Archived: Poly elitism is not a new phenomenon

(For context: I wouldn’t call myself polyamorous because I’m aromantic, but I would be okay with queerplatonic polyfidelitous situations, which means that as long as my partner’s partners are my partners too and/or we all enjoy each other’s company a lot, that’s fine. I don’t think I would be comfortable in any other kind of poly relationship situation.)

Last night, I finished reading Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, which is a somewhat fictionalized but mostly accurate biography of Bertrand Russell in comic form.

There is one part depicting an argument between Bertrand and his second wife Dora in which Bertrand is not okay with Dora having her lovers live with them, and Dora insists that it’s progressive of Bertrand to be okay with her having lovers and it would be more progressive of him to allow her lover(s) to live with them. She from what I can gather takes the position that if you’re uncomfortable with having a partner who has other partners, you are unenlightened, and being okay with that is the only way to be truly progressive about relationships. She even brings up that Betrand’s parents lived in a similar situation to drive her position further: “Your mother had a lover and your father let him live with them!”

I believe that conversation, if it did happen, would have happened sometime around 1940 (and if it didn’t happen between Dora and Bertrand Russell, it certainly would have between other individuals), so the idea that being polyamorous—or being willing to have a partner who is polyamorous—is a more “enligtened” mode of being is not new at all. Which is all the more reason to challenge such elitism when it occurs. It’s not and will never be enlightened to force your partner to be okay with a major change to the relationship that makes them uncomfortable.

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