I am at the airport in Barcelona, reflecting on my week of attendance and presentation at the Non Monogamous and Contemporary Intimacies (NMCI) conference. This is the third NMCI conference so many of us are familiar with each other. As with most conferences, the add on value happens outside of the conference rooms: sharing thoughts, lives and new ideas. Even living spaces. I was one of 6 in our communal living space. People living poly lives walk their talk.
As a self confessed monogamist living my own queer kind of unique relationship style, it is always refreshing to be present with poly people who have that much honesty, communication and open negotiation between multiple partners.
Labels are off the table, really just too many labels to put on a conference badge and due to the flow of fluidity, your label may change at any time , so why box yourself at all ?!
The significant and observable changes from this conference to our first NMCi conference 6 years ago, is how poly has settled in as a way of life. The angst is gone. Previous discussions on jealousy, understanding , acceptance, honesty and self awareness , did not dominate the content. Not to say these are not incredibly important and very difficult topics for poly people , especially for people, beginning to engage in , or consider engaging in , a poly lifestyle. They are the basic foundation and cornerstone of a couple or an individual ( known as a solo-poly person ) entering into polyamory.
Let’s start at the beginning. .. Why would you choose a polyamorous lifestyle? And in fact what is a polyamorous relationship? The simple definition of loving more than one person , has expanded.
“Polyamory is more specific, in that it implies emotional intimacy among partners who all know about each other.” Elisabeth Sheff has done considerable research into polyamory. According to her, an open relationship or open marriage often entails one or both partners dating someone else outside their “serious” partnership. Polyamory, she says, is closer to a concept of group marriage, in that it emphasizes emotional intimacy and long-term relationships.
. The basic tenants of polyamorous relationship remain the same: honest open consensual agreement between a couple to open up their relationship. Or one person – solo- choosing to engage in a polyamorous lifestyle. This can take weeks, months even years.
If you are in a polyamorous situation , tell us about it.
Have you ever considered opening up your relationship in a consensually non monogamous manner?
What was your motivation ?
What was the process you followed?
How did that work out for you ?
What obstacles occurred ?
What challenges do you currently face?
Once both people decide they are ready , agreements are set up. But any agreement is entirely unique to the poly person in question and their respective partners. Setting rules is particularly common and valuable when a person or couple is first starting to dip their toe into the polyamory world. “If people continue in a polyamorous lifestyle, they often move less to a rule-based agreement and more towards acting in ways they know will make them all feel well-treated,” Feeling well treated is where the focus lies.
Imagine this : Frank is happily married to Maria. The have a couple of children . And then they no longer find traditional marriage with children as the main focus of their lives, interesting. They are over it. Frank moves into a communal living space which has a culture of polyamory. He meets Brenda and they develop a deep non sexual friendship. Frank meets Shirley and they begin a sexual loving relationship . Brenda and Frank decide to share a house. Shirley and her partner Jim , live close by and Frank and Shirley continue their relationship. Frank has also met Gina and they begin a loving sexual relationship.
You may be wondering how this all works practically. My friend John Button did a qualitative survey online. He received 265 responses to 29 questions, in October 2019.he wanted to understand the practicalities of polydom .
His research revealed that all revolves around communication, negotiation, and making agreements with all partners involved. And a good google diary 🙂 Communication needs to be flexible and in fact you may have very intermittent contact with one of your poly partners and daily whatsapp with another one.
Interestingly he found that the main reasons that a poly relationship ends is because of honesty/disclosure issues and lack of communication/inability to communicate. Misunderstandings and miscommunications is another primary reason why relationships end. As well as when one person is too demanding , It takes effort and time to run a polyamorous lifestyle.
Perhaps you’re feeling jealous merely imaging this kind of sharing.
Research indicates that people in monogamous relationships actually have more jealousy than people in polyamorous relationships, In monogamy, you’re not supposed to notice or be attracted to other people, so everything can potentially make a monogamous person jealous. And in the fairy tale version of love, jealousy is evidence that your partner loves you. By design, polyamorous relationship structures can allow more space for a neutral acknowledgement of one’s jealousy.
A word of warning : be sure to discuss your desire to embrace poly before you do it. That would be called cheating. And set aside any shame if you find that you are naturally inclined to be polyamorous- or monogamous. It says nothing about your ability to be devoted or faithful. As long as there is honesty, communication and kindness to all, loving is yours to design uniquely and responsibly.
Contact me for more information about Polyamory.