Have you ever been left wondering “Is Polyamory Right For Me”?
The word “polyamory” comes from the Greek root “poly,” meaning “many,” and the Latin root “amor,” meaning “love.” Quite literally, polyamory means “many loves” — being romantically involved with multiple people at the same time.
Why do people choose polyamory?
“Polyamory can also be utilised as a healthy means of coping with psychological difficulties, pre-existing trauma, differences in sexual desire, and the garden variety erotic boredom so common in long term monogamous marriages.” – Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D., – the author of Polyamory in the 21st Century and other books.
Monogamy is still very much the norm in today’s societies, but different types of romantic relationships including polyamory are quickly gaining popularity.
In most of the societies around the world, people dream of finding “the one” and building a life-long committed relationship with that singular person. Movies and books are filled with fairytales of happily-ever-after stories involving soulmates that were simply “made for each other.”
Yet, over the past few decades, more and more people have been speaking out, saying that monogamy is not for them and according to recent studies, approximately 4–5% of all adults in the United States have consensual non-monogamous relationships such as Polyamory.
Polyamory brings your relationship with yourself and with your partner closer together.
Most people assume that sleeping with others while in a primary relationship causes conflict and distance from your partner. However, polyamorous lovers find that polyamory actually draws you closer to your partner and to yourself, because normally if one has made a commitment to be monogamous there is always innocent doubt in the back of one’s mind that maybe that partner is not the right choice for a life-long relationship…. perhaps that person in your yoga class with whom you have great conversations with is more suitable….
Experiencing cold feet in a new or mature relationship is a normal part of the human experience. We can experience feelings of scarcity, being that if you can’t have a particular something, you want it even more.
It’s inevitable that some people will desire polyamory hoping that it will allow them to avoid dealing with problematic personal issues or that it will solve problems in an existing relationship, but if this works at all it’s usually a temporary fix. In a few cases, however, polyamory does allow people to create healthy and functional relationships they probably couldn’t have managed otherwise.
When two or more people are well matched, opening their relationship can make it stronger. When they’re not, opening up can be destabilising.
The blessing and the curse of polyamory is that love which includes more than one tends to illuminate those dark shadows most prefer to ignore. While some people deliberately look for polyamorous relationships for the purpose of freeing themselves and their children from the neuroses of a typical nuclear family dynamic. Most find that polyamory provides a nurturing environment for crafting new parental and relationship patterns that override dysfunctional patterns passed down genealogically from the origin of the family.
What is Polyamory exactly?
Polyamory is defined as practicing or being open to intimate relationships with more than one person. Dating as a polyamorous person means you’re not looking for just one person to share a romantic or sexual connection with.
Some outsiders would say that being in a polyamorous relationship is like “having your cake and eating it, too” but poly couples say that it’s not much different from any other kind of relationship!
If having threesomes all the time sounds exhausting to you, then you should know that plenty of polyamorous people would agree with you. While polyamory can include sexual relationships with more than one person, it’s not about having sex with multiple people at the same time.
For example, a woman might have sexual relationships with two different men, but enjoy sex with only one of them at a time.
Polyamory can take many forms
Polyamorous relationships can take various forms. They can be hierarchical, with one partner being the “primary” partner, or nonhierarchical, in which all partners have equal standing. Moreover, a person could be in separate relationships with different partners or in a relationship dynamic where all or several partners are also romantically engaged with each other.
“Our partner’s sexuality does not belong to us. It isn’t just for and about us, and we should not assume that it rightfully falls within our jurisdiction. It doesn’t” – Ester Perel, author of Mating in Captivity.
The big picture of dating as a polyamorous person means you’re not looking for just one person to share a romantic or sexual connection with. and however that unfolds is up to you.
Polyamory dating comes down to four key values
While every polyamorous relationship is unique, people in healthy polyamorous relationships share many of the same values which include;
Just like monogamous couples, polyamorous people need to be able to trust one another. Some ways they might build trust include communicating about new partners, practicing safe sex, and keeping promises.
While there’s a popular idea that polyamory is all about sex, some polyamorous people joke that it’s more about talking about your feelings than anything else… because it’s kind of true. Open, honest, and frequent communication is essential for maintaining multiple relationships in a healthy way.
Of course, you can’t have consensual non-monogamy without consent. For most people, polyamory isn’t simply a “free for all” to do whatever you want. Taking on new partners, engaging in new sex acts, and entering new commitments all requires consent for everyone involved.
If someone considers your feelings unimportant, then a monogamous relationship with them isn’t going to work. The same goes for polyamory. It isn’t just about respecting your partner’s feelings to be with someone else. Respecting other people — including your partners’ partners — is key!
How to know if Polyamory is right for you?
How to know if polyamory is right for you? Try asking yourself these questions:
How do you handle jealousy?
How do you feel when you think about your partner being with someone else? It’s not true that polyamorous people don’t get jealous at all. But you might be more inclined to polyamory if you can be honest and communicate times when you’re feeling jealous.
Do you enjoy variety in your sex life?
Monogamous couples can certainly spice things up with some variety in the bedroom, but some people desire more than monogamy can offer. If you prefer mixing things up with different types of sex with different types of people, then polyamory could be your thing.
Do you enjoy deep emotional connections with more than one person?
It can be a lot to handle emotional intimacy with even one person. If you’ve got the capacity and interest for emotional connections with multiple people at once, that’s a good sign for your ability to practice polyamory.
If you want to give Polyamory a go, consider why!
Different people have different reasons for choosing polyamory, so what about it interests you?
Keep in mind that it’s always possible to try out polyamory and decide it’s not for you. The process of evaluating your desires and adjusting accordingly is ongoing.
