polyamoryOriginally Published on WakeUp World September 27th 2013

There is a conceptual trend arising in the current resurgence of polyamory, or non-monogamy, in the western world. Polyamory has begun to be promoted somewhat evangelically as the ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’ of monogamy. Is this the result of our culture once again swinging the pendulum too far as we all jump on the bandwagon?

Both polyamory and monogamy have their benefits and both have problems. This trend of promoting polyamory as ‘better’ is often based on comparing it to the cultural paradigm surrounding monogamy. This is a mistake in my opinion because the current cultural paradigm of monogamy is broken and not representative of its potentials. In bifurcating the discussion of relationship styles to ‘polyamory’ and ‘broken monogamy’ we make the comparative benefits very one-sided to polyamory. This in turn can alienate people who are disillusioned by the conventional monogamy paradigm, but are not polyamorous.

My hopes are that with this article we can explore the potentials monogamy has to offer and redesign the broken paradigm societal example is feeding us. Please note: at no point am I attempting to say one style is better than the other, or create a ‘vs.’ type discussion.

This recent cultural expansion of polyamory has come with a lot of quality research and discourse supporting its legitimacy. A necessary process due to the strong cultural opposition it faces within a society founded on a puritan Christian value system. Polyamory has pushed hard to establish its legitimate right to be accepted within our society, which is greatly deserves to be. Recent anthropological research even shows us that polyamory holds a strong part in our history, biology and natural evolution as human beings. However, in polyamory’s ‘pushing for’, the trend to ‘push against’ monogamy has gotten strong and understandably so.  The germinating seedling needs to push hard to break through the concrete floor of the urban jungle, if it is to grow. But it seems now that there is a cultural fad to discuss monogamy as something ’un-evolved’ or ‘less’ than polyamory. But is it?

Unfortunately, the ‘monogamy’ model that polyamory has had to push against to find its place in culture is not really monogamy. Monogamy is simply the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner. However, ‘monogamy’ is often used as an interchangeable term to discuss the ongoing problems present in society’s twisted marriage paradigms. Herein lies the problem with many of the current ‘polyamory vs. monogamy’ arguments.

Monogamy is looked at as though it is only the expression we see within the institution of marriage in western society at this time. But this current institution is a broken monogamy, in many ways forced down upon us as means of control. It manifests as very unhealthy in the lives of the unconscious majority: co-dependence, jealously, passiveness, resentment, violence, a sense of being trapped, and becoming uninspired in love and sex. Many of these issues aren’t born of the choice to stay with one person, but of the abundance of immaturity and assumption, and a lack of self-awareness with which the average person enters a monogamous relationship.

This is where polyamory has offered me – and many others – a great opportunity to cultivate valuable self-awareness and maturity within relationships. Polyamory requires a strong commitment to communication, honesty, maturity, emotional awareness and respect for one’s self and one’s partner. These are vital elements in a monogamous relationship as well, but being that we unconsciously enter the established paradigms of monogamy with so many cultural assumptions, it is easy to let these elements fall from the foreground. In turn, we see the failings of monogamy/marriage so blatantly. Monogamy doesn’t need to be this way, but in order for it to change, we need to discover a different paradigm for it. We need to change the way we interact with it.

The paradigms of monogamy we are offered automatically in western society are a toxic mimic of spiritual union, stripped of its meaning and instituted as a system of psychological and political control around the advent of agricultural society. Let’s try to let that paradigm go for a minute. The paradigm of monogamy and marriage I am offering here is spiritually based. This would understandably put it at odds with conventional anthropologists studying animals, the hedonistic past of humanity and those who see sex and relationship without the perception of it as a spiritual practice.

Sexual energy/libido is an experience of the divine creative force of the universe from which we can create new life, either into a new being on this planet (ie. a child) or in each other through the mutual cultivation and channeling of this energy. Our romantic relationships are an opportunity to work as mirrors for each other, to grow in self-awareness, healing of past wounds, and deepen into love through increasing intimacy and trust. The practice of sex (read: love making) is the sacred dance of sexual energy between two that elevates consciousness through sensual bliss towards one, God, enlightenment, transcendence, etc. We can work as conscious partners helping each other towards spiritual awareness through sexual union and relationship. Of course, this could apply to all romantic relationships, not just monogamous ones.

Now from this paradigm, let’s look at the potential of monogamy. The pact, promise, commitment, etc. made to a dedicated partner in a monogamous relationship creates a safe space for emotional vulnerability within the relationship. We can then consciously choose to dedicate our sexual/romantic love energy to be channeled into the partner through this vulnerable space with the intention of deepening intimacy. This doesn’t mean that there is a total merging into each other in all facets of life (ie. co-dependence), but simply an expression of trust/trustworthiness within the relationship that the other is choosing to protect this vulnerable space. This trust/trustworthiness builds a deeply intimate bond and enables us to streamline sexual/loving energy into each other at depths and potencies that continue to increase with intimacy and connection.

