Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How would it affect society if having multiple relationships was acceptable?

Asked by wundayatta (58329 points ) March 13th, 2010

What do you think would be the impact if people could have multiple relationships and no one would disapprove? Would men and women behave differently? How would our society be organized? What problems would arise? How would people’s emotions and senses of self be affected?

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27 Answers

Haleth's avatar

Right now we mostly have serial monogamy. Is having multiple relationships at one time worse than having many single relationships? Maybe the multiple relationships would last longer.

Your_Majesty's avatar

You can take Islamic country as an example. What you ask is something that happening there,and it’s legally acceptable both spiritual and laws.

wundayatta's avatar

@Doctor_D So what happens as a result of that difference from cultures where monogamy is the only acceptable form of relationship?

jazmina88's avatar

I am happily single with a male harem. not really, but there are 3 men in my life. I have my independence, my freedom. I am me with some close bonds. And it is awesome.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@wundayatta Women are the only being that must live with monogamy lifestyle. In Islamic country men can have as many wife as they want(4 in maximum). Of course this will bring the impact for women there. A woman status must be lowered than man status,women must obey whatever their husband ask them to do,women cannot jealous toward their husband,there’s no betrayal term for men,women can’t get into political/governmental department,and many more(I know it sounds unfair).

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I believe that having multiple sexual partners simultaneously would create greater conflict within relationships despite broad acceptance for it.

I suspect that monogamy or at least serial monogamy is socially adaptive.

I believe that the greatest impact would be on children whose paternal parent may be unknown or not involved in an ongoing relationship with their mothers.

Jealousy is reported to be a problem among women married to the same man in polygamous sects. I suspect this problem would be greater among the female partners of any given male.

I believe the men would feel like they were in competition with the other sexual partners of women about whom they care.

I find it hard to imagine a social structure that would make such multiple sexual partners work out to be equally pleasing and fair to both women and men.

For many men, it might sound especially desirable but I doubt as large a proportion of women would be enthusiastic about such arrangements.

I am interested to see what women have to contribute to this discussion.

When we consider the additional permutations that having partners of more than one gender would involve, the issue seems to get even more complicated.

Thanks for asking the question!

jazmina88's avatar

I think if this was widely accepted, our community would be more well-adjusted, self-assured, without the stigma of trying to find that perfect relationship. It doesnt only have to be for men. I have open relationships. I teach love.

Since I had no father figure growing up, I am a different breed. I dont want children. But the family structure is already broken.

If we take the next step, maybe our children would grow up with more freedom, with responsibility, and less failure in relationship, in wisdom.

plethora's avatar

@wundayatta Check out the Mormon cults that still do it. Read the books by the women who have escaped. Real life. No need to wonder.

Haleth's avatar

@plethora But there’s an imbalance of power there, which is why the women want to escape. Only men are allowed to have multiple relationships, and they probably control many other aspects of the women’s lives.

jazmina88's avatar

It has been done with women are treated as lower creatures….in an equal opportunity environment, where we could do the same, it would be a new idea.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The Maury Show would go off the air.—- “Who da baby daddy?”

CMaz's avatar

A five pay check home? Hmmmmm

I like the sound of that. I think it would alleviate poverty a bit.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Multiple relationships are acceptable socially in many segments of society. The only problem being that the law does not recognise them. Until my wifes death, I was part of such a relationship. My lady Meghan was married to me and also had a committed relationship with her lover Genevive. It was essentially a variation of polygyny, a women having two partners, one of them being same-sex. Each of our relationships was with Meg, Gen and I were close friends but did not consider ourselves bound by a marital-type relationship. Genevive was mostly oriented toward women and Meghan was bisexual. The three of us frequently slept together, but I always repected Genevives orientation and her limits on the degree of contact she could tolerate with a male.

At one point we had considered having a child. This would have been a complex process as Megs tubes were blocked and abdominal injuries would have made pregnancy dangerous for her. This would have required extracting ova from Meghan, reversing a vasectomy or extracting sperm in another way from myself, IVF and implanting the fetus in Genevive. If successful, this process would have resulted in a child with a daddy and two mommies, a more stable situation than a “traditional” family.

I strongly believe that marriage should be defined by those entering into it. The only legitimate function of government being to record and archive the agreement and mandate that any children resulting from the marriage be properly supported and cared for.

Multiple relationships can be more economically stable and provide for better child care; two wage earners and a stay-at-home parent for example. Other forms of multiple relationships, such as “line” marriages would result in a family becoming increasingly more financially stable across generations. See R.A.Heinleins “the Moon is a Harsh Mistress” for examples of alternative marriage arrangements.

Another benefit of a multiple relationship is that if a disagreement occurred between two of the partners, the third could act as an arbiter. If course, with any such relationship I’m describing, all partners would have equal rights, unlike some forms of polygamy where the male holds greater power. In our relationship, we all had equal rights but specialized responsibilities; I was the primary financial provider, Genevive ran the farm and Meghan was consider head of the household.

