Monday, 3 December 2012

Poly Means Many - Commitment Does Not Mean Exclusivity

Commitment, it’s a word that means so much, to so many people. It’s often linked to marriage; but also to our job, our friendships, or our Sunday afternoon football team. We commit to baking something for the company bake sale, or to attending a friend’s party.

In all these instances, it implies that we are going to do something, to promise to do it no matter what, and to do only that. It implies exclusivity. We commit to going to A’s party on Friday night, even though B invited us to another one. We commit to show up to work, despite having other things we’d rather be doing. We commit to loving our spouse, and only our spouse, until death do us part. It implies sticking to it, even when it is hard. It implies giving everything we have.

So how does commitment fit into being poly? I once had a friend say to me, after I came out as poly, something along the lines of “Oh, yeah, I wouldn't want to commit either”, implying that the reason I was poly was because I couldn't commit and that I didn't want to settle down or limit my options.

The real truth of it is, it means I can commit, and I do commit, but that I commit more. Sometimes I am only committed to one person, sometimes several, but I am committed to each one of them. The nature of the commitment to one may be different to the other, but I commit. I commit to being honest with them, to treating them with respect, to ensuring they know that they are a priority to me, even if they are not my only priority. I commit what I can give, in line with what they want. That may be a few hours a week or it may be my home and my daily life.

Despite the societal implications that commitment means solitary fidelity, we know this isn't always the case. We commit ourselves to, and love more than one friend at a time. We may have a second job, or have two different hobbies. Our capacity to love, and to commit is not limited to one thing or one person. Our only true limitation is our time. There is also the misconception that exclusive commitment means more. For example, the rarity of a diamond (Diamonds are not as rare as we are all led to believe, but that is perhaps a discussion for another time!) is what makes it more valuable.

But, I believe that the conscious choice to remain faithful to a commitment, in a space where there are others, is what truly adds value to it. 

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers - ALBJAn Open BookDelightfully QueerMore Than NuclearRarely Wears Lipstick, and The Boy With The Inked Skin - will write about their views on one of them.

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