Marriage could soon be an outdated concept for many woke millennials who think they are too cool to be monogamous.
Recently, on a Facebook Red Table talk show, Will Smith’s 20-year-old daughter Willow Smith, her mother Jada Pinkett-Smith, and her grandmother Adrienne Banfield-Norris opened up about her polyamorous lifestyle. Willow talked about her emotional and romantic relationships with multiple people and confessed that the history of marriage bothers her, particularly as it applies to women.
The word "polyamors" breaks down to ‘many + lovers’. But is it that simple to practice this lifestyle?
Polyams Vs Polygams
Polyamory is not to be confused with polygamy. The two have entirely different meanings and interpretations though neither lifestyle is legally acceptable.
Designer Aman Bajaj, 43, who identifies himself as heterosexual and polyamorous, explains: "Polyamory is an evolutionary process for me, and each day I learn something new by accepting my true feelings for people. Whether it’s sexual or platonic, love is love and it makes no sense to hide it. I feel polyamory is absolutely natural and everyone is polyamorous to some extent. It would be a lie to say otherwise. It is also about acknowledging your true feelings and being mindful and respectful about the way other people feel. It is different from polygamy in every sense because polyamory gives an equal right to all genders to be fluid in choosing partners. On the other hand, polygamy is a patriarchal practice where only men are allowed to have multiple wives."
Zero to infinite possibilities
Polyamory allows people to be fluid and open in combinations of gender, sexuality, and relationship status. Thirty-four-year-old Anika Verma, working in the creative and gender development sector, helped her be more vocal about her life choices identifies herself as pansexual and polyamorous, and shares her take on it. She says, "For me, polyamory is defined as zero to infinite possibilities – one day you could be in love with several people, and the next day, none. It’s all about accepting your feelings and acting on them with respect and trust. Like any other person, for the longest time, I thought I was monogamous. But after marriage, I felt that can’t be true because I was feeling things for people other than my husband. I had too much love to give and I didn’t want to lie about it or cheat because that leads to extramarital affairs which is a toxic space. Once I communicated this to him and my family, we made an arrangement to never hide anything from each other."
Open to interpretation
"The most important factor about polyamory is to build trust and let the relationship grow organically with your partner," says Aman, who believes there are no rules when it comes to loving someone. "Like most people, I was completely unaware of my feelings in my twenties and thirties," he shares. "Having been in a long monogamous relationship through my twenties, I struggled to comprehend my feelings/attractions for other people; but with time I understood more. After being in a marriage that wasn’t working out in a conventional way, we decided to give co-parenting a shot. It worked wonders. I was attracted to other women and I discussed it with my wife. We decided to stay together as a family, while we both have the liberty to date others. It’s not a complex concept once you open up and honestly communicate with your partner(s) to make them aware about your feelings for them."
Not another name for cheating
The advocates of a polyamorous lifestyle believe it gives you multiple options beyond conventional and structured societal norms, and insist it is not a fancy term to justify cheating. Anika explains, "We like to practice ethical polyamory where he remains my primary partner as I am his, while both of us are also allowed to have secondary or tertiary partners, and everyone knows about each other’s relationship status." She further clarifies, "Of course, we feel a lot of emotions and despite honest communication, we all feel jealousy and insecure like in any other relationship."
Talking about the general connotations of the term, Anika says "On the Internet, a lot of married people tend to misuse this term but polyamory is not just about having sexual relationships with more than one person, it’s all about having an amazing bond and cherishing love with someone without discriminating based on their gender, age, marital status or any other factor. It’s all about fluidity and open communication with your partner in acknowledging your true emotions."