Polyamory

I started writing on this subject a few weeks ago and in the process learned a lot more about what Polyamory is and a lot more about myself. I did a lot of research on the subject, had friends read what I had already written and re-wrote a good deal of what I had done. I decided the best format was to do this in the form of an FAQ. I found questions on some of the other FAQ sites, and even though the question may be the same, the response to it is my own, except where I have stated. Other questions that I had I couldn’t find on other sites and I dealt with them the best I could with what knowledge I had.  

I will list the questions, in no particular order of importance, as they came to me when I started doing this and I know there are probably some out there that I have missed. I hope you will feel free to email and ask. All the comments and theories are my own and reflect my own personal opinions and experiences. This is not meant to be a tutorial in any way, shape or from, nor is it the Gospel according to ME. It is meant to be an informational exchange of ideas, and experiences.  

QUESTIONS 

·         What is Polyamory?

·         Is Polyamory cheating?

·         What about jealousy?

·         Why Polyamory?

·         What about “commitment”, “marriage”, etcetera ….?

·         Is sex the most important aspect of Polyamory?

·         Is Polyamory, Swinging?

·         Is Polyamory for you?

·         Is Polyamory legal?

·         Are their any indicators that point to being Polyamorous?

·         How do you talk to your Partner about Polyamory?

·         Pros and Cons of Polyamory

·         Summary

WHAT IS POLYAMORY?

 Well sad to say I could not find a dictionary definition of this word but from what I can remember of basic Latin and French, “poly” means many or multi and “Amory” is a derivative of the French word “amour” meaning love. So therefore if you put the two words together they mean, “many loves”, the loving and sharing of more than one relationship. This is the basic definition.  

The loving of more than one individual encompasses emotional, spiritual and sexual aspects of a relationship, and we will delve deeper into that as we get further along in our discussion. 

Polyamorous is the term used to describe people who are open to more than one relationship, even if they are not currently involved in more than one relationship. These definitions are broad and somewhat loose, in order to encompass the variety of poly relationships out there. 

IS POLYAMORY CHEATING? 

Main Entry: 1cheat
Pronunciation:
'chEt
Date: 1590
transitive senses
1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting <cheat death>
intransitive senses
1 a: to practice fraud or trickery b: to violate rules dishonestly (as at cards or on an examination)
2: to be sexually unfaithful -- usually used with on

 This is the Merriam Webster definition of what cheating is. By definition cheating involves deceit and the need to hide what the cheater is doing.

 Polyamorous couples share openness in their relationship. The desire to incorporate others into your life requires communication, negotiation and above all honesty. 

As quoted from Sexuality.org: “What this boils down to with polyamory is that polyamorous people do not tell partners, lovers, prospective members of that group that they are monogamous when in fact they are not, nor do they allow these people to assume they are monogamous, regardless of how convenient or personally advantageous such assumptions might be.” 

Cheating involves a very long process of hiding and denying what you are doing, and believing that no one knows what you are up to, when in fact most do know, where polyamory involves open and honest discussion with all parties involved. 

WHAT ABOUT JEALOUSY? 

A: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness B: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness (Merriam Webster)

No one can truly predict what triggers feelings of jealousy and even in poly relationships it happens. Relationships, poly or otherwise, do not come with owners manuals and each relationship is as unique as the people involved in it and what worked in a previous relationship may not work now. The best you can do is to have a set of loose guidelines, or rules that can be used to help find the underlying problems that may cause the jealousy. 

Some basics that I have used to help when I am feeling a little out of things: 

·         Remember your significant other or what poly people call the “prime” partner, their needs and thoughts should always be in sync with what you desire and need. Be frank and honest in your discussions, not being included is an underlying factor in causing some jealousy.

·          Never use Polyamory as an escape, to run away from what is wrong in your base relationship. Find out where your problems lie, and what triggers you or partner may have, things that may upset you or your partner. Once you identify these you can take steps to avoid those triggers. Every relationship has its moments, good and bad, knowing what makes it good and bad, strengthens you and your partner, making your poly relationships stronger as well.