Silhouette's avatar

Oddly enough I think fewer people would do it if the disapproval were taken out of the equation. If we all practiced live and let live all sorts of shit would lose it’s appeal. Some people would lose their sense of self because some people use the forbidden game of cat and mouse as means of attracting attention to enhance self-esteem. During the sixties the free love movement was big but it didn’t last long because so many of them lost interest in all the freedom. They got bored.

phillis's avatar

The population would skyrocket. Polygamy does not equal responsibility. More nursing care facilities would double-duty as resorts. Conceivably, a person could spend their entire lives enjoying the same facility, then die in it. On the plus side, there would be a lot less fear as to who is going to take care of you in your old age.

Pandora's avatar

I think people would miss out in the feeling that one person is as connected to you as you are to them. A person can feel lonely in a crowd or crowded by one person. A group of people doesn’t necessarily make you feel fulfilled.
A good example of that is siblings. Go to a group of siblings and you will find some who are joined at hip. They understand each other the best and have formed a close bond that cannot be replicated with the others. There is a reason the word favorite exist. No matter how you try in a relationship you may favor one over the other. The only time I think that you can love someone the same is with your children. I love different things about them each because they each have an aspect that I find appealing plus they are half of me and half of my husband.
Another thing is that even if it were possible to love several people equally it would be emotionally exhausting to make all actions and thoughts fair so as not to look like you favor one over the other.
Its a daunting task to get to really know what is in someones heart and soul and understand them thouroughly. Why anyone wants to do that with everyone is beyond me. As it is. It almost takes a life time and plus life has so many other distractions that people can hardly maintain one relationship. I think what will happen is like anything else. When you spead out the butter it gets really thin and you end up with very little flavor.

Chongalicious's avatar

I think we would first have to eliminate the emotion of jealousy for this to work at all…

phillis's avatar

@Chongalicious Good point. I have no plans of letting mine go. My husband having sex with anybody else besides me is not appealing in the least.

nebule's avatar

oh crikey…did I not tell you about my ex recently contacting me and telling me he is now self-confessed…‘polyamorous’ ... I just thought it was a tacit justification for unfaithful behaviour… but I could be so wrong..how unenlightened must I be

phillis's avatar

It IS a justification, dammit. You can be polyamorous when the next litter of pups is born. Until then, your ass is either mine, or it’s gone.

Chongalicious's avatar

@phillis Thank you :) I don’t plan on it either, so really this scenario…it just wouldn’t happen. Jealousy is just part of human nature.

nikipedia's avatar

There would be a lot less cheating.

Otherwise I don’t think anything would change.

That’s how it’s been for me, anyway.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well would we all have a memory of what it was like to be monogamous or is this a clean slate kind of thing. If we started anew, nobody would care – children would benefit from having the collective raise them.

definitive's avatar

Very interesting debate…

I have been having a relationship with somebody who disclosed 5 months (subsequently after moving in with me) into our relationship that he betrayed me with two females (i.e his soon to be ex-wife and his female friend) who still remain in his life. I really loved/love this man and to be honest feel that he was my 1st love.

I’m an understanding and open minded person…perhaps too understanding for my own good and bearing in mind I’m a social worker (adults with learning disabilities)...maybe it has some relevance lol

Following lengthy discussions with my partner he has disclosed that he has discovered and found a label for his what could be viewed as deviant behaviours or wants/needs. My partner claims to be ‘Polyamorous’.

To give an honest opinion I’m really struggling with the concept…I feel let down and disappointed…I feel a sense of loss for the expectation that I had for our relationship…I feel like my partner ‘built me up’ as he’s very good with words and affection. I feel confusion how somebody can say that they love everything about me…that they feel totally physically attracted to me but not want to be with just me.

I can also see that when he is with me…in his body language etc…that he does really love me…but I can’t agree to having an ‘open relationship’...our beliefs are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I want to feel loved for me and settled in a relationship…not to be living with ‘insecurity’. We no longer live together and I have joined a dating site hoping to find ‘the one’ as they say.

My partner has gone back to live with his ‘wife’. I’m not saying that my way of thinking is right and he is wrong…we just don’t have the same expectations of how relationships should be.

phillis's avatar

@definitive You are experiencing a lot of pain right now, and righfully so. It’s a slap in the face, no doubt. Once you come out the other side of this, I hope your feelings no longer contribute to indecisiveness. You knew what cheating was before you met him, and you still know what it is. All the love in the world cannot replace broken trust. It’s okay to be angry, too.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@definitive I am polyamorous and I can tell you that trust can absolutely be broken still and deciding to be polyamorous as a post-factum excuse for cheating is low

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