Disclaimer (August 2018):
While I’m no longer identifying as “polyamorous,” and prefer “nonmonogamy (due to the toxicity of the polyamory community), this page is still largely what I adhere to, philosophically. Polyamory is still a very rational, fulfilling, and lovely way to pursue love and relationships with people, and I will always support it. Experiences from some years back, and recent personality conflicts with people in the local community have led me to believe that I need to take a break from said community, and am not pursuing any new polyamorous relationships myself. That, of course, is subject to change, and the lessons and experiences of being polyamorous will always remain with me.
That said, here’s the content I wrote years ago, which I will keep present on the site despite not currently living the lifestyle, currently…
Polyamory can be defined in many ways.
- Responsible non-monogamy
- Having multiple relationships, including both romantic and/or sexual connections, with more than one person.
- relationships which don’t have rules against any partner pursuing other sexual or romantic relationships.
The basic idea is that a person who is polyamorous is not (get this) monogamous, at least not necessarily. A person who is in a polyamorous relationship may find themselves in a monogamous circumstance because neither person is currently involved with another person. Although one or both of them may find themselves interested in others at some later time. In that case honesty, openness, and a little courage can make both free to pursue what they want, when they want it.
To be polyamorous, your other relationships need to be consented to by all, and at least known about by all. Not everyone has to be friends, lovers, etc, but they should at least know that the other partners you have exist, and possibly some basic biographical details. Having another girlfriend that your wife does not know about, even if you think she wouldn’t mind, is not doing it right (for example).
“But, monogamy is natural and normal!”
It is normal in our western culture, at least in the statistical sense. But is it normal in terms of a larger perspective on human behavior? Does it match up with our inclinations, desires, and what would be healthy for us as a species? Perhaps for some, but not for many.
There are a number of books which address the issue of whether monogamy is natural, such as:
- The Myth of Monogamy
- Sex at Dawn
- More Than Two (this would be my highest recommendation)
and probably many others. But without getting into the content of those books, the simple way to address the question is to point out the fact that most people don’t pair-bond with one person throughout their lives. That is, even if we are serially monogamous, we do have interest in different (types of) people throughout our lives. So why do we suppress this inclination and not date in parallel as well as serially?
Also, people cheat constantly. That goes against any argument that monogamy is normal, even in the statistical sense. If we didn’t want to be with other people besides our partner (whom we care about, ideally), cheating would not be such an issue. And there would be a lot less country music.
I’d bet that many people already have circumstances that would be on the edge of polyamory already, and just don’t think about it that way. Even if a person is in a committed and exclusive relationship, they often do have close friends whom we love, some of which we may be sexually attracted to. Why limit ourselves to one person sexually and/or romantically based upon cultural expectations, jealousies, and fears?
Why not love all the people we love, the way we love them, while simultaneously challenging our deep insecurities about ourselves, our partners’ desires, and our capability to maintain meaningful relationships with more than one person?
Are we swingers?
Yes, some poly people attend swinger parties, do some more casual partner swapping, and even have what might be called poly Zipcar situations. But many poly people are what is called polyfidelitous, which means that we are committed and exclusive with a set of people, and don’t venture outside of that.
The structure of polyamorous relationships are as varied as your imagination. Be committed to 100 people or marry one and have hot sex with 1000, with various levels of intimacy with each. As the Burger King says (and it’s good to be the king!) have it your way!
(make sure to get consent first)
Oh, also, allow your partners to have it their way, too. Don’t you want your partners to be happy?
Rules and negotiation
I don’t think that everyone should be, or even could be, polyamorous. Of course, I don’t think some people are mature enough to handle one relationship, let alone two or more.
I just think that monogamy should not be the default relationship structure in our culture (or any culture!), entered into without discussing what each person wants. I think if two people are happy with each other and feel no desire to be with others, either sexually or romantically (although if they have no other friends, I’d be concerned), then I’m happy for them and would not push them to be polyamorous. I would ask them to not ignore their needs and desires which may include other people, for the sake of their happiness, both individually and as a couple.
That is, monogamy should be agreed upon, not done automatically due to either social social expectation or in bowing to jealousy. Ideally, the agreement should not be forced or unnatural.
What negotiated monogamy should not look like:
- we will not pursue other romantic or sexual relationships in order not to challenge our jealousies and other insecurities or social convention
What negotiated monogamy should look like:
- neither of us feels the desire to be with others right now, and so we are not. And if this changes, we will re-evaluate without merely bowing to insecurity or social convention
In summary, negotiate your own rules for your relationship, rather than merely adopt social conventions which may or may not reflect your desires and needs.
Relationship skills (especially good for being polyamorous)
Communication, communication, communication!
That will be the most important words to keep in mind as a person in a relationship. Especially the last one, since it was bold-faced.
Oh yeah, (by the way), if you are going to maintain two or more separate relationships, if you don’t communicate what you fear, love, want, etc then you will have serious relationship problems. More so than not communicating when monogamous, although that’s bad too.
Be honest, starting with yourself, about what you want, what you need (to be happy, not merely to exist), and what boundaries you have for your partners.
