…yet has lessons even for the monogamous.
Relationships are difficult. People are complicated, and figuring out how to get along with them can often be a challenge. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with another person knows how difficult it can be. Now imagine that difficulty multiplied by, well, by however many relationships you have (and then double that, perhaps).
When you are polyamorous, the emotions of the people involved are much more present. It is much easier to gloss over and cruise by emotional difficulties when insecurities and fears are not as frequently unearthed. The fact is that the vast majority of us have insecurities, fears, and other issues that lay under our everyday lives. Our culture has evolved in such a way that, for most people, these insecurities can hide most of the time. They come out from time to time, and perhaps we see a therapist or have talks with close friends, but they don’t dominate our lives.
But the lifestyle of polyamory brings many circumstances to the table which bring the hot buttons of our insecurities to the surface, meaning that they will be pressed much more often. This, in turn, forcies us to become very familiar with the terrain of our emotional landscape. That is, you are forced to actually deal with your fears, insecurities, and other parts of ourselves that we try to hide (from ourselves as well as others).
When we are compelled, through the circumstances we find ourselves, to find ways to deal better with our issues in life, we grow and mature in ways that we would not otherwise. And as far as relationships are concerned, this can be a great boon. This is why I think that what polyamory has to teach us is invaluable to anyone who has emotions. That is, I think that what polyamorous people learn through living this lifestyle should be learned by everyone, whether they are single, monogamous, or polyamorous.
So, what are these things that we should learn? Well, I’m no expert, but I’ll give a very quick analysis of what I think is most important:
- Communication is essential: We must tell our partners what we really think. We must not hold back things we do not like or things that we want.
- Honesty is vital: We must first be honest with ourselves about what we want. Then we must be honest with our partners about what we want. Outside of things like the details for their upcoming surprise party, we need to keep an open line of communication about the things that our partners need to know, which brings us to…
- We must create and maintain boundaries: In each relationship, we must use our communication and honesty to decide what is acceptable and what is not in that relationship. Rather than have what is “normal” or standard become the default, we should create our own rules and borders of the relationships we are in, keeping in mind that they may change over time and may need periodic adjustments.
These should be the basic rules for all relationships, not just what poly people talk about. I think that if everyone would follow these basic rules, rather than having the assumed rules of the monogamous world imposed without question, then we would find that things like polyamory would naturally emerge among people who have, perhaps secretly, desired something a little different.
The problem is that most people fall into relationships and never bother discussing many of the important things about the relationship. Most people simply assume that at some point you have to make a decision to commit to one person or another or to remain uncommitted. This absurd dichotomy overlooks that people can, if they choose, commit to more than one person, or primarily to one but with others, or whatever structure suits everyone involved. But when people automatically settle towards the cultural standard of monotony… I mean monogamy…, then people are often left without much of what they really want, which they think is the necessary sacrifice for a “real” relationship.
You don’t have to sacrifice everything you want. Try and be honest with what you really want in your life, and you may find that there are people that want the same thing as you. And don’t forget to start being honest with yourself so that you don’t find that you have worked yourself deep into a relationship with a person with whom you share few relationship goals simply because you didn’t know what you really wanted.
Finally, don’t worry about those insecure and fear-ridden people that you may scare off with your particular goals or kinks, because those people have to work on themselves before they are worth your time anyway.