The Humanist Hour #141: What Is Polyamory All About?

Click here to download an audio file of this podcast.

In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Susan Porter and Rose McDonnell from Listen as they discuss polyamory – the practice of having multiple simultaneous sexual and/or romantic partners.

From the website:

PolyColumbus empowers individuals that either self-identify as polyamorous, open, or ethically non-monogamous, or are exploring such possibilities. We build community to provide a safe and inclusive place to not only be ourselves, but also meet like-minded individuals from all backgrounds.

We advocate for the equal treatment of the ethically non-monogamous under law, and for broader societal acceptance of the same. We serve organizations with similar goals by documenting best practices and creating other resources for successfully running such an organization.

Finally, we educate each other, allied organizations, and the broader community on what it means to be ethically non-monogamous.


  • advancedatheist

    This basically contributes to the trend where women reject more and more of the male population in favor of a small minority of men. Eventually we’ll get to a society not unlike polygamous Mormon cults where one man with status and wealth marries and has children with several women, and after settling on a favorite son as his heir, he evicts and disowns all of his other sons at adolescence because the math doesn’t work out for maintaining this lifestyle in the next generation. This has happened for real in polygamous Mormon communities in the Western states.

    I don’t see why humanists would want to enable this kind of outcome just become polyamory sounds like a “progressive” form of sexual freedom in the short run.

    • PolyFriend

      That is not necessarily true. To an extent it could, but a core part of poly is freedom in love and relationships. It may actually open up more women to relationships that they would not normally have under monogamy. Poly relationships are not necessarily 1 man and many women. It be a quad of 2 men and 2 women which can be open or closed, 1 woman and many men, or just a couple that dates outside their primary relationship, and so many more configurations. In the end it will most likely end up with more people being more available for relationships.

  • Stalaktights

    The number one item that caught my ear was the suggestion that people feel like they are “supposed” to get jealous. Quick rundown on me: First girlfriend in high school-Extremely jealous about everything. I guess I learned from her that that’s the way it works. Second girlfriend in high school- Totally not jealous about everything. I remember how odd it was to me that she would mention, around me, that other boys were cute. I felt like I was required to get angry over her notice of other boys. She pretty much sat me down and told me to settle the heck down, everything was fine. That set me back on track to my true nature of non-jealousy. Third girlfriend- She broke up with me because of my pattern of non-jealousy. I’m serious.
    When I got married, I was only my wife’s third partner. She made it clear to me, monogamy or the highway-ee. Cut to eight years in, and by happenstance and at about the same time, we we both became interested in other people at work (we work at the same place). My wife was aware of my non-jealous tendencies, and I think it made her realize there were other options. When she finally slept with the other guy, she came home and told me about it, literally 45 minutes after it happened. I tried to draw some jealousy out of me, and there was just none there. If anything, I was proud. T her great credit, she made it clear and I almost never had a doubt that she was as in love with me, and as happy with me as ever. The next few years, we’ve both agreed, were the happiest of our marriage. We both had a handful of relationships outside of our marriage. The only emotional causality was the first guy she slept with, who was miffed that I wasn’t upset over the relationship (he had the mentality of the dumb football jock, even though he was in his forties).
    It is my strong opinion that these outside relationships immeasurably fortified our marriage. We’re older now, and aren’t really active outside the marriage, but we reminisce fondly. We both feel so fortunate that somewhere along the line, we realized that jealousy isn’t required in a relationship.

  • Hanrod

    Interesting concept, and I can see the “reasonable” in it (and have similar understanding of the conceived “ideal” myself); though it does seem to be destined to a “hard uphill” against essential human nature; i.e. our competetive, possessive and self-protective nature

  • Ben

    I have been faithful to my wife for 22 years of marriage. As of 10 years ago, 2 events were most likely to bring about divorce: sex outside the marriage or the death of a child. After a spouse had sex outside the marriage, even if the marriage stayed together, life at home often became miserable for the children. I experienced this problem first hand as a child. Terms like polyamorous may sound OK, but wait until the children get to feel the distrust, anger, arguing, vitriol, and hatred that come out of it. For me, polyamorous behavior selfishly puts the needs of the parent before the needs of the children. Parents should sacrifice polyamorous behavior in favor of a peaceful, loving, and trusting home that is a safe and nurturing place for children to grow and mature.