Components of Open Marriage & Polyamory and the Ethics Thereof Essay

Components of Open Marriage & Polyamory and the Ethics Thereof Essay

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In America, the values of monogamous, heterosexual marriage are drilled into the fabric of the society – so much so that the prospect of any other setup becomes virtually unthinkable. However, in an ever-evolving semiosphere, these other setups are emerging from their hiding place in order to find a forefront spot in contemporary culture and establish themselves as legitimate lifestyles. Education and understanding become paramount as new ideas and formations appear, necessitating tolerance and even acceptance.

One of these new formations is what’s known as an “open marriage,” in which one or both members of a dichotomous marriage seek sexual satisfaction through extraneous partners. Anyone who has ever truly invested their emotions in a relationship might look at this setup with a skeptical, even disgusted eye, and wonder how the marriage could last when sexual exclusivity is not maintained, but regardless, an estimated 6% of married couples are involved in open marriages and are perfectly content to be. “While many of today's adherents are aging swingers from the old school, a new generation - well organized and committed to legitimizing a lifestyle -- continues to push traditional notions of marital fidelity by having sex with people other than their spouses” (Goldman).
A second lifestyle is called “polyamory,” meaning “many loves”. In these relationships, one or more members will “jointly date” and establish emotional connections with other people. Their original lover is called their “primary,” while everyone else is considered “secondary”. Polys – as participants are sometimes called – seek to experiment with human’s seemingly endless capacity for love and pursue deeper forms of self-discovery. Originally, marriage ex...


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...nd Koray Tanfer, comps. Journal of Marriage and the Family: Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women. Brigham Young University, Battelle Memorial Institute. 10 May 2008

Betsworth, Roger G. Social Ethics: an Examination of American Moral Traditions. 1st ed. Westminster John Knox P, 1990. 99-103.

Goldman, Russell. "Are Open Marriages More Successful?" ABC News. 10 Aug. 2007. 07 May 2008 .

Hesse, Monica. "Pairs with Spares." Washington Post. 13 Feb. 2008. 07 May 2008 .


O'Neill, Nena, and George O'Neill. Open Marriage: a New Life Style for Couples. Avon Books / the Hearst Corporation, 1973.

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