Polyamory (split from probability)

Things that don't belong anywhere else. (Check first).

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Teaspoon
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Polyamory (split from probability)

Postby Teaspoon » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:41 am UTC

Marlayna wrote:You can't be in love with two people at the same time.


Oh, really? I'll have to tell my girlfriend. I'm sure she'll be very disappointed. It means she'll have to choose between her husband and me.

Just because it's not common doesn't mean it's not possible.
Last edited by Teaspoon on Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:26 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby VannA » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:54 am UTC

Teaspoon wrote:Oh, really? I'll have to tell my girlfriend. I'm sure she'll be very disappointed. It means she'll have to choose between her husband and me.

Just because it's not common doesn't mean it's not possible.



Man, I hope she chooses me.

Divorce is too expensive :P

(For the record, yes, I'm serious. We are discussing my wife. Yes, she loves us both. Yes it is possible. Yes, Teaspoon and I are friends - for longer than this has been going on.)


Teaspoon wrote:Just because it's not common doesn't mean it's not possible.
- Well that belongs in a probability thread :D

Marlayna wrote:You can't be in love with two people at the same time.


... Why not? I mean, I don't want to derail the post too much, but I think you'll agree that I might find that kind of sentance offensive.

I'm in love with more than 1 person. I love, in the full complete and Corinthian sense, 2 people at current count.

Both of them love me. :P Which is convienant indeed.
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Postby Teaspoon » Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:00 am UTC

Hoo, boy. This little revelation should make for a fun discussion when people start to notice it. Can't wait to see how it unfolds. :D

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Postby Marlayna » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:32 pm UTC

About falling in love.

The evolutionary advantage of falling in love is that you focus all your efforts on one significant other, obsessing on him/her, so you have a high probability of getting somewhere with them while you don't waste energy trying to establish romantic relationships with other people. I can't imagine how you can "obsess" on two people at the same time. When you can't sleep at night, who do you think about? When you're daydreaming, who do you think about? Whose thought makes you want to do beautiful and artistic things? It can't be both. That is counterintuitive and goes against nature.
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Postby Teaspoon » Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:59 am UTC

Marlayna wrote:About falling in love.

The evolutionary advantage of falling in love is that you focus all your efforts on one significant other, obsessing on him/her, so you have a high probability of getting somewhere with them while you don't waste energy trying to establish romantic relationships with other people. I can't imagine how you can "obsess" on two people at the same time. When you can't sleep at night, who do you think about? When you're daydreaming, who do you think about? Whose thought makes you want to do beautiful and artistic things? It can't be both. That is counterintuitive and goes against nature.


What you're describing there isn't love, it's infatuation.

She doesn't need to focus all her efforts on VannA, she's already married him and can breed with him when the whim strikes her. Shit, she didn't even really need to make a big effort to get anywhere with me. I was at their house for a movie night and then her hand was in my pants. I was surprised, but appreciative. :D

VannA's just told me that's how she reeled him in in the first place, too. Interesting. There's a bit of advice, ladies; if you fancy a lad, you don't need to muck about wondering if he likes you and hinting that he should ask you out! Just stick your hand down his pants and do nice things with it and it'll all sort itself out. ;)

Anyway, I can't say exactly what it's like to have two significant others because I've only got the one at the moment. I'm not particularly interested in getting another in the near future because I've got a fairly full plate. However, given that my girlfriend does have two significant others and I do know her fairly well, I can say that it's nowhere near as unnatural or difficult as you suggest. When she's being creative and artistic, she can draw different inspirations from each of us to reach greater heights of creativity. She's got the sum of two strong relationships to support her through her life, and when one of the relationships has its inevitable troubles, there's a person available who knows them both well and who they both trust who can help guide them through it.

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Postby thomasjmaccoll » Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:28 am UTC

teaspoon, i'd love to hear how that all works out for you in the long run, and i really hope it's well because it would be a very interesting development... and the main argument against these relationships is i guess that humans are at heart jealous, possessive and insecure, which of course i'd love to see proved wrong.
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Postby Marlayna » Sat Oct 21, 2006 5:56 pm UTC

Well Teaspoon I just don't believe you can be in love with two people at the same time. Familiar and trusting, yes. Sexually attracted, yes. Interested in their well-being, yes. But the tenderness and romance and care of someone in love can't compare. From what you say, your relationship is mostly about sex (the way she came on to you shows she really doesn't respect you - I'm surprised you didn't take offence) while you maintain a friendship of sorts. If I had to make assumptions about this woman, I'd say her heart doesn't beat faster when she sees you, her stomach doesn't hurt when she hears your voice, she doesn't stay up at night thinking about you, she doesn't see your face when she's daydreaming, she doesn't feel weak in the knees when she hears you laugh... Of course, I can't possibly know all that. Maybe I'm dead wrong and all these things do happen, so she really is in love with you. I just don't understand how you can come on to someone in such a vulgar way when you feel like that.
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Postby Peshmerga » Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:52 pm UTC

Marlayna wrote:*Kiddie love*


What you described there sounded more like sophomores in Highschool that find out they really like each other, which may or may not turn out to be love. Not adults who're tired of games and would rather settle down with someone they love but have already been through the stages of relationships. It's more of a confidence thing, really; kind of like getting a huge boner the first time you see a clip of porno, and then three years later after watching thousands of porno videos, you're kind of desensitized. Maybe that was a bad analogy.

