"Five Things that Make Polyamorous Relationships Work"
How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too:
5 Things that Make Polyamorous Relationships Work.
Is it really so bad to have your cake and eat it too? I never understood this expression. What is the point of having your cake if you can’t enjoy it? The expression speaks to our culture of austerity and provincialism, where character building and morality is associated with refraining and abstention. On one hand we are a culture of tremendous gluttony and indulgence, but with a puritanical underpinning that tells us “you can look but don’t touch.” No wonder so many people and confused about what they want.
...Increasingly in my clinical practice I see more people opting out of the traditional structure of monogamous partnership or marriage. Although gay men have been said to own the market on open relationships, I am seeing people all across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum that are choosing polyamory or open marriage/partnership as viable alternatives.... And some young queer people in New York City even cite a pressure within the community currently to be non-monogamous.
So when an individual or couple comes into my office and describes their relationships and what they want for themselves, my job is to help them figure out, “How can we make this work?” As I’ve moved through exploration of relationship possibilities, and challenges people encounter in creating the lives they want, I have been thinking about why one person (or a couple, triad, and so on) can make poly relationships work and why others can’t.
When I tell people about my work, they are usually fascinated by the possibility of living differently. Often their eyes light up at the potential of not having to repress their needs or desires for something different sexually or emotionally....
Let me just say this upfront: non-monogamy takes a lot of emotional work.... And like monogamous relationships, poly relationships can range from tremendously gratifying to devastating....
1. Both people have to really want it.... Both partners have to be invested in the process and the experience.... Now that said, some couples go through a trial period, where they are essentially “trying on” polyamory with an agreement that they will decide if it’s the right construct for their relationship.... Being in a poly relationship requires ongoing conversation and acknowledgement that feelings are fluid and changeable.
2. Accept that difficult feelings will come up. Individuals succeed in poly relationships when they accept that dealing with feelings like jealousy, insecurity, fear, hurt and anger may be part of the process. How the person or couple deals with these feelings is more significant than their presence alone....
3. Communicate beyond your wildest imagination.... If you’re a poor communicator, I urge you now to retreat to monogamy. It will still be difficult, but not as difficult as being poly....
4. Come from a family that made you feel loved and secure. ...When a child grows up feeling safe, secure, loved and valued, typically they internalize a sense of safety, calm and self-worth. This fundamentally critical experience can help a person navigate poly relationships....
5. Get support from people who can affirm your relationship choices.... Just like coming out as gay, lesbian or bisexual, poly people need to seek out others both in and out of the poly community who support and understand their choices....
That's just bits; the whole article is well worth a read, and bookmark it to pass to people looking for solid Poly 101 advice. (Article published June 6, 2012).
Labels: Poly 101, therapists
Thanks for posting my article. I plan to keep writing about various challenges and rewards of being poly - so I hope you'll check back!
Laura Booker queeringthemind.com
Laura, I don't recall where but I came across a reference to your blog and in particular this post a couple of days ago and after reading it happily shared it on Facebook. Newbie nonmonogamists need all the quality educational information they can find - thanks for yours.
Okay, for the most part the article is full of great advise, but gotta say that number 4 REALLY sticks in my craw sideways. As someone with an upbringing that left me feeling very insecure, never good enough and possibly unlovable, I have to say that polyamory is perfectly possible for people who did not come from an ideal childhood.
Did I need to do a lot of work on myself, to accept that I am a good, valuable and lovable person? Yes. Did I need to learn to love myself? Yes. Do I still have bad days and insecurities? Hell yes. But I have still been able to make poly a viable and healthy lifestyle for myself.
I agree with Jessica. If anything, being poly and accepting that has helped me learn to feel worthy of love and trust and respect.
And I'm pretty amused by the fact that an article about poly starts of by talking about 'both' people in the relationship.
because, if you eat the cake, you no longer have it.
not, thou shalt not enjoy thy tasty cake, which is thy cake to enjoy
simply, if you eat it, its gone.
so it sounds utterly biased from the start.
then what's the point of having cake if you cannot eat it?
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