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Is a Polyamorous Relationship Suitable for You and How to Make It Work?

Often people try to solve the problems of monogamous relationships by going into polyamory. But if a person cannot build love with a single person, clearly and honestly speak out their needs with one partner, then getting into a dead-end dating few people is only a matter of time. To make a polyamorous relationship work, you need to know its basic rules, principles, and mistakes to avoid. Luckily, this is what we are going to talk about.

polyamorous relationships

What Is Polyamory?

The size of the polyamorous cell of society can be very different. "Polecules," by analogy with the molecule, may differ from each other by size and constitution. They can have a basis of two or three people that form the core and few side-partners, or they can include all participants on an equal footing. Partners can have connections both inside and outside relationships. Polyamorous relations can be completely “monogamous” and not go beyond the boundaries of the family but may have a looser structure. The largest polyamorous cluster when everything still works perfectly well, as practice shows, is eight people. Moreover, all those involved do not live in one commune but often see each other together and in separate groups and try to devote all and every participant of the polecule part of their time.

What is the difference between polyamorous vs polygamous? In the second case, two people are still a couple, but they allow each other to have sexual connections outside the couple while they may not be in love or attracted to those people that their partner has sex with. It means, if you meet girl now, you may spend quality leisure with her but still return to your partner or be dating her at the same time, and your woman may have other partners that you are not connected with in any sexual or spiritual way. While in polyamorous relationships, people should be connected and in love with each other, if not all together then at least with some participants of the polecule and not feel attracted to just one person. So, polyamorous vs polygamy differs in a way that polyamorous relationships is about attention and involvement in each other's lives, and not just about sex.

By the way, polyamory can be an option for asexual people. Sex is often perceived as an integral part of relationships, and sometimes as a guarantee of their stability, therefore, the existence of an intimate connection between partners is expected by society to some extent. Although the need for sex, as well as its diversity, for each and every person, is different. From this point of view, polyamory allows asexual people to feel loved and appreciated, but at the same time, not to experience pressure on sexual relations or guilt for avoiding sex.

If you approach the polyamory from a normative position, it is worth paying attention to the structure: how many people live where, who is the main and so on. That is, there is a kind of “scanning” of relations for compliance with the structure of a traditional family. But with this approach, the essence of the polyamorous relationship itself is lost, namely, the opportunity to appreciate the presence of the people you love in your life without presenting a social contract. Polyamorous definition of love is seeking male and female attraction not being bound to any rules and be ready to give back your love to all the people you are related to. That is, you can build a relationship with a person without socially prescribed expectations just because someone’s your girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, affiliate, lover, wife, husband, hobby, temptation, safe haven, a shoulder to cry on. Moreover, each of the words cited is a social position that comes with a “contract”: no matter how we position ourselves, no matter how progressive and socially liberated we are, we all change in those seconds when we define relationships and the role of another person in our life.

The absence of terms/labels, or rather, the inability to use them to indicate roles (and, therefore, responsibilities) in relationships, is an important quality of polyamory. What is polyamorous? How to indicate the multiplicity of people involved in relationships, as well as the varying degrees of intensity of this involvement? In some cases, people prefer to use the traditional terms of kinship but with a new meaning. For example, you can call your partners Boyfriend 1.0 and Boyfriend 2.0, or ironically call them “my legal spouse” and “my unlawful spouse” in case you all have a common sense of humor. But more often the word “partner” is used. The latter is significant because it also shows the level of respect for each other and the "horizontal" relationship - there are no main positions, and people respect the decision of another person to be part of your life. By and large, there is always the opportunity to leave, and the person chooses you and respects your choice of partners. Because there are different polyamorous relationship types and labeling them kills their essence such.

Questions to Ask Before Entering Polyamory

polyamorous relationship typesA whole group of problems is related to the fact that many people confuse polyamory and open relationships. If polyamory implies the presence of romantic relationships with several people at once, then the second type of dating characterizes a couple that allows sexual relations outside of a partnership. The conditions of such relationships can be very different - from complete anonymity (i.e. do what you want, just don’t tell me) to a clear list of rules: no sex in our bed, tell your partner each time you enter a sexual connection, always spend the night at home, etc. To avoid traumatizing polyamorous relationship stories, you need to ask yourself and the partners many questions before proceeding to this type of relationship.

