Will polyamorous people marry and have kids?

Answer by Claire J. Vannette:

Most polyamorous people I have met are married or want to marry. The reasons are pretty simple. Marriage has a lot of practical benefits when you want to form a household with someone, and it’s a powerful symbol of love and devotion. Many poly people were married before they started doing polyamory, but some start doing poly when they’re single and still want to marry eventually. I’m in the latter category, I guess. I’m not married, and I’m not sure if I want to get married, but I may decide to do it someday.
I also know a lot of polyamorous people who have kids. Again, they may have had kids before they started having polyamorous relationships, or they might have kids after they’ve decided on polyamory. Some try to keep it secret from their kids; others explain it as the need arises. If you grow up in a household with multiple adults who all love each other, it’s monogamy that needs to be explained to you. Anyway, explaining polyamory isn’t difficult. I explained it to my (significantly) younger sisters by telling them that I have more than one boyfriend, and everybody knows about it, and everybody’s cool with it. They probably think it’s super weird, but that’s fine.
You have a lot of additional questions in your question details. Some brief answers:
"Don’t polyamorous people value a sense of loyalty, belongingness to the other person?"
Of course. I just don’t think loyalty and exclusivity have anything to do with each other. I can be loyal to more than one person. I can also feel a sense of belonging with multiple people. I feel like I belong with my parents and sisters, after all. I just don’t feel like I belong to them. Belonging to people grosses me out.
"Don’t they like the feeling where they can say that the other person in the relationship is ‘theirs’?"
As a turn of phrase? Sure. I’ve been known to wrap my arms tightly around my partners and say, “Mine!” Everyone knows that I don’t literally mean they are my exclusive property. It’s just a cute way of expressing my intense to desire to have them around. Also, someone can be “mine” without being exclusively mine. My mother is my mother. She’s also my sisters’ mother.
"Are people polyamorous because subconsciously they want to escape the pain of relationship breakups, infidelity?"
Oh, I don’t think it’s subconscious. I absolutely wanted to escape the pain of infidelity — my infidelity. I’m crap at monogamy, but I also hate it when I break promises to people and deceive them. I cheated a few times in college. The guilt ate me alive. Part of my solution was to stop making promises I can’t keep. The other part was choosing to date people who aren’t threatened by my desire for others, so that desire doesn’t need to be hidden or cause anyone pain.
Non-monogamy can be a way to avoid breakups in specific circumstances. If my partner decides he no longer wants to have sex ever again, and I can’t accept a life without sex, and I’m not supposed to have sex with anyone else, then my only ethical choice is to break up with him. Agreeing to open the relationship would make a breakup unnecessary. But trust me, poly breakups still happen. We can still hurt each other a great deal, or discover significant incompatibilities, and decide we no longer want to be together.
"Why the heck would someone be okay with his/her partner sleeping around with other people!"
Because it doesn’t harm me in any way. It doesn’t mean my partner doesn’t love me. It doesn’t mean my partner doesn’t desire me. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. It doesn’t make it more likely that my partner will leave me. It just means that my partner wants me and that person. That might mean I get a bit less time with my partner, but that’s okay.
Now, that’s part of what I believe. My lizard-brain still freaks out sometimes. When that happens, I remind myself that it’s simply repeating tired, old lies that it picked up from romantic comedies and Cosmo advice columns. It’s like being afraid of non-poisonous spiders. I know the fear doesn’t reflect real danger, so I don’t let the fear control my actions.
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