What you need to know:
- Men can have a sense of attachment and commitment to more than one romantic partner, which they will define as love.
- Women are emotionally inclined to attach and commit differently than men. Unlike men, women practice and pursue exclusivity in romance.
- Men who discreetly practice polyamory will easily act ‘monogamous’ with each of their lovers.
In December 2018, Elizabeth Silamoi and Joyce Tokoyian wed the same man on the same day in Kajiado County. They agreed that Elizabeth, 23, would be the first wife while Joyce, 25, would be the second wife. The two women who professed love for their husband also agreed that they would have identical and equal household items to create a power balance in their marriage to Tom Mako. Tom had already declared his equal love for the two women.
Two years later, in December 2020, a Kenyan man who was identified as Hez Jakamollo shared photos of the two identical modern bungalows he was building for his two wives. The bungalows were in the same parcel of land, at least 30 feet apart. The two houses, which were identical in every way, were a representation of his equal love for the two women.
These two incidents created a buzz about how one person can love two people equally, at the same time, and without favouring one over the other.
The big conundrum
According to Aaron Ben–Zeéz, a professor of philosophy and the author of In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims, people who feel that it is possible to love two people at the same time equally often offer a logical contradiction. However, others see loving two people as having a complimentary romantic engagement. “The love for the second person is seen as being based upon a different set of characteristics and qualities of the second lover, and thus is seen as complementing the set of qualities and characteristics of the first lover,” he adds.
Emotional behaviours and inclinations
The biggest problem with polyamorous romance is emotional dissonance.
“Emotionally, it will be extremely difficult to imagine your lover in the arms of another romantic partner,” says Ben–Zeéz. Those who can say they are in love with two people at the same time will hardly stand being in the shoes of either of their lovers.
According to Ken Munyua, a Nairobi-based psychologist, men can have a sense of attachment and commitment to more than one romantic partner, which they will define as love. “A man may be able to emotionally commit and attach himself to two women at the same time. However, in most cases, a woman will not be able to do the same. Women are emotionally inclined to attach and commit differently than men. Unlike men, women practice and pursue exclusivity in romance,” he says. Men who discreetly practice polyamory will easily act ‘monogamous’ with each of their lovers. “For instance, when a man is with his first lover, he can shut the second lover out and treat the one he is with as if they were the only one. He will replay the same scenario when he meets with his second partner, whom he will treat as if she is the only queen,” says Munyua.
Perception on monogamy vs polygamy
According to Mark D. White, the author of Manipulation of Choice, if your partner values exclusivity and monogamy, you will be cheating him or her out of an aspect of your relationship that he or she cherishes. “If they don’t value monogamy, you may consider opening up about your second lover,” he says. If your relationship is only maintained by kids or finances instead of an emotional connection, you may fall in love with another person without neglecting your partner in any emotional sense. “In such cases, the partner to whom you are committed is assumed to have relinquished any claim on your affections,” he says. However, you should be aware of the possibility of this partner seeking emotional connection elsewhere just as you have done.