Monday 5 June 2017

#196 Polyamory

When I used to use Tinder, I'd sometimes match with someone who had a boyfriend. In their pictures. They were usually upfront about it, explaining that they were in an open relationship. Sometimes they'd proceed to describe a fantasy they were looking to act out but often they'd just be looking to meet someone. It didn't interest me personally but like it or not, I'd keep coming across it.

In an effort to learn more about navigating human connections in general, I recently finished The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Neill Strauss. 

The following will spoil the book if you intend on reading it and have not yet done so.

From the title, I'd expected it to land all the right punches. Experts advising humans aren't meant to be monogamous. The evolution of religion. The importance of commitment when raising a family. The purpose of a relationship, which as everyone knows is mutual spiritual growth. As it happened, the book only focussed on the last of those points. What a first-rate job it did though.

Over the course of 420 pages, the author described his own experiences in almost every kind of heterosexual structure imaginable. The traditional exclusive duo. A poly triad. A hareem. A commune. Swinging. From a cursory peek at a review, I first thought Mr. Strauss was either carrying out a research study or a marketing campaign. It was only through closer examination of the text that I discovered the earnestness of his journey.

Here was a man desperately searching for a dynamic in which he could feel happy. After participating fully in an expensive and hideously restrictive year-long programme of sex addiction therapy, he realised that even when he did everything "right", he was still miserable. So he went and did everything "wrong" instead but he was still miserable. It was only at that point that he realised one of the main requirements of a successful relationship, which as we all know is that its constituents have achieved and are able to maintain a basic level of happiness independently of one another.

The naughtiness and intensity of the story would be enough for some readers but Strauss' ability to see the hilarity in even his most genuinely difficult moments helped to humanise his experiences. It was clear from very early on, that whatever happened to him, he'd keep the tone entertaining and he did, right through to the end.

An open relationship still isn't something I'd consider but my week-long literary canter through various alternative loving arrangements was well worth the trip to the library and back. After what the author went through to arrive at a conclusion worth ending on, I will be distraught if I ever see another book about relationships by him again. If that day does come though, I'll definitely be picking up a copy.


Running on empty said...

Good book review.

Seeking ones own happiness is usually futile. We get endorphins by exercising, eating certain substances like chocolate, beetroot and oats, having sex, partaking of communal fun events like football matches, and most of all, by providing happiness to others. Many studies have shown the feel good factor to unselfish acts of bravery , charity , nurturing etc. The happy hormone levels rise.

Fizzfan said...

I'm very heartened to hear this. I've often wondered how I'd be received on a dating ap as one of my absolute requirements in life is to be left ALONE. I also NEED time with my OWN friends.
Not sure I'd get a lot responses to:-
Seeking man who doesn't want to be with me that much because it makes me irritable and we'll probably end up arguing. Own life and friends also required because you're not sharing mine.
It's great to hear this isn't something to feel weird about.
Fortunately my other half is very independent too. Hurray!

Profound Familiarity said...


Profound Familiarity said...

You could try creating a profile with that text as an experiment.

Running on empty said...


Stay monogamous Fizz!


Running on empty said...

Hmm, the happy hormones are more instant than karma, but I see what you're saying.

Fizzfan said...

That's a naughty idea Dan. I'm quite tempted but my other half nicks my iPad sometimes so he might ask difficult questions. Not sure he'd believe me if I said, "but Dan told me to"

I defo think it would be quite interesting tho. Maybe something like Tell It Like It Is.Com

If nothing else it would be funny and honest and that's a HUGE plus as far as I'm concerned.

Fizzfan said...

Defo intend to Cath. That whole being super cool, super sexy and super Super is just too bloody exhausting. I like being real and that's not always (if in fact hardly ever) very Super anything.

Running on empty said...

Well I think you are both super writers!

Fizzfan said...

You too.....Group Hug!

Profound Familiarity said...

Aww. :)