Love Without Limits

Reports from the relationship frontier

A Message in a Bottle

The truth is that polyamory is neither better nor worse than monogamy.

Thirty years ago a vision quest, my prayers, and my life experience led me to devote my life to liberating loving relationships from the limited mental concepts we humans had attempted to impose upon a primal force of nature. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself, about love, about sex, and about relating since I put this message in a bottle which came to be known as polyamory. I’ve received much appreciation from people whose lives were changed for the better by my books and workshops, although many are still unaware of the publication of Polyamory in the 21st Century. Now this bottle has arrived at the distant shore of mainstream culture, and those who’ve retrieved it are imagining that consensually non-monogamous relationships, aka open marriage and group marriage, might be the salvation of the family.

 

I am not rejoicing. Why? Because the powers that be, whether they be liberal or conservative, whether they be mainstream media or academia or corporations, have gotten interested in polyamory because they are hoping it will be the salvation of a way of life that is fundamentally flawed. The institutions of marriage and family are in trouble and many are desperate to save them. I understand – I felt the same way thirty years ago. Now I see it differently. The old must crumble so the new can emerge and yes, that means relationships as we know them, including non-monogamous ones.

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It’s true that I’ve been talking about the potential benefits of polyamory for personal and social evolution from the beginning, but this is not the message that’s being seen. That part seems to have been washed away by long years in a leaky bottle. More love, more sex, more pleasure may in fact be what’s needed for marriage to survive and the evolution of patriarchal culture to continue. And pleasure alone cannot substitute for consciousness, more sex does not automatically result in more awareness, and propping up the status quo is not what I had in mind at all when I helped launch the Polyamory and Sacred Sexuality Movements.

 

The ancient Chinese understood that the family is the building block of the culture. Hence it follows – change the family, change the culture. This was my reasoning anyway. But going from monogamous couples to non-monogamous couples preserves the structure of the family. As does polygamy. This is precisely why what was once considered sinful is now being promoted in some very strange places. I am not against families, but my life experience tells me that nothing less than a radical break with the past is what’s called for now, and I don’t believe creating a bigger comfort zone when what we need to do is step outside of our comfort zones, is going to get us out of our current dilemma before ecological disaster does us in.

 

The truth is that polyamory (at least as currently practiced) is neither better nor worse than monogamy. It’s just a question of which set of costs and benefits, and which limited mental concepts, you prefer. Despite the rejection of the invented word polyamory and preference in some circles for easier to swallow terms like consensual non-monogamy or the new monogamy, it sometimes seems to me that too many of those calling themselves polyamorous have become just as mired in assumptions of moral superiority and hypocritical behavior as the Catholic Church.

 

Which is why I’m now putting my energy into sharing the Reichian based Pelvic Heart Integration Training – a body of work developed by Dr. Jack Painter which aims to liberate the individual from the oppressive sex and relationship conditioning of the last millennia so that we can access the love and erotic power of our ancestors instead of carrying the burden of their angst and their traumas. It also carries the potential to dissolve the “authoritarian” personality which Reich theorized to be the basis of patriarchy. Like polyamory, there is little or no scientific evidence of the effects of Pelvic Heart Integration, but with polyamory quickly becoming a support for traditional marriage, we change agents need to look elsewhere for ways to survive Western civilization.

Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D., is the author of Polyamory in the 21st Century and other books.

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