This increased intimacy and sense of safety within each other makes it much easier for us to trust in opening ourselves up into the vulnerability of spiritual/sexual/loving surrender, thus allowing us to enter fuller states of elevated consciousness. Unfortunately, this familiarity also makes it very easy to become flat in our desires and uninspired in love. And the vulnerability opens the avenue for personal shadow/darkness to be triggered out into the relationship. This is why it is very important for both parties to maintain their relationship as a spiritual practice. We must learn to support each other in our processes while also taking personal accountability for what we offer into the relationship, so as to push beyond this tendency towards flatness and decompose the shadows that arise.

From this new paradigm we can look at marriage as a ritual in which an entire community comes together and cultivates love, streamlines it into two people making a covenant/commitment to each other to establish a bond of trust and safety. The ceremony/ritual of marriage works to seal this bond, and then a symbol such as a ring is used as a reminder of this covenant. Trust is required (yes, required, monogamy or not) to stream-line all that love into each other through the act and art of love, so as to awaken each other as oneness, God. The marriage ritual and symbols associated to it work to support this trust. But again, if entered unconsciously or due to cultural expectations, marriage can also work to lock people into destructive exchanges with each other that eventually create deep wounds and all sorts of problems.

We could look at romantic relationship as the practice of ‘two’ coming together in sacred dance to awaken spirit as desire and channel it upwards through each other into transcendent awareness, achieved through loving ecstatic sexual bliss. Wherein the agreement of monogamy or the ritual of marriage work as a symbol of trust in the offering of mutual vulnerability and loving/sexual exchange within relationship as a spiritual practice towards oneness. This is clearly not what is instituted into society, recognized in the conventional paradigm of sexuality, or taken into account by many who are downing monogamy as “un-evolved” in some way. But this paradigm is functional and alive in the world.

Again, in no way am I offering a ‘vs.’ argument or claiming that the sexual union/bliss states discussed here are exclusive to monogamy in any way; trust bonds and energetic exchanges of a similar caliber can be offered within polyamorous relationships as well. I am offering that within conscious monogamy, the ability to create these safe-space trust bonds can enable us to feel more secure in offering the vulnerable heart surrender needed to achieve the aforementioned states of awareness. As well as setting the energetic structures surrounding the relationship to encourage and channel more sexual energy into each other through reserving it for the partner – which means much more than not having sex with other people. This last point is important because sexual energy is not infinite, as the body is not infinite. The physical resources required to cultivate this desire deplete over time, especially if they are tapped out through unconscious sexual gratification, a topic for another article.

Both polyamory and monogamy have their trials, challenges and tribulations as well as their gifts, benefits and solutions. It is focusing on these elements in discourse without demonizing and battling between relationships styles that will really help empower each other – and our species – towards a fuller expression of our honest selves in love and relationship.

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  1. Hello James,

    first want to say a wonderful word of being happy to have been directed to your website by a great soulmate friend and i thank her too! blessings from my heart!

