I Love You. And You. And You…

Here’s an important distinction: open, casual sex keeps you from getting elected. Deep dark sneaky secret sex gets you on the front page of the New York Times.

Prostitutes cost Eliot Spitzer the governorship of New York, not to mention 80 large. The next NY governor, David Paterson, confessed his own infidelities right after he was sworn in. Next up? Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s soul mate was his Argentine mistress. Oh, yeah, and then there was Bill.

[Editor’s Note: gekko and I again take up a conversation in four long acts much as Shaw described Major Barbara as “a discussion in three long acts.” Before you read this article, please go read Poly Pliability for our starting point.]

Polygamy comes from the Greek poly- meaning many plus -gamos which indicates a “strong smell of fox urine.” It is a marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time. Probably because at least one of them smells a little off.

Sculpture by Ania Modzelewski

Polygyny also comes from the Greek poly- plus gune from which we derive woman or other female medical terms. It is the state or practice of having more than one wife or female mate at a time. Monogyny is practice of having single mate although that term, too, usually implies marriage.

Polyandry comes from the Greek poly- as well plus andr- which seems to have meant man but is also the root for automaton (android) as well as a popular phone.

“Many robots” makes more sense than “many phones” although the robots can’t really offer meaningful conversation.

You have already figured out that Polyamory comes from the Greek poly- with the amory tacked on from the Latin amor. No, it didn’t come from a National Guard Armory although battles have indeed been fought over it.

Polyamory is a made-up word for a real — and historical — cultural phenomenon. By all accounts, Thomas Jefferson had a long, continuous relationship with Sally Hemmings. And Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson and her king kept company for 20 years but didn’t they sleep together for 15 of them. They were in many ways partners in politics, in war, and in the arts. Madame de Pompadour remained at Louis XV’s side for 20 years until her death at age 43.

It is a lifestyle choice with as much dignity and commitment as traditional monogamous marriage is supposed to have, the lovely gekko writes.

Emphasis added.

I suspect most Americans would disagree. SWMBO does. According to polls, about 80% of Americans say that extramarital sexual relations are always wrong. That’s up from the early 70s (right after the “Free Love 60s”), when about 70% of people said the same thing.

Except that something between 3% and half of married men and a third of married women cheat. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to the Forest Institute. They can’t all be upset about the pound cake.

So is polyamory cheating or is it something else?

Polyamory, however, is not really merely wife swapping, gekko adds.

So Henny Youngman (“Take my wife. Please.”) was neither swinging nor polyamorous?

“I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years,” he said. “If my wife every finds out, she’ll kill me!”

That, in a nutshell, is the rub. Stay tuned.

[Editor’s Note: gekko and I have again begun an ongoing conversation. Before reading this piece, please go read Poly Pliability for our starting point.]

15 thoughts on “I Love You. And You. And You…

  1. I think you’re missing some of the concept. Thomas Jefferson did not have a polyamorous relationship as any modern polyamorist would describe it. His mistress was his legal property and though no doubt grew very fond of him, was never in a position much to choose, while there is no data at all what his wife thought of it.

    Same wrt Henny Youngman’s joke. If not approved by the wife (i.e. she’ll kill him for it) it ain’t polyamory. It’s just cheating. Or, as I prefer to call it (since cheating means getting something at less than full cost), lying and lying hugely.

  2. Mistresses were an understanding among the gentry and good wives understood that. Or so all the cheesy historical fiction romance novels taught me.

    I wonder if the message is more about acknowledging that love and sex outside of marriage happens whether the Puritans permit it or not.

    If “polyamory” is expanded to simply “loving many” then it exists wherever there is (romantic) love for more than one. Of course, the key concept of openness is totally missing from much of that, so … there you go.

    1 and 6 are 7. Betcha the HashCash thingummy fucks me over.

  3. Sumbitch! This time, after I carefully ctl-A/copied my typing, the darned thing worked!

    That’s the secret — if you neglect to save your work, the hashcash will fail. If you save it, it works.

  4. And gekko wins the prize. I think … yes, indeed, we do have a gen-you-whine hot air balloon ride for our lucky winners tonight.

    Don, the message is that indeed, and Puritans be darned.

    Next up, we will talk about loving many with or without Puritanical permission. And about happiness.

  5. So, only 3% cheat on their spouses, eh? Heck, I cheat on Mrs George all the time. When she gets up to go get me a beer I look at her cards.

    But I’m glad Dick didn’t try to define Polyurethane. That suffix scares the hell out of me.

    — George

  6. Gawd. You made me do math. I hate you. Anywho, once a cheater, always a cheater and probably not just sex. So burn ’em all at the stake!

  7. Well, I had a long, carefully composed contribution, but didn’t notice the math test just above, and your site threw the whole works away. Oh well. I’m not going to rewrite it all.

  8. Just for D.B., gekko, and Mr. Poleczech, I have deactivated the evil arithmetic for now.

    Oh, and Bill? Writing is easy. It’s rewrite that makes us right.

  9. A shame this instantiation of WordPress gives the blog author such little control. The math quiz thing is difficult to see in the first place, and the way it works within WordPress, by yelling at you and erasing your response when you use the “back” button, is outright ridiculous.

    Dick, I wonder if you could petition 1and1 to install a fuller, more up-to-date version of WP, one that gives you a little more creative control? At least let you put up some words of warning to your commenters to do a Ctl-A, Ctl-C, and making the hash-cash much more obvious? Then you could have the spam control AND commenters would be more pleased. or less cranky.

  10. Speaking of control issues (part of next week’s topic) I have tried to get response from my suggestions, requests, and account management needs to 1&1.

    1&1 is exceptional at normal hosting–uptime is excellent, technical advice is good, and the cost is acceptable. 1&1 is lousy at response. They answer the 800 number but nothing ever comes of it.

    Gekko, 1&1 supplies this very limited version of WordPress. I can choose the background image from the few they offer. I can choose from a few different templates. I can add to the blogroll. And I can (as I did) turn off the dreaded HashCash™. (For the record, my blogware is cranky and gekko’s blogware is verrrrrrrrrry sloooooooooooow.)

  11. My cousin lives in a cosmopolitan area and says a few of her friends have polyamorous relationships. Seems to work well. I think the age range is 40’s and 50’s. I’ll have to ask her if all are single. She says it works well for them. I have a step-relative who was manically happy with his polyamorous adventures. Alas, things got complicated and he crashed and burned. Badly. Has yet to recover and it’s been several years now. There is some truth to a previous comment about mental illness instability. I wonder how many people can handle the complexities of multiple relationships. I knew a few people who have had ‘open marriages’ in the 70’s and 80’s. Not without sour notes. The other questions I have are if you desire this lifestyle, why be married? And how does polyamorous relationships work in the child bearing/rearing years?

  12. Wendy’s points are correct, and her comments and questions are well taken.

    The answers are (1) not many; (2)tax purposes, (3) Not worth a shit.

    — George

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