Great Poly Relationships: Staying Cool When Tensions Are High

This is a great article on an important topic. Couldn’t have said it better myself, so here is my first reblog!

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Thoughts on compersion

As you might have seen in my recent article with definitions of common polyamorous terms, compersion is the beautiful feeling one experiences when someone they care about is happy. It is often described as the opposite emotion to jealousy. There are two examples which are often used to describe the feeling to those who have not experienced it in a polyamorous sense. Those two examples are: being happy for your partner when they get a promotion at work, and the feeling you get when your child gets a good grade, or gets picked for a position in a sports 1team/band/play etc.

While they give the general idea of compersion, they are not perfect examples. In both of these situations, one might find themselves feeling happy, not for their loved one, but for themselves. “My kid got a good grade, I can brag about this to my friends!” or “this promotion will mean extra money for us/me!” Most people, myself included, will have been guilty of receiving someone else’s good news and been happy for themselves. It doesn’t make us awful people, it just makes us people. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

Here is another analogy I came up with. You might switch on the news one day and hear about a mother whose child was cured of a life-threatening illness. That mother’s experience doesn’t have any positive consequences on you or anyone you know, yet you still feel relief and happiness.

Maybe this example is a little serious for the lighthearted, fluffy emotion that is compersion. But I feel like I needed to make a more concrete example that separates feelings of being happy for yourself from feelings of being happy for other people.

All that said, I think it’s just one of those things you need to experience for yourself to understand the true gravity of it. In short, it’s a wonderful feeling!

PolyFamilies.com – a great resource

PolyFamilies is a long dead site; from what I can tell it hasn’t been updated in nearly a decade. But it still deserves to be raved about, because it’s packed with helpful resources and awesome articles. It’s basically what I’m trying to do with this blog, only I’m slightly less charismatic. As well as having lots of great content for new and seasoned poly people alike, it includes some lighthearted pages like quizzes, silly articles and a cute web comic (though since it’s no longer updated there are only a few strips).

When I was new to the poly scene, I naturally went online looking for resources. I was really only able to find a couple of sites which had a good amount of information. PolyFamilies was one of them, and it helped me immensely. I really recommend anyone interested in polyamory go ahead and explore, because there is a lot to do there.

I’ll be adding this site to the resources page, and I’ll continue to add more in the weeks to come.

Bye for now!

-Emma

Love analogy

7Yesterday in my common poly myths article, I wrote a short segment about how love is not finite. I wanted to expand on that in today’s article with an analogy I heard of once (and I apologise to whomever’s analogy this is, but I can’t remember where it was said so I can’t reference it!).

Love is not like a glass of water, where if you empty some into a second glass, there will be less in the first.

I can completely relate to this analogy, as would any mother who has more than one child. You don’t have a set amount of love to give out, which must be divided among partners. When I began dating Aidan, the love I had for Ash in our existing relationship didn’t diminish, but on the contrary it expanded. Ash and I found a new importance in communication, setting aside time just for each other and negotiating boundaries in ways that wouldn’t be possible in monogamy. Our relationship and love for each other grew.

But as I also mentioned in my previous article, while love is infinite, time, energy and resources are not. Polyamory requires a heck of a lot of scheduling and planning to make sure we all get to spend enough time with each other. It also doesn’t help that Aidan, being a baker, is mostly nocturnal. But we all care for each other, so we put in the extra effort. So while it’s true I don’t get to spend as much time with either of the boys as I would if I were only dating one of them, it does make the time we do have together all the more special.

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

Common polyamory myths

Okay, so I know this has been done many times before. But for the sake of making sure my blog has all the important resources in one place (and because thinking of unique new ideas for posts every single day is sometimes a challenge), I’ve done my own version of a ‘poly-myths busted’ article. I’ve focused on the 5 myths that I feel are most important to set the record straight on. As with all my articles, I will drawing on my own experiences and including my personal opinions, so you don’t have to agree with my answers ;)

1. It’s a phase/you just haven’t found The One yet

As you’ve already read in my article about “The One, there seems to be this notion floating around in Western society that there is one person out there made just for you, who can fulfill your every need. People seem to think that if you are dating more than one person, it can only mean you are unfulfilled by any single relationship and need to fill a void with lots of partners. That is, until you find That One Special person and you realise you don’t need anyone else, thus growing out of your little ‘poly’ phase. Being polyamorus, I learned that because everyone is different, there are many different ways a person can fulfill you. Both of my partners are The One for me; that is to say, I could live a happy monogamous life with either one and still be fulfilled. I just choose to be with both because having two Ones at the same time is a wonderful experience.

2. You just can’t commit to one person/it’s a fancy word for cheating6

On the contrary, polyamory requires two, three or more times the commitment than monogamy, depending on how many partners you have. I had been in a completely committed relationship with Ash for 4 years before Aidan came along, so it wasn’t like we were unhappy with each other and needed to see other people to keep ourselves satisfied. As for cheating, many people seem to think it’s a simple matter of sleeping with someone else while you’re already in a relationship. Cheating is about breaking specific rules or boundaries that you and your partner have set in place to make sure both of you are comfortable. Me having another partner does not make Ash feel uncomfortable, nor is it a secret I hide from him. Thus, it is not cheating.

3. Your partner is only letting you because they’re afraid you’ll leave otherwise

This is possibly the myth that gripes me the most, because everyone assumes it of me. As I mentioned above, Ash and I were already in an established relationship before I started dating Aidan. So a lot of people in our families just assumed that I was no longer satisfied with Ash, and Ash reluctantly let me sleep around for fear that him restricting me would mean me leaving him. I can see why it’s easy to think that, but it is just simply not true. Not only are Ash and I just as happy (if not more happy) with each other since Aidan joined our family, but Ash gained a best friend out of the new relationship. And of course, he wants me to be happy and he can see that Aidan makes me happy. So in short, Ash is ‘letting’ me date Aidan because it is the best thing for all three of us.

