Polyamory is not easy.
Embracing polyamory is part of my identity as real as my sexuality, gender identity, and expression. Polyamory isn’t easy due to society refusing to accept polyamory as acceptable as monogamy.
Living in a polyamorous way is natural and easy for me, without the social pressure and expectations. I can love more than one person at a time and commit to multiple partners in an honest, loving way. I could not imagine reverting back to monogamy again. I wouldn’t live that way for anyone as it is not true to who I am.
I embraced a polyamorous life back in 2014 and haven’t looked back.
I don’t even question whether I am polyamorous or not. If someone knows and loves me, they know this about my life and loves.
So, as an old year is passing away and a new year is upon us, I naturally find myself thinking about all the lessons I have learned in my dating, loving, and polyamorous life. How did things go? How did I screw up? How was I successful? What did I learn?
My 2022 Polyamorous Lessons:
1. Only date others who are polyamorous.
While some people can successfully manage a relationship with a monogamous person and live polyamorously, the emotional labor required for such an endeavor can be arduous and fucking painful if you are not well-equipped with the right tools and if you have not broken down the basics of monogamous privilege.
Also, trying to convert someone to polyamory can be an emotional train wreck. It is much easier and more rewarding to find those who already are committed to this way of relating to others, than to hope someone will come around to your way of thinking. Many fights and break-ups may be avoided if you’re already on the same page to start out with.
I am only open to dating those who are already polyamorous in practice.
2. Set boundaries.
Repeat after me: It is ok to say no! It is imperative to say no. Some of us do not have a lot of practice using the word “no” and setting limits on our time and space. As a recovering people-pleaser, I understand this. Although you may be open to multiple committed relationships, this does not mean you must be open to everything.
It is perfectly acceptable to opt out or avoid any kind of dynamic you are not comfortable with. It is alright to save time and space for yourself, to take a time out when you need one, and to retreat from all the people in your life that need something from you. Taking care of yourself in this way means you will have more energy to give to your partners and family once your own cup is filled.
I have had to learn how to protect my space and my peace even when it was hard.
3. Find Your People.
I have never felt this more acutely than this past year. Finding a group of people who “get” me is important for my own support network and mental well being, especially while living in a way that defies societal norms and expectations.
My first introduction to polyamory involved a large group of polyamorous families who exemplified open, honest living and breaking the social norms in a healthy, egalitarian way. What stuck out to me the most was the supportive environment they all created, with various relationship configurations and family systems.
I hold out hope for a large polycule someday where we each support every person’s individual growth and evolution. In the meantime, I look to connect with those who share a similar vision.
4. Discretion, Not Secrecy.
It has been a long, hard, painful road for me to learn that discretion and secrecy are not the same thing. Respect for a person’s privacy and discretion in a relationship is part of the rights we deserve as autonomous human beings. Maintaining a secretive relationship is NOT one of those rights as it disrespects prior agreements and commitments made to others and forces some into the closet. Polyamory is not cheating and open, honest communication is imperative for a healthy polyamorous relationship to thrive.
Using open, honest communication as the motivation to require every ounce of information from someone is also not respectful. A healthy balance between discretion and privacy needs to be found in all relationships.
I am learning to decipher between what is my mine to know and share and what belongs to others.
5. Relationships Can Be Whatever They Want to Become.
Forcing a relationship to become something it shouldn’t is a recipe for pain and heartache. I have learned that trying to keep a romantic or sexual relationship going when it needs to transition into a friendship or something platonic can bring unnecessary pain and heartache.
The beauty of polyamorous relationships is that not all relationships need to look or stay a certain way. Relationship transition is an accepted part of polyamory. Many people choose to have long-term committed platonic partnerships while embracing other romantic/sexual partners. Each relationship can become what it is meant to be without any forced monogamous expectations.
I have found freedom in accepting my relationships as they are.
Life is a process of
becoming, a combination
of states we have to go
through. Where people fail
is that they wish to elect a
state and remain in it.
This is a kind of death.
– Anais Nin
The past year has been one of pain, growth, and understanding. I still don’t know half the time what I’m doing and wonder if I’ll ever feel like I’ve arrived. I have had breakups, breakdowns, and breakthroughs.
I look to this New Year with curiosity, wonder, and a little trepidation. Changed relationships, new relationships, travel, and career focus is on the horizon for me.
What are you looking forward to and what polyamorous lessons will you take with you into this year? Share with me!
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This post was previously published on medium.com.
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