My husband and I have been polyamorous for nearly 4 years. My first blog post discusses how we came to be poly…It can be found here. I will avoid redundancy…So…In this post, I will focus on what it is/what it is like/what it means to love more than one person and how to cope with living in a monogamous society. I will make several analogies involving how one achieves, craves, and needs to love and be loved by others with what is currently acceptable amongst our society to aid in a better understanding…
There will be 2 Parts to this post…This part, I will define what poly means…at least to me…
We are bombarded with images, films, television, media, news, books, domestic living laws, religion, and pressures to form a “family unit” of 2 individuals (only recently accepted are gay marriages in the US) that may or may not include children…although media and politics (especially US) pressures for child rearing. Homosexual populations have felt the pressure to conform to heterosexual ideals…In similar ways, poly people have felt the pressures to conform to monogamous ideals…Love only one person, no one else is allowed your heart.
It is unlikely that you have only one friend in this world. If you do, that’s wonderful! That is one person of whom you trust, love, and would take a bullet for, give a kidney to…and they would do the same for you. However, having a few close friends…that is more support, more love, more care…more people who are looking out for you and contributing to your happiness on this planet. Each friend you have brings out characteristics in you that you may not have with another. You love all of your friends, but it is an entirely different love with each one. One friend may be your video game/cuddle friend. Another may be your affectionate/sappy book reading friend. One friend may be your superhero, let’s dress up and read comic books friend. Your affectionate book reading friend may not like video games. Do you love your friend less? Absolutely not! Do you love your book reading friend more? Probably not. Is your love for that book reading friend different? Yes…of course it is. Can you imagine life without your closest and dearest friends? Why would you even entertain the thought?
The beauty of having more than one friend is that you can be yourself fully but with different people. Each person allows you a free space to be yourself in ways that is not possible with others. This in no way means the others are lacking or are unfulfilling on their own. It is just different. You are different with different people…not wrong or necessarily bad, just different. Each engagement with your friends, you learn more about yourself…and you see new things come out of you that you may not have seen with some one else. And you love them all equally…a widely accepted aspect of society.
Another example involves parents with multiple children. Same principles involving the friends analogy can apply here. You love all of your children equally…But…one may be your sports child, another may like performance, one may adore SciFi. Your engagements with each child is individual…your rules may be the same for all, but each will hit different aspects of you. Similar ideals but on an acceptable societal norm.
*Some would argue that parental love is unconditional and does not apply to the romantic sense. I disagree. My father’s love was not unconditional. There is no guarantee of this love and such instinct is not present in everyone. To assume this places unrealistic expectations on certain people. Many parents choose to stay and love, others do not.*
The point of all of this…we are permitted to love everyone…anyone…relatives and friends…but if sex and romance are involved, no. Just one, that’s it. Why? Why must this be the only way allowed for society? Can a person be capable of romantic love and crave intimacy with more than one person? Why not!
I will avoid the discussion of slut shaming, praise of men with multiple sexual exploits (prior to marriage), and the current war on women in politics…although all of these reinforce the monogamous perspective.
The Ethnographic Atlas Codebook (Corrections updated as of 1999)…which is widely referenced in anthropology textbooks …reports less than 200 out of appx 1200 societies actively are considered monogamous. The majority practice various forms of non monogamy whether temporary or permanent in their cultures. This is conducive to some cultures due to limited resources in some cases or wanting to share wealth with multiple partners.
In the Himalayas, polyandry (multiple husbands) is practiced due to limited farmland in the mountains. An example: A female is brought into a household of 2 brothers. She is wife to both of them and all children are raised as their own. Since farmland is limited, there is no splitting of land for the brothers to have 2 separate families with 2 separate women. All share in the wealth and the resources of love and children. There is no jealousy. Everyone is equal.