I don't disagree with you though, I think it's completely impossible to truly love two people simutaneously.
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Postby Belial » Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:37 am UTC

Speaking as an entirely monoamorous and monogamous male in a long term committed relationship....

...I find it very interesting that, when confronted with polyamory, so many people feel ready to speak with so much *certainty* about what it's *possible* for *other people* to feel. People who are constantly emotionally uncertain or otherwise troubled, when they encounter some dude who claims to be in love with two chicks, or vice versa, are suddenly absolutely positive that's not feasible, not just for them, but for anyone, ever.

It makes one think.

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Postby Marlayna » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:00 pm UTC

Actually, Belial, I've read an encephalogram can determine with decent accuracy whether you're in love with someone or not. If someone claims to be in love with two people at the same time, I'm sure it could be shown. I don't know if anyone has actually tried to find such a case, but in any event there has been no such evidence. Everything I've ever read about this "condition" involves thoughts and feelings toward *one* certain person, and the counterexample I've seen mentioned on this forum really doesn't seem to be this romantic love we're talking about.
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Postby Rianna » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:09 pm UTC

Thank you, Belial, it's nice to see someone with a realistic view of the world around them.


Marlayna: I am insulted and offended at your attempt to tell other people that someone you've never met couldn't possibly be in love with 2 people at the same time. Who are you to tell me what I feel, or that I am vulgar or lack respect. You have not met or seen ANY of the people involved in this relationship, and yet you feel that you are in a position to draw conclusions based on what, exactly? Your opinion? Just because YOU believe something, it makes it true? Just because you haven't READ somewhere that such a thing is possible doesn't mean it isn't, it just means that you are close minded and sheltered.


Maybe the way the boys described my 'come on' was vulgar, but it was also out of context, and irrelevant to the concept of whether polyamory is possible, or not.


Maybe if you were less quick to judge, you'd learn something.

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Postby Marlayna » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:18 pm UTC

Whoah there.

1) I did say I could be wrong.
2) I didn't say you were a vulgar person, just that you comitted a vulgar act. If I were to say you did something stupid, would you accuse me of calling you stupid?
3) You're quick to take offence while you forget it wasn't me who started gossiping about your personal matters.
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Postby Jesse » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:19 pm UTC

I like the idea of polyamory. My problem is entirely personal, I can't imagine devoting myself to mroe than one person like that.

However, I feel I am almost like that, I have many loving relationships that just don't involve sex. So I can understand that in a way. I think it's possible to love more than one person at a time, the difficult thing is maintaning sexual relationships that don't inspire jealousy.

The final point is jealousy. Stop hogging all the girlfriends, I can't even find myself one that doesn't vanish without explanation for six months at a time.

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Postby Rianna » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:24 pm UTC

Marlayna wrote:Whoah there.

1) I did say I could be wrong.
2) I didn't say you were a vulgar person, just that you comitted a vulgar act. If I were to say you did something stupid, would you accuse me of calling you stupid?
3) You're quick to take offence while you forget it wasn't me who started gossiping about your personal matters.



Calling me vulgar, or something I did vulgar, is pretty much the same thing, you're splitting hairs.

Yes, you did say you could be wrong, after making all those judgements about my choice of lifestyle, and stating quite clearly that my relationship is mostly about sex.

I take no offence at discussing our relationship, meerly at your blatent assumptions, without any questions to clarify information first. If you have questions, ask. But don't make judgements on something you yourself have admited you know nothing about, and people you know nothing about.

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Postby Belial » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:02 pm UTC

Actually, Belial, I've read an encephalogram can determine with decent accuracy whether you're in love with someone or not. If someone claims to be in love with two people at the same time, I'm sure it could be shown.


I find this incredibly unlikely, for the following reasons:

First, in order to see what the EEG pattern of "love" looks like, you'd have to come to a satisfactory definition of what love *is*. As demonstrated by earlier conversation in this selfsame thread, there is some wide array of disagreement on that subject.

Second, in order to figure out what the EEG signature of this "love" looks like, you would need to have a control subject that you were *absolutely* sure was in "love". Which brings a problem: How are you sure that your control subject is in love? You don't have any *other* test for love, do you? So for all you know, you're getting a false positive, or a false negative, because your control subject, and therefore the control-pattern for your love-o-gram, is flawed or unconfirmed. Or just lying to you.

Unless you know something truly enlightening that I don't, I label this test, based on the sparse information provided, to be entirely infeasible, and way into the realm of pseudo-science.

Everything I've ever read about this "condition" involves thoughts and feelings toward *one* certain person,


One might argue that this is simply because the cultural norms are slanted toward monogamy. You will also find that ninety to ninety-five percent of literature that deals with romance deals exclusively with heterosexual romance, and from that you might conclude that homosexual attraction is a fiction, or isn't really love. That doesn't make your conclusion accurate, it just demonstrates the culture you come from.