·         This is one rule of thumb that I use for myself and you may find it of help to you. Never make your significant partner feel inadequate or taken for granted. Egos can be very nasty things to deal with, but they make us who we are and no one likes to feel less that what they are.

In a way, you and your partner(s) will decide many of your rules. Once you do that, you and your base partner will find that playing poly will be a lot more comfortable. Take your time, do your research and ask, ask, ask…. nothing is ever learned by not asking. 

WHY POLYAMORY? 

Well this is not an easy one to answer and in my belief one has to decide for them self. In many ways it is both the easiest and the hardest choice to make, and there is no practical explanation as why some couples are open and honestly polyamorous and others are monogamous and use cheating as an outlet. In some cases, society and upbringing have a lot to do with how our morals are formed. Many people do believe that polyamory is morally wrong, but in the same breath chat about the affair they are having on the side. We could sit here and debate morals all day but no one would be any closer to understanding why some people do it and others don’t.

Everyone has their own reasons as to why they are polyamorous. For many it is the desire to share their love and life with others who feel and believe as they do and this in itself is a great spiritual feeling. I know from my own experiences, why I am polyamorous, and that is what is truly important to poly people. Their reasons are important to them and they feel no need to have to justify their positions to any one.

I started writing on this subject a few weeks ago and in the process learned a lot more about what Polyamory is and a lot more about myself. I did a lot of research on the subject, had friends read what I had already written and re-wrote a good deal of what I had done. I decided the best format was to do this in the form of an FAQ. I found questions on some of the other FAQ sites, and even though the question may be the same, the response to it is my own, except where I have stated. Other questions that I had I couldn’t find on other sites and I dealt with them the best I could with what knowledge I had.  

I will list the questions, in no particular order of importance, as they came to me when I started doing this and I know there are probably some out there that I have missed. I hope you will feel free to email and ask. All the comments and theories are my own and reflect my own personal opinions and experiences. This is not meant to be a tutorial in any way, shape or from, nor is it the Gospel according to ME. It is meant to be an informational exchange of ideas, and experiences.  

QUESTIONS 

·         What is Polyamory?

·         Is Polyamory cheating?

·         What about jealousy?

·         Why Polyamory?

·         What about “commitment”, “marriage”, etcetera ….?

·         Is sex the most important aspect of Polyamory?

·         Is Polyamory, Swinging?

·         Is Polyamory for you?

·         Is Polyamory legal?

·         Are their any indicators that point to being Polyamorous?

·         How do you talk to your Partner about Polyamory?

·         Pros and Cons of Polyamory

·         Summary

WHAT IS POLYAMORY?

 Well sad to say I could not find a dictionary definition of this word but from what I can remember of basic Latin and French, “poly” means many or multi and “Amory” is a derivative of the French word “amour” meaning love. So therefore if you put the two words together they mean, “many loves”, the loving and sharing of more than one relationship. This is the basic definition.  

The loving of more than one individual encompasses emotional, spiritual and sexual aspects of a relationship, and we will delve deeper into that as we get further along in our discussion. 

Polyamorous is the term used to describe people who are open to more than one relationship, even if they are not currently involved in more than one relationship. These definitions are broad and somewhat loose, in order to encompass the variety of poly relationships out there. 

IS POLYAMORY CHEATING? 

Main Entry: 1cheat
Pronunciation:
'chEt
Date: 1590
transitive senses
1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice
3: to elude or thwart by or as if by outwitting <cheat death>
intransitive senses
1 a: to practice fraud or trickery b: to violate rules dishonestly (as at cards or on an examination)
2: to be sexually unfaithful -- usually used with on

 This is the Merriam Webster definition of what cheating is. By definition cheating involves deceit and the need to hide what the cheater is doing.

 Polyamorous couples share openness in their relationship. The desire to incorporate others into your life requires communication, negotiation and above all honesty. 

As quoted from Sexuality.org: “What this boils down to with polyamory is that polyamorous people do not tell partners, lovers, prospective members of that group that they are monogamous when in fact they are not, nor do they allow these people to assume they are monogamous, regardless of how convenient or personally advantageous such assumptions might be.” 

