RE: Fidelity (WAS: RE: CFCs and ethics)

Billy Brown (
Mon, 8 Nov 1999 19:33:54 -0600

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> I've always though something like Heinlein's "line" marriages
> would be better suited to a modern society. Plenty of people
> around to pool resources, care for children, and have some
> degree of sexual variety while keeping intimacy and maintaining
> a history and consistent values.

That seems like a good possibility, although I think Heinein tended to make marriage groups much larger than is actually practical. I suspect it would be very difficult to maintain a group much bigger than 4-5 people, because the number of interpersonal relationships involved becomes too large. Besides, it was hard enough to find one person I wanted to marry - finding a group that big would seem to require either impossibly good luck or rather low personal standards.

I tend to favor smaller group marriages involving 3-5 partners, with gender balance varying depending on the orientations of the individuals involved. However, I can see plenty of other workable arrangements, from an open version of the traditional marriage to various fluid forms of polyamory. I think the important rules are simply:

  1. Be open and honest with each other about everything.
  2. Talk about and agree on the rules for your relationship up front.
  3. Don't try to put restrictions on your partner(s) for no good reason.
  4. Do insist on rules about the things that really matter to you.
  5. Be realistic in your expectations.

Of course, this approach runs directly counter to the expectations of Western culture. After all, <love conquers all>, <only love matters>, <your head can't (and shouldn't) understand your heart>, and "I do" comes just before you segue to the happy ending scene, right?

Billy Brown, MCSE+I