Warts and all

Despite being slow on the updates lately, a lot has been happening in our little family. Over the past month, Aidan and I have done a lot of learning and a lot of growing.

I decided I wanted a short-term casual relationship on the side, and I ended up meeting someone I liked pretty quickly. I grabbed it with both hands and ran with it. That’s kind of a personality quirk of mine; I’m spontaneous and often find myself knee-deep in something before I’ve really thought it through. Sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes it’s not so good.

In this case, I was moving too fast for Aidan to really be comfortable with it. So after much negotiating, compromising, talking and (I won’t lie) a bit of fighting, we decided it had to end. I think everything’s back to normal now, but it’s sure been a hell of a ride. I learned a lot about Aidan and his core values, in ways I’d never have known if we hadn’t had this experience. That’s what I love about polyamory: it opens up issues that one wouldn’t experience in monogamy, so it means you learn things about your partner you’d have never known otherwise. So even though this whole experience has been…. somewhat negative, Aidan and I have come out on top, knowing more about each other than before. And that, I think, is the only real way a relationship can grow.

I also learned a few things about myself, and how I feel about polyamory. Since getting into it, I’ve kind of romanticised it, making it seem like all sunshine and roses. And for some reason, I found it really important that everyone around me see it as sunshine and roses too. I wanted people to see what polyamory is at its best; what it can be. But only showing the good side is just setting up for disappointment. And I think I am finally starting to accept polyamory for what it is, warts and all. I want to start showing people the negative sides too, because without them, you don’t grow and develop your relationship in that special way that only polyamory can bring.

Polyamory definitely has its downs, and sometimes the low points can be worse than in other kinds of relationships. But if you are strong enough to get through those low times, you will be rewarded with high points you could never dream of in monogamy.

-Emma

Polyamory: a choice or hard-wired?

I hear a lot of poly people insist that they are ‘born this way’ and couldn’t ever be comfortable in a relationship with only one other person. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of couples out there who are happy just being monogamous, yet would also be prepared to let another join their family if it worked out that way.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this dichotomy over the years, and I still don’t know whether my own instance of polyamory is one or the other. On the one hand, I know that I can be happy in a monogomus relationship as I had been with Ash in the years before I met Aidan. But at the same time, I feel more at peace knowing I have the both of them to love me in their own way.

Since polyamory is still fairly new (and sometimes, completely unknown) to the wider public, there hasn’t been much research on the topic, let alone specific questions like this one. I think it would be really interesting to see a study on this; to see if polyamory can be chosen as a lifestyle preference, or if it’s more like a sexuality that you are born with. For me, I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle, but with some more self exploration I might start to lean to one side or the other. What about you? Post a comment and let us know if you are polyamorous by choice or hard-wired this way!

-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