Some people just don't fit the monogamous mold that society tends to expect from those in relationships. If you find yourself wanting to pursue a second relationship while maintaining the first, all while being open about it with your current partner, polyamory may be the answer. There are things to know about being polyamorous, however, that can help you negotiate what can sometimes be a bumpy path toward finding your ideal relationship set-up.
Despite assumptions, polyamory isn't having an affair while in a monogamous relationship; it's about honesty and respect for the people you love and care for, and mutual consent. Sometimes a polyamorous unit will live together as a group, sharing things like household duties and bank accounts. Other times, there will be a primary relationship, with both members dating other people, long-term. It can be complicated, and easily misunderstood by those who don't practice polyamory, but if it's what you feel you are hard-wired to be, then pursuing those multiple relationships might be what fulfills you.
If all of this feels like it's hitting the mark, take a read through these nine things to know about being polyamorous.
1. Communication Is Key
More Than Two, a support site for poly people, stresses the importance of communicaiton in a polyamorous relationship. Being honest and open about how you feel and who you want to be involved with (and what the extent of the relationship will be) is really a matter of respect for everyone involved.
2. Jealousy Should Always Be Addressed
Poly people don't necessarily escape jealousy, but instead work through jealousy using a process they refer to as compersion, according to Newsweek. That means you work on being happy that your partner's needs are being met, regardless of whether they're being met by you or someone else. Poly people also use a tool called reassurance (which people in monogamous relationships do as well), where they reassure their partner that whatever happens with their other partners doesn't undermine any aspect of their personal relationship.
3. It's Not The Same As Swinging
Additionally, Newsweek noted that polyamory isn't about casual sex (though some may confuse the two); it's about multiple romantic relationships with consenting adults.
4. It's Important To Set Parameters With Your Partners
What's acceptable and what's not? Everyone will have different answers, and you need to establish what you and your partners are comfortable with, according to Women's Health.
5. Polyamorous And Open Relationships Are Not The Same Thing
Women's Health also noted that an open relationship involves a primary relationship that is emotionally-based, and the extraneous relationships are mainly sexual. Polyamory involves multiple relationships with partners that are emotional and sexual. Though open relationships aren't necessarily polyamory, they do count as a form of nonmonogamy.
6. There's Plenty Of Support
If you're still learning about polyamory, or want to help educate your partner about it, you can find websites, podcasts, conferences, and more.
7. You Can Still Be A Feminist And Be Polyamorous
Although there can be informal group marriages that occur within a polyamorous grouping, it's not the same as polygamy. According to Newsweek, women have been central to how polyamory has evolved, and are very much viewed as equals within relationships.
8. It's Possible To Be A Parent And Be Polyamorous
According to The Guardian, the idea of polyamory is an extension of the desire for a larger community to share the load of raising a family, and that children can benefit from the resulting set-up.
9. You Can Be Polyamorous And Hetero
There are multiple configurations of a polyamorous unit, and this includes a woman with two male partners who do not interact, according to the same article in The Guardian.
If a polyamorous relationship is something that you're interested in pursuing, [there is one important thing to remember: it's not easy. Like a monogamous relationship, a polyamorous relationship takes work and strong communication, as Everyday Feminism noted. But, if it's something you feel strongly about, it's worth the effort.