Sex by Numbers 

Polyamory has gone from being a fringe scene to a veritable subculture. But can having multiple partners ever be widely accepted?

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John's been jilted, too. "There was a girl I was dating for a month or two, the sex was really hot, and she was down with the fact that I had another partner," he said. "Then I went off to New York for a few weeks, and she basically started dating someone who wanted to be monogamous." So the girl just bounced, leaving John in the lurch. "It really hurts when someone starts dating you, and then they have to stop because they're not actually poly." He explained that even though most people are theoretically born nonmonogamous, few people can actually practice nonmonogamy in a healthy, fair, fully communicative way. We're so habituated to think of romance in terms of competition and scarcity that it becomes nearly impossible to break away from that model. John said one would think that his and Jessica's pool of potential partners is a lot bigger than that of the average person, but it's actually more limited.

In the end, it's hard to say which model is better, given our social circumstances. "I think monogamy has certain pressures and discontents that complicate relationships," Savage wrote. "And I think polyamory does, too. You get to pick your poison."

It's possible to make a serious mess of a polyamorous relationship, be an unthinking, uncaring jerk, and alienate the people around you. Then again, it's also possible to create the kind of romance that John and Jessica apparently have, in which everything seems beautiful and clean.

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