Poly·an·dry: noun \ˈpä-lē-ˌan-drē\: the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time.
Over the last year, I’ve challenged myself to learn more about love and relationships that don’t consider monogamy as a prerequisite for meaningful partnership. When it comes to polyamorous lifestyles, the public at large tends to stereotype these relationships as being bliss for men without considering the benefits that it affords many women. It’s so rare to hear the stories of women who openly love more than one man, not because they don’t exist, but primarily because these narratives are ostracized for going against everything we’ve been socialized to believe about women “needing” monogamy to experience “authentic” love. A woman who enjoys life partnerships with more than one man is either seen as a harlot or fallacy. But neither of these classifications takes into account the historical roots of women practicing polyandry in indigenous societies nor the benefits that contemporary women could receive from experiencing love simultaneously from more than one long-term partner.
Historically, the Seneca tribe of the Iroquois Nation is one of the many indigenous societies to practice polygamy and polyandry as the standard for human relationships. It was normal for men and women to have more than one life partner, creating a family structure that wasn’t simply dependent upon two-parent childrearing or relationships, but rather a network of support between all partners. Having more than one husband or wife wasn’t simply about sexual relations, as many contemporary critics of polygamy and polyandry tend to assume. But rather it was about love, partnership, and sex being experiences that didn’t have to remain restricted between two individuals. And yes, women valued these experiences too.
Receiving love, partnership, and sex from more than one man is an experience that most contemporary heterosexual women have yet to experience. When I talk to my single hetero girlfriends, I get the response, “It’s so hard to find one man to deliver all of those experiences. I couldn’t even imagine having two.” Indeed, times have changed, and even those of us who are descendants of polyamorous indigenous societies have adopted monogamous relationships as the norm in our pursuits for love. There’s nothing wrong with monogamy, as it certainly has its benefits. But I do wonder if women closing themselves off to considering polyandry are missing out on the power of love coming from more than one source.
What would it be like to experience long-term love, partnership, and sex from more than one man? In my casual dating life, I’ve personally felt more grounded when dating openly without monogamy being a requirement. As dating should be, it takes the pressure off the connections I’m forming with each individual. And it reduces the expectation of one person having to fulfill all my romantic desires until we reach a mutual aspiration to be “it” for each other.
I’ve tried monogamy and succeeded in maintaining the lifestyle for years. But I will admit that I have found myself loving more freely, without restraint, when there’s more than one man in the picture. It’s not a matter of past insecurities, as I’ve succeeded in giving my heart to just one person post-heartbreaks and relationship disappointments. But rather I just enjoy having more than one teacher and a larger classroom to explore the intricacies of human love. I’ve considered that perhaps I would benefit from a long-term polyandrous lifestyle, and experience a deeper understanding of love than what might be afforded to me by monogamy.
Regardless, I know all of these lessons and relationships with the men who have entered and/or stayed in my life will assist me in being a better long-term partner. But I do believe that love is rarely limited at its purest form, and living a life that benefits from more than one source of romantic love might just be bliss.
Have you ever considered a polyandrous lifestyle or life partnerships in non-monogamous form? Speak on it.