Polyamory: Many Loves, Many Rewards

What kind of wine is most appropriate to serve at your first meeting with your
boyfriend’s girlfriend?

Merlot? Cabernet? Should I ditch the liquid courage altogether? I ponder as I excitedly
browse the grocery store aisles in preparation for the following night. I had
attempted to get in touch with Jackie online to ask what kind of food she
prefers and to show her that I was eager to finally hang out with her.

She hadn’t
responded, so I was feeling a bit nervous. This was her first polyamorous
relationship, after all. When society
conditions us to view relationships in such a possessive manner, we tend to
develop some jealous habits.

This is why
navigating polyamory can be tricky. An entire lifetime of messages about how we
should conduct relationships has to be largely unlearned.

My desires directly conflict with my upbringing, as Disney’s one ‘true’ love isn’t exactly on par with polyamory’s, by definition, “many loves.” I quickly found myself navigating
a culture that very much privileges and emphasizes the heteronormative nuclear

Most songs on the radio involve two straight people in love with only each
other. Movies show us that if our partners are interested in other people, we
should take this as an indication of dissatisfaction or personal shortcomings.

I used to
believe that the purpose of an intimate, romantic partner was to complete me,
as if I was half of an entity that needed another person to be whole. I realize now that this is a very harmful relationship model that can breed codependency
and resentment. I needed to complete myself before I could even think about being a suitable partner for anyone else.

I always
felt that my monogamous relationships were steering toward an end goal—long-term
partnership or marriage. This would happen even if both people knew it wasn’t
best for them. In my poly
relationships, the end goal is always happiness and mutual satisfaction. We
frequently talk about our feelings, where the relationship is heading and what
we want and need out of it.

Such conversations are 100 percent necessary in all poly relationships because we don’t have a common
relationship model to rely on. Communication
is also incredibly important because people want different things from every
relationship. Maybe you want to date the person that your partner is
dating, or you might want a serious primary relationship with casual
hook-ups on the side.

You might
be seriously in love with more than one person. Maybe you do want to get
married, but you want to maintain stable, happy relationships with a few other
lovers as well.

You can
also structure a polyamorous relationship without hierarchy. Every
lover/partner brings something different to your life, so they all
deserve a fair amount of time, consideration and care. The only
way to figure out what works for each partner is to tell them our desires,
actively listen to theirs and compromise in a way that leaves everyone feeling
supported and satisfied.

Try some things out, and check in on how it’s working for everyone after a few weeks. View the relationship as an ongoing, active process. Each partnership is composed of two people creating something together for mutual benefit.
Checking in is essential to maintaining that balance.

Disclaimer: If you are seeing more than one person, but
your partners don’t know this, it’s cheating. Most people assume relationships to be monogamous.

Poly is great because you can be open about the things you really want without
feeling shame or fear that someone you love will leave you just because of chemistry with someone else.

It might
not be necessary to discuss lovers, partners or casual dates with someone you’re
planning on hooking up with only one or two times. But if emotions are
involved, it’s much better to be transparent and save yourself and others
potential stress or pain in the future.

I’m not suggesting that poly people don’t experience jealousy, infidelity or conflict—that
kind of stuff comes up in all kinds of relationships. Most polyamorous couples that I know
will usually examine those feelings and try to find where they are coming from so that the relationship has a tangible angle to work from.

When I feel jealous, I’ve noticed
it often stems from insecurity. I’ll bring this up with my partner(s) and let
them know that I’d like a little extra physical or emotional attention for a
bit while I work through my negative feelings.

I see
polyamory the way I see my friendships. Even though I may have some really dear
friends whom I know I can always count on, my love for them doesn’t detract from
the feelings I have toward my other friends.

brings something different and special to my life. In turn, I feel like I’m
able to express myself in different ways around a wide variety of friends. Some people will indulge certain
interests and get fired up with you about a shared passion, but it’s so rare
for us to connect with one person about everything we’re passionate about.

I truly believe that sexuality is
fluid and involves a lifelong journey filled with self-discovery. So if you’re
feeling like you prefer to be monogamous now, your relationships don’t have to
be structured in that way forever.

Similarly, you might be at a point
in your life when polyamory works better for you, but that doesn’t have to set
a precedent for all future partnerships.

It may be something that works well in college as you look for affection and intimacy
that lasts longer than one night but aren’t sure you want the commitment of accommodating
two lives after graduation. We will probably never be
surrounded by this many intelligent, sexy people ever again,
so perhaps play around and try new things while also
maintaining a commitment to another’s happiness.

We can structure our relationships
in any way that works for us. If you make a point to ensure that everyone is
feeling heard, happy, cared for and validated, there is no limit to the
satisfaction you can get in return.

Sharing is Caring,

Connie Lingus

‘Connie Lingus’ PZ ’16 is a psychology and sociology major. Her sexual orientation? Queer, kinky and polyamorous. 

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