Our Sex and Relationships Editor Claire O'Brien spoke to Darragh, a polyamorous Irish man to find out about the concept of polyamory, the misconceptions, and whether monogamy is doomed.
Polyamory is the concept of practicing romantic relationships with more than two partners. The term itself comes from the Greek word poly meaning ‘many’ and amor which is Latin for love.
For many of us, monogamy is the norm. The concept of having a relationship with more than one intimate partner seems contradictory.
However, this is not the case for everyone. Polyamory challenges the idea of ownership in romantic relationships.
If you can have multiple friends, can’t you have more than one romantic partner? I had a chat with Darragh, a polyamorous Irish man to find out.
What was the first indication that polyamory was for you?
For as long as I can remember, I have never understood the rationale behind the norm that romantic love can only be shared between two people.
It just never clicked with me, especially when I looked around and saw platonic and familial love be effectively limitless.
We don't say to new in-laws or babies, "sorry, I'm seeing another family," and yet romantic love is somehow different?
Back in my early teens when I was first formulating and wrestling with these thoughts, I was also navigating all the other social niceties and discovering who I was and what made me tick so those questions shifted into the background in my head and I pursued a number of monogamous relationships between then and now.
My experience of those relationships slowly fed into that background thought process and as soon as I consciously understood that given how variable people, and their needs, can be it really hit home that a strictly monogamous, closed relationship seemed like it arbitrarily constrained people from adequately meeting their emotional, physical and psychological needs.
To my mind, no one person can meet 100% of the needs of someone else 100% of the time, and so allowing your partner(s) the freedom to pursue and cultivate those relationships that best fulfill their needs whilst having that same freedom yourself is really the only system that makes sense to me.
What is society's biggest misconception about polyamory?
I think most people assume that polyamory is all about having lots of casual sex with lots of different people while being in a committed monogamous relationship.
Or even just that it's all about sex. Polyamory is about honest, positive, beneficial relationships in whatever number or configuration that makes sense and is most comfortable for each individual involved and these relationships can be platonic or romantic or sexual or any combination of the three.
At the highest level, it's really that simple. The details vary and can seem complex, but concepts like first cousins twice-removed seem normal to us so I don't see this as being any different really.
Do you think poly is for everyone?
No. There will probably always be people who see their partner as something intrinsically theirs that is not to be "shared" with other people.
There will probably always be people who take it personally when a partner has unfulfilled needs or who cannot deal with jealousy in a healthy way.
There will probably always be people who see something inherently "wrong" about loving more than one person at a time.
For those people, polyamory would likely cause more problems than it would solve. I do think. however, that there are a lot of people who would benefit from exploring polyamory with their current and/or future partners.
Is monogamy doomed?
No. I would love to see a world in which polyamory, in all its possible combinations and permutations became the default instead of monogamy, and that could conceivably happen in the next 100 years or so, but just as there are people for whom polyamory is the best system, there are people for whom monogamy is the best system.
For me, all I care about is people having positive, beneficial and honest relationships with each other, whatever size or shape that takes.