Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about how polyamory hierarchies are bad. Polyamorous people who have a primary relationship are choosing to value some people over others and therefore cannot be considered “ethical” which is a prerequisite for the ethical polyamorous lifestyle. Say what?
Is it Ethical to Have a Primary Partner?
By now you know that I hate the politicization of every aspect of life, especially sex. To me it always seems that politics is about telling other people what to do while claiming to be on the right side of virtue.
There are many people who don’t have or choose not to have a primary partner among many lovers. I am currently one of those people. But when and if I meet the person I want to share my life with, I might suddenly find myself having a primary relationship. Who knows, I might even become monogamous one day.
I don’t like to judge and claim that polyamory is “better” than monogamy, or that kink is better than vanilla. Sometimes monogamous culture or vanilla people condemn polyamory or kink and I don’t want to act the same in return. Everyone has their preferences and priorities and it is their own business.
So yes, it is okay to have a primary partner.
I could argue that there’s something wrong with putting a stranger with whom you had a hot beach affair for the weekend on equal footing with the mother of your six children, for example. Or that giving equal consideration to the demands or needs of a man you only see once a year as to someone you live with.
In the perhaps good intention of viewing people with equality, we can lose sight of the fact that some kinds of discrimination are prudent.
The Politics of Primary Partners
An extreme example would be that an abusive lover is someone I should reject, and not give equal footing to a man who cares for me and treats me with respect.
It could also then be argued that if you don’t have feelings for someone it is because of discrimination, that you are valuing a particular person more out of superficial chemistry. Maybe your attraction itself is sexist because you only like women or maybe it is ethnic chauvinism because you usually like women in your own culture the most, or worse, you have a special attraction to a particular culture’s women and not your own.
Having sex itself could be non-ethical because you are making a “primary” selection of who to fuck, and thereby leaving out millions of others you will never touch. Pardon the sarcasm.
I was at a Zoom on the subject and everyone assumed that I take the stance that my own status in not having a primary partner was a shared rejection with them of the concept.
I get along with most people with or without primary partnerships. I date vanilla lovers too and many of my friends are monogamous. I know that we go through a lot of philosophical soul searching sometimes to try to make sense of how and who we love, and sometimes that means we cling to an extreme viewpoint for a while, especially if we were hurt by heteronormativity, monogamy, or whatever it is we are railing against.
But the best place to land after is in the middle where we live and let live—or fuck and let fuck, as it were.
Thanks for listening! Care to weigh in?