When something is new or different, it can be perceived as a threat. In order to minimize the insecurity that is associated with unfamiliarity, it is common to make generalizations that will simplify groups into easy to comprehend labels. As polyamory continues to become more popular, the temptation to be simplistic about “who these people are” will continue from both without and within the poly community.
It is clear how generalizing has impacted members of the LGBT community as well as ethnic minorities. Poly generalizations operate in a similar manner, as millions of people begin to struggle with what it means to be polyamorous. I believe that there is the same great diversity in the poly community that there is within the world at large. The only difference is that because awareness of polyamory is relatively new, it is easier to try to pigeonhole its members.
Imagine if in the future the majority of humanity who currently uses secrecy, flirtation behind their partner’s back, and cheating as a way to satiate their desire for diversity could no longer lie. I feel that empathy is rapidly evolving across the planet and making it harder to say, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.” I perceive that people are increasingly uncomfortable with removing their partner’s choice to leave by withholding information. So if all of these people eventually decide to live honestly, polyamory will represent an even greater spectrum…as varied as the world itself is diverse.
As the poly movement grows, it will continue to be marginalized by those who feel threatened by it. Due to insecurity or projection of guilt, the dominant paradigm will find ways to belittle polys because the “established ways” always try to stay in power, even if they clearly don’t work for everyone. I believe greater awareness of why we generalize can be most helpful within the poly community itself. When someone newly identifies as poly or poly-curious, they often wonder, “Do I fit in?” In the process of exploring if this identity is a good fit, they might start looking for common demographics and making various comparisons. Additionally, there are some who want to artificially inflate the “power” of their own beliefs/identities/etc. by consciously or unconsciously implying, “I am representative of the way poly people are.” This tendency to create a norm in one’s own image is often driven by a lack of self-esteem.
In reality, there is absolutely no screening test for being polyamorous. It doesn’t matter at all what your spiritual beliefs are, or are not. It certainly doesn’t matter what you enjoy as interests or hobbies. All of the factors that you inherited at birth are irrelevant. How you present yourself to the world is a non-factor in whether or not you are poly. All that matters is that you have the courage to love without believing you have a right to restrict others, and the strength to be honest with yourself and others about who you love.
Check out Chris’s (pen name, Mystic Life’s) book Spiritual Polyamory
Intuitive Guidance — Ethical Sites at LiveReaders.com