[dropcap]I [/dropcap]always thought that the ‘swinging Sixties’ was in relation to swing dancing. As it turns out, I was pretty far off. The 1960s began to relax many taboo aspects of society like racism and sexism. But running alongside these new and free ideas of love and peace, new romantic and sexual practices arose.
The term ‘swinging,’ or ‘wife-swapping’ in the 1950s, became a rising alternative to the mainstream monogamous relationships of yore. In today’s society, the term ‘polyamory’ is used to describe the relationship that many people share, sometimes two people in a ‘primary’ unit. In this case, both of these people may disclose to their primaries any dates and sexual relations with other partners, setting mutually agreed upon terms and boundaries so as to prevent jealousy and infidelity. People in this type of polyamorous relationship, then, can take part in meaningful relations outside of their primary without having to break up with their primary partner with whom they have built a solid relationship.
Upon sharing this newfound knowledge with my grandpa, he just laughed and said to me, “Well, we didn’t call it the Swinging Sixties for nothing.”
My grandpa was a very traditional kind of guy. It was monogamy or nothing, fidelity over everything. My grandparents loved each other and remained in a monogamous relationship despite the new wave of alternatives. And for myself, I’m not going to argue with it, because the idea of polyamory is something I can’t see myself subscribing to.
Call me a conservative, but I like the idea of one love. I’m not going to tell my man to cut off all ties with the women he calls friends, nor will I stop being friends with guys that I’ve known for a long time. But this is where trust and communication comes in — something that I would find confusing in a polyamorous relationship.
Our grandparents’ generation made it pretty clear-cut. You either were in a monogamous relationship, or you were out experimenting in secret. But once the taboo was lifted, ‘swinging’ turned to polyamory, a growing trend. With the rise of these new arrangements, research and interest in them reached an all-time high in the 1970s, making it somewhat ‘normal.’
My grandparents, content with the monogamous relationship they had, did not jump on the polyamory bandwagon, which most likely influenced the choices that my parents made. This, in turn, has a deep impact on my relationships and how I go about them. However, with more and more millennials viewing monogamy as just one possible option, it has also begun to raise questions within me.
My grandpa had his questions about polyamory: “Are they unhappy and underwhelmed? Because usually those kinds of things can either be worked out, or end in divorce.”
And being unhappy and underwhelmed is exactly what many polyamorous couples avoid. As an article in Rolling Stone states, some people in these relationships try to have “one long-standing relationship” while also having a “willingness to openly acknowledge that the long standing relationship might not meet each partner’s needs for all the time.” As explained in an MTV video about Tran and Caleb — a polyamorous couple living in Brooklyn — the ‘itch’ is usually seen in monogamous relationships as the signal to say goodbye. But for Tran and Caleb, it was a sign that they needed to shake things up.
So, Grandpa, it looks like we agree on something. Whether you’re committed to your one true love or are committed and still ready to mingle, it seems that neither of our generations have the answer. But then again, love is love. Who are we to judge?