Imagine what it might be like if we lived in a world where we could explore the attractions we feel for others whether in a relationship or not. Imagine a society that supported feeling love for more than one person at a time. Well, there is a growing community of people who do this and, it seems, with much success and satisfaction.
Relationships are changing rapidly. Over recent history we have seen arranged marriage, convenient marriage, political marriage and now serial monogamy. But over the last few decades, a new kind of relationship is emerging. Polyamory literally means many loves and those who have them do not consider them open relationships or swinging, but genuine, loving and endearing relationships with more than one person. Is it possible to love more than one person at a time?
SheKnows asked two women from the polyamorous community about their relationships.
Why did you choose to be polyamorous?
Kath is a 41-year-old mom who loves dancing and camping in her spare time. She has a primary relationship with her partner of 12 years, and they have agreed to have a polyamorous relationship. Kath explains, “I have always believed that humans were not biologically designed to be monogamous, though I had been in monogamous partnerships through all of my early adulthood. I also wanted the freedom to connect with others in whatever way felt natural, rather than being bound by the constraints of monogamy. For me polyamory just seemed natural and right, although to be honest it was a little scary when we first opened our relationship. I was afraid of being judged, and whether my ideals could translate into reality. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.”
Madison, a 31-year-old professional, has similar thoughts, saying, “I don’t think I ever chose polyamory, I think I just was. I remember being a teenager and having multiple loves, and not seeing that that was abnormal. It wasn’t until I was 19 when I had my first monogamous relationship that I started to realize I was different. I found that in the monogamous relationship it was hard to keep my attraction for my partner, I felt like I was caged and to me that wasn’t love. Whenever my boyfriend would experience jealousy I would get so resentful, I felt like I was denying my nature for him.”
What do you love about polyamory?
When asked this question, Madison’s face lights up and she says, “Easy. Compersion. Compersion is feeling the feelings of your beloved. So when my partner finds a new partner, especially during the beginning stages where they are infatuated or falling in love, I feel that too. It makes me so happy to see my partner happy. Plus I get the added bonus of unique close friendships with my paramours (my partner’s lovers); these friendships seem to remain strong even after the individual relationships dissolve.”
Kath has a slightly different take, saying, “I love having sovereignty over my body, heart, mind and emotions. I love having the freedom to explore new people and relationships, and to let those relationships progress to where they naturally flow, rather than being bound by monogamous norms. Norms that seem to dictate that I have to limit the depth and flavor of my relationships with others due to a pre-existing love bond. I love the growth that comes from exploring different sides of myself with different people.”
What challenges arise from being in a polyamorous relationship?
Both Kath and Madison agree that time management can be a challenge in poly relationships, with Kath explaining, “Time management is one of the biggest issues. Making sure that everyone is getting enough quality time together, as well as alone time.”
Kath adds, “Jealousy is also an issue. I think people assume that if you are polyamorous, you must be somehow different from the rest of the world, and never experience jealousy. Polyamorous people experience jealousy too. Not all the time, but we do. If you want to be in a successful polyamorous relationship, you need to question what sits behind the jealousy when it arises, and address that.”
What advice would you give other couples wanting to explore polyamory?
The top three things that both Kath and Madison agree on when asked what advice they would give others are:
- To be open and honest at all times
- Taking time to get to know partners before inviting them into your life
- Safe sex always.
Polyamory isn’t for everyone, but those who make it work for them report that their relationships are stronger than ever. Challenging social norms and creating relationships with a lot of strength and love open them up to new places of relating with others. Perhaps it is true that monogamy is going out of fashion and new relationship styles are more and more acceptable. But remember, this is not for the faint of heart. Ensure you are ready and willing to practice much love, patience and trustworthiness before you embark on your polyamorous journey.