Cheating involves a very long process of hiding and denying what you are doing, and believing that no one knows what you are up to, when in fact most do know, where polyamory involves open and honest discussion with all parties involved. 

WHAT ABOUT JEALOUSY? 

A: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness B: disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness (Merriam Webster)

No one can truly predict what triggers feelings of jealousy and even in poly relationships it happens. Relationships, poly or otherwise, do not come with owners manuals and each relationship is as unique as the people involved in it and what worked in a previous relationship may not work now. The best you can do is to have a set of loose guidelines, or rules that can be used to help find the underlying problems that may cause the jealousy. 

Some basics that I have used to help when I am feeling a little out of things: 

·         Remember your significant other or what poly people call the “prime” partner, their needs and thoughts should always be in sync with what you desire and need. Be frank and honest in your discussions, not being included is an underlying factor in causing some jealousy.

·          Never use Polyamory as an escape, to run away from what is wrong in your base relationship. Find out where your problems lie, and what triggers you or partner may have, things that may upset you or your partner. Once you identify these you can take steps to avoid those triggers. Every relationship has its moments, good and bad, knowing what makes it good and bad, strengthens you and your partner, making your poly relationships stronger as well.

·         This is one rule of thumb that I use for myself and you may find it of help to you. Never make your significant partner feel inadequate or taken for granted. Egos can be very nasty things to deal with, but they make us who we are and no one likes to feel less that what they are.

In a way, you and your partner(s) will decide many of your rules. Once you do that, you and your base partner will find that playing poly will be a lot more comfortable. Take your time, do your research and ask, ask, ask…. nothing is ever learned by not asking. 

WHY POLYAMORY? 

Well this is not an easy one to answer and in my belief one has to decide for them self. In many ways it is both the easiest and the hardest choice to make, and there is no practical explanation as why some couples are open and honestly polyamorous and others are monogamous and use cheating as an outlet. In some cases, society and upbringing have a lot to do with how our morals are formed. Many people do believe that polyamory is morally wrong, but in the same breath chat about the affair they are having on the side. We could sit here and debate morals all day but no one would be any closer to understanding why some people do it and others don’t.

Everyone has their own reasons as to why they are polyamorous. For many it is the desire to share their love and life with others who feel and believe as they do and this in itself is a great spiritual feeling. I know from my own experiences, why I am polyamorous, and that is what is truly important to poly people. Their reasons are important to them and they feel no need to have to justify their positions to any one.

WHAT ABOUT MARRIAGE, COMMITMENT, ETC? 

What about it? Polyamory does not disqualify commitment. Polyamory is allowing you to be open to possible opportunity, if it comes along, not running away from commitment, because something better will come along.

No one group holds the franchise on commitment, and as in monogamy, polyamory is practice by a diverse group of individuals, all committed to each other in their unique way. 

NO! You do not have to be single. NO! You do not have to be married. You just have to have an open mind and a willingness to not judge others. 

IS SEX THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF POLYAMORY? 

NO! Even though, in my opinion, it is an underlying factor for some poly couples, it is not all there is to poly relationships. Spirituality and emotional aspects are equally important. I have found that most polyamorous couples, at least the ones I know, form very deep emotional connections in the relationships they have.  

Many of the people you meet and join with will have an impact on your life. One thing to remember is that love comes in many forms and yes, you can fall in love with many of your poly partners but with each individual you will find that the love you feel is different yet the same. Each will have it’s own unique qualities. The best part is that in some cases, even when you have ended a particular poly relationship, you have made a friend and that is important in life.  

Love is a truly unquantifiable element. 

IS POLYAMORY SWINGING? 

This is one of the more difficult questions to answer.  

In my opinion, polyamory’s roots are deep in the swinging scene. In doing research for this article, I invariably came across swinging in conjunction with polyamory. 

I think the dividing line between the two topics is the emotional and spiritual connections in polyamory. 

If you use the definition I gave at the beginning of the article, yes, swinging is polyamory and vice versa but the difference lies in the underlying forces in why people swing or chose a polyamorous lifestyle. 

