Jealous Men, Generous Women: About Compersion

polyamoryCompersion is the capacity to take pleasure in the joy that one’s lover gets in the company of another lover. I’m using ‘love’ and ‘lover’ here in the broadest sense — intellectual, emotional, sensual, aesthetic, and/or erotic love. Compersion is by definition generous, un-jealous, un-possessive.

Imagine that you love someone completely, and that they passionately crave and enjoy the company of another for one of the following reasons:

  • his/her intelligence, ideas, knowledge, imagination, creativity, curiosity, wit, sense of fun, sense of humour, sense of play, beliefs, expressiveness, hobbies or passions
  • his/her emotional warmth, empathy, ability to communicate on a common emotional plane, heart, generosity, perceptiveness, fire, energy, strength, sensitivity, appreciation, tolerance, capacity for love, trustworthiness, or responsibility
  • his/her beauty, art, talent, spirit, connectedness, synaesthesia, or aesthetic sensibility
  • his/her sex appeal, skill/capacity at love-making, erotic mystery, or promise of sexual variety

How would you feel? Insecure? Inadequate? Threatened? Jealous? Angry? Hurt? Envious? Vulnerable? Turned off? Fearful?

Now imagine that this lover told you you were silly to feel this way, that his/her love for you was undiminished or even strengthened by his/her other loves, and that it would be good for you to also find other lovers whose company you enjoy.

Now how would you feel? Rejected? Humiliated? Ridiculous?

The key to compersion is to learn not to feel any of these negative emotions, and instead to feel delight in the pleasure your lover finds in others that enlarges his/her happiness and frees you from the expectation that you must be all things to him/her. This allows you to be, for him/her, exactly what you are that he/she loves, and at the same time frees you to find other lovers who spark something in you, not necessarily better than what you get from him/her, but different.

Now imagine that each of you has five other lovers, making a dozen people in all who you both love, either directly or because of what they do for the ones you love directly. And imagine that these twelve people in your polyamorous circle have made a pledge of polyfidelity (to love only these same 12 people, and to leave the circle if they choose to love others outside the circle, the community.

Do you feel better now? Does the ‘safety in numbers’ of the circle, the absolute abundance of love available to you, make compersion possible when it wasn’t when the circle was small or uneven?

In many recent conversations with people who are in, or were in, or think they might one day be in such a relationship, I’ve heard these three comments over and over:

  1. Males seem to have more of a problem with compersion than females, especially when the circle is small and open. This is the finding that troubles me most.
  2. While many see the polyamorous/compersion lifestyle as a worthy ideal, they also view it as idealistic and even unachievable or unnatural. This may be due to the fact that we are unpracticed, in our modern, love-starved, love-as-scarce-resource, competitive, untrusting society. It may take a generation of experimenting with polyamorous circles and communities before they become (or, some think, re-become) just the way many of us live and love.
  3. The circles seem to work better when women are mostly responsible for managing them. This is pretty easy to understand — most women are more grounded and better at listening and seeking consensus than most men. 

I’d like to believe the first of these finding is just the result of lack of practice setting aside the negative feelings we associate with our lovers loving others, but I’m not so sure. I’ve felt pangs of these negative feelings myself, despite the deep and growing circle of loving and generous friends that are in my life.

Is there something wrong with me, or is this just the way men are — are our bodies just telling us to choose one person to love and battle other men jealously for her (or his, if you’re gay) exclusive love?

To try to get at the answer to this question, I considered what would be an evolutionary advantage — would polyamory or monogamy bode better for the health and well-being of the whole circle, community or culture? To me the answer to this is a no-brainer: polyamory groups should be better equipped and inclined to defend and advance the interests of the whole. So polyamorism should be the natural way to live and love.

So if this is true, what’s wrong with us (men in particular) that we now find it so hard to behave naturally? I suspect it comes down to “it’s the only life we know” — we won’t viscerally believe in polyamorous circles and communities, where compersion holds sway, until we’ve seen models, first hand, that show such communities work.