    Then want to greatly encourage you even more to talk about these topics…great to have back some insight and open sharing on the theme of monogamy and polyamory…
    it has been a topic which occupies me enormously and has so in the last years of my life. I am in my thirties and am single at the moment…have had my decent share of polyamorous relationships and have had also a few long relationships of around 5 years…what you are saying here is great! I have had the feeling a lot lately has been about making an alternative to nowadays monogamy, criticising it and pushing its history to crash into new boundaries which offer the opposite…as always in our human nature, there is a tendency to go to the other opposite when we are not in accordance with something…in order to show strongly our disagreement and make a point!! but no need to go so far!
    i have always felt in my life and am searching it(for the past years)to have exactly that conscious relationship you talk about. In a sacred space with a mutual understanding of shadow dancing and wish to go beyond and heal consciously mutual patterns in order to grow and deepen the sacred and spiritual relationship with the ONE into ONE and transcend duality.
    Marriage or monogamy i can see it only the way you propose here…with a mutual trust and willingness to work together, with whatever that means, even being open to others for a time, but truthfully go back to the original idea of safeguarding a sacred space of love and transparency…being vulnerable in a safe space is so important for a healing process and this requires trust.
    Now many people are afraid to go into this as it is far easier to say that life is one and we have to explore more…and be free…so those are going towards the other opposite of being with more people and also forgetting who they actually are, diving and deflecting their sense of self through too many connections at the same time. They often are afraid to look within and sharing the energy between more people is not just sexually at times distracting and dispersing but does also take energy from deepening the feeling of one…it is similar to monotheistic and politheistic religions.
    Of course both in their rigid schemes are not good but also both are talking of the same things with different means….both are wrong as they take away one’s own responsibility of being a divine essence to respond to someone greater than ourselves…outside of us.
    Polyamory can be a great school and open wide our experiences, acceptance, tolerance etc…but only if we are ready to do so with consciousness and not as a response to something which is socially “not in” anymore. if there are more gods-people who carry the mirror to who we are and carry the qualities of the creation again outside of us…we will have even more difficulty to get to the ONE…to focus on more things at the same time is honestly not easy and requires great energy, trust, transaprency etc…are we ready to shine so much…do we have so much light within to be honestly equal to all in the game we play with love….as much as we are to play with one person…sometimes it can even be a good hiding space to share more…since we are deepening things only partially and hopefully euqally between different parties.
    Polygamy or monogamy are both wonderful shapes of expression of love…and both as you say have their faults and praises…what is generally i feel not working here is the general lack of wish to dedication…to be patient, to be slow..everything is so massively quick now…break ups too as are getting together etc…that sacred space is becoming a rare dimension….sacredness is for me something which is present, is slow as in being oberved, preserved and taken care of…this take stime, effort and focus…and dedication…and this is definitely harder for who does it with more people, although not impossible….what i am trying to say here…is not the mono or poly…it’s the sacredness that people forget and what this can bring to the growth of the soul…the planet…the energy…it is about freedom of energy and releasing shadows…
    I feel that many of us also do not know also what freedom means and its definitely not finishing with being able to be with many and more at the same time…
    polyamory is a concept quite more vast than hippy love…and as far as my experience is with it personally and by sharing with many friends…it is not yet fully “working” in a pure form. Many people are unconsciously either suppressing or hiding their insecurities beyond the shape of polygamy…polyamory…jelousy is still there yet not fully explored since there is already the contract that things are open and they are getting deep until one point…there are so many facets to it that the ones practicing it are also not conscious enough why they are choosing this…also possibly creating more havoc at times than love resolution and openness…lol 🙂

    anyway it is a long thing i would like to write about one day…

    surely for now wanted to comment here…a big thanks! also for the monogamy people..much like me…not because i have not had my polygamy, or my same sex experiences, loves and feelings…i have tried all…but because i believe that a conscious relationship will, for me at least, do a far deeper growth and speed up my consciousness back to ONE because EXACTLY FOCUS onto ONE…! yes sexual energy is not forever and we can cultivate it and make it grow…and dedication to this and patience is still a virtue so needed, i hope that new generations will not throw it away, for its the only way in these material realms to make something grow…a seed needs time to sprout and make a plant…earth is so patient and so focused on this growth….why is it so difficult for us to find the balance of how to focus our love to make it grow?!

    I wish for more couples, people to realise what opportunity they have when they are with someone and consciously work with this…and for who ever makes the decision to bless it as a contract with a ring….so be it…fully engage yourself to the light work…monogamy is also a work of light in that sense, because it pushes the boundaries to grow and be bigger…with responsibility…with more partners we don’t share the same responsibility for growth as for only one person…i am not taking away the importance of polygamy…but just saying that never can you go in such depth with all people at the same time…it is just physically not possible while we are on these planes of physical existence…

    lot of blessings to you and great work you do for all of us sharing your thoughts!!

  2. wow, second article i’ve read here and i’m thinking the same thing.
    going thru this experience now with my partner.
    we’ve had 5 years of flat boredom. both knowing that intimacy is missing.
    and yes, i don’t think u could attain the same high with many people as you can with one.
    we’re just beginning our new journey into intimacy. wondering where/how to start, but getting the feeling it’s gonna happen if we’re willing.

    • jameswjesso Reply

      Thanks for this beautiful reply. I am looking to really take this to the next level in the next few months and teach a bunch of workshops on it this summer. Have you ever read David Deida? I found his work to be really influential in cultivating intimacy and attraction with a partner. not for everybody though. Check out his book “intimate communion”

  3. I am a teacher of contextual shifts and deep integral growth. My husband and I of forty years also work together. This resonates so well with what we experience as a couple and in working with other men and women. True Spiritual monogamy has always been practiced by a few exceptional couples because there has always been a desire in some people to go deep with one other. They are usually the foundation of their families and communities. We think we will now see a wave of people interested in this option as some of the young burn out on their explorations. We have been in a bonded spiritual multidimensional union for forty years and are thrilled and fullfilled in making that choice daily. We have no words for what we are to each other or what this commitment has given us other than everything worth having and being. We support others in having the tools to engage in the process required to fulfill this vision. Livingfreedom.info

    • Thank you for this beautiful response. It is wonderful to hear the real life case studies of this being a success. I discovered Robert Agustus Masters after having written this and it landed very well. If you haven’t already explored his work, I highly recommend it.

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