Polyamory: Can you really be married and date?

September 17, 2018

The concept of polyamory as depicted on Showtime is a wonder to behold.

What is polyamory? It’s being in love or romantically involved with more than one person, with the agreement of all parties. Conceptually, it’s about more than sex. It’s about love. And Showtime got in on the game with a short-lived series called Married & Dating. 

For most of us, polyamory would be fraught with danger.  But the series portrays two very earnest couples practicing what they call polyamory. I have chosen my words carefully: what they call.

The “pod”

The San Diego “pod” consists of two married couples and their various girlfriends and boy friends, and a more pretentious bunch I’ve rarely seen. Half the group seem to be psychologists or want to be, and there’s constant talk of “process” and “I hear that.” At least by the women.

To the four of them, love and sex are exactly the same thing. When Michael talks about “going deep” in a relationship, it’s all about sex. When Kamala talks about wanting to get to know Michael’s new girlfriend before having a threesome, that means saying “hi” and jumping into bed together.

But when Michael and girlfriend seem to be having too good a time, Kamala freaks out and says she needs to feel more “emotionally connected” to the girlfriend. They then stop having sex and the three of them spoon. That’s how they emotionally connect. 

It’s bizarre

Am I the only one who finds this bizarre? I’m not even a traditional thinker, and I find it bizarre.

Jen, the other wife, engages in Season 2 with an insipid guy who has a list of rules of what she can or can not do, all revolving around sex, of course. For a so-called evolved polyamorous woman, Jen accepts this rather easily and we see the guy’s struggle with sharing her. I had to wonder why this couple even got together, given those philosophic differences.

So what is polyamory, really? If you go by what we see on this show, it’s all about the sex.  Conversations are always rife with psychobabble and sound rather self-conscious. At least as depicted by Showtime, a network which never misses an opportunity to show almost explicit sex, this couple comes across as a caricature of themselves and provide what’s probably a misleading view of polyamory.

Meanwhile, back in Hollywood, another married couple featured are being filmed, along with their girlfriend. They are impossibly good looking with young bodies to die for and hair that could be in any shampoo commercial.  Because this is an incredibly attractive trio, Showtime made sure to include a lot of soft porn footage. 

On the other hand…

This trio, though, struggled on camera with very real relationship issues that went beyond who was getting more attention in bed than others. One of the women was growing a business and had less time to devote to hanging around together than the other two. Her husband seemed tone deaf to this and spent more and more time with the third woman. Wife then met someone else and got involved outside the trio, without telling them.

The struggle wasn’t as much about sex as it was about relationship, as any of us monogamous couples might experience it. Listening, really hearing, having our needs met, problem solving, jealousy all became part of this trio’s more realistic story line.

Its death was a mercy

The show ended five years ago after two mini-seasons and, as we might have predicted, Jen and her husband have divorced and the Hollywood trio also went through a transition.

Is it really possible or even practical to be romantically involved with more than one person?  The TLC network shows us it is with its Sister Wives series about a Mormon family with one husband and four wives. 

In this show, it’s not about the sex. (God, spare me the image of Kody having sex with any of his wives.) 

It’s about the family. It’s about the relationships. It’s about a commitment.  These aren’t impossibly beautiful people, they’re normal folks. I’ve tuned in and out of this series over the years and come to see how polygamy might actually work in a practical sense.

I get that these networks like the shock value of these shows and how they translate to potential ratings. But at least for me, they both made me think about the concept of relationships and marriage. And that is a worthwhile purpose.

19 comments on “Polyamory: Can you really be married and date?

    The best part of my marriage is how secure I feel with the exclusivity of our relationship. This would never work for me

  2. Alexandra says:

    This is a very interesting post, and it certainly got me thinking! I am not married, but I really don’t know how I would feel. Very thought provoking, which I like! 🙂

  3. Nessa says:

    I just couldn’t do this ! 😀
    I obviously acept that other couples do, they do what they want but for me and my couple it’s NO WAY ! ahah

  4. Preet says:

    For me, the best part of getting married is getting to know each other more. I believe life doesn’t end here. There are things that you might need to learn more.

  5. Haralee says:

    Got to love TV shows trying to lure the viewers in for ratings. Big Love, Sister Wives have a cultural bent more than just sex.

  6. to each their own, but part of marriage is monogamy for us. this wouldn’t work with my relationship with my husband at all

  7. Diane says:

    For me, 99% of my marriage is the trust. Knowing we have only each other as a companion. I couldn’t survive any other way.

  8. I would not ever want to do something like this. I would constantly be wondering if his feelings for the other women were stronger than for me.

  9. For me it’s a hard no. I am very sensitive to anything close to consideration of this. Sorry.

  10. We can do whatever you want, but married means We have agreed to a pact, agreed to monogamy, if we want to date, then get divorced.

  11. To each their own, but we are all about traditional marriage- even if it means waiting longer to find the right person.

  12. Eryka says:

    I date my husband, but I don’t date outside that. We are truthful and loyal to one another and to me, that means being with each other We don’t want anyone else.

  13. Danielle says:

    I mean if it works for them. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that in my own personal relationships.

  14. Kirstie says:

    I am with you, I think this is ABSOLUTELY BIZARRE!!! I do not understand this lifestyle!!!

  15. laura says:

    I’m one kind a girl. Plus it seems too much work and takes way too much time x

  16. Nati says:

    oh my, I also find it bizarre! well, I think I am too old for this kind of open-mindness!

  17. Lisa says:

    A very interesting post! I’m not sure polyamory is for me, but each to their own! I’m happy with just my good one!

  18. Steve Weeds says:

    The pod experiment really did explain it well. Women think that love and sex is the same thing; men are more open to the concept of having sex without the love attachment.

    I think there are two factors here that we must not pass: our DNA and our society. The desire to pass our bodily fluids to more than 1 individual is there, that is the DNA part. But the majority of our civilization is built on a family as a unit; we share moments, children, job-experiences and so on. Despite what our desires of bodily fluid exchange tell us, it’s a risky business to have more than 1 partners because it can undermine the fundamental our civilization is based upon: family.

    Hiding it is even worse. Imagine somebody hiding a drug habit and then testing positive on a drug test. A partner would be betrayed because he or she didn’t know that was going on; the same goes for lovers.

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