Sunday, 4 January 2009

Criticizing Steve Pavlina For Deciding To Try Polyamory

Steve Pavlina, the well known personal development blogger, has decided to try polyamory as a way to explore intimate relationships with other people (in addition to his wife). He still wants to keep his family together but wants to explore intimate relationships beyond the realm of monogamy.

While most readers of his blog are in full support of his decision, there is a small but very vocal group of dumb people who are adamantly opposed. I should mention that these people are not dumb because they don't agree with him; they are dumb because of the arguments they use. For example,

"You can't have your cake and eat it too!"

This is a common phrase used by dumb people when it comes to intimate relationships that don't involve 100% undying loyalty.

Dumb people honestly believe that just because they have sex with someone, that person automatically can't be intimate and have sex with anyone else. They believe that this entitles them to complete ownership over that person's sexual expression. They believe this so strongly that they are willing to go so far to say that it is "disrespectful" to them and in some cases, "emotionally abusive".

Other ridiculous arguments put forth are:

"If they are having sex with someone else it means that I'm not good enough for them!"

"Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?!"

This last one usually draws strong cheers from other like-minded dummies, especially when preceded by: "My mamma always taught me..."

Worn out phrases like these are part and parcel with how dummies view sexuality. They are catchy, which is why they like to parrot them when attempting to prove a point.

Dummies judge situations only based on what they have been taught and directly exposed to, not based on their own ethical insight. And they fear change, or the threat of it. Do they ever.

Another interesting notion thrown around is that of "zero sum game".

"If you are with someone else there is less for me".

Only for orgies, perhaps. But seriously, this assumes that you need to spend all your time with someone. Is it reasonable for a child to complain that he doesn't get enough attention because he has brothers and sisters?

Think of how ridiculous that is.

Monogamy, which admittedly is the best choice for some based on personal/rational grounds, is also a means for dumb people to flex their ego muscles. When a doctrine happens to align with the ego, dumb people are the first to get on board. The book called "The Rules" is a good example of this, teaching women that the man must chase endlessly or else he "doesn't care enough".

Similarly, the monogamy concept is the doctrine that dumb people like to use to rationalize having something all to themselves. For them it's vehemently justified to be selfish about something when society promotes that particular model.

The formula:

Social construct + ego = dangerous tool for dumb people

If toilet seats were considered sacred every dumb person would demand their own personal throne at public restrooms, because "sharing" would be disrespectful to them.

However, having sex with different people involves much less ass than that.

Now, in the case of Steve Pavlina, he is married with kids, so dumb people will try especially hard to use that as ammunition against him. They will say things like: "He is being selfish and it could screw up the family".

Even though the monogamy and marriage model has been proven to have many faults.

Even though they don't know Steve personally.

Even though they don't know his wife and kids personally.

They assume that Steve's family would suffer because their own family and kids could suffer. They say this while not considering the fact that their own family and kids (and possibly others they know of) were raised according to the "monogamy" social model, and as a result would likely rebel against any deviation from that. So really, they may as well say:

"Other biased people would be against this if it happened to them"

The fact is, Steve's family is not like the typical family so it makes no sense for anyone to project beliefs onto them if they come from different worlds. His posts on this subject are very clear, and he covers all potential areas of concern. He is honest about it, open about it, and wants to experiment. And above all, he is on the road to personal development, and should be allowed to do so. So dumb people should at least try to back off.


Melissa Goerke said...

I have to admit that Steve and Erin's decision makes me uncomfortable, but that's my issue. They are free to live their lives in whatever way they want and I totally support that. It is also okay for me to be uncomfortable when I think about a polyamorous arrangement. It challenges my cultural norms. See that's the great thing about being free. Steve and Erin are free to make their own choices for their family and I'm free to be uncomfortable and it's all good :-) Imagine living in a country where neither party was free to do any of these things! Now that's dumb...

AJ Kumar said...

