Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Yes, We Can Choose Who We Love (Sort Of). And?

There was rather fluffy piece about a polyamorous relationship on the BBC news site this week. It was extremely superficial and barely touched upon interesting and important questions about the practicalities, morality or the individual emotions involved with such an undertaking. It ended on a very "upbeat" throwaway remark ""But we don't have a choice. We're in love with each other,"

This has led Jennie Pollock to ask some good questions over whether we really do have a choice over who we love or not. I agree with her that we do have a choice. I've, in the past, found myself falling for a straight man (in a deep way, not just a crush). I made the conscious choice not to pursue this relationship (or the fiction that there could be one) and to distance myself from him out of respect for him (and for myself). And I can see cases where you may love someone and they love you but the right decision for you both is not to pursue that course. Hell, heartbreaking romantic dramas have been made over those sort of predicaments (check out The Love of Siam for one such tearjerker).

But her entire article fails to justify exactly why these four people should have choose not to pursue the relationship they have. Yes, they are wrong to think they don't have a choice. But aren't they just saying the sort of thing Pollock would, I imagine, like unhappily married couples to say? "We don't really love each other but we don't really have a choice about staying together. We're married and that is important to us both."

Yes we should all accept we do not have to give in to our emotions. I agree that self sacrifice, will-power and self-control are things I respect and aspire to. But this doesn't explain why we should criticise others relationship choices. "For the good of society" is I suspect what Pollock's answer might be and perhaps "For our own good". Of course, if we wanted to live in a society where we did everything for the greater good then we'd find ourselves in rather terrifying world of eugenics, involuntary euthanasia and highly restricted individual liberty.

No thanks, I'll stick to the one where I choose to stay with the person I love because not only do they love me back but together our lives are better than they would be if we were apart.

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