There is a lot of taboo surrounding polyamorous relationships when there really shouldn’t be. In case you were unaware of the terminology, polyamorous, in the context of a relationship, means having three or more people involved in any combination of gender, sexual identity, or marital status.
So many people perceive polyamory as a problem. Many think it’s weird, unnatural, or immoral, but it should go without saying that no one has the right to judge others on their sex lives. Not everyone thinks about relationships in the same way and not everyone thinks about sex the same way, nor should we. Sex and relationships are obviously personal and matters of our own business.
That being said, polyamory can be a wonderful and loving relationship model like all others, but it’s not for everyone. While monogamy is nothing to be ashamed of, it is the social norm and we can always benefit by exploring our options more openly. It’s important to actually get to know something about polyamory and poly people before you decide what works for you personally.
Monogamy actually isn’t all that different from polyamory. In both models, the people involved can be committed or cheat, the relationships can be open or closed, and they are both subject to jealousy under the right circumstances. However, they are not as binary as they seem. There are people who prefer monogamous relationships but would find happiness in a polyamorous relationship with the right people. There is a spectrum here, as with pretty much everything.
Being polyamorous doesn’t mean you have commitment issues, low self-esteem, or that you get bored with one person. Polyamory is about being able to love more than one person. Sadly, loving more than one person romantically is a skill many have failed to even recognize. The majority of us have more than one friend, so it should follow that there’s nothing wrong with having more than one boyfriend, girlfriend, or lover.
Sex is not cookie cutter. There should be no set rules for sex or relationships because, put simply, everyone is different. The people involved create their own boundaries and set goals for the relationship. Everyone has their own personal quirks and kinks.
A person with more than one partner doesn’t have to have sex with all of them at the same time. Similarly, just because one partner is involved, that doesn’t mean they have to be involved with the second partner. While it’s nice for all to get along equally, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it does or that it’s best for everyone that way.
The basic guidelines for a polyamorous relationship are the same for any other model. Don’t coerce your partners, define the level of intimacy, consent, tell the truth, be open minded to differing points of view, communicate emotional and sexual needs, set limits on obligations, balance give and take, work as a team to problem solve, grow and change together, treat each other with respect, work through mistakes, and most importantly, have the relationship with the people, not the idea of a relationship.
The book “More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory,” by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert, is a great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about polyamorous relationships and offers some wonderful guidelines and advice for the polyamorous model.
Reach columnist Taylor McAvoy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @TaylorMcAvoy105