Morgaine

How many’s a crowd?

In Too lazy to assign a category on March 26, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Source: Diamondback Online

Sophomore computer science major Seth Weinstein has two girlfriends: One he sees during the school year, and the other when at home in Columbia.

But don't get him confused for a player or even a cheater – he's simply polyamorous.

A growing relationship type among university students, polyamory is the practice of intimately and openly dating several people at once. Different from an open relationship, polyamory is not just about sex, nor is it about playing the field, say students involved in the practice. Instead, it's about caring for several people at the same time – just in different ways.

"We are just trying to be open and honest about our ability to love more than one person at a time," Marly Davidson, an event organizer for the Chesapeake Polyamory Network, said.

A romantic concept that has been around since the '80s, polyamory is now making its way into the public eye more so than in past generations. For example, episodes of Oprah, Montel and The Tyra Banks Show have been dedicated to the subject, and countless polyamorous organizations have popped up across the Internet, with many, such as Loving More and Poly Living, holding conferences every year.

Though Davidson said the poly-community at CPN consists of adults from 30- to 70-years-old, more and more members of the younger generation are discovering this relationship alternative.

"We run into a lot of people, younger people, thinking for themselves, and they understand that they have lots of options," Davidson said. "The whole idea of one person meeting all of their needs for rest of their lives is very silly. It's not realistic."

Weinstein felt polyamory functions well for the college-age generation, and was content with balancing two relationships at one time. He has been dating girlfriend C.J. Rock, a junior lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies and Spanish major, for about seven months after their friendship blossomed over summer conversations online.

Rock, however, is always on the go because of her double major, and encouraged Weinstein to pursue other relationships, fearing that she could not always fit him into her tight schedule.

"I'm so busy," Rock said. "I kind of feel bad not giving the person enough attention as they deserve. In polyamory, it's easier for the person to get the attention they need when I can't provide it."

So when Weinstein met Adrienne Moser at a party during Thanksgiving break, he felt free to start a relationship with her.

Weinstein now dates Rock while at school and sees Moser when at home, creating a perfect situation that all three parties are open and fine with.

"In a traditional relationship, I would have been put in a difficult situation when I met Adrienne," Weinstein said. "I was attracted to her and I can't do anything about that. I'm a sophomore. I can date a lot of people and see who interests me."

Although the typical relationship would see such openness as a form of double-dipping, Davidson says jealousy is often a symptom of a poorly-functioning relationship. Openly dating several people eliminates that problem, she added.

And for Weinstein, Moser and Rock, the situation mostly works, they said.

"I pretty much can do what I'm used to doing," Moser said. "If I meet someone, I don't have to be like 'Oh my God, will my boyfriend not like me talking to this guy?' I am able to not have to worry about the jealousy factor."

As with any relationship, things are not always perfect, Rock said, and conflicts are bound to come up with multiple people. To avoid situations like these, the polyamorist mantra is communication, with honesty between all parties functioning as the lifeline to the relationships, Rock added.

"It forces an honesty that people don't always bring to a relationship," she said. "You have to talk about things."

But in no way is polyamory a glorified form of an open relationship, polyamorists say.

For example, while sophomore computer science major Mike Onufrak has a girlfriend of 10 months, the relationship is an open one, and he occasionally hooks up with other girls, he said. Because he and his girlfriend communicate about what they're doing, Onufrak said, the outside dalliances are simply understood as sex without emotional attachment.

"I don't get into serious relationships in college," Onufrak said. "In college, it just does not sound like a fun thing to do."

While Weinstein stressed the benefits of being intimate and involved with several people at once, he added polyamory requires more discussion between those involved – a situation certainly not everyone can deal with.

"If a person cannot handle you being with another person, this is not the relationship to be in," Weinstein said.

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