India, a land of paradoxes, the land of the Kamasutra, yet we don’t talk about sex and are the second largest population in the world. It’s strange that sex and sexuality are subjects that aren’t openly discussed or saved for conversations only behind closed doors when we hail from a culture that celebrated sex, alternate sexual orientations, non binary individuals and even drag queens.
This is evidently portrayed in our architecture, the erotic temple sculptures of Khajuraho and the present-day practices of existing indigenous tribal peoples in central India, the well-known writings of Kama Sutra, and the popular worship of Krishna with his thousands of wives, and legendary queens and goddesses with more than one husband all point to a culture where sexuality was celebrated and multiple partner relating was sanctioned. Waves of invaders, first the ancient Persians, then Muslims, then British, all brought their own mores to the Indian subcontinent.
Several psychologists and sociologists believe that the British are primarily responsible for the sexual repression that has prevailed in Indian society for the past century and that most Indians “have not managed to shake off yet.” Prior to the arrival of the British, the upper classes and royalty were known to enjoy lovers in addition to their husbands or wives. Much like the post colonial obsession with lighter skin complexion that we face till this very day whist companies like “Fair and Lovely” make millions off of this very deep rooted insecurity of ours that “dark skin is bad”
Polyamory is one such social construct that still has a bad rep. By definition polyamory is:
The practice of engaging in multiple sexual or romantic relationships with the consent of all the people involved. “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”
That is a rather traditional perspective of polyamory and it is much more complex than that. In my quest to understand polyamory better, I had to talk to people who are in a polyamorous relationship or have been in one previously. This is when I came across Anirudh, the co founder of QC (Queer Campus,a support group and safe space for queer youth in Bangalore, India. It is open to school, college, and university going youth in the city) who is in a polyamorous relationship and helped me understand the layers of a monogamous healthy relationship.
“A scenario where every single relationship I have is unique, whether it’s romantic, sexual or platonic. Every person I associate with in any way is unique to me, and the bond I share with them is unique” says Anirudh.
Poly is negatively associated with the promiscuity or even infidelity but it’s far from it.
“Polyamory is about realizing that people have multiple emotional and physical needs, and that expecting one person to fulfill them all is both selfish and naïve, not to mention unfair to the other person. It’s about realizing that we have a lot of love to share, and that we can share it with multiple people at the same time, because it’s also the lifestyle that makes more logical sense”
When the question of making people understand the validity of a poly relationship arises, here’s what Anirudh had to say:
“People often understand this concept in a very abstract, academic way.
They never understand the validity of my relationships. There have been so many times I’ve been in love with multiple people, and when one or more of those relationships haven’t worked out, all my friends have treated that as light events, because “oh, you always have others. And it’s not like you guys were serious”
I think, actually, being poly allows me to be more serious with people. It allows me to value each person individually in my life, as opposed to forcing myself to value one person for everything.”
Polyamory V/S Open relationship
“Usually, an open relationship is a scenario where two people are in a relationship that they’ve opened to other people. The two initial people, let’s call them “couple x”, decide the rules and the settings and anything else that needs to be laid out.
Polyamory is usually more about letting everyone be explorative of everyone else.”
Hopefully this article helps you navigate the the intricacies of relationships and encourage you to explore them rather than box yourself into a certain type of life style only because society dictates it.