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Postby fjafjan » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:08 pm UTC

Rianna wrote:
Marlayna wrote:Whoah there.

1) I did say I could be wrong.
2) I didn't say you were a vulgar person, just that you comitted a vulgar act. If I were to say you did something stupid, would you accuse me of calling you stupid?
3) You're quick to take offence while you forget it wasn't me who started gossiping about your personal matters.



Calling me vulgar, or something I did vulgar, is pretty much the same thing, you're splitting hairs.


Well cmon, is it really? I have done many stupid things, yet I wouldn't think myself stupid, some might say i have done vulgar things, but that does not make me vulgar in general, just occasionally.

Civil debate > Personal attacks/assumptions

Personally I don't think I could be polygamous, but since I know very little of it, i'll just say meh, if people think they can manage it, then let them try. As said it could possibly be evalued.
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Postby Belial » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:17 pm UTC

Honestly, I find ruling in any definitive way on other peoples' emotions to be an exercise in futility, considering that they're entirely subjective experiences.

The only thing an outside observer can say with any *certainty* about a monogamous couple is that they have an ongoing social and sexual relationship with only each other, and that they profess to be in love. Anything else is speculation on their "true" emotions, which you'll never know.

Likewise, the only thing an outside observer can say about a polyamorous relationship is that any given three (or four, or five) people have an ongoing social and sexual relationship in which the partners are not openly hostile or competetive with each other, and in which the participants profess to be in love.

And that *is* the case in many relationships.

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Postby Verysillyman » Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:46 pm UTC

Nope, it's not possible to be in love with more than one person. Because it's not possible to be in love at all :P

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Postby Teaspoon » Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:50 pm UTC

Jesster, I'm not hogging all the girlfriends! I understand that they're a limited resource, so I've organised to share one with a friend instead of selfishly taking up a whole one to myself. ;)

Belial, thank you. I come into this thread and see the same "I've decided that I'm right so you should believe what I do too" sort of arrogant argument that my sister presents when trying to convince me that her faith is superior to my agnosticism. Then you post with your voice of reason and I don't have to be annoyed anymore.

Marlayna, I didn't start this conversation to "gossip about our personal matters", I started it because your statement that a person can only love one person at a time is, from my perspective, clearly incorrect and I couldn't let it stand. I didn't consider Ri's come-on to be vulgar in the context. It was a simple and effective way to start a discussion that would otherwise have been very complicated. We were already very close friends and we were physically comfortable in a falling-asleep-on-the-other's-lap-watching-TV way.

She started sliding her hand into my pants and responded to my surprised/questioning look by telling me it was okay with VannA. That cut away my initial objection, so I spent a few moments in deep contemplation before coming to the conclusion that it wasn't hurting anyone and was certainly going to be nicer for me than continuing into a third year of girlfriendlessness. I know it's been working well for me ever since and if either of the other two are unhappy with it they're hiding it from me pretty well.

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Postby dragonfrog » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:17 am UTC

Hopefully it's possible to enter this discussion without further upsetting people...

I'd like to respond to this suggestion that romantic love can necessarily only be felt toward one person at a time. Why do you think that is? A person can (I suggest) feel real love for both his parents, any number of siblings, his children. There is apparently nothing stopping us sharing non-romantic love among any number of people (I won't call it platonic, because Plato doesn't read like he was all that chaste with his favourite boys...). So why does romantic love get this special treatment? On what do you base your assertion that it is different?

My own opinion, and it is just an opionion, though it's based on my own experience of love and relationships sexual and otherwise, is that there is no special kind of love that is romantic love. What we classify as this special romantic kind of love is just love, the generic deep-caring-about-another's-wellbeing kind, plus some sexual attraction. We also have a cultural habit of saying that when we both love and are sexually attracted to someone, that we are "in love with" that person.

But I suggest that not only can you love more than one person, you can be sexually attracted to more than one person as well. We just have a cultural hang-up that when we have both of these two feeling for more than one person, something must be terribly wrong.

And just a comment to the bit about butterflies in the stomache, etc. I've been married to my wife for four years; before that we dated for seven. While I dearly love her, I no longer get weak knees when she laughs, indigestion when she speaks, insomnia when she writes, nor chronic dermatitis when she dances. This, I suspect, is because after eleven fantastic years of loving mutual support, she is not my latest crush.

There have from time to time been other people who have had this sort of effect on me, and with whom I have not been in love. They were, however, my latest crush.

As for jealousy - It seems to me that the successful relationships I've seen, both poly- and monogamous, have not been the ones that rejected jealousy, but those that accepted it as a part of human nature. We get jealous of the attention those we love - not just romantic partners, but friends and family too - it's just what we do. And the healthy way of dealing with it is to be open about it, and accomodating of one another's jealousies - to make sure we don't leave those we love feeling abandoned whenever we have a new crush, a new job, whatever. Sex is just one particular attention we can offer to those we love, and one that is especially sensitive to most people because it's so intimate.

