A Five Part Series
“How do we open our currently monogamous relationship to other sexual and romantic partners?”
“What do we do when one of us wants to explore polyamory and the other feels monogamy is a necessary relationship need?”
“I want to have multiple relationships at once but don’t know how to talk to my partners about polyamory.”
“How do we navigate components of jealousy, boundaries, and relationship agreements?”
These are all narratives that I hear often on my office couch. More and more recently, individuals and relationships come into therapy wanting to explore how to navigate polyamory in a healthy and productive manner. In Westernized culture, we are only provided with one template for relationship structures; monogamy. For individuals who desire other types of relationships, there are little to no blueprints on how to effectively navigate non-monogamous relationships in a healthy and fulfilling manner.
Whether you’re a long time practicing polyamorist or just taste testing your curiosity, this five part blog series will outline the core concepts of Polyamory and enhance overall understanding and capacity to be an emotionally responsible relationship revolutionary. Heres what to expect:
Part 1: Debunking Polyamory Myths
Part 2: Definitions, Designs, and Decisions
Part 3: Preparing for Polyamory
Part 4: Establishing Blueprints and Relationship Agreements
Part 5: Coming out and Creating Community
Let’s get ready to start reconceptualizing the ways in which you can engage in fulfilling relationships.
Debunking Polyamory Myths
Myth: People who are polyamorous impose their values and beliefs on monogamous people in order to shame them and get them to change.
Fact: Polyamory and Monogamy are both equally valid relationship options and an individual maintains the right to choose what type of relationship structure they would like to engage in. If someone does not want to engage in polyamory then they have no pressure or obligation to do such, just as people who are polyamorous have no pressure or obligations to maintain monogamous relationships. It is an individuals choice always as to how they choose to maintain their relationships.
Myth: Polyamory is an excuse to cheat on a partner
Fact: Infidelity is different than polyamory. Polyamory is a consensual choice to engage in other relationships that operates within a relationship agreement developed between all people involved. When couples have experienced infidelity, it is still possible for them to engage in a healthy polyamorous relationship with effective and intentional developments of trust, communication, and healthy boundaries.
Myth: Polyamorists don’t have serious committed loving relationships and instead just sleep around with whomever they choose
Fact: People who practice non-monogamy may define the level of seriousness in their relationships exactly like monogamous relationships. Some poly people choose to have short relationships with more casual connections while others seek long term committed relationships. Further, due to the nature of polyamory, individuals may have a combination of casual and committed relationships. It is a way for people to design relationships that fit their individual needs.
Myth: Polyamory is a way to fix a relationship that is struggling
Fact: Just like polyamory isn’t a way to cheat on a partner, it is also not a way to fix a relationship. Polyamory requires the ability to engage deeply in communication and trust on a level that cannot often be achieved when a couple is struggling. That being said, couples who practice non-monogamy are not encouraged to close their relationship to monogamous when they are struggling unless they feel they want to move towards monogamy. Closing off a continuing polyamorous relationship to heal creates a false incubator for healing that will be ineffective when the couple returns to their normal relationship status.
Myth: Polyamory is not a sustainable relationship structure and is only practiced by young people who are not seeking commitment.
Fact:Polyamory has dated back to early years of relationship connections where people maintained multiple relationships for various reasons. Currently, about 25% of the population practices polyamory and non-monogamy and many seek long term relationships, fall in middle to older ages, and have practiced polyamory for many years.
Myth: Polyamorous people don’t experience jealousy.
Fact: Many polyamorous people experience jealousy even though they have consented to their partner developing other relationships. Jealousy is a normal part of attachment that dates back to human history of mating for connection and protection. There are many ways to mitigate jealousy that manifest themselves with healthy relationship skills and agreements. Compersion is the concept that one person feel a sense of content or satisfaction for their partner that is enjoying benefits of another relationship. Many polyamorous people express feeling compression on a frequent basis when their partner brings new relationship energy (or NRE) back into their relationship.
Take Away: Remember, everyone has the right to choose the relationship style that fits their needs the best. Anytime ideas and practices push against cultural norms it will be surrounded with myths and misconceptions. Beware of the rumor mill, seek your own information, and consult a professional or engage in therapy when looking to explore something new and novel.
Stay tuned for Part 2! Coming Soon…