For those of us who want to make the world a better place, then, our job would appear to be clear: Try, experiment, learn from polyamorous circles and intentional communities until we have evolved some working models, with the bugs worked out of them and the natural rules of engagement for them re-discovered. We owe it to ourselves, our sad love-deprived world, and the generations that follow.

For the rest of my life, this will be, I suspect, one of my key goals, purposes, and intentions. In a world gone mad, where every conceivable political and economic approach to saving it has been tried and found wanting, this may be our last chance. I said yesterday that life’s meaning emerges from conversation in community with people you love. The rediscovery of compersion as natural human behaviour may therefore be the way home, to the place we have always belonged, and the essential way of living we have tragically forgotten..

Photo by Rhonda Miller from this remarkable Metroactive article about polyamory.

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22 Responses to Jealous Men, Generous Women: About Compersion

  1. elliott says:

    Andy Fisher on p.169 of “Radical Ecopsychology” says “A second delusory attempt at resolution [of Egoic attempts to satisfy anxiety of separation from Nature] is romantic love. In this case, we see our love partners only in the light of how they might fill in our own lack, might complete us, save us, make us whole, take us off to paradise” and notes it originated in 11th century Europe deity based worship (Morris Berman, Coming to Our Senses)…..i also enjoy the contemplative traditions focus on gaining command of our world and not feeling fear or inadequacy, but im encouraged by your social grounding of a loving ethic that reaches beyond mastery of our selves to a community based compassion…..the only way we’ll heal is by helping each other. so i ask a question Derrick Jensen uses “whats it like to be you” to encourage a new language…..

  2. prad says:

    regarding your question “is there something wrong with me?”, the answer is no.nonsense such as envy, jealousy (etc), is merely an display of excessive infatuation with oneself that far exceeds any modicum of love that may be dispensed for one’s partner.if the person you love is happy, shouldn’t you be too?

  3. Meryn Stol says:

    To borrow terminology from your previous post: From a ‘masculine’ point of view, I think there are systemic advantages to monogamous romantic love, which can easily be accompanied by very generous brotherly love between friends, be it mm, mf, or ff.From a ‘feminine’ point of view, I think love is not about the enjoyment of what you get, but the enjoyment of giving, and I’d rather focus one type of my giving (romantic love) on one person. I wouldn’t want to have two (or more) women in mind. It just doesn’t seem to be as nice as only one. Maybe this is due to limited brain capacity? I think it’s possible we are hard wired for one bond stronger than all others.You may call me crazy, but I believe love songs are written from the heart. I also believe good marriages produce extreme happiness, in such form that the partners don’t even feel a slight need to love anyone else in the same way as they love their partner. Ofcourse, this doesn’t exclude brotherly love. Let me repeat, love is about giving.

  4. Meryn Stol says:

    Nonetheless, you’re absolutely right on your diagnosis of our love-deprived world. You may enjoy the writings of Erich Fromm, especially “The Art of Loving” and “Sane Society”.

