’t want to choose. Everyone around the women could only accept an end where they were in a monogamous relationship with one man, so the thought that they were holding onto both men for so long without picking one was seen as unfair and cruel.
Of course, if people do identify as monogamous and are not comfortable being with more than one person at once, then it is completely reasonable for them to choose one person to be with. However, just as monogamy is a valid way to live for many, so is polyamory. No one should try to force people to choose one partner because it makes them uncomfortable to widen their view of what relationships can be. Perhaps more people who identify as monogamous would consider polyamory because it better fits their true feelings if they were not ostracized for doing so.
What is often missed about polyamory is that consent is key, to the point in which polyamory is also referred to as ethical non-monogamy. All parties involved in a polyamorous relationship should be informed enough to make the decision as to if they are okay with the relationships that they and their partners are having. Polyamory is not an excuse for people to cheat on their partners, but quite the opposite. It’s to allow people who would like to have more than one romantic or sexual partner, to not have to do so in secret and hurt their partners by lying to them. Polyamory can even encourage better communication because the basic structure of these relationships require discussions about romantic and sexual feelings, as well as minimize jealously because new love is able to be accommodated. Not all people who are polyamorous are purposely trying to revolutionize relationships structures, but maybe they will open the world up to what is possible as they fall in love.
Jessica Keller (she/her) is part of the Concept: Staff. Learn more about the staff here.