"Beyond Monogamy" in a natural living magazine
Living in Manhattan isn't "natural living" in my book. But those who hope otherwise can pick up the free magazine New York Spirit, "resources for natural living." And like another recent article in New Age magazines, the current issue offers a positive look at polyamory as an alternative to explore if you think you might be right for it.
By LiYana Silver
...Gleaned through work with my clients and a series of recent in-depth interviews, I offer you some examples of non-monogamous relationships, the elements that have them be workable, the challenges that come along with them, and the reasons why the people have chosen to set up their lifestyles and love-styles thus.
...When people think about non-monogamous relationships, jealousy is usually the first challenge that comes to mind. Bitsy is 23, just graduated college, and describes herself at the center of a “V” of two young male partners.... Wise beyond her years, she says “People give the emotion of jealousy so much sway. We believe that you can deal with and get over huge things in life like being abused as a child, but jealousy, no, it’s too much, it means you’ll just to have to leave. We’re afraid we might not be able to handle what comes up; but you can experience jealousy, you can sit there and it can hurt and that is OK, it’s not the worst thing.”
[Ed note: Bitsy says she took that almost word for word from Cunning Minx's jealousy seminar on the Polyamory Weekly podcast.]
...Reid Mihalko, a relationship and intimacy coach, sex educator and Cuddle Party co-creator, adds, “If people handle jealousy with themselves and partners in the same way they handle ecstasy and intimacy, sadness, love and grief, they would surprise themselves. You are saying yes to emotions when you get into any relationship, and you need to get excited, like bird-watching; quick there is a green-eyed jealousy bird! If you spend some time watching it and not trying to fix it, it can become beautiful; suddenly, nothing’s wrong.”
Some additional challenges of non-monogamy can include: lying, being reactive, being afraid and not taking action, not taking time to honor and take care of yourself, and acting from scarcity. As Reid says, “Being poly, there’s no way to ‘step over the garbage.’”...
...Another layer of complexity is admittedly added when raising children. Rebecca Reagan, a 35-year old relationship coach, offers her unique perspective of being raised by her biological parents in concert with another heterosexual couple, over 30 years ago. The four parents, along with one daughter each, functioned as a single family, sharing a single bank account and trips to the doctor and principal’s office, as well as their beds. Although generally wonderful, there was more tension and rigidity that was perhaps necessary, and Rebeccca wishes her parents, with no like-minded community, had the tools she has now. “We were told to lie, and the secretiveness put my sister at risk for an unhealthy relationship with authority and abusive behavior. I felt disempowered and not considered as a person; it formed me as a being and had me not trust my parents to take care of me. I am an advocate for considering that kids are capable of discernment.”
And why, with all these challenges, would people choose non-monogamy? Tessa, a 35-year old psychologist, chose it years ago because the levels of communication and honesty it requires of her brought a kind of intimacy that was deeper than anything she had ever experienced....
...For better and worse, with non-monogamy, there is no script, no default, no auto-pilot and no template; you have to make it up as you go along. Rules are co-created and morph and change as they get put to use. Thus, those practicing non-monogamy tend to hold those in their life to high standards, and hold themselves to even higher ones. They often have amassed a wondrously rigorous skill-set of self-awareness, self-expression, “black-belt level” communication, honesty, integrity, transparency and a commitment to grow and learn; a skill-set that isn’t much different, however, than that needed to make monogamous relationships workable, fulfilling and extraordinary.
...This land beyond monogamy, where the rules are made up dynamically by the people applying them, is neither a better nor worse, but rather a matter of self-expression, honesty, freedom, and ultimately, of choice.
Maybe it's my Stoic leanings, but that bit about high standards is one of the reasons why today's poly movement appeals to me. I know it's a lot to live up to, and many don't, but a guiding star is a good thing even if you don't get to the star.
Read the whole article (April-May 2008 issue).
P.S.: Speaking of the Polyamory Weekly podcast, I've found me a new medium! I brought a little Radio Shack voice recorder with me to Loving More's Poly Living conference in February and played news reporter, interviewing people. I tidied it up into a 13-minute segment using Audacity freeware (way cool editing program, good for beginners), and you can listen to it on this week's Polyamory Weekly: episode #151. It ain't National Public Radio, but for an amateur newbie I'm kinda proud of it.