For example, your partners need to know that you hate being tickled, love being tickled, that you are insecure about letting other people tickle your partner, or even if you want desperately to watch your partner get tickled by 7 well-muscled men and women…with a broom and some stork feathers.
(it’s your kink, don’t look at me that way!)
If you are around poly people long enough, you will run into some kinky people. You will not like all of what you see. Some of what you see may excite you in ways you didn’t think was possible for [insert kink here].
One strength of polyamory is that if you fall in love with someone who likes something you either don’t want to do or don’t get much (or any) pleasure from doing, they can find someone who loves that thing too. And everyone is happy!
So, explore your kinks and allow your partners to explore theirs. If you have none, you are not boring. Think of not having a kink as your kink.
You dirty, kinky, slut you!
Sex is a good thing. It’s fun, it’s exercise, and liking and wanting it is not a bad thing. Be as much (or as little) of a slut as you want to be with as many (or few) as you like. The poly people you meet will range from barely sexual to uber sexual. Manage your relationships however you like, and have what you want from whom you want it.
Life is too short to pass up fun, friendship, and love with all the wonderful people out there.
So go out and poly up the place! Who cares what the Religious Right thinks!
Want more information? Start by reading The Ethical Slut
18 thoughts on “Polyamory?”
Religious Right? I’m sure there’s enough people in any other demographic who are totally against the beliefs and practices of other people. Demonizing someone who you feel oppressive is exactly the same as people who don’t view polyamory the way we do. It’s base and childish. The only way to be completely taken seriously as a demographic (by which I mean, become as accepted and acceptable as the societal norm.) is to display intelligence before we play their game, and tact while we do. Otherwise, excellent article. I look forward to citing it in my research paper.
Wow, this is great! I especially like that you include more a-sexual tendencies there too, super inclusive! I (female, monogamous, kinky, straight-curious, just fyi) think (for now) I still need the security of monogamy but I think this is obviously the future and to see that people can be so open, loving, trusting and respectful makes me really happy 🙂
Where does one get the shirt. its Awsum!!
what is means is “a whole lot of talking”.Talk, talk, talk…so much effort just to have another partner. In every polyamorous relationship Ive seen, and thats a lot! Ive never seen it work for more than a few years, it always, overtime, breaks down.How often have you seen a couple in a LONG TERM polyamorous relationship, long term meaning 25 or more years? It doesnt happen, its nice to be committed to someone for a long term partnership, contrary to polyamorous beliefs, its usually the guy that benefits the most and the woman that gets the least out of it, especially when you start raising your kids together.
Dr Deb every issues you bring up sounds more like issues in monogamous relationships rather than poly. I’m just curious how many monogamous people do you know in relationships that have lasted 25 years or more? Probably not many. And that’s ok. Not every relationship is meant to last forever, or at least not meant to exist in the same way forever.
As for men benefiting the most, I disagree. Poly is egalitarian. As a poly female I have full freedom to enter into relationships when and with whomever I see fit. Benefits in my relationships are mutual and I have full partnership with my children’s father in raising them, not to mention their involvement with other partners who are their friends. My life is far richer and satisfying now than it ever was in any monogamous configuration.
All I can say is OH MY GOD. Is this site for real?
Is polyamory long-term sustainable? Will a 75 year old retiree prefer polyamory or monogamy?
Poly relationships can be as longterm or short term as any mono relationship.
Yeah, I think ignoring jealousy, which really isn’t a societal invention, is stupid. What’s wrong with not wanting to be in a poly relationship because both of you would get jealous? I wouldn’t be able to sleep with my husband if I knew he was out fucking 4, 5, 12 other women. No thanks.
Does love even exist? Rationally, would anyone love anyone if they were deformed, hideous, unattractive? Would they have talked to them to begin with? I don’t buy any of this because love as a concept is cute and ideological but not real for most people.
PolyamoryNetwork.com is a private social network dedicated to polyamory for members only (Completely Free). It’s a place where you can share thoughts, opinions and experiences related to everything polyamory.Would you consider linking to my website?
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Oh god another horny bonobo .If polyamory is soo natural why to we have 1000 of rules to how to do it ?
It is not 1000’s of ruels. It is that every relationship is difrent. Monogamus or other. There are as many personal rules about a mognomunas relationship as there are relationships in the wourld. Poly, is no difrent.
Well, there is such a thing as polyfidelity, where it’s a limited number of people that one is faithful to. Just because you’re poly, that doesn’t mean you have NO limits at all. It just means you’re open to more than one partner.
I am married to a lovely man, and I have a lovely lady in my life as well. She is married to her own lovely man. For my own part, I know I would be ok with it if my husband spent intimate time with this lady. I’d be very happy for them if they found enjoyment in this way. Because we live in different states, it’s difficult to get together for the time being.We haven’t yet had a chance to establish how her husband would feel about her being with my husband. That will get worked out in time.
Before I was married to my husband, I did spend some intimate time with this lady and her husband, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.
I like the idea of a non-religious poly oriented website where ideas can be fair-mindedly examined in a skeptical manner. I’ve attempted to apply these principles in developing http://www.polynatural.org and hope that over time others catch-on to what we’re really about.