What is your own approach to polyamory?

One of the biggest difficulties of polyamorous dating is a lack of understanding of what a person gets involved in. Often people try to solve the problems of monogamous relationships by going into polyamory. But if it’s not possible for a person to build relationships with a single person, then the problems will accumulate with the quantity of them. You need to understand that such partnership is as important and requiring responsibility as others, this is not a game, not a sexual perversion, you will have to deal with the lives of various people, treat them equally and care for their feelings.

What will be your polyamorous relationship rules?

In polyamorous relations, there are several partners, and this means that the volume of “negotiations” doubles, or even triples. In many cases, “polecules” (polyamorous families) practice joint “business” dinners, during which they discuss moments that allow or do not allow people to feel comfortable in a relationship. Sometimes it helps just voice those barriers and restrictions that interfere with life. That is, relationships are built on open communication.

You will have to keep in mind the sexual and social preferences of all partners, some of your polecule may be asexual, have higher libido or be extremely jealous. This is a responsible step and not all people who were happy in monogamous couples have the courage to enter such an adventure. Jealousy and envy may arise. As well as toxic thoughts like, “Someone has more sex than me; someone has better sex than me; oh, they don’t do this to me in bed; what if they leave me and start a new polecule without me?” What again leads to the question of honest and open communication and understanding of what partners want in a relationship — new sensations? Sexual diversity? Peace and more time for yourself? If so, then it is wiser to call a spade a spade and not try to solve these issues with the help of polyamory.

How will you cope with a sense of guilt?

Feeling guilty is another sign that polyamorous relationships do not work. Cheating, in its traditional sense, is impossible in polyamory because everyone knows that you or everyone has several partners. If you are embarrassed about relationships with several people at once, then maybe you or someone from your partners is really looking for monogamy. And guilt can be a sign of co-dependent relationships or passive-aggressive manipulations. In order not to get the trauma of rejection, a person must have very good self-support coping mechanisms and healthy self-esteem, since they constantly have to face the fact that they are not the main focus of someone’s attention and easily replaceable. As this makes the feeling of their value to get lost. Only people with very strong mental health should enter polyamory. The majority of us suffer from the narcissistic childhood traumas of rejection, every child faces the fact that the mother and the world were not created just for them. This can lead to feeling guilty if you do not work out the negative experience with a psychotherapist and forget this trauma. Very often, polyamory means repeating the situation from childhood at a conscious age.

What about feeling jealous?

Jealousy is a reflection of the right to possess sexual property, which we absorb with a patriarchal, heteronormative culture. That is, we traditionally perceive our partners through the prism of belonging and obligations. To be faithful and open to a person is one form of such a contract. People who conclude a monogamous relationship wait for their partner to perform this basic obligation and are ready to pay back with the same. While jealousy can be manifested not as connected to the sexual fidelity, but to attention, time, and trust of a person. This is the reason today we divide so many types of cheating and a physical one is far from being the most common. Now people suffer more from losing the intellectual or spiritual bond with a partner. And when we talk about polyamory, this problem gets many times bigger.

Principles and Rules of Working for Polyamorous Relationships

Polyamory reveals certain advantages, of which three can be distinguished in the most general form: greater sexual satisfaction, personal growth, and development (this includes a better awareness of one's own needs, more trust, and courage, more opportunities to share with others), a more active and emotionally rich life. Polyamorous people are less dependent on their partners. But before rushing to polyamorous dating sites to plunge into this magic world of interconnected love and affection, you should learn quite a few rules of such relationships.

Discussing financial issues

In polyamorous relationships, you have to be responsible for yourself. A woman cannot afford to relax and, as in ordinary heterosexual couples, rely on her husband. True, there may be several such husbands, and you can also rely on many people to provide for you, but you also need to support, invest time in them and take care too. And not only emotionally, but also in terms of cooking, cleaning, planning trips, and budgets, business and future kids, this will now have to be planned at the same time keeping preferences of all the partners in mind. It is not clear how inheritance and the division of jointly acquired property should take place - there are no legal guarantees and laws governing this kind of relationship.

