It is only a matter of time until scientists identify the chemical patterns that our brains translate into the most common human emotion: love. Facing the sobriety of a reality that is moved by something so ascetic like electric impulses may be heart-breaking for those holding on to different definitions of love. The science of love is complex and, as any chemical reaction, it probably has a defined lifespan too. On a more optimistic note, this opens new scenarios, in which love is allowed more freedom and inclusiveness, and detached from moral codes rooted in obsolete religious and social narratives.

Cain and Abel,  2013 from the series  East of Eden  by Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

Cain and Abel, 2013 from the series East of Eden by Philip-Lorca diCorcia.

In its self-appointed authoritative role over things under the Sun, religion was early to exert a monopoly on the understanding of this primary emotion for human affection. As a result, cults and religions made sure to merge love and sex under a contractual agreement in order to extend authority over conceptualising these realities for society. For many religions, the notions of love and sex are fixed within this peculiar contract called “marriage,” an idea that has been constantly reinterpreted through time. Considering that biology has proven many religions’ beliefs wrong, we are left wondering whether we are being constrained to follow an approach to love that goes against our very nature, in order to blend in an archaic social construction that we inherited as being “normal.”

Pas de Deux with Roses , 1989 by Isaac Julien

Pas de Deux with Roses, 1989 by Isaac Julien

In a world that moves towards tolerance and inclusiveness, the clock for the traditional notion of marriage is ticking. Indeed, recent studies show that marriage may drop by up to 70% among millennials in the coming years. In turn, a new structure of romantic togetherness has emerged: polyamorous relationships, which erase notions of adultery and infidelity by dropping altogether the monogamous format.

Again?, New York , 1997 by Ellen von Unwerth.

Again?, New York, 1997 by Ellen von Unwerth.

Polyamorous people live their unions in a healthy manner and, with honesty, accept that they are capable of feeling attracted to more than one person at the same time. This kind of non-monogamous bonding is consensual, characterised by the freedom to define their own intimate relationships. They go beyond sexual attraction and established religion or social structures. Etymologically, “polyamory” might lead to a direct connection of these relationships with a narrative of love and romanticism. However, I argue that this phenomenon refers more to breaking with traditional norms and listening to one’s honest impulses instead. This concept is exceptionally inclusive, and all forms of intimate unions are welcome, as long as they are consensual and in line with the nature of each participant. Although the definition of this phenomenon would vary depending on the person, the reality is that polyamory is a lifestyle that is gaining more and more supporters. A plausible explanation can be that it feels more natural and honest to our human nature.

Married With Three Men , 2010 by Şükran Moral.

Married With Three Men, 2010 by Şükran Moral.

If marriage used to be seen as a necessary moment in one's life, forcefully associated with some sort of progress into adulthood, it has recently been devoid of this function, leaving room for a more volatile perception of the blend of love and time. Either serial monogamous or polyamorous, many individuals choose to challenge the foreverness imposed on love by the act of marriage, and design their own spatial and temporal format for it, proving, once more, that social conventions have an expiration date.

Words: Sergio López

Copy edited by Elena Stanciu