Teaspoon wrote:She started sliding her hand into my pants (...) so I spent a few moments in deep contemplation before coming to the conclusion(..)


I don't know about anyone else, but I've never managed any deep contemplation with someone else's hands down my pants. Never really much more than cursory consideration.

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Postby Peshmerga » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:27 am UTC

Belial wrote:Speaking as an entirely monoamorous and monogamous male in a long term committed relationship....

...I find it very interesting that, when confronted with polyamory, so many people feel ready to speak with so much *certainty* about what it's *possible* for *other people* to feel.


I don't think anyone said with absolute *certainty* that their claim was unqestionable truth. Besides, while you say you've been in a long term committed relationship, it seems like you question their own life experiences, doubting their own ability to make a conclusion.

Love is an overwhelming desire to be with another person, you would agree? If so, then how would it be possible to be overwhelmingly attracted to two different people? I understand having multiple sexual attractions, or even deep felt relations with more than one person. But love... love exceeds all of the lusts, the weird psychological needs and wants, etc, and saying that it's possible to be in love (in the romantic sense, of course) with multiple persons would be like saying one has two or more favorite foods. This is of course, my own emotionally based conclusion; I would be wary, however, to not confuse love with something else, no matter how adamantly you believe it. Knowing the difference can save one a lot of pain and mixed signals to the other.
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Postby VannA » Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:37 am UTC

This is the only passage of the bible I generally find myself willing to quote.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


That is love.

I've not found a better description, anywhere. As dragonfang has said (Very nicely, BTW) we have this cultural hang up on what we call love.

What Marlayna is calling 'Romantic Love' is infatuation. It's an emotive, animalistic set of responses. It's not a conscious, spiritual decision to cherish another person.

Sexual Attraction is not love, either.
I, personally, believe that when you love somebody, when you know and understand them as completely as any other human being can, then you will find yourself attracted to them.. whether you accept that attraction or not is a seperate thing.

The more you love, the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love. If a person had time enough, he could love all of that majority who are decent and just.


Something, I, personally, agree with wholeheartedly.

Love is not lessened, by being shared. The more you love, the more who love you, the greater your life, the greater your support, the better off you are.

And another, because I feel vindictive.

The hardest part about gaining any new idea is sweeping out the false idea occupying that niche. As long as that niche is occupied, evidence and proof and logical demonstration get nowhere. But once the niche is emptied of the wrong idea that has been filling it — once you can honestly say, "I don't know", then it becomes possible to get at the truth.


Lastly. :P

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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:27 am UTC

Rianna wrote:
Marlayna wrote:Whoah there.

1) I did say I could be wrong.
2) I didn't say you were a vulgar person, just that you comitted a vulgar act. If I were to say you did something stupid, would you accuse me of calling you stupid?
3) You're quick to take offence while you forget it wasn't me who started gossiping about your personal matters.



Calling me vulgar, or something I did vulgar, is pretty much the same thing, you're splitting hairs.

Yes, you did say you could be wrong, after making all those judgements about my choice of lifestyle, and stating quite clearly that my relationship is mostly about sex.

I take no offence at discussing our relationship, meerly at your blatent assumptions, without any questions to clarify information first. If you have questions, ask. But don't make judgements on something you yourself have admited you know nothing about, and people you know nothing about.
Rianna, let me tell you, at no point did I think you were immoral. To my knowledge at least, you didn't lie, you didn't hurt anybody's feelings, and there's no kind of weird bargain going on between you and your boyfriends, so you're OK in my book. I have no reason to believe you're generally vulgar or disrespectful or anything. But since you say you have no problem discussing your relationship (in the name of academic interest in polyamory), I'll say what I think:

If I were in Teaspoon's shoes, I would have considered that kind of come-on offensive no matter how close we were, but then I'm not Teaspoon and perhaps you knew how he would react (though I wouldn't do that to someone unless I was 100% sure he would actually like it). What I personally can't grasp is how you can take such liberties with someone you admire and feel all protective about, especially if you haven't made clear your interest is more that physical attraction. Wouldn't your first priority be to show your love and care? How can you bare your heart to someone while provoking them sexually?

Personally, I have had a few male friends I was familiar with and cared about, while at the same time I found them cute and would readily have sex with them if things happened to turn out that way (they never did, as there was no such interest on their part). But I wouldn't say I'm in love with any of them. Maybe if we actually became lovers I would gradually fall in love with them, maybe I wouldn't. In any case, I wouldn't describe that kind of relationship as romantic, at least to begin with. Being in love is largely an addiction, and it affects you more deeply than any other feeling.

So. Of course you know your own feelings better than I do. But from what you and your boyfriends have let me see, I am strongly inclined to put your relationship in the "friends who have sex" category. I always leave room for doubt, though.

