Evangelist

Lately I’ve been hearing complaints (or more an expression of annoyance I suppose) from fellow polyamorists, about a certain type of poly person, who I have heard named an “poly-evangelists” in this article on polytical.  They tend to describe this kind of person by their belief that polyamory is “enlightened” or that it is a better option than monogamy.

Now, I don’t really feel like I’ve ever come across this kind of person… which leads me to wonder if, in actual fact, they are talking about people like me? Ever heard the expression (is it an expression?… I dunno) “If you can’t see the weirdo on the bus, it’s you”? That’s kind of what I’m thinking anyway. I do believe that polyamory is a more healthy relationship framework than monogamy is, for various logical reasons. And sure, I suppose I have a certain amount of confidence in myself and I’d say that I’m generally quite a thoughtful person – and it’s probably that part of me that likes to *think* that made me come to the conclusion that monogamy isn’t the be all and end all. Does that make me a bad person?

Maybe the question I need to be asking here is – what is the crime that these ‘poly-evangelists’ have committed? I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s much less about what they believe in and more how the act as a result of their beliefs.

First of all this sort of reminds me of an issue that often comes up when arguing about bisexuality. Sometimes bi people get some jip from the gays, and this is often seen as a bit hypocritical. Since gay people expect, or want, to be accepted by other people – it is a bit disingenuous for them to turn around and treat another minority group with disrespect. And I suppose the same implication is made in this case too. I think a part of it is that they are saying “if you want to be accepted as poly then you have to accept the monogamous”. So if that is the case then I think I’d say I’m on their side. I try not to judge anyone or force my opinions onto them – I’ll argue my case as best I can, because I believe in it. But I also think that people are entitled to their own beliefs as much as I am, so I don’t expect people to believe what I believe if they don’t want to.

Also, in the referenced article, the author implies that these kinds of people tend to scare away the monogamously minded people, or make it seem much more drastic than it is in reality. I find that when it comes to the skeptics I tend to be more factual and relatable about it all, some people don’t really make the effort to understand and I don’t see the point in trying to change that. It’s the people who have an open minded curiosity about it that tend to interest me when it comes to debating polyamory. And though I believe it would be nice if everyone (or at least a large proportion more) was poly, I don’t intend to suggest that everyone in our current society really should be. It seems you have to be a certain kind of person to have the adaptability for it, because for a lot of people – polyamory means facing your insecurities. And that’s not easy for anyone. But then I wonder what the world would be like if everyone really tried to understand and overcome their personal issues. We’d be a bloody introspective lot, but something tells me we’d all be that bit more happy and fulfilled. I mean, can you imagine?

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7 thoughts on “Evangelist

  1. Or, what would the world be like if people could just be free to live their lives as they wish–poly or monogamous, without judgment? I have definitely met the poly-evangelist type of people, and they annoy me just as much as the Christian evangelists. If only the people of this world could overcome their personal issues to the point where they don’t have to constantly suggest that their lifestyle, religion, taste in food, whatever, is just a little bit *superior* to the other kind. Now, THAT would be true progress.

    • Ok, so if you’ve met someone like that what is it that makes them annoying/offensive? Do these people go around shouting at monogamous people, or is their crime just believing that polyamory is better? What is the problem?

      • That article suggests that polyamory is no better or worse than monogamy. That’s sort of true, but also not putting the case for polyamory. Polyamory is better for some people, in some circumstances. What proportion is open to debate, but people should put serious effort into figuring out what kind of relationship is best for them. Otherwise they may be hurting themselves and others.

        Polyamoury is not simply a matter of taste, like liking blue vs liking yellow. To extend the analogy (probably too far) it’s more like painting your room yellow because that’s what most other people do, without considering whether you (and other people) like blue better. Or thinking that painting your room blue would upset people or is morally wrong.

        The comparison with people’s sexual preference for other’s sex (a clumsy way of putting it) can illuminate things a little. We accept people’s sexual orientation rather than trying to change it because it’s largely fixed.* The structure and rules of your relationships are not necessarily the same. In fact, we see many people struggling with monogamy. You could view them as a little like a gay person struggling to ‘be straight’.

        If you believe people trying, or at least seriously considering polyamory is an ethical good, you have a duty to try and encourage them to do so. I don’t buy the view that the world would be better if everybody left everyone else to do whatever they want. Isn’t that just a surrender to whatever the dominant culture and society is?

        Of course, the key question is whether you talk to people in an obnoxious or judgemental way, or a respectful, tactful way. I couldn’t say whether you’re the tactful or obnoxious kind. 😛

        * I did write that it has few ethical consequences, but I’m not sure how true this is. Even in a world fully accepting of different sexuality, there would be plenty of people made unhappy by their orientation – take the woman who falls in love with a straight woman, for example.

      • I should note that I’ve only experienced this with a minority of poly people. But with the ones that are of the evangelist type, it’s that they smugly imply that their way is better, and that the only reason anyone would choose monogamy is because they’re an unevolved bundle of fears, instead of seeing it for the simple preference it is. So yeah, it is about them believing it’s better. Why does it always have to come down to better or worse, especially with something as personal as relationships? Why can’t we just accept that there are different people with different needs?

        The idea that bothers me is the “if only everyone was fill in the blank” concept, which seems to always crop up with human beings. I wish we could get away from that. I don’t think the world would be better if everyone was monogamous and I don’t think the world would be better if everyone was poly, I think the world would be better if we could accept the variety in people.

        So yes, I think I would like it if the world, at least to a greater degree, was one in which people could just live out their lives as they wanted, without the people around them constantly insisting that their way is superior. I’m not talking about a surrender to the dominant culture, as I would also like the dominant culture to butt out in most cases.

        I was hoping we were moving in the direction of that world….but am starting to think, not so much. I guess human nature never changes 🙂

      • I think we’re running under two different interpretations of someone thinking something is “better”. I think what people have been referring to when talking about this is a sense of pride and I suppose taking pleasure in their own mind’s comparison between themselves and most other people. Whereas you could also interpret someone thinking something is “better” by them … just literally thinking it’s better, more logical, perhaps more healthy. They don’t necessarily feel smug in that belief and hence act accordingly to others.

        When I suggested that it would be better if more people were poly I guess what I *really* meant was if we lived in a society where open relationships were the norm and exclusivity was not, then I feel that would suit more people than what we have today. People not only have to re-think everything they have been told about relationships, but they have to completely reject what is the norm (and in some people’s eyes probably become a bit of a ‘freak’) to be in a non-exclusive relationship. So with all that considered I can sympathise with people who aren’t really prepared for that, even if they may understand and agree with the logical reasoning behind the entire concept.

        I think we *are* moving in a good direction, but it’s slow. I think our quality of life is improving and we’re slowly moving towards a more accepting society. At least in the UK anyway. So I think we’ll get there one day, just like the feminists did, and black people, and the LGBTs. So yeah, I think it’s the future. I just don’t know how long it will take. It may be closer than we think.

  2. Pingback: I answered my own question | tesskitteh

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