Principles of a Polyamorous Natural Community

polyamoryOf late, most of my conversations have been about love, about conversation and about community, specifically the creation of model intentional communities that are essentially polyamorous in nature (i.e. membership in the community is self-selected in such a way that all members of the community love each other, equally, with no pervasive pair bonds). My article Communities Based on Love has sparked quite a bit of discussion on this subject, notably the 16 natural capacities I suggested members in such a community should have:

  1. deep capacity for love
  2. passion for the community’s shared purpose/intention
  3. trust
  4. emotional strength
  5. sensitivity, openness, perceptiveness
  6. good instincts
  7. self-sufficiency
  8. honesty
  9. intelligence, critical thinking ability
  10. curiosity
  11. imagination
  12. creativity
  13. responsibility
  14. expressiveness
  15. flexibility
  16. tolerance

Many readers thought this long list too onerous and exclusive, but I sense that a Natural Community whose members significantly lack any of these qualities would be extremely fragile. I also believe we are all born with these capacities, and for most it’s just a matter of Letting-Oneself-Change to re-engender them.

I have already begun, with a woman I have met in Second Life who I will call Eve, to create one such community in Second Life to test whether all these capacities are necessary, and to test my hypothesis that such communities should naturally and advantageously be polyamorous. Eve and I are beginning to explore the operating principles that might govern such communities. I see these principles being fluid, emergent and co-developed by the community members, so what we come up initially with will be merely a first stake in the ground.

My recent obsession with love, conversation, polyamory and community has been such that I’ve also been talking with real-life friends (some of whom are physically close and others whom I have never met face-to-face but love nevertheless) about these principles. Some of these people I hope to invite to be part of our Second Life MPNC (model polyamorous natural community).

Here are some of the principles we’ve been thinking and talking about:

  • Intentionality Principle: The MPNC must have, and share, a common intention. The whole idea of creating community is to achieve some shared purpose, without which the glue of loving each other would probably not be enough to cohere the community (that’s why they’re called ‘intentional communities’). Our purpose in this first MPNC might be simply to test and prove the viability of this model of living together.
  • Self-Management Principle: The MPNC’s membership must be self-managed. This means, for example, that Eve and I must agree on who to invite next, and as we add members we must all agree on any additional members. This probably means size of the MPNC will be self-limiting. Self-management also means that all important decisions must be unanimous, achieved by consensus and not by compromise, pressure or ‘voting’ of any kind. The best real-life ICs have a well-practiced dispute resolution process built on love, deep mutual trust and respect, mutual support and strong, honest communication, that our MPNC needs too. Just as importantly, the MPNC’s members must know how to imagine and create their way our of problems and impasses. The best collectively self-managed groups I know are mostly women’s groups, and I think the MPNC needs to listen carefully and learn from our women members how to self-manage better.
  • Membership in the MPNC needs to be diverse and balanced. I’ve explained that the capacities of partners in a Natural Enterprise must be ‘on purpose’, and diverse and mutually exclusive (don’t want too many people with the same strengths and weaknesses), and collectively exhaustive (between them, the enterprise partners need to have all the capacities necessary to their shared purpose). I think the same applies to our MPNC: We want our members to be diverse, so that while we all love each other equally, we love each other in different ways and for different things, so that we move among the members in love and in so doing fulfill different parts and needs of ourselves and each other. If some quality is conspicuously missing from the members, it’s only to be expected that they will want to go outside the MPNC for that quality. To the (considerable) extent the love of members for each other is erotic, there needs to be balance between genders and sexual orientations too, so that there is no scarcity of any form of love, including erotic love.
  • There should be polyfidelity within the MPNC. As a perhaps controversial corollary of the above, to make the community safe and stable, members should commit to limit their romantic and erotic relationships to other members of the community. I think the difference between a polyamorous community and a group of promiscuous people is an important one. Commitment to community should be a deep commitment, and if a member is unable to fulfill their desires for love within the community, that suggests either the member lacks commitment or the community lacks members with certain needed qualities that would allow the member to find what s/he loves within it. Just like a business partnership, you agree on who’s in and who’s out, and commit yourself to making the partnership work. Because the love between the members of the MPNC is so deep, raw, and generous, its members are vulnerable to being hurt, and therefore the MPNC must be an emotionally safe place, one with an abundance of all forms of love accessible withing the community, so that jealousy and possessiveness don’t rear their ugly heads.
  • The members of the MPNC must feel, embrace and practice compersion and empathy. Compersion is taking pleasure when someone you love is with or expresses love for another partner (in this case, another member of the community). It is the antithesis of jealousy. I think this is the hardest thing to learn in a polyamorous community, even when there is an abundance of love within the community. I don’t know why this is, but I have experienced this myself in Second Life. It hurts a bit to hear someone you really love relating or demonstrating delight received from another lover. But when you get past this, it’s utterly liberating, as if you have finally ridded yourself of the worst vestige of our current society’s terrible scarcity of love. Likewise, empathy (the ability to perceive profoundly the emotional state of another) must come to replace subjectivity, selfishness and proclivity to judge others. Empathy is another capacity that in my experience most women are much better at than men, so the women of the MPNC probably will need to lead the learning of this practice. 

