A young friend of mine has joined a polyamory meet-up in the town where she lives. It sounds to me like organized promiscuity, which I would trust about as much as organized crime. There’s just too much temptation to break the rules.
On Wikipedia polyamory is described as consensual, ethical and responsible non-monogamy. These terms are supposed to provide guidelines for having sexual relations with multiple partners. Consensual means asking permission for each point of contact from kissing to touching to penetration. Ethical means being honest about other partners and revealing STDs. Responsible means using birth control and being tested for STDs every six months.
It struck me right away that these terms require a series of intimate conversations. I don’t see any role models for that. I’m trying to imagine my favorite couples in the movies behaving this way. But I just can’t picture Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas shimmying up to Elvis Presley and asking if he’s been checked for STDs in the past six months. It certainly would have been a game changer if she had. And I only wish those scantily clad babes in James Bond movies had waved a condom in his face and said, “No party hat, no party, Mr. Bond.” You never hear about the trail of Baby Bonds he left behind.
Legendary romances would have to be re-written if polyamory guidelines were common practice. If Rhett Butler had asked, “Scarlett, may I kiss you?” She would have arched her contrarian brow and said, “No, you may not!” Gone with the Wind would have been two hours shorter. Iconic love scenes would never have happened. Mrs. Robinson would have kept her clothes on in The Graduate if Dustin Hoffman had said, “I can’t do this until we tell Mr. Robinson.”
Famous couples might have disintegrated. Ward Cleaver would have had a heart attack at the breakfast table if June had said, “Ward, I’ve been thinking. Now that Beaver and Wally are in school all day, I’d like to have sex with other men.”
It’s not that I think polyamory is a bad idea. But I can’t erase the mental image of a man with a harem of women around him, like Dean Martin and The Golddiggers. And I can’t picture any famous woman I admire with a harem of men around her, like lapdogs waiting for treats. The step-by-step guidelines for intimacy seem entirely admirable. And I appreciate the social acceptance of women having as many partners as they like. But I don’t think polyamory is going mainstream until we see healthy role models for it scripted in a romantic comedy, like When Sally Met Harry & A Few Other Guys.