Polyamory is not polyFUCKERY. Just because I have the ability to form deep, meaningful lifetime commitment type love relationships with many people does NOT make me a slut, and does not mean I am more likely to sleep with you. Iím very particular about who I share my body with. Itís not about the sex. Repeat that until you get it. While threesomes and more-somes can be great, they can also be painful physically and emotionally, and they can be very awkward. When people first start talking about Polyamory, they think that sex is going to be the biggest deal when they merge households. I can tell you from watching many a failed living together arrangement, itís not the sex that messes things up. Itís money and housework that will destroy it, just like in any other long-term relationship. If people donít appreciate a clean house and cooked meal, and cook and clean themselves regularly, itís going to fall apart. Simple as that. Who pays what bills is also a lot more of an issue than who shares what bed which night.
If you want casual sex with multiple partners, look up some Swinging associations. Swinging is the opposite of Polyamory. Poly is about love and maybe sex with a few people, swinging is about sex with no emotional commitment with a lot of people. My story about my one trip to the swing club can be found here. Not that there is anything wrong with swinging, it can be very fun for those who are into it, but it's definitely not poly.
Polyamory is not the easy way out of anything. A solid, meaningful romantic relationship with one person takes an amazing amount of openness, dedication, communication, and love. When you add another person you cube how much effort you have to put into the relationship. It takes a LOT of work. Itís not easy. You have more neurosis, more hurt feelings, more bad days at work, more issues and baggage than you ever did with just two people, and the amount of support you get in a non-traditional relationship from society is ZIPPO. No one will tell you that you have to get back there and make your triad work, because if Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob were able to keep their marriage together for thirty years, you can do it too. Most of your friends, well meaning as they are, will suggest you just drop the whole thing the first major fight you get into. This is the hard road, the road less traveled, and it is full of sharp pointy rocks and briars.
It doesnít help that when a poly relationship fails, they tend to fail spectacularly. Think Chernobyl-level meltdowns. When a poly relationship dissolves, people tend to blame Polyamory as a system. Every time someone gets a divorce, pundits don't sit around going "Tsk tsk tsk. I knew it wasn't going to work from the start. Nothing like that ever does. Mary just spent way too much time with John without developing any outside sexual interests for it to work long-term."
Polyamory has nothing to do with a fear of commitment. I know a lot about the fear of commitment, but it takes a lot MORE commitment to start and stay in a relationship with two or more people than with just one. Itís hyper commitment. Iím afraid of commitment because I know what it means, how much work, love, dedication, and stick-to-it-iveness that a real relationship entails, and that if I spend all that emotional energy on the wrong person my heart is going to get ripped into shreds. This isnít something you enter lightly. The only way you can make a poly relationship work is through an insane amount of commitment and stubbornness, to NOT let go of the people you love when things get bumpy. You need to have an overdose of commitment, an extra portion of the commitment gland to make this sort of thing work. Lack of commitment is not the problem.
Polyamory is not a Band-Aid for your relationship. If youíre thinking that adding someone into your failing relationship will make things better, you are more wrong than you can know. If you want to expand your relationship, you need to have a rock-solid relationship to start out with. You need to be able to honestly and openly communicate some very deep and probably painful feelings, come back together as a couple and deal with them. Poly will bring up every fear of abandonment you ever had, every insecurity you ever had, and the fights will shake you to your core. You will learn things about yourself you never knew when, over a simple and small thing, your feelings are crushed, you are sent into a panic, and your issues rear their ugly heads. You have to be very connected to your emotions to even be able to think about poly as a real lifestyle, and you have to be able to communicate everything that is happening inside you to your partners, and be able to REALLY listen to them when they talk. You must Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. People go to therapy for years to learn this one, and itís called the Poly Mantra for a reason.
Polyamory is very hard. If you canít talk with your current partner and you bring someone else into the equation, it will do nothing but hurt your first relationship, and probably hurt the person youíre trying to start the new relationship with at the same time. Youíll get hurt in this process to, trust me. While there is personal growth in getting through pain, there is a LOT of pain involved in this process. Itís terrifying opening your innermost emotional self up to one person, much less two, and possibly getting rejected twice. Itís a price you must be willing to pay joyfully to be successful in this sort of relationship. If you do succeed, you will have a deep, wonderful, loving relationship with two or more people, and it will be as good as anything you could have ever hoped for. Your days will runneth over with all the love, affection, and companionship you can possibly handle. Keep in mind that while this is hard, and can be hell at times, nothing worth getting is easy.
