Does Polyamory Offer An Antidote To Toxic Romanticism?

Does Polyamory Offer An Antidote To Toxic Romanticism?

A happy ending is the ultimate cliché. And yet it’s sold to us on every media platform we can imagine. In fact, it has been around since before there was media. Romanticism in literature can be traced as far back early as the 1790s. It has since mutated in perverse ways and has changed the meaning of love for better or worse. So much so that we call them ‘romantic relationships’. To find your soulmate, to do absolutely anything to be with them, and to die beside them is what is considered a successful love life. But let’s be real. Is this practical? Or even possible?

Our perception of love is skewed by the content we consume, and also the relationships we see around us. The typical pattern of intense passion, the conflict that makes us fight for love, and the resolution of being together forever has become a standard. Anything outside this box is considered immoral, in that we must constrain ourselves for this one love for the rest of our lives. But is there such a thing as the “one true love”? Is it not possible to love two souls without having it mistaken as lust? This question has resulted in conflict, lies, cheating, divorce, domestic abuse, and even suicide.

Let’s take our country into consideration. India’s culture puts an extra burden on our women. Our lores are saturated with examples of devotion, commitment and worship towards our partners. We’re taught that love is earned through sacrifice and takes a lot of effort. Most of which is expected from the women. We’re trained to believe that all our hopes and dreams, our endeavors and creative pursuits, add up to the finale that is finding the “one” and being with them through thick and thin till we die. Oh, it doesn’t even end there. We’re well aware of the sati-pratha that asked us to kill ourselves after our partners died. Sati is a Sanskrit word that translates to ‘virtuous woman’. We’re told that it takes virtue to deserve love. And even when we do, we’re “nothing without them”. Seems extremely sexist and at the very least, problematic.

The modern world isn’t too different either. Bollywood and Tollywood is basically one big messy love story where the pain is the main character. Toxic romanticism has us convinced that the unnatural presence of self-injury, violence, intimidation, harassment, manipulation and gaslighting, is all just a part of being in a romantic relationship. That ownership and jealousy are good signs and are evidence of true love.

Each person is a universe; a multi-faceted being with different needs, desires, curiosities and inclinations. To expect one person to tend to all of them is impossible and cruel. Soulmate culture enforces the idea that we’re incomplete and only our “better halves” can complete us. It’s unhealthy and untrue.

So is monogamy the only way to be in a loving relationship? No. More and more people are finding love in consensual non-monogamous relationships. In actuality, cultures that only accept monogamous relationships are in the minority worldwide. According to a paper in the ‘journal of evolutionary biology’, 83% of societies allow polygamy.

How To Tell If Polyamory Is Right For You

- If you’ve ever found yourself to be limited in a relationship; like you have to hide parts of yourself to fit into the image your partner is in love with

- If you’ve wondered whether the need to be faithful doesn’t come from your individual agency but from a place of jealousy and fear.

- If you believe that relationships are an opportunity to learn about yourself through others. That they are a journey in self-discovery and not a final destination.

- If interactions outside of your relationship energize you and don’t make you feel guilty.

- If you know that the insecurities and feelings of jealousy that you’ve experienced are not the real you and you’d like to start healing.

- Lastly, if at some point in your life, you’ve found yourself to be in love with more than one person. And have known it to be real.

If any of these ring true to you, it may be possible that polyamory is something that would enrich your love life.

Polyamorous relationships, in my opinion, are superior to monogamous relationships. They encourage communication, inspire true appreciation for another individual And are a space to work on your own insecurities and jealousy with the support of your partners. They are like a love-boot camp where you can discover your needs in a playful manner. Unlike monogamous relationships where rigidity, absoluteness and certainty are demanded, polyamory is a world of loving-kindness, acceptance, and conscious growth.

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