Okay, I apologize but this is probably gonna be a long one. Recently, I had someone ask me if I was planning to turn my writing into a Harem. Now, I've seen these everywhere, as I'm sure we all have. Romance novels involving one cis-female or one cis-male and multiple partners or potential partners. In every single one that I've read, the scenario seems to boil down to either multiple women chasing after one guy and fighting for his affections, or multiple men chasing after one woman and fighting for her affection. The setting may change, and the rules may vary, but at its core, that's what most of them appear to be.
And hey, if that's your thing. Kudos! I'm not a judgemental person at all. Writing is a medium by which we can explore whatever fantasies or stories we want. There's nothing wrong with that.
That said, I'm not trying to write a Harem. And it's not what I want to discuss either. I'm here to discuss genuine polyamory in writing. That is, a romantic relationship involving multiple partners all across the gender spectrum. From what I've seen, very rarely is there an accurate portrayal of a genuine polyamorous relationship in most writings. Usually, whenever a poly relationship is portrayed, it's done so as an "open relationship" which is in no way the same thing. A poly relationship can be "closed" just like a monogamous one can. However, whenever it's done 'that' way, we end up with the Harem scenario. In which multiple partners are all clamoring for the affection of one "Super Partner" as I like to call it.
And that's not how polyamory works at all! First of all, just because there are multiple partners, that doesn't mean that there are no established boundaries or rules. A poly relationship is not a free for all. Like a monogamous one, there are rules, boundaries, and lines that are never supposed to be cross. Oftentimes, there are even more so in a poly relationship than there are in a monogamous one. Furthermore, polyamory and polygamy (which is basically where the Harem trope comes from) aren't the same thing either. In a Harem, the multiple partners are lumped together into a group with the sole intention of gaining the love and affection of the Super Partner. But in truth, in a real poly relationship, they'd be forming romantic ties with each other as well. And that's something you don't ever really see in a typical Harem writing that doesn't purely involve sex or physical intimacy.
I've been a part of my local BDSM community for years. (Honestly, I could start an entirely different thread in regards to that) And though I've never been in a poly relationship myself, I have seen firsthand how they work through my experiences within the Kink community. Each power dynamic is different, the number of partners is different, the way each relationship works is different. But the one thing they all have in common is this. True polyamory is all about respect, open communication, and the ability to love on terms that work for the people involved in the relationship.
I want to do that justice. And though it hasn't shown yet, that's the direction my writing is going. It's not a Harem. Not in the traditional sense. What I want to convey is a genuine romantic relationship involving multiple partners. Furthermore, I'd like to open a discussion involving the portrayal of polyamorous relationships in writing. How many of you would like to see polyamory portrayed more accurately within a romantic fantasy setting? Wouldn't it be nice to see a Harem writing that doesn't feel so much like a competition and feels more like an environment that actually fosters genuine affection and care for everyone involved? What experiences do you have with the subject in regards to writing? Whatever you wish to contribute, feel free to do so down below.