With the passing of the decades and the expansion of welfare societies, new ways of loving have appeared. If before it was practically an obligation to marry a person of the opposite sex and have children (or dedicate one’s life to a god), today the creation of affective bonds is much freer.

Gay marriage, for example, means that regardless of sexual orientation, people have the same rights when it comes to marriage, while the option of not having a partner is increasingly accepted socially (although there is still some stigma attached to unmarried women of a certain age). Furthermore, in recent years proposals such as polyamory or relational anarchy have begun to question the idea of romantic love and traditional monogamous couples.

However, for some people there is still a long way to go to make freedom in emotional life something truly present in our societies. It is from this type of position that the concept of agamy has emerged, an idea as revolutionary as it is controversial .

What is agamy?

Agamy is, fundamentally, the absence of what is called gamma , which is a union between two people that has marriage as its point of reference . In courtship, for example, it is an example of bucks , as it is culturally seen as a prelude to marriage, but there are many other similar cases.

For example, the relationship between two lovers, who are not formally considered a couple, is also gamos , in the vast majority of cases. Why? Because they cannot remain indifferent to the possibility that they, or the other person, may seek to formalize the relationship, and they accept that possibility as something normal, which should condition their way of behaving towards the other. In the end, sex is not something alien to gamos , but rather it is that which has given rise to its existence.

Something as simple as pretending to be disinterested in the other person in specific cases, for example, is usually a way of trying not to give the image of a person in love: the courtship and the marriage act as background noise in front of which you have to position yourself.

Thus, the defenders of agamy are accustomed to criticize the idea of polyamory pointing out that, in practice, it is a way of loving having as a point of reference the traditional glamorous relationship. In the end, all sorts of names and labels are established to define each of the forms of polyamory according to the degree to which they resemble the traditional monogamous couple, pointing out types of commitments that only make sense if they have internalized the love affairs based on romantic love.

The relational standard of marriage

From the point of view of the defenders of agamy, our way of seeing love is conditioned by the strong cultural roots of marriage as a way of regulating the affective life. For example, when we refer to the world of emotions, the word “relationship” speaks to us of a love bond typically based on romantic love, of which marriage has always been the ultimate expression.

To refer to other types of emotional ties, it is necessary to add adjectives, specifications that make it clear that what we are talking about is not exactly a couple in love: friendship, professional relationship, etc. Marriage continues to be the axis of affective relationships , that which serves as the maximum reference and which is impossible to ignore. At the same time, this kind of ties based on the gamos create norms in the rest of relationships: there is adultery, for example, seen as a violation of the norms in a relationship not formalized by marriage, or the bad social acceptance of the fact of feeling attraction to someone who is married.

In other words, there is only one possible choice: either agamy, which is the rejection of any relational standard in the affective sphere (because in practice they are all based on the same thing), or gamma , in which everything is measured according to the extent to which a bond resembles a courtship or a marriage.

Love, seen from the agamic perspective

In agamy, what we normally consider as love is seen as just one concept that has emerged from the expansion of a very concrete way of creating affective ties: romantic love linked to marriage. From this perspective, our perception of affectivity is neither neutral nor innocent: it is judged by a relational standard based on marriage-type bonds.

Thus, from the objective existence of marriage-type links, a series of social norms, thought patterns and beliefs have appeared that, without our realizing it, condition our way of living affectivity in all areas of our lives, both in monogamous and polygamous societies.

Marriage, which historically has been a way of perpetuating lineages (until not so long ago, directly trading with women, by the way), was seen as a material necessity for survival, and from this fact ideas and customs appeared to justify this practice psychologically. From the passage of the generations, the idea that affective relationships are either marriage or substitutes for it became more and more internalized, so that today it is difficult to abandon the reference to gamos .

A freer affectivity

The concept of agamy is striking because it is as simple as it is challenging. On the one hand, to define it it is enough to say that it is the absence of unions inspired by marriage and courtship, but on the other hand, it is complicated to realize in what moments these mental schemes are acting so internalized, based on sex and the formal bond and regulated by rules created collectively .

Who knows if, as we gain access to more comfortable lives with less need to depend on the family unit, agamy becomes more widespread.