1. Why do you believe what you believe? What would change your mind?
First, what I believe is this: there’s a Laffer-type curve for monogamy, and Western society is on the left-hand side of it. That is, individuals and society would benefit if more people formed monogamous relationships. There is probably a point at which there would be “too much monogamy,” but we’re not at it.
The people I know who are most interested in polyamory are high-intelligence, slightly eccentric types. And they are the people I’d most like to see form monogamous partnerships and start families. That’s not a preference based on eugenics. It’s a preference based on my observation that high-intelligence, slightly eccentric types make great couples, provide good environments for kids, and improve the communities around themselves.
I’ll allow that there are people for whom polyamory can “work,” and I don’t want to go around telling people how to live their lives. But if a friend asked, “should I get into polyamory?” I would strongly advise them against it. It’s not that I’d judge them harshly if they did; it’s that I want to “preach what I practice.”
What would change my mind? I’m open to evidence from either direction. If we find that places with less or decreasing monogamy start looking like great places to move – i.e., they are safe, have vibrant economies, and good schools – then I’ll happily start promoting non-monogamy. Similarly, if we find that places with more or increasing monogamy start looking like bad places to move, then I’ll update my model.
2B. A monogamous person has a crush on someone other than their partner. In a healthy relationship, what would happen next?
The monogamous person would sigh a lot, listen to music about unrequited love, pace back and forth aimlessly for hours, and eventually get over it.
Harsh, I know! But there are lots of things that one can (a) want, and (b) be better off without. Temptations are everywhere, and romantic ones aren’t particularly special.
That said, I have sympathy for people with crushes. Crushes are really intense – I’m still bruised by ones I had as a teenager! Getting over them isn’t easy, and I wouldn’t wish the experience of having a crush while in a committed relationship on anyone.
(3) What would happen if 90% of people in a society were polyamorous?
In my “Laffer-type curve” model, I think the optimal amount of polyamory is something like 5 to 10%. Enough that most people know some polyamorous people, and enough that people for whom monogamy doesn’t work have an alternative. But 90% is way past what I would want to see.
What happens on the left tail of the monogamy curve? I don’t think it’s a parade of horribles; I think it’s a subtle shift to a slightly worse society. Fewer stable households, fewer kids, less long-term investment. I don’t mean to imply that poly people can’t or don’t put down roots; I mean that in a 90% poly world there’s less incentive to do it (even for the 10% minority).
Put more viscerally: The 90% poly world is one in which every place is San Francisco (the city proper, not the greater SF area). There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the people there, but it has lots of obvious dysfunction and correspondingly few households with kids. I might live there if I have to for work, but I’d want to get out as soon as possible.