This might be a question you get often but is polyamory an orientation?
I do get this question often, and I have to wonder why. Why does it matter so much to people? We’ve spent so much time digging our heels into the idea that an “identity” is more valid if it’s not a “choice” - that if something is genetic, or chemical, or whatever, it’s somehow more real or less subject to judgment.
People often insist that discrimination against a certain identity is not okay because it’s not a choice, or is okay because it is a choice. Our pride anthems sing “born this way.” But where does all that come from? I think it’s worth investigating this strange value system we’ve set up. If being in the world and doing things a certain way is the healthiest, happiest, most fulfilling choice for another person, and they aren’t hurting anyone else, why does it matter how we define it?
Is polyamory an orientation? Why do we care? Why are we so caught up in whether the way we love other people is a way of being or a way of doing? Why do I get this question so often, and why are we all so invested in the answer?
If you experience your polyamory as an innate part of your self, as something you are rather than something you do, great. It’s part of your orientation. We can split semantic hairs and say it’s a “relationship orientation” as opposed to a “sexual orientation.” Some people don’t experience it that way, and that’s fine too.
What’s not fine is if we start fighting about it and make it some big political or identity-political issue within the poly community. Because you know what? The rest of the world doesn’t care nearly as much about the nuances of our definitions. They’re prepared to deny us health insurance, child custody, media representation, hospital visitation, and plenty else regardless of whether we sort this out amongst ourselves. If we start turning on each other, there’s no one to have our backs.