Besides my own personal experience, one reason I'm so skeptical of the possibility of polyamory is that it has an evolutionary disadvantage. When you focus all of your efforts on one significant other, when they become the centre of your world, that gives you a good chance of building a steady relationship where you can raise offspring. But if you try to do that with two different people, chances are you'll ruin both relationships and be left to raise any offspring by yourself. I imagine natural selection wouldn't favour polyamory. What's the point of falling in love if it does more harm than good in the long run?

But then again, genetics is complicated, and you can't draw absolute conclusions from a statistical phenomenon like evolution.

Second, in order to figure out what the EEG signature of this "love" looks like, you would need to have a control subject that you were *absolutely* sure was in "love". Which brings a problem: How are you sure that your control subject is in love? You don't have any *other* test for love, do you? So for all you know, you're getting a false positive, or a false negative, because your control subject, and therefore the control-pattern for your love-o-gram, is flawed or unconfirmed. Or just lying to you.
I've read a book (and some magazine articles from time to time, but the book was much more enlightening) discussing several research results about romantic love. The research I'm referring to involved people who claimed to be in love (gay and straight), as well as a control group who claimed not to be in love (gay and straight). As far as I remember, they were all shown pictures of various people, attractive or not, sometimes strange to the subject, sometimes not, and some things of everyday use like combs etc., and they were asked intermediately to perform a tedious mental task like counting backwards (I forget what purpose that served). When the people who claimed to be in love were shown a picture of their loved one, or a thing they knew belonged to their loved one, they had an immediate, distinct and intense reaction in several areas of their brain, too quick for it to be caused by conscious thought. That unique reaction is presumed to be the sign of romantic love.
What Marlayna is calling 'Romantic Love' is infatuation. It's an emotive, animalistic set of responses. It's not a conscious, spiritual decision to cherish another person.
Is it ever a conscious decision? I've never been able to just "decide" to love someone. I can control my actions, not my feelings.

And of course it's animalistic... animals fall in love too :wink:
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Postby Belial » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:04 am UTC

Peshmerga wrote:it seems like you question their own life experiences, doubting their own ability to make a conclusion.


Yes, actually. I do doubt other peoples ability to make a conclusion about another, third group of people's emotions.

Peshmerga wrote:Love is an overwhelming desire to be with another person, you would agree? If so, then how would it be possible to be overwhelmingly attracted to two different people?


Umm...I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say "By wanting to be with both of them"? That is to say, your ideal world is one in which both of those people are with you, and love you, and each other, and you love them, and you're all together and near each other. I fail to see how that contradicts an "overwhelming desire to be with someone".

It's rather like having two favorite foods, like you said. If someone took your two most-liked foods, and said "You can only ever eat one of these ever again, the other is off-limits forever" you would likely be rather upset. Who the fuck is this guy, and who the fuck is he to tell you you have to choose between macaroni and cheese or veal parmesan forever? Sure, you could probably *make* the decision, but your (culinary) life would be greatly diminished by the loss of either.

To use another example, if you have two very close friends, do you bother ranking them? And even if so, would you be nonchalant about the second-place friend disappearing forever? Getting sick and dying? Being depressed and never coming out of their house or hanging out with you again? No? Then you want to be with that person. You care about their wellbeing, even though they aren't captain first-place best-friend. The loss of either friend would diminish your life greatly, and you would probably go to some great length to keep that from happening.


Marlayna wrote:But from what you and your boyfriends have let me see, I am strongly inclined to put your relationship in the "friends who have sex" category.


You describe that as though it weren't the definition of love. I care about my friends. I am upset when they are sad. I am pleased when they are happy and good things happen to them. I share with them. I provide for them as best I can when they need, and they do the same for me. I would be crushed if one of my close friends dropped off the face of the planet. I've even lived with several of them. The only difference between that, and my definition of "romantic love"? I am decidedly not fucking any of them, nor do I currently have any intention of doing so in the future.

My girlfriend (of nearly six years), is differentiated from anyone else I know by two things above all: She is one of, if not *the* closest of my friends, and we have sex.

What you continually describe as "love" is infatuation. That butterflyish feeling, that constant *need* for their presence, the "addiction" you describe, is infatuation. It doesn't last, and ultimately, it doesn't matter. And moreover, it is entirely possible (and I'd say easier) to feel that for more than one person, in my experience. Loving and conducting an amicable sexual and emotional relationship with more than one person is a whole hell of a lot harder, but still possible.


Marlayna wrote:Besides my own personal experience, one reason I'm so skeptical of the possibility of polyamory is that it has an evolutionary disadvantage.


You apparently missed all the animals that get by just fine with structured polygamy.

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Postby Teaspoon » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:08 am UTC

According to Wikipedia, monogamy's only common in 3% of mammal species. The rest seem to do okay with their non-monogamous systems, so why do you consider monogamy to be the only evolutionarily-supported sociobiological system?

Ri's in two steady relationships, both of which have a chance to produce offspring if she chooses to allow production. I know I'd stick around and help with raising children regardless of which of us fathered it and, while I can't be totally certain, I believe VannA would do the same. This would allow the work of childraising to be spread between more of us and make it all a lot easier. The way we normally behave as two overlapping couples rather than a single threesome would mean that one of the boys will be available to watch the kids if the other two want to go out. It'd be great - at least until the children run up against the prejudices of a monogamous society. The difficulties presented there should be roughly similar to those faced by any other socially-deviant family units, such as homosexual parents.

