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Some of my thoughts on Polyamory....

The difficulty in discussing polyamory with many people, is that most monogamous people lack a valid paradigm on which to base their assumptions about poly... Generally, the only experience they have with multiple relationships is through "sneaking around". Either they did it, or someone they loved did it to them. It was painful, gutwrenching, nerve-wracking and even physically dangerous. This is not "polyamory" - this is deceit.

From my perspective a true polyamorous relationship, is one where all partners are cognizant, and accepting of the others. And I don't mean "accepting as a necessary evil", I mean actually embracing the relationships and wanting them to work. This takes a TREMENDOUS amount of stress off. It does not make it easy or stress-free, but it is worlds different from having feelings for someone when you (and they!) are already committed to monogamous relationships... And it bears NO relationship to people having "affairs". Poly takes love, understanding, communication and work. It is about opening your heart and allowing yourself and the people you love to be the happiest and most fulfilled that they can be. Nothing does my heart greater joy, than to see someone I love all giddy, happy and in love with a wonderful person... Deep abiding affection and love is so rare in our lives, that I believe we must open our hearts to the opportunities, and share in the joys as much as the sorrows of those we care for.

Granted, there are some people who claim to be "poly" in an attempt to legitimize their avoidance of emotional intimacy, or as a justification for using other people in order to have sex. I'm not terribly tolerant of those people because I have seen too many people getting hurt by that "style" of polyamory. To me it is missing essential components like love, committment, and personal responsibility, (and all too often, HONESTY), and is not the kind of poly I envision in my life.

I do not look at every person I meet as a potential partner. In fact, I do not seek other partners at all. Poly is a part of our lives, because my partner and I want to leave the door open for love, should it come our way again. How rare it is that we meet someone with whom we really connect... And how sad it is when we have no opportunity to enrich our lives, and theirs, with the love and sharing that can result from that connectedness...

Why is it that so many people, when discussing poly for the first time, look only at the issue of having to "share" a partner, rather than at the opportunity for loving and being loved by more than one person?

After all, you fell in love with someone who was compassionate, loving, sensitive and caring... Expecting or asking that partner never to fall in love again, never to love another, is like asking them not to be themselves. I rejoice in the fact that my partner can and does love!

Sometimes people fear that they would never be able to handle their partner having another love... to this I pose the question: If you felt secure in yourself, and your relationship with your partner, if you had a solid and comfortable level of communication, do you think that you would still feel threatened by your partner having another love? Love is not something which one can quantify. It's not like we have a limited supply and we must remove love from one person in order to give it to another... Now time is something we have a limited supply of, but with communication, sensitivity, and honesty, we can come to arrangements which do their best to meet the needs of all partners... Of course, an important component in all of this is to get past some basic insecurities. To do that you have to trust and believe that you are deeply and truly loved for who you are, and not for superficial things like your appearance, your financial status, or the kind of car you drive.

Sometimes people fear that if their partner loves another, it must be due to some lack in them. Again, this has its roots in insecurity - You can love more than one person, very deeply for very different reasons, or for exactly the same reasons. It is not necessarily because something is missing, that someone connects with or has an affinity with someone else. In any case, we can never be all things to our partner(s) at all times. How burdensome and scary it would be to be the sole source of someone else's happiness and joy in life! There will be things that my partner will do with others, whether it's with a lover or a friend, that I will not be interested in doing. That does not imply some flaw in my character. It's just who I am, and who he is, and I am happy that he has someone to share things with. Yes, much of the time we share things together - after all, you have to have sufficient common goals and interests to make a go of a long-term relationship, but it is highly unlikely that you will match up on every facet of your partner's personality.

In order to get past some of this insecurity, you really need to trust that your partner is not going to leave you for the "next best thing that comes along". And that is one of the most important building blocks in the foundation for making any relationship work: Trust. Now Trust isn't a state, it's a process. Treating it as a binary state (trust vs no trust), causes us to have unhealthy boundaries - we either leave ourselves completely open to being taken advantage of, or (conversely) we put up walls. Both extremes are detrimental ourselves and our relationships. In order to have ANY kind of healthy relationship, there has to be an ongoing process of building and re-evaluating trust at every stage. If you have having difficulty establishing a trusting environment in ANY relationship, monogamous or poly, you need to seriously question WHY you are remaining in the relationship.

For any relationship, and poly is no exception, other important blocks such as Love, Communication (no sulking please!), Honesty (both internally and externally), Compassion, Sensitivity, Willingness to Work (but no martyrdom allowed! ;-), Flexibility, and a desire to seek Fulfillment for both you and your partners, are also crucial to long-term success. You cannot be completely "selfless", for that would not see your own needs met - and we have so much more to give when we are truly happy.

I'm not saying that poly doesn't take work - it DOES - I believe it takes more work and more bandwidth than monogamy. For starters, there can be no assumptions made - everything must be communicated. The predetermined roles and expectations that come as baggage with a monogamous relationship, must be re-evaluated and recommunicated, because poly relationships are so non-traditional. I also don't believe that everyone has the capacity to BE poly, or that all "poly" people necessarily have that capacity every moment of their lives. There are times and places in one's life where the demands of work, and family and personal growth mean that there just isn't the bandwidth for multiple partners. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional stability, personal strength, and committment to be a good partner in just ONE relationship - imagine how much work it takes to be a good partner in multiple relationships! Making poly WORK successfully takes a tremendous amount of personal discipline by all individuals involved. However, for people who have the capacity, and the willingness to do the work, poly can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching approach to living and loving. The communication and negotiation required in poly relationships can also serve to help those involved to break free of restrictive patterning and unhealthy relationship paradigms/"roles" that they may have learned growing up.

There are many paradigms for poly relationships. Primary/secondary/tertiary, Triads, Vees, polyfidelity... You have to see what works for you, and the people you love. For me, the paradigm is not engraved in stone. It depends on the person, and their needs as well as our own. But you never know until you open that door, and talk about your feelings.

And that's what it comes down to for me. Poly is about giving ourselves and our partners a loving and secure place where you can have the freedom to be yourself, without artifical restrictions or boundaries on your heart... but with that also goes tremendous responsibility to yourself and those you love...

That being said, there ARE a number of people out there who use the "polyamory" label in order to cover up self-centered, rude, and inconsiderate behavior. Find out about Poly People I can Do Without.


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