Polyamory is just a sly way to make cheating seem virtuous

Jan 9, 2020 by

by Zoe Strimpel, UnHerd:

A mixture of masochism and sociological interest leads me to listen to American sex advice columnist Dan Savage’s podcast, Savage Love, on my long-ish morning walks over Hampstead Heath. Call after call, Americans with baroquely complex sex lives ring in describing quandaries arising from a labyrinthine set of negotiations known as ‘ethical polymory’  – having multiple partners at once, who know about each other.

A woman, 33, married to her husband for eight years with two kids, wonders how to get her husband to feel comfortable when she ‘cuckolds’ him at his request by offering oral sex to her other partner in front of him (he keeps freezing up and getting depressed). A man, 27, wonders how to manage the demands of a ‘throuple’ with his two girlfriends when they don’t get on.

Polyamory and its ilk is not just a fad found among woke West Coast Americans; every other British Tinder profile now contains charming imperatives such as: ‘Pizza, 1960s cinema, polymory’ or my favourite: ‘open-minded people only swipe right’. The Ethical Slut, a manual for polyamory that was first published as a niche book with pseudonymous authorship in 1997 has, several reprints in, become a bestseller.

And the phenomenon is attracting ever-greater interest from researchers keen to establish whether these honesty warriors, keen to turn the dark, greedy heart of human sexuality into a jamboree of open-ness, are successful. What is emerging, unsurprisingly, is a picture murky at best.

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