  5. Janene says:

    Hi Dave –I think I want to talk a little about this biology of poly….Men are fundamentally, biologically, polyamorous in that they can procreate successfully with large numbers of women simultaneously. Women, however, can only carry one man’s child at a time, so we drive monogamy (biologically) as a result of our need for a caregiver once our children are born. This is the basic premise of “K-r selection” — the most successful (evolutionarily) men and women are those that find a balance point between these two conflicting pressures.In the modern world, arguably, this pressure is massively diffused by technology, but even more so by social structure. Yet, at the same time, we still find that children are healthier and happier when they grow up in two-parent households. I suspect that this has less to do with biology and more to do with stability and social pressure. And I VERY much believe that extended family groups (of any sort) are a far better environment for any child. Mostly because it create role-redundancy and therefor greater stability.So how does this apply to compersion and gender? I think men are more drawn to poly than women, but also have a harder time dealing with the emotional component. Emotions are nothing more or less than chemical reactions in our brain… some caused by instinctive response, some by learned behavior (or, likely, most by some mix of the two) Biologically, I expect men are more likely to have negative, instinctive responses to polyamorous love (their lovers, not their own) whereas women are more likely to have negative learned responses…. a closed circle should (in theory) help men with this quite alot… while they are experiencing the possibility of cuckolding, they are also experiencing a diffusal of responsibility…. the two can balance out, particularly when the drive to “spread their seed far and wide” is being partially met. For women, compersion is almost entirely (in such an environment) aboutemotional maturity because their basic biological drive for stability is being met — in spades.I know a lot of people are going to have a hard time with some of this, because many people seem to have a very negative reaction to discussions of love/emotion from a biological perspective. Our culture has elevated love to some holy, unquestionable state of being…. personally, however, I find love to be…. terrifyingly normal. Our natural state of being. Now… onto a few of the comments you’ve received….Prad… I disagree that envy/jealousy is about self infatuation. Rather I believe that jealousy is nothing more than insecurity focused on romantic love. A combination of our social structures which make insecurity the norm and our hollywood/medieval romance driven ideal of love as some magical, mystical thing.Meryn…. I am curious exactly what advantages to monogamous love you are alluding to. I find myself unable to come up with any. Perhaps, partially, because I don’t quite understand the difference (emotionally) between brotherly and romantic love. The only difference, IMO, is sexual attraction, yet I have had many friends over the years with suppressed sexuality… is this supposed to be “better” for some reason? (The suppression, that is.)I agree that love songs are written from the heart… but it is our own cultural paradigm that (falsely) believes that this uprush of initial love is supposed to last forever, or, if it fades with one person, that it should then never occur again. That is sad to me…Janene

  6. joan says:

    i have a question about point number 3. what work is entailed in the management of these circles? what are these women actually supposed to be doing?

  7. Dave, your words fill my heart with warmth and hope, for some reason; keep going. :-)I wonder, though: how do paternity and maternity work, in polyamorous circles, in responsibility terms? Divorced people keep being parents: what happens when someone leaves a circle?And I’m not going to wonder about the legal implications…

  8. Theresa says:

    only have a minute for this but wanted to throw out a few possible answers to your questions: first, look to the past for answers. Or as merlin said to King Arthur: look back. In the mythology of our civilization’s history all of the wars were started by men and they were started over women – the ownership and control of women. Driven be jelousy I guess. Secondly, I still feel that every individual human being has to be the center of their own circle whether the number is 5 6 or 12. You’re first committment is to yourself: you look in the mirror and say “I am an authentic person” and that is your marraige, your pact – a relationship with the self. a committment to the “other” – whether the other is an spouse or a poly group or political group or whatever – is a formula for groupthink. It’s how we come to identify with the “pack mentality” and later the “crowd mentality”. You can belong to a lot of circles with yourself at the center of each. You can still committ to the goals of each group but know who is the thinking animal – you. About your other points: Frankly I think jelousy, hate, and all the other negative emotions have their place and evolved for a reason. They shouldn’t be denied by they need to be managed and I think a circle with an unbalanced number helps use those emotions as energy. Three on three is just another version of one on one. Reminds me of football somehow.. About the compersion, I remember an experience I had when I happened across a couple making love on the lawn in a public place. They were complete strangers and when I realized what they were doing I was instantly delighted. Later I wondered why I didn’t have a “normal” feeling of disgust. I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt that way if I had stumbled over someone I loved or had a chance of losing engaging in that with someone else. I’ve never forgotten that experience. I can’t say I felt that way because I’m such an un-jealous highly evolved person. Some other dynamic was at work. Anyway, good luck with your llife’s work and purpose, I’m sure you are on the right path. Apologies for the hasty post and sloppy grammer.