Well, I understand that this is a "far out" topic. However, I believe that by them saying they are more aware then everyone else and conscious etc. They are basically saying they are better then everyone. Do you see what I mean? They say that people who don't do this are greedy because you shouldn't just love one person. That people should be able to have multiple relationships. Very few, people are able to do so, but just don't say indirectly that your better to do so.

infohwyman said...

While I don't believe Monogamy is completely flawed, I do believe that like the Republic our Founding Fathers instituted, it is a system that demands responsible participation, and constant vigilance.

I agree with most of your post, and that polyamory is probably more in keeping with the way we are wired. Oddly, being a Mormon, I am keenly aware of the long history of polygamy in the world, and how small a percentage of its history involves strict monogamy.

My wife and I talk about this subject a lot because even the Old Testament describes a form of polygamy coming back during the tribulations of the last days, in Isaiah 4.

It is strange that most women in our modern society end up sharing their men with other women over the course of their lives, and yet we play this game in a most destructive way now, where families are torn apart when one discovers another because they have to be hidden, and the kids are really torn apart then.

I personally believe that responsible monogamy still permits polyamory of a sort that I currently enjoy, which is to have many friends of both sexes with whom I share deep emotional bonds, and many female friends in particular who are often invited along on dates and with whom I share a deep friendship, and who also have emortional needs fulfilled by their bonds with me and my wife.

I listened to the podcast by Steven and Erin and found nothing objectionable or distasteful. I find myself more open to allowing others to pursue life to their joy, than many or most of my fellow christians, who seem more caught up in seeing fault in others than recognizing their own.

Best wishes to Steve and Erin and their family.

Megan M. said...

It's all scarcity model & the usual error, and it drives me nuts. People are different - let's ENJOY that people are different, and quit projecting our fears and limitations on others.

Nice post, dude. :}

Lemon said...

I've been researching this subject for something else I am working on at the moment.

I have friends who follow this lifestyle and it seems to work well for them :)

From what Steve has written on his blog and elsewhere regarding this subject he appears to have 'done his homework' and made a conscious and honest decision with his wife to follow this path. Has to be a brave person to stick their head above the parapet or swim against the prevailing wind ( I love mixed metaphors! but you know what I mean ;) )

I have to say I admire anybody who sticks by their convictions and is willing to challenge their own norms and belief systems.. it isn't a lifestyle I would choose myself ( dont think my Mrs would like it either:) ) and I dont think I would have the generosity of spirit to be any good at it anyway! LOL! Far too selfish me thinks.

Good luck to Steve and his family. Sounds like a functional family.. rare these days! I aspire to it myself! LOL!


Ellie Walsh - Living the Law of Attraction said...

I don't think polyamory would be something I would want to do... But truthfully I have never even thought of it.

I think we are all born bi-sexual and polyamory - and then we scramble to get labels and to keep those labels on even if the glue has dried out!

People are different... We live in a world filled with diversity which is what makes it so adventurous!

If we were all the same - it really would be boring...

Anonymous said...

I think its dumb to be obsessed with "dumb people" and "smart people". life and people are more complex than that.

Anonymous said...

One woman is more than enough work for me......

TheAndySan said...

Steve and Erin's decision to try polyamory made me uncomfortable when I first heard about it.

After reading Steve's subsequent posts and podcast, I realized that I was thinking in the scarcity mindset and found that everyone who criticizes him for trying out polyamory (which included me initially) are too fearful to try it out for themselves.

I'd say let them give it a try!

DP said...

Excellent article in response to the criticism thrown Steve's way.
In regard to Steve and Erin's decision to pursue polayamory, it is indeed very brave and very conscious one
Polyamory itself is not the problem, if decided from a place of emotional wellness. Some of the comments I have read on Steve's blog have the energy of love addiction, a much less healthy position to be making a decision such as polamory. No amount of 'intimate' relationships
will fulfill when pursuing polyamory from a love addicted place. In fact, the addiction will spiral, as with all addictions, and the number of 'intimate' relationships will need to keep increasing to be fulfilling. Heal the love addiction, and polyamory becomes a truly conscious choice. If both Erin and Steve are coming from an emotionally well place, well done!