Raising the children in polyamorous relationships

For the child to develop normally, attachment and safe communication are important. The parent (or parents) should be close enough to a child and should spend a lot of time with them. In polyamorous unions, children may have difficulty forming attachment if the partners of the parents change frequently. It can be argued that in large families, the child also does not receive all the mother’s love, but the intra-family ties are constant there, and they are not subject to fluctuations, so the child has clear ideas about affection, security, and boundaries.

All the polecule participants should be polyamorous

what is polyamorousFor this reason, the circle of your interest becomes significantly smaller if you decide to enter polyamory. You will now have to become a frequent visitor of specialized dating sites or spend time in specific communes. Because meeting people ready to build a polecule with you and other people and having at least some understanding of this kind of such relationships is easier than meeting a random person and explaining to them this philosophy. You may fall in love with one person, and, in turn, polyamorous relationships may no longer be suitable for you. Or you, as a monogamous person, may not find the polyamorous model work for you. Be prepared to face a lot of failures and disappointments.

Coming out to the current partner

Awareness of your polyamory sometimes occurs against the background of existing monogamous relationships. In this case, the second stage of living your own identity is self-disclosure to the partner, which is accompanied by the risk of being convicted and rejected. This often becomes a task to be worked out with a specialist during individual, and couple therapy helps people live out their feelings (shame, anxiety, guilt) or support a partner in the case of breaking up (living pain and grief loss). However, at this stage, it is possible to save a couple, allowing them to understand and accept each other, to go through doubts, confusion, fears, find a new form of relationship or, in the case of impossibility of polyamorous relations for one of the partners, find ways to get over a separation. According to the experience of psychotherapists, some partners are willing to learn more about polyamory, even if they are not sure that this kind of relationship suits them as a lifestyle.

Find out the reasons for your jealousy - it has a lot of benefits

On the one hand, such a relationship does not imply exclusivity. On the other hand, it is short-sighted to express your anger towards a partner because you've agreed to this scenario yourself. Evolutionary psychology argues that jealousy is a feeling inherent in nature that once enhanced our chances of survival. Swedish scientists have conducted a study of gender differences in the experience of jealousy. In women, it turned out to be emotional, and in men, it was sexual. The explanation is: a woman is jealous when a man falls in love with another because she is afraid that he will stop providing her offspring; the man is jealous of the woman if she sleeps with another because then the question of fatherhood will arise.

Develop compersion

Compersion can be described as, “I am so happy when my partner is in love. Even if not with me.” Imagine that you gave a gift to your friend, the one they really wanted. You guessed their desire. What do you feel? This is it. The sense of giving out but receiving positive emotions, making someone else happy sacrificing a part of yourself. This is what you will feel when your partner is doing well. First of all, we begin to pay attention to our feelings when some of our partners are pleased. Each time, our mirror neurons get activated more and more, and with time we react to the happiness of a loved one as we react to our own happiness.

How to Conflict Correctly

Avoiding conflict is fraught with freezing in your comfort zone. Stop evading quarrels and disputes, and secondly, try to keep promises. There is a simple conflict scheme for any form of relationship. First, you need to push the opponent to voice their claims. Each side speaks out. The likelihood that this will be accompanied by a cry is directly proportional to the accumulated negativity (therefore, try not to restrict yourself). When the passions subside, you need to offer solutions to problems that can be fulfilled right now, the other day and in the long run. In the end, add a positive final touch and list all the good sides that you see in your relationship.

Choose your relationship format and don't be afraid to adjust it

Each partner of polyamory can date other people, but if one becomes uncomfortable with the behavior of others, they should negotiate it, or the one that doesn’t feel ok can quit. This agreement can be revised when the conditions become too “tight” to suit everyone. Give freedom to others, and you will become free.

In conclusion, we want to say that there are no specific recipes on how to be in a polyamorous relationship. It is always about working on oneself, rethinking social stereotypes and love - if you're lucky - you will come to conclusions with which you can grow further. If you soberly evaluate relationships, then expecting one person to satisfy all your needs is cruel. People are not designed for such loads, it is difficult for us to cope with everything at once, and polyamorous relationships make it possible to simultaneously receive love and support from different people.

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