Consensual non-monogamy – or polyamory as it’s more commonly referred to in the mainstream – is gaining more traction as an accepted relationship model. It’s existed for quite some time on the fringes of society within more liberal communities. But as we open up more to the idea of gender-fluidity and a more expressive form of sexuality, the idea of monogamy has become the next paradigm that people want to break in their search for the ideal relationship. However, it remains a subject that’s shrouded in mystery and as such comes with a lot of taboo attached to it.
What Does it Mean to Be in a Polyamorous Relationship?
The non-committal answer is that is can mean whatever you want. But to dig a little deeper, it means you’re accepting of the idea that all of your needs can’t be met by a single person. So, in acknowledging that, you may choose to have a primary partner who you spend the majority of your time with. But you then seek fulfilment by spending time with others who you can better relate to in other areas – which can extend to sexual fulfilment. But it’s not exclusively the case. And that’s a key point and what many people wrongly assume polyamory to be – a license to sleep around. But for those who’re committed to this style of relating, it’s rarely the case.
The shunning of a conventional relationship structure allows for more freedom to be expressive, emotionally open – and available – with other people. For the most part, we might be inclined to reserve those parts of ourselves for our primary partner in a monogamous relationship. In poly relationships, however, those inhibitions are much less of an obstacle. And through the willingness to place yourself in a position of vulnerability, it offers the potential for greater personal development. Polyamory, at its core, is all about benefiting from different perspectives. This isn’t always possible in strictly monogamous relationships. The hierarchal structure that’s in place creates certain boundaries and limits. In many ways, it’s consensual ownership.
The Truth About Polyamory
Despite the stigma that is often attached to polyamorous relationships, there is actually no proof to the contrary that monogamous partnerships are better. The assumption is that as monogamy has been the accepted norm for so long, it must be superior. It’s stood the test of time. However, this is simply a case of the grandfather effect. We have this model of relating to one another so ingrained within our psyche; it can’t possibly be wrong. Yet, thousands of people get divorced every year. The one argument that’s used more than any other to support the position of monogamy is that it counters the idea of jealousy. But this doesn’t account for the many toxic relationships in which it’s the primary control mechanism at play.
Another often-cited concern about polyamorous couples – namely families – is that it will provide a corrupting influence on the children. But again, this moral outcry is the sort which is voiced by those who seldom have any of their own experience to draw on and instead act as social commentators looking to maintain a status quo. The idea that children would be confused by their environment would be offset before it even began. It would be their normal. And in families that have more than two children, for example, the immediate advantage is that there would be more opportunity to give each child individual one-to-one time. If anything, it would serve as an advantage rather than a hindrance. Again, this draws on the idea of having multiple perspectives.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily an easy road. If you’re romanced by the idea that polyamory is the solution that’s going to solve your flagging relationship – it won’t. Nor will adopting a polyamorous style of relating make you have better relationships. The truth is you actually need to be quite skilled at managing the expectations found within a poly relationship – both your own and the others involved. You need a high degree of emotional literacy/intelligence, a willingness to be open about your feelings, the capacity to hear what others have to share with you and the ability to respond in kind without judgment. Good communication is a must. It’s not easy. For some, this will come natural, and polyamory will be a natural fit in their life. The problem that most people find in approaching polyamory is that they try and place every relationship into a polyamorous framework. But it isn’t that simple. You need the right people and the right setting to make it a viable option. Sometimes, as much as you may want to explore the polyamorous model, having one primary partner may be better for all concerned.
The Drawbacks of Pursuing Polyamory as a Lifestyle Choice
Apart from the immediate drawback of the stigma and lack of understanding around the non-monogamy, it can present a challenging in actually finding a willing partner. Not many people out there are mature enough to handle seeing their lover spend time with someone else. What if they like them better? What if they leave me? These are all very real – and legitimate – concerns. Jealousy is, of course, another one of the biggest stumbling blocks – just as it can be just as present in monogamous relationships. However, in a poly setting, it can be a huge emotional hurdle to overcome. It’s a true test of the ego and how secure you are in yourself that you will continue to be valued and respected. Poly relationships are at once both expansive in their potential but limiting in your ability to find an ideal partner. If you want to explore this type of relationship, make sure you go in with your eyes wide open. It can be immensely rewarding. But in some cases, if you’re trying to force an idea that doesn’t fit, you may risk damaging an otherwise harmonious relationship.