Pratik Stephen said...

Brilliant post, and hilarious blog!
Keep it up...
: )

Monogamy/Marriage is so "unnatural". But I guess it is/was kind of required in a "less conscious" society...

I love how Steve is so open, authentic and clear about polyamory... I've felt that "marriage" is not for me since almost a year now... But I've never been as clear about it...

I love Osho's thoughts on "Marriage and Children"...
If nothing else, watch it for his comic timing... : )

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto Steve's site a year or more ago and found him to be a fairly inspiring guy. I appreciated his zest for life and his determination to do the best he could for himself.

I just recently found his site again in an unrelated google search. It was kind of a shock to hear about the polyamory. Not on account of Steve bringing it up, but just because I've always found the idea to be rather shocking in itself. More frightening than anything, really. I really can't even point out why it's frightening.

I appreciate your comments on the "cake" and "milk for free" sayings. What I think you might have pointed out in addition to those remarks is how offensive those sayings are in and of themselves. A human being should not be valued for what it can produce. In this case, the cow would be a woman producing a service -- chiefly, sex. That makes marriage sound like a sort of permanent prostitution gig in which the prostitute stays with her john for life simply because he continuously pays her to do so.

Granted, some marriages are like this. Perhaps polyamory is a great antidote to such a situation.

I have chosen to remain mostly abstinent for the majority of my life, simply because I don't feel capable of having intense enough emotions toward one person in order to remain loyal to them for a great deal of time. I do this because I fear causing women emotional harm, and I don't want to feel the guilt and shame of having "played" anyone. Unfortunately, I have yet to meet anyone who I feel that strongly toward. Really, I think it's obvious that I never will. The reason? Nature.

The brutal thing to face up to is that, to a large extent, love is a commitment. I am not much of a duty or obligation-driven person. I am easily inspired by a woman, but only for a brief time. I appreciate her for awhile, but then my appreciation fades. Sometimes I become outright tired of her and wish I never met her.

Life is messy. We are messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to try to refrain from contributing to the toxic ocean of human suffering that is already so greatly swelled.

I don't know if this is a good decision for Steve. All I know is that it would not be a good decision for me. I have chosen to stop glamorizing relationships and sex and, instead, to seek satisfaction in other pursuits which don't involve such risk.

Sometimes the route to happiness lies not in "having your cake and eating it too" but rather, defeating your desire for cake at all.

(P.S., What is the point of having cake if you don't bother to eat it, too? I never understood that saying. Certainly seems like something a dumb person would like to say.)

Anonymous said...

You're all idiots. They're divorcing now. Anyone who didn't see this coming, couldn't see the entire plan as a plot to extricate himself, and can't see Steve as the douchebag that he is, deserves to suffer the same fate.
But in the meantime, enjoy having your cake and eating it too. Whatever that means.

Anonymous said...

Steve can "love" as many people at a time as he wants to now. Hope it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

All of you who supported this idea to begin with are fucking morons as far as I'm concerned. They're divorcing now, another broken family in the US of A. This is what liberalism and the new age bring, more problems for the nation!

I wonder what the country will look like in 15-20 years when this crap has taken over. It will probably look like a nation in ruins.

John said...

They're divorcing because his wife has grown incompatible with him, and polyamory is one reason for that. That doesn't make it wrong.

Polyamory is much more natural than monogamy. But if it's the cause of a marriage failing it's because the expectations weren't managed from the beginning, and in Steve's case, he couldn't go back and undo the vows that were set in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

LOL who wrote this post? Steve Pavlina himself?

Anonymous said...

..So much for "dumb people", right? You guys can come up with dozens of excuses as to why Polyamory did not directly affect this union, but I will just sit back and laugh, because actions speak louder than words. Come up with flowery "Polymory set them free" euphemisms and what not, all of which are poppycock. Poop ain't flowers and flower ain't poop. You can't convince me enough that either is equatable to the other.