• Laura Boyle

Is Polyamory Natural?

Does it matter? Love is love and all relationships are natural connections between people. But if you mean “is polyamory more natural than monogamy for humans?” probably neither one is more natural than the other.

There are several books and articles that argue that polyamory is the ‘natural’ order of relationships, and that because monogamy has only existed for a few hundred years (or at most a couple thousand, depending how you define it or how widespread you need it to be for it to count) we should actually all be pushing a societal return to polyamory as a human base state. I’ve never been particularly convinced by this, mostly because any science and human evolution evidence they use to back it up is extremely fuzzy, and the cultural touchstones they use have nothing to do with modern polyamory, so let’s create our own movement that’s egalitarian and modern instead of calling back to largely religious and ancient traditions, is my way of thinking.

Sex at Dawn, the most popular of the pieces and the book that sold best claiming that polyamory is a natural function of human evolution, failed peer review. The authors didn’t actually run their research through any of the processes they were supposed to before publishing. However - despite this - many of the points they make about polyamory itself are valid, and it does work very well for some of us.

You know how whenever we’re talking about coming out to people and addressing their reaction of “I couldn’t do that” the answer isn’t “Oh, I’m sure you could!” it’s “It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me, and I’m happy”? That’s because polyamory is wonderful when it is for us, and unmanageable and like wearing two left shoes when it is not. It doesn’t matter whether an ancient relative did a variety of this or not - just as monogamous relationships have changed a hundred ways in the last few hundred years, so too have non-monogamous relationships, and our continuing re-definition of them is a living project.

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