Love censored; polyamory today By Henriette Bertheussen Isachsen and Clíona Perrick

Throughout time minorities have been fighting tooth and nail to achieve acceptance and respect in society, the road was long and treacherous, but for polyamorous people the time to stand in the spotlight for equality and acceptance is burgeoning.

– It was started as a deep desire to be more than just freaks to be accepted, so we figured that we needed to start an organization. - Lynn Myrdal the head of polynorge the official organisation for polyamorous people in Norway.

Hiding in plain sight

Lynn Myrdal was one of the key founders of the organisation PolyNorge. It was established in September 2016, from a 12 year old network of people who had gotten together socially and felt the need to do something to be heard in society. She chose to lead this as acceptance is something that she values deeply.

– Your love Life is not just a choice it's a part of your identity- Lynn

Norway is often credited for its forward thinking mindset when it comes to sex and gender. Norwegians themselves claim to be a warm and welcoming society. According to Lynn - a lot of people are afraid to be open about being poly and some go as far as fearing child service because it’s seen as so different from the norm, they are afraid that schools or parents will report them to social services.

– I think that is really sad it says a lot about how little room there is in society for multitude. -Lynn
From a commentary section after an article about polyamory was published in November this year

Polyamory; The breakdown

The definition of polyamory is in the name, poly meaning many and amory meaning loves. For Lynn polyamory is just the acceptance of yourself being someone who is able to love more than one person, and discarding the notion that true love can only be given to one person.

For Lynn polyamory is often a concept that gets misconstrued by society. It regularly gets muddled with polygamy in the patriarchal sense, which a man who has many wife's. In these situations the women are not free. There is equality and consent missing which is present in polyamory.

– To put that version of polygamy and my version of polyamory as equals would be the same as saying sex and rape is equal the difference here is equality and consent. -Lynn

Challenging the norms of society

PolyNorge as an organization wants to help combat the shaming culture that is perpetuated in society. According to Lynn the shaming of people who want to have sexual encounters with more than one person shouldn't have to feel shame for this preference. She underlines PolyNorge wants poly as an umbrella term in which everyone can organize their life, love life and romantic life in a way that can include more than just two people. For instance she describes an asexual relationship where one person can have a romantic relation with someone without it being pyhsical. Yet the partner who craves a sexual relationship can have it with another partner.

It's just about sex

Lynn says that one misconception that poly people have to deal with on a regular basis is that polyamory is just about sex. For her this way of thinking insinuates that sex is not worth anything. She explains that for an asexual person not having to have sex is important, the same way for a sexual person it is important to have sex . Explaining the difference between an open and a polyamorous relationship she puts it this way; an open relationship has to do with sex, not only what the couple do outside the relationship but also what they bring back to it such as a feeling of connection, sharing things and talking, new energy and things to explore. For a polyamorous relationship sex is equally important, but the whole person with love and long term relations can be a part of the deal as well.

– Being poly in Norway today, there is already a huge difference to say 5, 10 and even 2 years ago a lot has happened. We have already reached out to a lot of the Norwegian society. -Lynn

With the society moving in the right direction, Lynn still addresses some of the challenges that polyamorous people face today. She explains the lack of knowledge in health services in Norway, bringing one specific example to the table. Regarding therapists and polyamorous patients she describes how some people might experience how misconceptions cause their therapists to blame the polyamorous lifestyle for any problem the patience may have, when in fact structuring the love life in such a may be the only thing that is working for them in their lives.

The in's and out of a poly home

Sitting down in the cozy apartment of Torgrims family he seems in all ways your typical husband, father and employee. For him being in a polyamorous family means they're three parents raising their child together. Living with his wife and her boyfriend he gives an example on how sharing the responsibility with more than one person gives a feeling of security:

– When one of us is sick or not around there are still two functioning parents. There is no such thing as having too many people who love you.

He explains that historically the nuclear family where children grow up living together with only their parents, is a new phenomena. Also in society today, many children grow up with more adults they see as parents, including step dads- and moms. According to Torgrim the underlining difference is that in a polyamorous family they all live together.

– They say it takes a village to raise a child, we have our own little village.

Monogamy tried and tested;

– I am still monogamous in the sense I am only married to one person, which is what the word means but people now a days use it in a way that isn't its true meaning. In the terms of are we sexually and romantically monogamous in an exclusive sense I am not anymore.

After many years of marriage their interests as a couple changed causing them to diverge in a way. It was either lose a part of their identity or allow each other to explore these aspects with others. For this couple the choice was simple, to continue to love each other while also dating and loving others.

-We don't live in the 1950s anymore

He described how initially he did not see himself and his wife as polyamorous, but as time went by they realized it wasn’t just exploring sex with others they were experiencing, they were sharing stronger emotional attachments. It would be artificial to say that it was just sex. Over time they accepted having emotional attachments to other people. According to Torgrim his wife had considered them polyamorous for a lengthier time then he did as he stressed over labels.

– I joke with people that I am monogamous because I am married to one person, but polyamorous because I love more than one and multisexual because I do not need to be deeply in love with someone to have a sexual relationship with them

For Torgrim one of his pet peeve misconceptions about polyamory is that society assumes they have difficulties committing to others. He describes an analogy he likes to use when it comes to love; Love is not like a bathtub where there is only room for two people, and if someone else gets in someone needs to get out, he rather sees love as a swimming pool, as long as everyone acts accordingly and respectively.

– Love is not a scarce resource,love that is shared is multiplied

For Torgrim, commitment is not the biggest issue at hand for polyamorous relationships it is time, he jokingly states that the most important rule for poly couples is to have the app google calendar. Torgrim explains how society is often quick to judge couples no matter what, there are expectations that are placed on each couple, that often people don’t meet and when this happens it is seen as different and a problem.

– It’s like an escalator or stair and when it comes to relationships we are expected to move up a level or people assume something is wrong.

Preventing sensationalism of polyamory

When it comes to being a parent, Torgrim and his family must worry about issues that those in monogamous parent families may not have to deal with. Will his child be the victim of prejudice and bullying if it is found out that his parents are polyamorous? Particularly from the other parents and even teachers.

– It was this way for gay people as well but over time people accepted it. It is a goal for polyamory to become boring to people, so they won't feel the need to argue about it, it's just how we live. Torgrim

He believes one of the most common misconceptions is thinking that polyamorous people have problems with commitment, saying it couldn't be further from the truth – we commit so much to so many people. For Torgrim one important step to change opinion is when media and advertising start showing relations between three or more people in a way that is not comic relief or failing relationships. He details the importance in society of the couple and monormativity and how this is perpetrated regularly by the media where you never see an ad with three people.

Torgrim describes one special moment of understanding where his family felt accepted without any questioning.

– The midwife wrote all three of our names on the crib without us asking, we teared up a bit after this.

According to Torgrim, the poly community is working to influence politicians and bureaucrats to be more inclusive and less mono normative. With issues like wills and housing contracts there is little to no information provided for poly people.

- We need to take care of each other, because the government doesn't do it for us, the way they do it is for monogamous couples.

– Not a basis for discrimination

According to State Secretary Tom Erlend Skaug from The Royal Ministry of Children and Equality polyamory alone is not a basis for discrimination under Norwegian legislation.

Although, it does not state that being polyamorous is listed under unlawful dismissal as discriminatory, poly people still feel stigmatized when revealing their true identity to the public and fear that there will be repercussions from employers and child services. Currently the issue at hand is not on the governments agenda.

– This is not a problem that is being worked on today. Tom Erlend Skaug
Created By
Henriette Isachsen

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