Polyamory. Heard of the word? Not sure what it really means? Know what it means and intrigued by the concept? Well, keep reading.
Polyamory can be a confusing, scary, but ultimately rewarding relationship model. However, it takes a lot of work to do successfully. So, what should someone new to the idea know about it?
The first thing to remember is that no one starts out doing this right. Even after you’ve opened up to the idea of multiple, simultaneous loving relationships, there are a lot of old monogamy-related beliefs that will take some time to reconcile. It takes time to wrap your head around this whole new way of having relationships. Be patient with yourself.
Almost above all, listen to what your head and heart are telling you. As your partner starts to date other people, you will most likely be confronted with feelings of jealousy and inadequacy—even though you’re doing the same thing. This is a completely natural way to feel, especially most people are raised to believe that one person should be “enough.” You need to repeat to yourself that you don’t need to be someone’s everything. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for reassurances if you find yourself feeling particularly down.
Now here’s the biggest part of polyamory: communication. This sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily. You need to, in some ways, re-learn how to communicate with others. The most important part is that you are always open and honest with your partners. You’re not feeling happy about something? You don’t feel okay with something your partner or their partner said? You have to learn to be okay with telling them exactly where you are emotionally. You also need to be receptive to what they’re saying.
But, also know that you are not responsible for someone else’s feelings, just as they’re not responsible for yours. This is an important thing to remember.
Try to find a community either locally or online. It helps to get varied ideas on how other people have maintained poly relationships—everyone does polyamory their own way. This will help you see what works for you and what doesn’t. When things go poorly, you can also go to the community for support as well.
Have I mentioned communication? Open and honest communication? Yes? Just checking.
The notion of cheating takes on a whole different dynamic in poly. It’s no longer sleeping with other people or becoming romantically involved with someone else—that’s part of what poly is. Now, the definition of “cheating” will depend on the agreements that you and your partner(s) have agreed to.
There’s another word to be familiar with: boundaries. You will have to be familiar with what your boundaries are. This is vital, as you need to know what is and is not acceptable to you in relationships.
Also: communication. Communicate ad nauseam. Think you talked about something enough? Keep talking about it.
While there is no one correct road to poly happiness (or anything else), remember that not everyone will feel comfortable with non-monogamous relationships. You will have that moment of feeling like a kid in a candy shop, but an important first date tip: let someone know you’re poly before the first date. While you may be comfortable with poly, they may be monogamous. This gives them a chance to let you know if they’re going to be comfortable with that possibility in the future.
It’s a good idea to have a grasp on the basics of polyamory as you start out, which requires a whole lot more than 600 words to explain. Some excellent websites to check out for more information include More Than Two and the Polyamory Society.