  9. What works? It’s pretty clear that during the Horticulture Age – that women controlled a polyamorous world. What was sure about children was their mother.Worth maybe exploring that time for a large scale working model.Whaht about today? Of course this is “beyond the pale’ socially. But can it happen and not be a disater waiting to happen?Going beyond theory and history and impinging on my own life – polyamorous relations are more likely to work well after child rearing. Friendships with both sexes deepen. Slipping now and then into the physical realm can be an act of affirmation that need not be instead a first step into a binary choice.But Dave very very tricky – none of really know how hardwired we are to the old ways

  10. Vish Goda says:

    Yo Dave!!I return after a brief hiatus and look what I find here…everything is glowing in a romantic haze, that is pervasive, all around the “room”.. :-)Great post, as usual. It continually amazes me how comfortably you write on any subject – even romance and love, a particularly tough combo.But I see only problems in polyamory groups that you are advocating here.1. For one, it is bad for children to grow in such a group. The foundations of responsibility and accountability that a family upbringing instills on all the participants in a family, becomes loose and shaky in this setting.2. This is only a convenient extension of a traditional two-partner system anyway. What you are proposing is to have an agreement of loyalty between more number of partners, instead of two – but there is always going to be that temptation for a change – say, for someone outside the group – if you know what I mean…what happens then? instead of a disagreement between two people – it becomes a group war. The “whole” as you say – is still a small group – and in the larger context – the “whole” is just as small as a twosome now.In a way, the institution of marriage itself is unnatural. It’s rules are laid down to curb natural instincts – and that is why there is this strong temptation and inclination to break the rules. But even animals understand respect. So, instead of love, it is better to foster a sense of respect. Respect for other people, other living things, other ideas, individuality, other lovers…simple plain respect. Then one learns not to covet other people’s property or life and everyone follows the same rules of attainment. Love is too emotional to be shared – because by its very nature, it is illogical and irrational.And then, answering your question…How would I feel, if I am turned down – in friendship or romance or professionally?Again, it all depends. I look for someone else to bond with if its a friendship or professional relationship. Or if in professional setup, I might even keep trying, until I get it. But if it is love that attracts me to someone..then I dont know. I guess I keep trying…until I figure out why? And then too, not many people are willing to reason with romantic rejections.. if they have not already given in to irrational behavior, then they just get over it – but only after a long effort.Vish

  11. Doug Alder says:

    not to mention that the larger the circle the greater the likelihood (logarithmic I would bet) there is of someone stepping outside that circle occasionally and therefor the greater risk of bringing a sexually transmitted disease into the circle. In this day of fatal STDs that’s a very major point to consider.It’s all fine and dandy to talk about love and trust but the reality is you can not trust everyone to be faithful to the circle nor can you trust them to take appropriate precautions if they aren’t. That’s realism the other is, at best, naivety.

  12. Siona says:

    I was about to make the same point as Doug; imagine if one person in that group was unfaithful and contracted either a fatal or chronic STD. The health of the whole group would immediately suffer–physically, and, I suppose, psychologically. The more in the network, the greater statistical chance of this sort of violation. Evolution can only be considered if ALL of evolution is considered, and there’ve been no shortage of viral and bacterial influences on our genetic makeup. Polyamorous groups would be more likely to contract these sorts of illness and thus more likely to become infertile, produce unhealthy offspring, or die, while those inclined toward monogamy would be did better. Sex is a form of conversation, true, but you don’t contract AIDS by talking with someone.