Hmm, that's odd. Society requires that we're "okay" with homosexuality, but polyamory is still met with disbelief and a little contempt. One could certainly argue that heterosexual polyamory makes far better sense from an evolutionary point of view than homosexuality!

How long will it take for a "shit, their choices don't have any negative effects on anyone who doesn't choose to get involved anyway, so I'd be a stupid zealot if I had a problem with it" attitude to arise regarding polyamory?

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Postby VannA » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:38 am UTC

Besides my own personal experience, one reason I'm so skeptical of the possibility of polyamory is that it has an evolutionary disadvantage. When you focus all of your efforts on one significant other, when they become the centre of your world, that gives you a good chance of building a steady relationship where you can raise offspring. But if you try to do that with two different people, chances are you'll ruin both relationships and be left to raise any offspring by yourself. I imagine natural selection wouldn't favour polyamory. What's the point of falling in love if it does more harm than good in the long run?


...A steady relationship is not required to raise offspring. It might be preferred to raise offspring because of our current cultural bias, but

Natural selection couldn't give 2 shits about the reason for childbirth. It only cares that the offspring survives on it's genetic merits till it reaches birthing age.


Quote:
What Marlayna is calling 'Romantic Love' is infatuation. It's an emotive, animalistic set of responses. It's not a conscious, spiritual decision to cherish another person.

Is it ever a conscious decision? I've never been able to just "decide" to love someone. I can control my actions, not my feelings.


You keep saying love.. you're talking about a crush, not a deep, long lasting, conscious decision to care for another being.

Love is a single, simple thing. It's putting the wellbeing of another person(s) equal or above your own.

Your defination of love is ..crass, IMO. It misses the true value of love.


Belial: Thanks. You worded that most eloquently.


As for the children thing.. well, I'm building a small tribe. Children raised in extended family/tribal environments WILL be better capable of adjusting to the society around them. They are not moulded by a single, or tightly paired, set of parents. They are moulded by all of those around them, who can indiscriminately swap parental roles.

As Teaspoon has said, I don't *care* who the biological father would be. They will be *our* kids. This is *our* family.

The three of us. And we are open to expanding that family. Basic natural selection should tell you that a tightly-knit solid functioning tribe works better than pairs.

Go ask the Bonobos :P
Last edited by VannA on Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:54 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Belial » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:46 am UTC

Go ask the Bonobo's


If you didn't mention them, I was going to....

Belial: Thanks. You worded that most eloquently.


Eh. This is going to sound nerdy, but I had a D&D character, a druid, who was (theoretically) polygamous/polyamorous, and had to essentially conduct this exact same argument on several occasions. So the arguments spring readily to mind.

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Postby VannA » Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:05 am UTC

:D

I can't believe I haven't down that with a DND character, given how long I've thought like this.. I've had a gay character, once.

Hmm.

Tehehe. The 3 of us all play DND together, with 5 other folks. Hehe. Although they all know. Boring.
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Postby Teaspoon » Mon Oct 23, 2006 8:39 am UTC

All of 'em?

Actually, you're probably right. If she hasn't figured it out by now, she's got the nastiest case of tunnel vision in history.

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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:40 am UTC

Belial wrote:What you continually describe as "love" is infatuation. That butterflyish feeling, that constant *need* for their presence, the "addiction" you describe, is infatuation. It doesn't last, and ultimately, it doesn't matter.
There is a reason it exists, though. To start relationships.

Belial wrote:And moreover, it is entirely possible (and I'd say easier) to feel that for more than one person, in my experience.
Well, fine. I won't question your experience. Like I said, I always leave some room for doubt. It's not like I'm going to attack people who want to be involved with two people at the same time. But it would take a lot more to *really* convince me than the testimony of a stranger on the Internet.

Belial wrote:You apparently missed all the animals that get by just fine with structured polygamy.
Like? Remember, we're not talking about the number of individuals you have sex with; romantic love includes prolonged flirting. Do you know any such examples? I sincerely don't know about that.

Teaspoon wrote:How long will it take for a "shit, their choices don't have any negative effects on anyone who doesn't choose to get involved anyway, so I'd be a stupid zealot if I had a problem with it" attitude to arise regarding polyamory?
Oh spare me. Really, do I give the impression of having a problem with what you people do? I do question the nature of your relationship, but I never said it was wrong. I can never be entirely certain of what other people feel, and to a great extent each of us can be considered an authority on their own emotions, so I take very seriously into account what you say. Still, that doesn't mean I don't retain some doubts based on what I know.

VannA wrote:Natural selection couldn't give 2 shits about the reason for childbirth. It only cares that the offspring survives on it's genetic merits till it reaches birthing age.
I didn't say anything about reason for childbirth, where did you get that? My point is that a child has better chances of survival if he/she has two parents looking after him/her.

