Is polyamory an experiment?

Two men kissing a womanMiss Conduct, The Boston Globe advice columnist recently fielded a question from a father concerned about his daughter and son-in-law’s polyamory lifestyle.  His daughter came out to him that she has a lover as well as her husband and would like her dad to accept this.

Of course, he can’t. But at least he was looking for advice rather than shutting his daughter out completely.

My only issue with her advice was calling polyamory an “experiment”.  I don’t feel polyamory is anymore an experiment than monogamy, and based on monogamy’s long-term success rate I’d say monogamy is an ongoing but failing experiment.

With the new book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality the authors contend that “human beings evolved in egalitarian groups that shared food, child care, and, often, sexual partners.”

A tribe.  Or as has been said: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Or what we modern Homo sapiens call “Polyamory”.

Monogamy is actually a newcomer in human evolution.  Some say with the rise of Christianity, but even affluent Catholics, including priests and bishops, practiced polygamy up until 1022 when Pope Benedict VIII banned all marriages and mistresses for priests in an effort to protect children of such relationships from having any claim to Church property.

So it would appear from anthropological evidence and written history, as well as the number of people who cheat and the number of people that practice serial monogamy, getting married several times during their life, that the idea of “one true love” is nothing but a myth that general society has bought into over the years.

So how is polyamory an experiment?

If I could add something to Miss Conduct’s answer to the concerned father it would be this:

Be glad that you instilled such strong ethics in your daughter that she is not leaving one good relationship in ruins just to explore another, and that she is doing this with openness and honesty with herself, her husband and with you.