  13. Meryn Stol says:

    Janene: I’m not really an expert on relationships, but the systemic argument I see is about efficient keeping of knowledge of ‘others’. With monogamous love, it’s possible that your partner knows everything about you, and you can reciprocate by knowing everything about him/her. This will lead to very effective conversations (and love making). Also, you can both be each other’s place of last resort. All other friendships can be based on partial knowledge of and interdependence on each other, based on the specifics of the relationship (place, duration, purpose, intensity, …). Of-course, you could try to know everything about more than one person, and maybe others would be willing to share *everything* with you, but I don’t think the high costs of storing this detailed knowledge is worth it. Personally, I’d choose knowing more of a single person (depth of romance) above knowing less about others. I don’t believe it’s possible to ever fully know one person, which means there will always be a trade-off. Deep romantic love can thus lead to a higher resolution picture of the mystery of the generalized other. I think this increases perceived quality of life. (but it’s all about perception, isn’t it?)I see that I’m contradicting myself on knowing everything about one person while I’m also saying one can never no another fully. My main point is that I see an advantage in unbalanced knowledge of others, with ‘maximal’ knowledge level for one person, and ‘rational’ knowledge level for all others.I’m writing this out of my head. I don’t have any references to back this up. :)Risk of STD’s is another systemic argument (for the sex part at least), as is the notion of children having two ‘inseparable’ parents. Maybe there are more.

  14. Janene says:

    Oooh… sorry guys, let me try that again….Joan: What work? I don’t know. Like any relationship, each would be unique. However, what I can point out is that in communal groups (less “hippy commune” more “traditional community”) women tend to share their work, their responsibilities and their feelings with each other in a way that transforms work and responsibility into social satisfaction. Certainly not always and certainly not perfectly, but consider a woman that just recently gave birth. Consider the difference between being a large suburban home, alone with the baby all day as compared with being in a communal household with two or three or five other women vieing for the babies attention. This is the kind of thing I was referring to when I said that a womans basic drive for stability is being met.Theresa: I could not disagree with you more. This insistence on individualism (as opposed to individuality) is not a positive or healthy thing. Dave has talked about being nobody-but-yourself and that is an awesome thing, but I do not believe that this process starts or ends with cutting yourself off from other persons, but rather that it is a function of being completely comfortable with yourself *with others*. Humans are functionally social creatures. Loving and being part of a group of loving human beings is the very definition of our human potential, and being completely comfortable in that group *allows* us to think most freely because we have NO fear of being marginalized or shut out. Groupthink, by comparison, can *only* happen in an environment characterized by stereotypes rather than individual persons.I do agree, however, that jealousy, hate, fear etc have evolutionary purpose. The questions we must ask ourselves, however, when these emotions occur: Are we having an instinctive or learned response… and in either case, is that response also valid in the context of how we currently live. (ex: modern stress disorders are, effectivelyour fight or flight response run completely out of control)Robert: Most horticultural societies have not been polyamorous… in fact, we may have trouble identifying ANY that really fit that. What they were was matrilinear. And any poly community that was to work would also need to be matrilinear to be functional. Unfortunately, this means that we do not have a model to look at. Horticultural society probably can survive sustainable, however, because agricultural society has spread across the globe, we really can’t say much for sure. Agricultural society, with its strict hierarchal nature pretty much requires patriarchy to function (although matriarchy might be possible), so we do not have any good working models. Vish: Why would you say that a poly group would be bad for children? To the contrary, I believe that it would be one of the most stable, “educationally” rich and emotionally fulfilling environments for a child to grow up in. (Band-scale societies being the only comparable environment) You are correct that poly-fidelious relationships are “merely” an extension of the traditional pair bind. However, that is *exactly* the point. Our mythos of romantic love is that one person can *perfectly* and totally complete another. This is, of course, generally absurd. But if one maintains relationships with additional people, their combined characteristics may well offer all of the things one person “needs”. The only question I have in this, in fact, is whether the sexual component is relevant at all….Doug: IMO, it would be naive to think that something like this can just “work” right out of the box. But at the same time, there are practical, biologically and socially adaptive ways of addressing these issues, based on “what works”. I can’t say right off what those ways might be — experimentation would be the first order of business. But if you start out with individuals that are dedicated both to the vision, and open, honest and loving relationships, I do think that certain strategies will prove successful.On STD’s… why would one assume that individuals involved in an extremely open and honest relationship — which poly requires — would have more sex partners in their life than any other individual? Statistically, I suspect that the types of people for which this arrangement is appealing would frequently have *fewer* overall partners simply because of the intensity of such relationships (especially in a ‘circle’ configuration)Which leads back to Meryl’s comments… I can only speak from my own experience, but I have found that the depth and breadth of communication necessary to even *consider* a poly lifestyle creates a level of emotional and intellectually intimacy that I suspect few people ever truly experience. Granted, not every person that calls themselves poly can say this, but that is also the difference between someone saying they are poly because they have many sexual relationships compared to someone saying they are poly because they love two of three individuals intensely. In context of Dave’s discussion, i suspect he is also referring more to the later sort…. Meryl… what do you mean with the phrase “inseperable parents”?Now I need to shut up and let others have the floor :DCheers!Janene