VannA wrote:You keep saying love.. you're talking about a crush, not a deep, long lasting, conscious decision to care for another being.
How can it be a conscious decision? Can you really decide who to love?

VannA wrote:Love is a single, simple thing. It's putting the wellbeing of another person(s) equal or above your own.
If that was so, then mothers would be in love with their children.

Romantic love is a specific kind of love.
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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:50 am UTC

Oh, and something I forgot to address...

Raising children in a tribe should be optimal. But then, wouldn't romantic relationships be more of a burden? So wouldn't romantic love be useless that way? If we all just had sex with each other no strings attached, our tribe's structure would be more adaptable to best serve the needs of the children. So how does the formation of threesomes (or whatever) help any?

(I'm going to look up the bonobos, by the way :) )
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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:54 am UTC

Right from Wikipedia: "Bonobos do not form permanent relationships with individual partners".

Sorry, try again! :P
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Postby Belial » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:33 am UTC

Marlayna wrote:
Belial wrote:What you continually describe as "love" is infatuation. That butterflyish feeling, that constant *need* for their presence, the "addiction" you describe, is infatuation. It doesn't last, and ultimately, it doesn't matter.
There is a reason it exists, though. To start relationships.


Yes, that's correct in many cases. Is it your contention, then, that people are only ever in love at the very *start* of relationships? If so, then we may just have a definition problem. What Vanna, Teaspoon, Rianna, Myself, and others are contending is not that you can be infatuated with two people at once (this *could* be argued, but isn't really worth it) but that you can go *through* the infatuation stage and into the "loving, ongoing, stable relationship" stage with one person, and, while maintaining that relationship and the emotion associated with it, repeat the process with another person, thus being involved with two people. At no point is there a requirement that you be in the silly-giddy-infatuation stage with both of them at once.

Marlayna wrote:
Belial wrote:You apparently missed all the animals that get by just fine with structured polygamy.
Like? Remember, we're not talking about the number of individuals you have sex with; romantic love includes prolonged flirting. Do you know any such examples? I sincerely don't know about that.


Prolonged flirting...like courtship rituals? Any number of birds and mammals that entertain such rituals from suitors and take more than one mate in a season.

The point is, though, that if monogamy were so incredibly optimal, it would be pretty much across the board in the animal kingdom, which it isn't. Wolves are pretty openly polygamous, for example, even if it's only one (or two, or three) males getting all the play. Same with lions. Both form a coherent group for the raising of children, neither of which seem particularly bound by monogamy.

Marlayna wrote:
VannA wrote:Love is a single, simple thing. It's putting the wellbeing of another person(s) equal or above your own.
If that was so, then mothers would be in love with their children.

Romantic love is a specific kind of love.


And since people keep disagreeing with your definition of love (the infatuation stuff), the definition of 'romantic love' that we all seem to be using is pretty much composed of the above definition, plus sex or sexual attraction.

Difference between mom and girlfriend? You're not sexually attracted to your mom. We hope.
Last edited by Belial on Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:34 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Air Gear » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:34 am UTC

Ok, I'm just going to hit some more obvious high points, though I shouldn't...I should actually be asleep instead of posting, but hey, that's not happening, so here we go. I'll deal with some of the bigger "doesn't come into play" and "doesn't work that way" things...

First, infatuation: Belial basically nailed it. You might say that it's there to start the relationship, but that doesn't matter. It's not there for long. It's gone basically instantly 99% of the time. Infatuation, crushes...we're dealing with well after that phase. Hell, we might need to differentiate between the "love" phase and the "just together" phase, if things get there...

Second, conscious decisions regarding love: well, yeah. Crushes go away. Love is what you have when the infatuation (if it was ever there in the first place) goes away and there's still the feeling of wanting to be with that person, etc. Love is when the rest of your brain kicks in, with reality helping it, and decides whether or not you care for said person in a deep sense or what. Most of it might be subconscious, but ya know what, that brain is crunching a lot of data to figure that out and some will be conscious.

Third, with tribes: We're not set up that way since Western civilization is individualistic. That kills the whole idea of the tribe right there. Plus, come to think, it gets unwieldy (or impossible, more likely) in any modern setting, so cultures that try keeping it tend to go to the level of extended families.

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Postby Verysillyman » Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:36 am UTC

I read somewhere that the "in love" experience last on average less than two years. If you can keep it for longer than that then maybe it actually means something.

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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:08 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Prolonged flirting...like courtship rituals? Any number of birds and mammals that entertain such rituals from suitors and take more than one mate in a season.
Courtship rituals don't continue for days/months/years after the two animals have had sex, do they?

Belial wrote:The point is, though, that if monogamy were so incredibly optimal, it would be pretty much across the board in the animal kingdom, which it isn't. Wolves are pretty openly polygamous, for example, even if it's only one (or two, or three) males getting all the play. Same with lions. Both form a coherent group for the raising of children, neither of which seem particularly bound by monogamy.
Irrelevant: Polygamy may be practical because of the absence of intimate relationships. Polyamory, on the other hand, means attachment to more than one individuals. Is that to be found in any animal species? I don't think so. Is it practical? It doesn't seem to be.