In the natural world, there are appx. 5,000 species of mammals where only 3-5% are monogamous. Very few species pair exclusively for life. Look at lions…It can be an expensive investment to put all of your eggs with one partner, so to speak…what if partner has genetic issues? What if the children are sickly/weak? What if a stronger male defeats the previous one? Those children will be stronger. Your genes will pass onto stronger progeny and you will live on through them…Birds of paradise are another amazing example of how diversity amongst a species through non monogamy can produce exceptional and beautiful results in the continuation of a species.
Monogamy is the cultural, historical, and biological minority but it dominates Western Society.
*As an aside…I am not listing references here…however, my credentials: I have 2 undergrad degrees in science(biology and biochemistry)…and a Masters specialized in science education. I am currently in a bioanalytical chemistry PhD program…If you would like articles, message me or better yet hit up Google Scholar*
Polyamory…loving more than one person…in the biology of sex, love…both are considered necessary in order to be a healthy adult human. Some people are asexual, but the need for human connection is still present.
The two main keys to all of this…
One is time…dividing it up and ensuring you are not neglecting anyone. The level of relationship relies heavily on the needs of the people involved. I can not take on more partners/lovers/friends (insert whatever label because I tend to not use them) than I can handle. I only give my time to people who want it and do not neglect me. Otherwise, what is the point? Neglecting others and being neglected is not loving.
Two is communication…EVERYONE needs to understand the situation and YOU MUST ACTIVELY communicate to make certain EVERYONE is getting their needs met as well as adapting to any new transitions. People must be allowed to discuss difficult topics including potential jealousy issues (likely pressing due to someone not getting their needs met), progression of feelings, if needs change, etc. Communication is vital for the success of ANY relationship monogamous or otherwise. However, with poly people, communication is required due to the nature of the situation and the need for establishing trust. Everyone has to know what is at stake, what the expectations are, and what can/can’t be given. And at times there are rules that dictate interactions (safe sex, only certain acts are ok with certain people, etc…) that need to be addressed.
Being non monogamous IS NOT a “Free Pass” to do what you want indiscriminately. People, feelings, sex, and love are involved. It can become complicated if there is a breakdown of communication.
*A word on cheating…Cheating IS NOT non monogamy. Cheating stems from issues within the relationship and is irrelevant to ethical non monogamy practices. I have ALWAYS felt a need to share myself with others, but I was monogamous with my husband before we opened up…I NEVER took on partners or cheated…I love him and I love those in my life. Cheating is not the same…because there is a lack of communication and hiding actions is required.*
So the big question…”What about your husband?”. Well, I give my husband the time he wants, the affection he needs, and I work to be certain he is not neglected. He has had relationships of his own. He understands my need and in no way feels lesser or jealous because I actively work to meet his needs…I know many monogamous relationships that fail because they neglect each other and do not communicate. Being poly has strengthened our relationship BECAUSE we communicate and work to ensure each other’s needs are met.
For me, I love multiple people. In my love of others I am fulfilled. I love my husband, but that love is its own. I love others and each one is unique. I don’t compare them to each other because that would be ridiculous let alone ensure failure of any and all of my relationships. You don’t expect your friends to act like each other. You don’t compare them. You love them as they are. I genuinely LOVE the people closest to me. They know this. They know they are special and I need them in my life in any form that they can be. I have been intimate with a few…others I will not be able to share this intimacy due to life’s and society’s strict parameters…but they know they fulfill me and I need them because they are important to me. I have learned more about myself through engaging with others than I have being monogamous…as each person has drawn something new from me that I didn’t know was there. I have a big…no MASSIVE heart. I have a pressing (and sometimes overwhelming) need to engage with others and share love/feelings/sensuality with them. Some engage my intellectual side…some my kink side…a few my geek side…I am myself with all of them and can be myself with all of them. I thank them and adore them for this freedom they give me…
I know they care and love me…what a wonderful feeling it is to have people who hold you close to them in all of these ways as you do with them. ❤
Part 2 will focus on society and how to cope with being poly in a mono world…
Thank you For Reading,