  15. Dave, I truly hate to say it but I think you’ve taken a wrong turn here. I’ve been an avid reader of yours for quite a while now and have always enjoyed your thoughtful and provoking writings, but I just don’t get your newfound obsession with polyamory. How is that going to save the world? You’ve lost me.Regarding polyamory, I like to think I’m not a close-minded person. I recognize the fallacy associated with marriage, but I still think monogamy has its place and will work best for most people. As others have stated, I suspect that polyamory requires some very specific prerequisites (no, I don’t know what those are exactly) that you’d find in a relatively small portion of the population. Some of my personal concerns about the entire concept include:+ Emotional: I’m not a jealous person by nature, but in my experience, the “deeper” the love you share with someone, the more jealousy plays a part.+ Complexity: Managing a close relationship with one lover is difficult; I have trouble visualizing how it could possibly become easier with many.+ Personality: For someone who is an “introvert” and/or a “giver,” it seems like a polyamorous arrangement would be a very stressful one.On another note, are you familiar with Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”…? I feel like I’m reading the notes of a real life Michael Valentine here. Funny, I had the same gut reaction to his adoption of polyamorous circles. I just hope the ending isn’t as tragic…

  16. Dale Asberry says:

    Another comment about the biology of poly…A recent study confirmed a suspicion of mine, that there is twice as much genetic diversity coming from women than from men. This suggests that twice as many women have reproduced as men.From the evolutionary psychologists Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, humans are naturally polygamous, and, most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy. They also claim of polygyny, “By allowing some men to monopolize all women and altogether excluding many men from reproductive opportunities, polygyny creates shortages of available women. If 50 percent of men have two wives each, then the other 50 percent don’t get any wives at all. So polygyny increases competitive pressure on men, especially young men of low status. It therefore increases the likelihood that young men resort to violent means to gain access to mates.”This suggests that men are likely socially hard-wired to experience stronger feelings of jealousy. Human brains developed such that half of all men had NO sexual opportunity while women mostly experienced sexual abundance.

  17. Dale Asberry says:

    Interesting thought… monogamy might then be the primary cause leading to high density population centers?

  18. Another tack then – Is marriage as we define it really “Traditional” Is not some kind of tribe/extended family our historic norm? Are we seeing in many “Blended Families” – the product of divorce – a trend to mini tribes again. Some I know, who have not collapsed into blame and bitterness – are remarkably stable and supportiveIs not marriage as property “My Wife” “My husband” part of the modern wold? Is this not what Dave is doing? Challenging every institution of the mechanical universe?