In the swinging scene, the basic underlying force, is to “swing” with others, couples for the most part, without the fear of emotional and spiritual commitment. In the poly world, one searches out others of like thinking, in order to build a deeper relationship, where commitment is the underlying factor.  

In my opinion, commitment is the difference between polyamory and swinging, or rather the levels of commitment. In all my reading and research, I have found in polyamory a need to share more of ones life that just the sexual aspects of it. In some ways swinging can be rather superficial, (I know I will catch it for that comment), because sexual gratification can be the primary reason behind why couples swing. I’m not saying that long term relationships are not made in the swinging scene, there are, many people have made friends for life in the swinging scene, but the bottom line is the commitment. In the swinging scene, couples meet, share experiences and then return to their normal everyday lives. Without regrets. 

In polyamorous people they seek to share their lives with others willing to do the same. In many ways this is a form of marriage, very spiritual, but still marriage. This requires a deeper level of commitment from all involved. 

Not all polyamorous relationships last, they are as prone to break-ups as any other relationship and we all know nothing last forever. Risks are a part of life and you never know what you can do till you try. 

IS POLYAMORY FOR YOU? 

This is a question only you can answer. All I can do is direct you in asking the right questions. Polyamory requires the consent of all involved, so be sure of your current relationship before you dive in feet first.  Be aware of the pitfalls of polyamory and be secure in your feelings. Remember, there are no rules that govern this lifestyle choice. BE HONEST! 

IS POLYAMORY LEGAL? 

This is one of the grey areas and in some areas, depending on where you live; you may be subject to “common bodyhouse” laws. I know that this is somewhat extreme but you need to know the bad with the good. Honestly though, in most parts of Canada and the United States, you are reasonably safe form any form of prosecution, as long as you are not caught breaking any laws. The major fear for polyamory people is intolerance; people who do not want to understand what polyamory is and are so high on their moral ground, that in some cases they can be a threat.  

The practice that is illegal is Polygamy. Polygamy is the practice of multiple marriages, and is still practiced today by some offshoot sects of the Mormon Church and if memory serves me, a few of the Hutterite and Mennonite communities in Canada practice it as well. Yes it is against the law, although, in most areas it is not strongly enforced, as the law it self, is considered a form of religious persecution. 

Polygamy and polyamory are similar in basic theory. Polygamy however is predominantly patriarchal, meaning one husband, many wives. The wives tend to follow an alpha order, with the head wife being the top of the chain. Each wife will bring different things to the relationship, prosperity, property, or the ability to bear children. 

ARE THERE ANY INDICATORS THAT POINT TO BEING POLYAMOROUS? 

There are no real indicators that say you are polyamorous. At least I know in my self there were no real signs that polyamory would be a lifestyle choice for me. I truly believed that my husband and I could remain monogamous, but as our relationship aged, it also changed. We both discovered that there were things we both needed and desired that we could no longer find with each other. Not that they weren’t there anymore, we just needed different levels of it. Some of the things we were going through were brought on by changes in our individual physiology. Bodies and their hormones are wonderful and scary things. I also know that as we both age things may change again.  

The point I am trying to make here is that you need to talk to your partner about the changes you and your relationship are going through. Keeping the communication flowing between you and your partner will help when things need to change or grow and develop, in your relationship. This is also a very important thing to remember when are involved in a polyamorous relationship as well. 

One of the biggest problems I had, at the beginning of my marriage, was that I did not know how to talk to my husband about the things that bothered me. This almost ruined my relationship with him. But as the years went by I developed patterns that helped me overcome my problems. I kept a diary of sorts, it was only ever written in when I was very upset or angry, happy feelings are very easy to convey I discovered. I would let my husband read what I had written and it would help open the dialogue between us. I still keep a diary, but it is more for myself now, as I have overcome the fears I had early in my marriage. 

I have been happily married now for 15 years, and in all the changes my husband and I have gone through, we have both been there for each other and supported each other in whatever choices we needed to make, in order to maintain the deep love and friendship we have for each other.

HOW DO YOU TALK TO YOUR PARTNER ABOUT POLYAMORY?

This is one of the most oft asked question and also one of the more difficult ones to answer.