4. Love is finite

What people are really trying to say when they mention this is that time and energy are finite. Yes, it’s true that the more partners you have, the less time and effort you can put into each individual relationship. But that absolutely does not mean you love them any less. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been in a polyamorus relationship yourself, but in my own experience I’ve found that the amount of love I have grows with each person I am intimate with.

5. Polyamory will fix your existing relationship problems

In a last ditch effort to save a failing relationship, many couples will decide to ‘see other people’ so that they can seek the fulfillment they are not getting in their existing one. And this is not an uncommon scenario, either. Because adding more people to an already shaky relationship is a recipe for disaster, many people have bad associations with relationships involving more than two. And that gets applied to polyamory all the time. Polyamory works for us because Ash and I were already committed and happy when I became involved with Aidan. Aidan was not a ‘band-aid’ to patch up problems in me and Ash’s relationship.

So as proven by us and hundreds of thousands of other non-monogamists worldwide, polyamory is absolutely a happy, healthy way of life, assuming you got into it for the right reasons.

‘Till next time!

-Emma

Poly glossary

As promised, here is a (hopefully) comprehensive guide to some common polyamory terms. These are all my own personal definitions, so bear in mind that others may use these words in different contexts :) If I missed anything, please add it in the comments!

Note: not in alphabetical order because that’s too logical for me.

Polyamory/poly- see this post.

Monogamy- a more socially accepted relationship model involving two people who are exclusive to each other. Works for some people, doesn’t work for others.

Non-monogamy- an umbrella term which, as the name implies, encompasses everything that is not monogamy. Things that come under this category include polyamory, swinging and cheating.

Open relationship- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved seek, or are open to the idea of, more people becoming part of the group.

Closed relationship/polyfidelity- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved are in exclusive relationships and are not seeking, or open to the idea of, any more people joining their relationship.

Group marriage- a polyamorus relationship where the people involved make life commitments to one another (like ‘normal’ marriage, but with more than two people).

Primary/secondary- two different types of relationships within polyamory. A primary group/couple may be more committed, and share responsibilities and benefits such as child raising, pooling finances and living together. A secondary relationship is usually more casual.

Triad- a polyamorus group of three people.

Quad- a polyamorus group of four people.

Network- a polyamorus group involving more than four people.

Triangle/delta- a triad relationship model where all three members are involved with each other. As such, the connections between the members of the group form a triangle/delta shape.

Vee/V- A triad relationship model where one person is involved with two others. Think of the letter V as a triangle with one less connection.

N- A quad relationship model. Think of a V model but with an extra connection.

Hinge- a person who is dating two or more others, and thus becomes a ‘hinge’ between those people. A  V relationship has one hinge in the middle, an N has two and so on. A network may have many hinges connecting the group together.

Metamour/spouse-in-law- two or more people who share the same partner, but are not involved with one another. The two people at either end of a V relationship are an example of this.

Compersion- an emotion that is the opposite to jealousy. It is the feeling of positive empathy when you see someone else happy. In the context of polyamory, compersion is the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you see your partner enjoying other relationships.

New Relationship Energy (NRE)- The excitement and happiness you feel when a new relationship begins. In polyamory, this energy often reignites the excitement in old/existing relationships.

Spice- the plural term for spouse. Eg. “My spice and I are going out tonight”.

Polygamy/polygny/polyandry- these terms have little to do with the polyamory movement and are more commonly used when referring to people who are non-monogamous for religious or cultural reasons.

My next post (or at least a post in the near future) will focus on my two partners and I, and use these definitions to explain our relationship and dynamics.

Stay tuned!

-Emma

What is polyamory?

1For those visiting my blog to learn more about polyamory, I thought I’d start at square one and give an explanation as to what it actually is. Sure, you could just read the Wikipedia page (and honestly, it gives a pretty good rundown). But I’m hoping that coming from the mouth (keyboard?) of someone in an established poly relationship, you’ll find a bit more substance in my description.

So let’s start with my personal definition, which actually doesn’t sound that different to the Wikipedia introduction.

Polyamory is the practice or ability to be romantically involved with more than one person at a time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

You may notice the main difference between my definition and the Wikipedia definition is that I substituted the word “intimately” with “romantically”. There is a reason I did that, and not just so it would look less like I copy-pasted it. To me, intimacy is something you can experience with a person you are not in love with, like for example, with a sex buddy. When I say romantically, what I really mean is love, like anyone would feel for their partner.

The reason this change is so important is because polyamory is based on love. Not that there’s anything wrong swinging (sexual encounters outside your relationship with your partner’s consent). It’s just that I wouldn’t call it polyamory. I see it as a ‘cousin’ to polyamory in the big non-monogamy family tree.

Going with this metaphor, cheating would be the bratty little nephew who breaks other kids’ toys and spits on grandma. Which brings me to the second part of my definition, “with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved”. Take note of the word and here. It wouldn’t be polyamory without both of these elements. Polyamorists pride themselves on having good communication in their relationships. That begins with absolute transparency about who/when/where you’re dating/sleeping with/making life plans with.

So to recap, love and knowledge/consent are the two key aspects of most, if not all poly relationships. Because polyamorous relationships (and indeed human beings) are so varied, the boundaries, rules, expectancies, levels of compromise etc. etc. will be different in every group. For this reason I don’t expand my definition past those two elements, so as to encompass all the different styles of poly love out there.

There might be other terms like ‘vee’ or ‘compersion’ that you’ve seen floating around but have no idea what they are. Never fear! My next post will be a glossary of all the polyamory related terms (that I can think of).

‘Till next time!
-Emma