  19. Anita Wagner says:

    We who are living a polyamorous life and doing so in happy relationships and families have learned to manage jealousy. Jealousy is as ancient as human beings and has its evolutionary origins as an additional means of securing pair bonds for the conceiving and raising of children. In today’s world possessive jealousy is reinforced every day in many ways via cultural messaging, on TV, in popular music, in movies, in romantic novels, and soforth. Angry possessiveness is routinely validated. We as a culture have a rather dysfuncational love affair with possessive jealousy. Until the early 1970s, a man who caught his wife in bed with another man and killed her was not guilty of murder but some lesser offense. As to Vish Goda’s statement about polyamorous families being bad for children, though this is the conventional wisdom, it’s hogwash. As long as children are raised in stable families with parents who are committed to their welfare, they do just fine. In fact, they greatly benefit from the extra resources available in such families, such as time, attention, more income in the household, etc. In today’s rapidly changing world, people also change. Their needs change, and sometimes relationships run their course. This has been the case for many years now. When parents divorce, it’s not easy for the kids, but if handled properly, they go on to do quite well. No less is true for children in poly families when a parental figure is no longer on the scene. One would hope the relationships with children would be maintained whether non-biological parental figures remain in the poly partnership or not, just as non-custodial parents stay active in their children’s lives, but even if they aren’t, other stability with other parents and parental figures still exists and supports the child emotionally. There is absolutely no evidence to support the contention that poly families are bad for children, and there is much anecdotal evidence that children in poly families indeed thrive. As researchers now studying such families publish their findings, this will be more evident.

  20. Dave Pollard says:

    What a wonderful conversation we’re having here! I wish I could add in another two dozen e-mails I’ve received in response to this, mostly from women, mostly from people with real-life experience in polyamorous circles and/or communities, some involving the raising of children (but who don’t want to be identified for various reasons).I’m now even more convinced that polyamorous intentional communities are inherently more natural, healthier, happier, richer, and more peaceful, and better and safer places to raise well-adjusted children. I wrote another article on ‘What I Know About Love’ that asserted that women tend to be de facto in charge of loving relationships, and that that is a good thing. For the same reason, I would look for the leadership of women in any polyamorous community — they are usually more emotionally grounded, less idealistic, better communicators of feelings, more emotionally sensitive and emotionally strong (no paradox there) and less jealous and possessive (or at least they are better able to come to grips with their lack of compersion). I feel as if I have suddenly discovered some truth that has been staring me in the face for a lifetime, but couldn’t recognize until now. As a result I have become angry at the monogamy propaganda that is ubiquitous in our society, contemptuous of all the arrogant, stupid, egomaniacal males who espouse simplistic, romantic, idealistic progressive, unachievable agendas (and their dopey followers of both genders), and utterly indifferent to the meaningless, unactionable, male-worldview ‘news’ (even the NYT and Salon), which now seems to me just a distraction from getting on with the really important business of ‘making’ love, engaging in conversation, and creating community, and in so doing letting ourselves change and allowing an understanding of what needs to be done to emerge, and then doing it. No more blather, no more plans, no more models — these just distract us from getting on with the work that (suddenly obviously) must be done.

  21. Vish Goda says:

    Maybe, as you said the concept of monogamy has been instilled so long in our genes that any other way looks too absurd and “unnatural”Still, there is one fundamental question that has not been answered. I can understand how the process works – once the group is formed. But I still think that there is a great uncertainty in the formation of the group itself? Whom do you accept into the group? What is the criteria? When we still have not mastered the art of picking one right partner – are’nt we setting ourselves up for a disastrous relationship when we are trusted to make a group decision? How do you know what the true intentions are of the new member or the original group member? How does the group settle issues?

  22. catnmus says:

    Yeah, because remember, you started by talking about “my” five, plus me, plus you and your five. Well, what about my five? What if two of THEM don’t like each other? and shouldn’t THEY each have THEIR five, too? That makes way more than just six of us! And what if one or more of my five don’t like one or more of YOUR five? Or what if *I* don’t like one or more of your five? Net is, I would think that forming these groups in the first place would be very, very difficult, and would increase with the number of people involved.Also, you started this article by saying that these lovers are not necessarily sexual lovers, and it could be any one of a number of other things you love about them, such as their intelligence, empathy, beauty, etc. etc. Well, what if you love Fred for his sense of humor but not his sensitivity, and you love Martha for her talent but not her sense of responsibility? How do you reconcile something like that, and if there is a way, how is that way different from what we currently call just plain ol’ life/friends?

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