If you want to have a successful poly relationship, you have to run the risk of failure. A lot of these things fail horribly, in a burning blaze of agony and torment for all involved. You have to know that the goal of having a poly relationship is worth it. You have to have a solid relationship with your partner and a clear understanding of yourself to even seriously contemplate starting something like this. Your communication skills must be a priority in your life, and you have to work on it. I will say it again. This is certainly not easy.
Polyamory isnít about a bunch of young people sleeping around with each other. Most of the people who have come into themselves enough to act on their desire to be poly are in their thirties, or later. This sucks for the young people like me who wouldnít mind having some peers to form this sort of relationship with, but itís the truth. If youíre getting involved in poly so that you can find a bunch of hot, young, oversexed poly bi babes that you can build a harem with, youíre probably going to be VERY disappointed. Of all the quads, triads, vees, squggles, Venn diagrams, intimate networks, and other relationships I know of, I havenít run across a single harem. Hef is the only one I know of, and frankly the man owns Playboy Mansion. If you do not own Playboy Mansion and spend all your time hitting on bunnies, your chances of getting a harem are very, very slim.
The Poly community is not a bunch of junkies. If youíre looking for easy drug hookups go to Narcotics Anonymous. Sad but true, a lot of the people go to NA to find dealers. I havenít met a single poly person who does more than smoke weed. You have to have a pretty damn good grip on your senses to do something like this. The sixties are over, and alternative lifestyles do not automatically mean drugs anymore.
I have never met a Mormon polyamorist. For one thing, if you are Mormon and actively practicing polyamory, you will get excommunicated from the church. Any Mormon thatís in a poly marriage is not only not Mormon, but a heretic. Not that there is anything wrong with heretics or the Mormon church, but it something that is just not done at this point in time with the Mormon church.
Poly people are not necessarily more evolved than anyone else. That's self-aggrandizing new age bullshit. Poly is not for everyone. If someone is trying to convert you, it's not because all poly people are like that. It's because the person talking to you is an asshole. Attempts at conversion are as annoying when it comes from the counterculture fringe as when it comes from a religious group. I'll discuss poly with people, but I won't take it personally when they say its not for them. It's not for everyone. As far as I am concerned, itís an orientation, just like homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. There is a wide and wonderful range of adult human interaction amongst people who love each other. There is no reason to fear any part of it, whatever it is you are doing I can guarantee that someone, somewhere, somewhen has done it before. Probably twice. It is a natural, normal, and psychologically and spiritually healthy thing, when done right. When done wrong anything is abnormal and unhealthy.
Polyamory is a great way to have a family and raise kids. You have more adults around to pay bills, spend time with the kids, help with homework, etc. Nuclear families are not the most stable way for people to live. They are a new way to live, and not the healthiest way. Kids are a lot better off with an extended adult family network. If that network is aunts, uncles, grandparents, next-door neighbors, and teachers, thatís great. If that family is Mom, Dad, Mummy, Father, close family friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, next-door neighbors and teachers, great. Children do not care who is sleeping with who. They are attention hungry. As long as they get lots of love and attention, they will grow up happy.
Some people see polyamory as a lifestyle, others as a choice, others as an orientation. I cannot imagine not being poly, just as I cannot imagine not being attracted to either men or women, not being a witch, not being tall. Itís a part of my identity and how I interact with the world. To me, it is as much a part of my orientation as my bisexuality. Itís who I am and how I relate to my fellow human-shaped meat popsicles. It is a part of me, like my eye color and my skin color, if less apparent. When I try to deny it, I deny my true self, and that makes me unhappy. Yes, I can only date men. Yes, I can only date one at a time. I donít like being forced to live like that. If I was in any country other than America, where there was a chance of me being persecuted, I would most likely live underground, quietly, and on the outside everything would be normal. I am lucky in that I donít have to, I can live how I choose and surround myself with people who think the same way I do. If someone doesn't like how I live my life, they can choose not to look, or not to be around me. Simple as that.
Being poly and talking to others who are poly has opened my world up. It has helped me grow into who I am today. All the people that I love, romantically, sexually, and platonically have helped shape me into who I am with their hands and hearts. I canít imagine denying them, or saying that I donít love these people. They are the family of my heart, they are my tribe, they are the ones whoís shoulders I cry on, who I lean on in times of need. I celebrate with them when babies are born, we mourn together when someone dies. That I can do this with more than one person in no way makes me less human or less understandable. It makes me much more than I ever could have been alone.
Poly Links for thoes so inclined
Our Little Quad- Polyamory for the Practical
Loving More Magazine
A Therapist's Guide to Helping Poly People
The Polyamory Society
Poly Matchmaker- a free online dating service for polys on the net
Poly Webcomic Jake the Rake
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