There may well be other principles, and perhaps we’ll find some of these principles are unnecessary or need to be changed. This is all about practice, and it is through practice, in Second Life, and paying attention to what works especially well and what doesn’t work well, that these principles will evolve into a set of principles that guide the flow of the community. And it is through practice that we’ll learn to become better community members, lovers and friends. There is, I think, no other way to make this work. And it is important, both to our broken modern society and to the generations yet unborn who may have to create a new society fromthe ruins of civilization, that we make it work.

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8 Responses to Principles of a Polyamorous Natural Community

  1. CyberStrike says:

    Nicely thought out, and well said.

  2. Nathan says:

    Dave, it seems to me that Compersion might be an emerging property of the community, as I don’t think you can expect to find poeple who will just “drop in”. Perhaps part of it is breaking the assumed binding of erotic love and the Intellectual, Emotional and Sensual aspects, or the perception that they have to be provided by one person. I suppose you want to avoid the situation where one person feels that only one person can satisfy a certain need, and this why you are sticking to a fairly “demanding” list of qualities.

  3. What happens to the people who don’t get into the community? Me, for example.

  4. Jon Husband says:

    What’s the sex, or love-making, like in second Life. tender and soft and sweet, or detached and clinical, or boisterous, slightly rough and fun ? Or, just unreal ?Enquiring minds, and all that … ?

  5. Very interesting angle with polyamory as a basis for community. Because those principles are really universal. Maybe real community can only ever be based on love.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks everyone. Nathan: Absolutely.

  7. Janene says:

    Dave –Interesting… all of these poly discussions are quite intriguing to me, having explored some of this IRL, myself. That being said, I do have a few thoughts….On compersion… acknowledging that jealousy is merely another word for insecurity (when related to a lover especially), I think there are two things we each need to achieve compersion. First, and perhaps foremost is an honest and total belief that love compounds, but never divides. Second, and this is a little more tangible, is the knowledge and belief in your partner(s) that comes from knowing that they would give up anything for you — so therefore you don’t *need* them to give up *anything*. I think the fundamental fear that your love is ‘shopping’ for someone better needs to be completely vanquished… not sure if that really will make sense to you or that I am expressing myself well… but there you have it.On community itself… I think this is the point where Quinn needs to come back into the discussion. A successful community needs to be based not on *wanting* it to work, but rather on *needing* it to work. Making a living together. In Second Life, this may be less realistic than IRL, but perhaps a shared goal, a tangible goal, beyond mere community itself… People are never, suddenly, better. Tap into the members ‘enlightened self interest.’ That which they do for themselves and therefore will always be the “easy” choice. That is the core component that our ancestors all had which we now lack….Good luck with all this… I’ll be watching closely to see how this all proceeds….Cheers,Janene

  8. SHARON says:

    Another utopian dream is constructed against all of the failed efforts of times past. The characteristic we must embody cannot exists with any consistancy outside of heaven. We would need a god. Without a god, we would have a governing body. Who gets in? Who gets out? Who gets to change the rules? Ambition, competitiveness, and jealousy, (or insecurity), cannot be brushed away as invalid, leaving us to perfect community, else it would have occured at least once in all history. We learn from history that humans, with great intentions, trip over our own nature. We create distopia the highest of ideals.

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