I recently watched this video of straight people being asked, “when did you decide to be straight?”
This brings up an interesting question of choice. I am a very liberal and independent person, so I am really for freedom of choice and expression. As the video highlights (and I agree with it), I don’t think that sexual orientation is a choice at all. Now, you may not be born with an orientation and it may change through your life, but I don’t think it’s a choice any of us can make.
Love and desire after all are emotions and they happen whether we want them to or not and they happen several seconds before our higher brain functions kick in to consciously rationalize or consider it. By the time we are even capable of making a choice, that feeling is already there.
The choice I think we have is our identity. Once we have felt the feeling, we are free to act on it as we will. This can lead to closeted homosexuals living their life as a hetero (in the case of peer or social pressure). Of course, we all know how effective it is to try to consciously deny our emotional desires. We usually fail: The diet we can never seem to stick to. The exercise routines we don’t get around to doing.
However, there is a way to do it. The conscious mind can be used to retrain the subconscious. Buddhist monks achieve elevated feelings of peace, happiness and compassion through meditation and living a lifestyle filled with these things.
So, does that mean that you can’t decide your sexuality, but you could consciously use your mind to train them? It’s an interesting idea and I think it’s entirely possible that nurture could shape our sexuality to a certain extent. We’d need some studies in that to prove it – anyone willing to take part?
What does this have to do with poly and relationship styles? After some thought, I’m thinking that it’s a mix. Whether someone can emotionally love more than one simultaneously is unconscious. How we express it and live it is our conscious choice. Society and our peers may influence that subconscious baseline and we may be able to proactively train that like monks do.
In the end, I don’t care how you identify or what your sexuality is. Be happy with your own choices. If you don’t like some aspect of yourself… well you could train yourself not to worry or be peer-pressured in to being someone you don’t want to be. You could train yourself out of a bad habit such as controlling jealousy.
Even if you don’t want to go that far (effective meditation is not as easy as breathing and shutting your eyes, it takes years of daily effort), you still have a choice if you find yourself loving or desiring another while you’re in a relationship. You can choose to identify as monogamous and not pursue your love interest. You can choose to cheat. You can choose end your relationship and start a new one. You can choose to open up. There are many choices and all have their consequences, drawbacks and advantages. It’s your choice: