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This Week on Savage Love: Dan Rejects Polyamorous as Identity

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I have to admit I’m disappointed in Dan Savage today after reading his response to Polyamorous Polymath (“PP”) in his latest column.  
Dan does not identify as polyamorous (he and hubby being “monogamish”).  Instead of addressing PP’s concerns, Dan quickly steps all over PP’s idea that polyamory is his identity and not just a lifestyle.  Dan tells PP that polyamory is about what people do and not who they are.  In fact, he’s vehement about that, and about polyamory not being a sexual orientation, which seems to be his supporting argument against polyamory as sexual identity.  (Protect your turf much, Dan?)
PP is a man who finds himself in a difficult poly/mono relationship trying to figure out how to give up polyamory in order to meet the ultimatum of his monogamous girlfriend.  PP loves her and doesn’t want to have to give her up.  PP’s dilemma is that he clearly believes that polyamory is a big piece of his identity, and agreeing to foresake all others feels like giving up who he is. 

PP has a tough choice to make.  Dan tries to make it sound like it’s an easy one, a lifestyle choice, but he’s wrong.  Many therapists would agree that giving up who we are to make someone happy is not a very healthy relationship strategy.  At some point it sounds a lot like codependence

Over the last 15 years I’ve met many, many polyamorous people for whom being polyamorous is to them about a lot more than what (or whom!) they do. They say emphatically that it’s about who they are.  Many tried to live by mainstream society’s monogamy rules because they thought they had to, but it chafed – a lot.  Many always felt like they were different and like they were the only ones who saw relationships differently.  We still have people come into our community who are delighted and relieved to have discovered they weren’t alone after all. 

Is polyamory a sexual orientation?  Some will insist that it is not as to the traditional meaning of it.  Yet many polyamorists express themselves differently sexually, i.e. with more than one person at a time.  If not sexual orientation, then sexual relationship orientation or sexual relationship identity - that’s how I refer to it, and I’ve done so for some years now. 

I expect that this point will be made much more frequently in the future as research under way now gives us more scientific insight into such questions. In the meantime, I hope Dan catches up soon because his advice basically says to PP that his identity isn’t valid.  I have to wonder how Dan would feel if someone told him his identity isn’t valid. 

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