Some want a stable and nurturing environment in which to raise their children. Some use polyamory to mask or excuse addictions to sex, work, or drama while others seek utopian or spiritual rewards or want to take a stand for cultural change. Others are simply doing what’s fun and what comes naturally for them or are rebelling against religious prohibitions or family expectations. people can use polyamory as a weapon in a power struggle or to punish a controlling partner.
Others want to keep their erotic life alive and vital while in long term committed relationships or to fulfill sexual or emotional desires they can’t meet with only one person or with their existing partner. Some are trying to make up for developmental gaps or to balance unequal sex drives. Some people do not start out consciously choosing polyamory at all, but find that polyamory has chosen them.
If you’re in a monogamous relationship now, then talking with your current partner is an essential step in figuring out if polyamory will work for you.
Tips to help open up about your want for Polyamory
It’s honorable if you want to avoid hurting your partner’s feelings, but keeping your true feelings to yourself won’t help set up realistic expectations. For example, if sex with other people is what you want, tell your partner so, and together the two of you can work through any feelings that come up about it.
Use ‘I’ statements to focus on your own feelings
This isn’t about something your partner’s doing wrong — and if it is, you need to address that on its own rather than trying to fix it with polyamory. Talk about why polyamory is right for you and mentioning what your partner could get out of it can help, too! That way, you don’t start off on the wrong foot by implying that your partner isn’t enough.
Take your time
There’s no need to rush this. If your partner needs time to think about it or wants to read up on polyamory before making a decision, that’s not a bad thing. The more informed and in touch with your feelings you both are, the stronger foundation you have for moving forward. This probably isn’t going to be a one-time conversation. Establishing and maintaining polyamorous relationships requires ongoing communication.
Establish ground rules
If you and your partner have decided to give polyamory a go, it’s time to figure out the specifics of what that means for you. These ideas can help make setting ground rules a fun and informative exercise:
Think about what you’re looking forward to
Are you excited to experience first dates again? What about trying sex acts or other avenues of intimacy that you can’t do with your current partner? Reflecting on what you’re looking forward to can help you identify areas where you need to set boundaries — like if your partner doesn’t want to hear the details of your first dates.
Create a ‘Yes, No, Maybe’ list
A “Yes, No, Maybe” chart can be a useful tool for establishing likes, dislikes, and boundaries in an intimate relationship. Try making a list with polyamory-specific items. For example, you might say yes to bringing other partners home to visit, no to having overnight guests, and maybe to staying overnight at another partner’s home.
Frequently check in and see it there needs re-negotiating
The ground rules you set in the beginning aren’t set in stone and will likely evolve as you do. It’s best to keep talking about your relationship parameters to make sure they’re still working out and change things up if necessary.
Emotional and physical boundaries to consider
Are you OK with your partner building a deep, long-term relationship with someone else, or would you prefer if they kept things casual?
How would you feel if they said “I love you” to another person, or called another person their boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner?
How much would you like to tell your partner about your dating life or hear about theirs?
Do you want to know the details if your partner has sex, just the fact that your partner had sex, or not hear about the sex at all?
How often would you like to spend time with other people?
Would you prefer to save dates for the weekends? No more than once a week?
Do you want to designate certain holidays for time with your primary partner?
How would you feel if your partner introduced another partner to their family, to your kids, or to the public via social media?
Maybe you’re fine with sex itself, but kissing feels more like something that only you and your partner share.
Or you might be OK with your partner cuddling in private, but not holding hands with someone else in public places
Do you want to avoid being in the same place at the same time as your partner’s other partners?
Are you OK with sharing space as long as you don’t have to witness displays of affection between them?
How do you feel about going on three-way or four-way dates?
How do you feel about different types of sex, like oral sex, anal sex, one-time sex with a stranger, or BDSM?
Are there sex acts that you’d rather keep between you and your partner? Is sex with other people OK only with barriers like condoms?
Questions you can ask when bringing up the idea of polyamory with a potential new partner
What are you looking for in a relationship? Are you trying to find something exclusive?
Before things get serious, I like to share that I prefer not to be monogamous. How do you feel about dating multiple people at once?
I was reading about polyamory and I think I might like to try it. Have you heard of polyamory?
What do you think?
Index of polyamorous terms
A primary partner is a “main squeeze” in a polyamorous relationship with a hierarchical structure. Not every polyamorous relationship has one. If you do, your primary might be the person you live with, have kids with, or are married to.
A secondary partner has a more casual relationship than the primary. You might be fully committed to your secondary partner, but your lives are less entwined through elements like finances or housing.
A triad — also referred to recently as a “throuple” — is a relationship between three people. It might look like one person dating two different people or all three dating one another.
A quad is a relationship involving four people. A common example is when two polyamorous couples meet and each person begins dating one person from the other couple.
A full quad consists of four people, with each romantically or sexually involved with every other member.
A polycule is the whole network of people romantically connected. For example, it might include you and your husband, your husband’s girlfriend, your husband’s girlfriend’s wife, and so on. Think of it as a drawing that shows all of the links.
Compersion is sometimes called “the opposite of jealousy.” It’s a feeling of joy that a person feels from seeing their partner happy with another person.
A metamour is your partner’s partner. For example, your wife’s girlfriend, who’s not romantically or sexually involved with you.
A paramour is an outside member of a marriage. For example, the girlfriend of a husband in a polyamorous marriage.
Solo polyamory means you’re not interested in becoming part of a couple or any other relationship that includes entanglements, such as sharing finances, housing, or marriage. For example, you might be the secondary partner to several people, but prefer not to have a primary partner.
Popular Poly Books
The bottom line is that whether we like it or not, all relationships are dynamic by nature and any effort to avoid this reality is doomed to failure, so being open about your desires and needs within a relationship/s really is the pinnacle to a successful and healthy partnership/s!
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