Open, honest discussion is the only way.

In most relationships, it seems, that it is the woman who has a more difficult time accepting the idea of an open relationship. As I woman I can relate to that very well, as I had my own problems to deal with. In my opinion, this is because as women we are taught that fidelity is the most important thing in a relationship.  We are taught the culture and the morals of the society we are born into. One, that in my belief that places a priority on men and their needs.

An option to broaching the subject with your partner is, do the research and arm yourself with all the information you can find, become an expert in it if you like, and start leaving it lying around the house. Not a lot of information at one time, but enough to pique the curiosity.

When asked, open an honest dialogue, don’t back down from what you think may be difficult questions, and even if you don’t think you know the answer, someone has the information to help you. If you are honest about why you would like to venture into the polyamory lifestyle, your partner may be open to listen to you.

PROS AND CONS! 

There are a multitude of positive reasons, as well a plenty of negative ones as well. The best thing you can do is equip yourself with as much information as you can. 

PROS 

The most important benefit of a poly relationship should be a rewarding experience and this can happen even if problems arise. The strong and deep lasting friendships, one garners form being polyamorous, as well as a strong sense of acceptance and well being, are other great benefits of polyamory. The people you meet in life leave their mark on you and in some ways can help change the path you chose to travel on. Be open to new opportunities and you will never be disappointed. 

CONS 

The negatives are always going to be there and there really isn’t a way to avoid them. Jealousy is one of the biggest drawbacks to being polyamorous, as it will appear at the most inopportune times. Being prepared for it and knowing what the triggers may be helps you to deal with it and what the underlying causes of it may be. Next to jealousy come the feeling of inadequacy and issues of self-esteem. These are also the basis for most feelings of jealousy. The next one is what to do when you make a bad choice. Well it happens. The best thing you can do is get past it, put it behind you, using it only as an example of what to look out for when you meet someone new. It’s a learning experience, and knowing that it happened, is not going to automatically stop it from happening again. We are doomed. It seems, to repeat history. In my belief we do that because we have not learn what the “powers that be” want us to learn. Don’t lose heart, it will soon become a thing of the past and you can move forward once again. Oh and one more thing here, once it is in the past, leave it there! NEVER dwell on it, and NEVER use it as a weapon. We are human and destined to learn. Do so, you’ll find out how enriched you life will become. 

SUMMARY 

I know I may have generated more questions and that isn’t a bad thing. Questions are the basis of our life and our quest to grow as individuals. 

In summary, if you think you would like to expand your relationship and to be polyamorous, I have just a few more thoughts to add. 

·         QUESTION what you do not understand. Never be afraid to ask and never fear the answer. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

·         DON’T JUDGE! Judging others shows ignorance. It’s unfair to you and to those you have judged.

·         UNLEARN old assumptions about relationships. Assumptions lead to errors in perception.

·         PRACTICE EMPATHY! Just because you don’t practice polyamory doesn’t mean doesn’t mean those that do are automatically bad people. All we ask is you understanding.

·         DO NOT USE POLYAMORY AS AN ESCAPE! Things like jealousy and feelings of inadequacy are signs of a deeper issues or problem. Don’t be afraid of talking about what may be wrong or what is causing these feelings, things are never really as bad as we believe them to be.

·          BE HONEST! With yourself and with the others you are involved with. If you are honest a lot of problems will deal with themselves.

Please feel free to ask any questions you have, I will do my best to answer them.   I will also provide some links to some wonderful sites dedicated to polyamory and the lifestyle.  

And one last word or two……… 

Life is meant to be lived and how you go about doing that, in the long run is what is RIGHT for you.  

There are a lot of sites out there that relate to this topic, the sites listed below, I believe, contain the best information and resource material on the net. Plus they also contain links to the various web rings and sites on the net.  

For more information on jealousy and dealing with it go to:
Polyamory at:
http://www.bayarea.net/~stef/poly.html 

For more information on relationships and other topics:
Liberated Christians at:
http://www.libchrist.com/ 

For more information on sexuality go to:
Sexuality.org at:
http://www.sexuality.org/

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