The Price (of Polyamory) is Right

relationship values in polyamory

What are your values? What IS “value”? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines value as:

1.  : a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged

2. : the monetary worth of something : market price

3. : relative worth, utility, or importance <a good value at the price> <the value of base stealing in baseball> <had nothing of value to say>

4.  : a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement <let x take on positive values><a value for the age of the earth>

5.  : the relative duration of a musical note

6.  a : relative lightness or darkness of a color : luminosity

     b : the relation of one part in a picture to another with respect to lightness and darkness

7.  : something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable <sought material values instead of human values — W. H. Jones>

As are all words pertaining to love, emotional and human connections, this word is nebulous and complex. I’d like to apply the term “value” to relationships and how we conduct them, making choices based upon our values. We may think our choices are often based on our dreams, fears, thoughts or feelings, but our values exist underneath them all.

Two sub-definitions of “value” stand out in particular, and I’d like to expand upon them.

Number 3: “relative worth, utility, or importance”

You value your mother, father, family, and friends with the utmost importance in your life, right? (I shall make this assumption without being morbid for the sake of devil’s advocacy.) Their utility is beyond calculation, and the value of your relationship with your parents is probably one of the single most defining and directing aspects of your identity, correct? (I’ll avoid using teenage money-grubbing or mechanical metaphors, ha.) And the relative worth of the relationships in your life probably cannot be quantified in dollars and cents, can it? (I hope not. Let’s never think that way, shall we?)

Number 7: “something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable”

Oprah-sized “A-ha!” moment. Of course this applies to all of the above, but what is a lover if not something intrinsically desirable? Who do we value in our hearts? And why? What principle or quality of our lovers makes us value them in such a special way, compared to everyone else in the world that we may not value as highly?

Think of the longest relationship you’ve ever experienced. What was the subconscious set of values that kept you and your significant other together? Of course, the term “family values” is occasionally expressed in terms of morals surrounding the act of procreation and raising children, but what are the “romantic values” that first spark a couple’s journey that possibly reaches the future realm of discovering family values?

It’s an extremely subjective question, and there are no rights or wrongs.

But, values are the PRIMARY FACTOR in defining the difference between polyamorists and monogamists, and I’d just like to make a few distinctions that highlight where they diverge:

  • If one values unconventional internal passion over conventional social tradition.
  • If one values sexual variety (with safety) over sexual convenience (with safety).
  • If one values open invitations over emotional and physical ultimatums.
  • If one values relative spontaneity and surprise over relative certainty and consistency.
  • And ultimately: if one values being with many over being with one person.

Of course, there are inherent benefits of each relationship style choice that make one superior (or inferior) to the other… but, that all depends on your “values”. There are other values of polyamory that are not inherently superior to monogamy, as subjective external judgements are useless divisions if we want to understand one another. But, like religions and governments that exist around the world, neither individual ideology works for absolutely everybody’s needs. It takes a particular type of individual to holistically practice dancing on and spinning in polyamory’s “web”, without it all falling apart. For those who choose to jump into the poly life, what’s the decision worth and what does it cost?

Polyamorists tend to place higher than “normal” value on: compatibility, balance, acceptance, suggestions, time management, sexual and emotional transparency, disclosure, constant communication, and ostensibly, compersion (being happy for another person’s happiness). No polyamorous relationship can genuinely grow if there is competition or revenge quietly churning in the crevices of any lover’s heart. It may be otherwise for some monogamists, but for true polyamorists: there is absolutely no value in jealousy.

Always in love,
Addi Stewart

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