Pin It

Polyamory is the new monogamy

Why loving lots of people at once is the #relationshipstatus of a totally fabulous future


The practice of Dutch artists and brand creatives Pinar&Viola is concerned with radical surface and new totalitarian decadence. In this blog they report on the digital folklore emerging from the wilds of the net. 

Every year, we, Pinar&Viola, launch a surface collection inspired by the desires of that yea that also reflects the trends and cravings for the year to come. The subject of each collection is kept secret till the last moment, yet we'd like to make an exception this year for the Sex issue of Dazed & Confused. Recently, we were introduced to something which we believe is in the the air; it's not even avant-garde yet, but we believe it will rise in five years' time and be accepted by openminded people in about ten years. 

This new fascination is polyamory, the philosophy and practice of loving more than one person. Our contemporary-culture scanner instincts tell us that polyamory will be the next sexual liberation and sensual sensation. The collective, deep, committed, long-term loving relationship is slowly rising up from the underground, emboldened by the success of gay marriage. 

This subject can make conservatives, the tragicomic guardians of holy matrimony currently soured over gay-marriage rights, even more frustrated. Let's drop the assumption that God does not like sex: let's move on and start a dialogue on the sexual needs of our contemporary society.

Having multiple relationships with the knowledge and consent of your partner(s) does not sound like a bad idea, actually. However, when you first hear the concept, you tend to make a déjà vu assumption. Your first thought is, "Aaa! Group sex, OK"; the second, an image of a feudal landowner with five wives and a dozen horses. Polyamory is neither of these. It's not an excuse to cheat on your spouse, nor a swinging club. It's an ideology which makes people who would like to love more than one person in a way that is sexual, emotional, spiritual or any combination thereof. Bien sûr, this multi-love setting is a game changer for the mono-love deal referred to as "monogamy". Yet when you think about it, why is it perfectly fine for us to have sex with multiple people but the set-up becomes creepy when it's about loving multiple people. Weird. IKR!

Speaking about loving more, polyamory is also not "free love" in the 60s sense. Not the "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" mantra. Polyamory is like welcoming a new friend in your circle. You don't think who you should drop when you have a new friend. It's the introduction of honest, larger-group dynamics into what we define as a love couple.

In the current state of polyamory affairs, we got informed on the possibility of various combinations. A couple can welcome a lover, two couples can start a relationship together and even much larger and complicated constructions are possible, exceeding four people. In poly-terminology a unit of three is called a "triad" and a unit of four a "quad". 

A triad relationship can be characterised as forming a triangle, or perhaps a "V" when one of the people involved is the connecting link between the other two. Also, terms like "primary" and "secondary" can be used to define your relationship within the triad and larger groups. These never-ending grouping possibilities have one thing in common; bringing together people who do not have restriction of gender definitions. People practicing polyamory do not make a checkbox choice to be (with) a woman and a man, nor they are confused and seeking secretly for the answer in the dark rooms of transgender clubs. 

In the circles of the niche avant-garde of poly-lovers, monogamy is often regarded as a pragmatic state-imposed solution in order to control the rampant promiscuity, gender warfare, land, children, inheritance, voting and any other civilian paper work. Judith Butler gives good insight in her interview over gender trouble, and makes a prediction on the future uncrowning of monogamy. It's obvious that the idea of leaving monogamy behind will scare people, shake them up and make them question their world-view. Now let's begin. 

The current state of polyamory is in the shabby level of manifesting on the streets with peace flags and facepaint. And its state on theinternet is nothing sophisticated either. "Polyamory" searches result in websites with a style sheet somewhere between a spiritual living, a cancer treatment support group in 2000 and the dark web, all painted in white with celtic fonts. We believe that within years, with the rampant popularity of polyamory and hopefully a celebrity boost, it will undergo a facelift. 

From within the ocean of an efficiency-obsessed, multitasking, short attention-span culture, this type of relationship sounds like the best invention after iPhone. Imagine, if your wife loves hip hop and you dislike it, one of her other lovers can take her to a Chief Keef concert. Or imagine a world where you no longer need to force yourself to be nice to people because one day they may babysit your kid. Or simply ask, while having over ten social media profiles, hundreds of apps, over 50GB of iTunes data, rooms full of clothing with matching iPhone cases and five different daily training models, and while starting every other sentence with "this is my favourite", can we still think that one person can satisfy every need? 

We believe polyamory will contribute to women's emancipation and the state of motherhood. It's in complete accord with Sheryl Sandberg, feminism's new face, and her project to empower women. Thanks to a polyamory relationship, you can have children, work hard and even have hobbies. 

Polyamory is making a slow and gradual step into the popular culture. A TV show called Polyamory: Married and Dating on Showtime shows the daily routine of two polyamory families. The end of the third season of our favourite comedy, Portlandia, loosely suggests a poly relationship involving the two main characters with Chloé Sevigny; and in this episode of Anderson Live you can see an interview with a polyamory family. For those who would like to have a more daily insight on the subject, we encourage you to have a look to Loving More, an online nonprofit organisation offering information on polyamory including terminology, an FAQ, links and professional listings. Books like OpenOpening Up and The Ethical Slut (widely considered the modern poly-Bible) will help you to go deeper in the understanding on the ideology of polyamory.

We are very excited to base our next collection on such a necessary yet controversial topic. The launch is planned for October and will take place in Paris, the new home of the Pinar&Viola studio (from September).