More to the point: The question seems to be if, while you deeply romantically love your significant other, it is possible to have a crush on someone else.

So allow me to stir things up all over again by claiming it isn't. 8)

Belial's Edit: EEEEK! Apparently, instead of hitting "reply", I accidentally edited Marlayna's post. Excuse the sudden wierdness of this post, I *believe* I've set everything right again.

Marlayna's Edit: Well, now it is. :P
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Postby Verysillyman » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:14 pm UTC

I would say it's possible to love more than one person, but that it can be impractical, since if one of the people you love doesn't want you loving anyone else, you've got a right royal pickle and not much fun at parties where they both are.

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Postby Belial » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:32 pm UTC

Marlayna wrote:Courtship rituals don't continue for days/months/years after the two animals have had sex, do they?


Most cases, no. But if the intimate relationship is so beneficial to the survival of the species (and not just an emotional spectre that we summoned up exclusively for our own little evolutionary dead-end), and if polygamy is beneficial on a strict mating-level in some cases, while monogamy is beneficial in others, then if monoamory is beneficial in some cases, it would stand to reason that polyamory is beneficial in others. "You got genetic diversity and a high chance of viable offspring in my continuous relationships for the purposes of childrearing and education in higher species!" "You got continuous relationships for the purposes of childrearing and education in higher species in my genetic diversity and a high chance of viable offspring!"

"Two great tastes that taste great together!"

God I feel old.

Marlayna wrote:Irrelevant: Polygamy may be practical because of the absence of intimate relationships. Polyamory, on the other hand, means attachment to more than one individuals. Is that to be found in any animal species? I don't think so. Is it practical? It doesn't seem to be.


I...*did* just quote to you the example of wolves and lions, didn't I? Which is to say, animals in which multiple females breed with a single male, and the whole thing is bound together into a coherent social structure for childrearing? Which is to say, they stay around each other and have a continuing, ongoing relationship, which is the closest you can get to confirmed "intimacy" in the animal kingdom outside of humans.


Marlayna wrote:More to the point: The question seems to be if, while you deeply romantically love your significant other, it is possible to have a crush on someone else.

So allow me to stir things up all over again by claiming it isn't.


Okay. You've made your assertion. Qualify it. WHY isn't it possible?

Verysillyman wrote:I would say it's possible to love more than one person, but that it can be impractical, since if one of the people you love doesn't want you loving anyone else, you've got a right royal pickle and not much fun at parties where they both are.


That's an argument I'll readily except. Take the number of things that can go horribly wrong in a simple, two person relationship, and then multiply them by two (or three, if the threesome is functioning as three overlapping couples and not just two), and then add the problems that can come out of the arrangement itself (or "synergy fuckups"), and what you have is pretty much an encyclopedia of things that can shatter a polygamous relationship.

Really, what fucks up polygamy way more than "not being able to love more than one person", is just the sheer logistical issues that can arise.

For example, for a group in which you are person 1, and your partners are persons 2 and 3:

what happens if you get tired of person 3? Can you break it off with just person 3, and stay with person 2? And what happens if person 2 also has a relationship with person 3, and still loves or wants to be with them, but you don't? Where the hell do you go from there?

Answer: No fucking idea.

This sort of stuff, in addition to simple jealousy issues (by default, we're not wired to be *happy* about other people fucking our significant others. It can be worked past, but I prefer not to push it in my own case), is why I don't do the polygamy thing. Best of luck to those who do, though.

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Postby Marlayna » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:26 pm UTC

OK, now we're delving into psychiatry, but here's how I think about it: You fall in love because you have certain emotional and biological needs. If your needs are already satisfied in a relationship, why would your brain push you to venture into another relationship, which could possibly destabilize the original one?

Moreover, any problem or misunderstanding would be multiplied within a threesome. Suppose you have two lovers and have a fallout with one of them (A). Can you run to the other (B) for comfort? Can you tell B everything that transpired with A? But you're not talking to a friend, you're talking to a lover! Would A like your shared personal experience revealed in that context? Is B in a position to give you advice? Are you in a position to take it? The existence of a second lover makes matters worse when it comes to communication and evaluation of your feelings.

So in general, polyamory is not practical. It's far more stressful than both monogamy and complete lack of relationships, so it may not provide a stable enough environment to raise children in. (I'm talking generally here, not in absolutes - so Teaspoon, VannA, Rianna, don't take it personally, I'm not saying it can't work for you).

The wolves example I can accept, but lions can do really nasty things to ensure fatherhood (like, kill cubs fathered by another male). So for them, polyamory comes with a heavy price. What about humans? We are jealous and possessive creatures, so I think our nature steers us toward one-to-one relationships.
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Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:29 pm UTC

Love, Pain, and all other emotions and feelings are tricks that the cells in your body are playing on you in order to get you to do things that your cells require. The instant you make a concious being to 'force' the being to reproduce you have to trick it - of course sometimes the conciousness thing stuffs up on them.

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