When I learn more about a queer topic or identity, I typically use my blog as an outlet to spread the information. As of pretty recent, as I mentioned here, I identify as polyamorous. In my exploration of where I lay on the spectrum, here are some of the things I learned. Since I don’t want to generalize people, I’m writing in first person.
1. Love is everchanging, and so are my views on it.
When I first discovered polyamory a few years ago, I was also exploring that I might be aromantic. What I’ve realized overtime is that I think this was really just my attractions expanding, not that they didn’t exist. At the time I was thinking I desired more platonic relationships and not a serious partner, and I realized I want multiple platonic relationships.
2. I don’t think jealousy is a bad thing
This may be an unpopular opinion but I don’t think jealousy is a bad thing. It’s a question on OkCupid and I often see people say it is. I think it’s natural to be jealous of other people, including your partner. I think it’s easy to want what someone else has, whether it’s a job, friends, or another partner. My advice here is to recognize where jealous feelings are coming from and not hold them in (see below).
3. Communication really is the most important thing
Here are some things I think are important to talk about that folks in monogamous relationships might not be thinking about:
Do you want to share experiences we may have with other people?
Are we bonding fluids? (aka sharing fluids without protection)
Then, are we agreeing to use protection with other people?
Are we setting boundaries on how far we go with others? (some folks might set boundaries like how often folks see others or what sexual acts they can engage in with others)
How are you feeling about my new partner?
Do you want to meet them? Are we primary partners? (see number 6)
This might seem like a lot, but in efforts to be safe and hold meaningful realtionships, sometimes multiple, there needs to be a lot of talking.
4. It lends itself well in long distance relationships
I think polyamory is great for long distance relationships, whether this is someone going on a trip or maybe they don’t live close. This might be a temporary dynamic where a relationship is open while they’re away or maybe it’s like that all the time. This lets folks get any intimate or sexual desires met on their own, while also being in a relationship. Those other people might turn into ongoing, intimate relationships, or maybe they are just flings. Again, communication.
5. Being in a nonmonogamous relationships has taught me a lot about myself
Remember when I mentioned thinking I was aromantic? Being in relationships has taught me so much about my polyamorous identity. I went from thinking I didn’t desire love, to wanting an open relationships with small flings, to really desiring multiple lovers after finding love. Like I mentioned previously, I think polyamory is an identity that keeps evolving and takes time to form because it’s so complex and different. I also think being in good and bad relationships helps a lot.
6. Polyamorous relationships don’t all look the same
Here are some configurations of polyamorous relationships. They can include two folks (see below) or many people. Some people may only be with one person or they may all know each other. The intensity or boundaries may be different for some, and some may in different states, etc etc. A big thing to think about here is the trust of safe sex if folks are having sex. Preventatives like PrEP may want to be looked into if someone is at higher risk of HIV/STDS.
7. Polyamorous relationships can look monogamous
While all the shapes above can be fun, some polyamorous relationships appear monogamous. This doesn’t mean folks haven’t agreed and talked about seeing others or that they are not polyamorous. It can also be the case that one or both of them have other partners that just don’t know one another. Finally, there’s a lot of talk about primary partners, but there doesn’t have to be a primary partner in everyone’s life. I think that puts a hierarchy that doesn’t need to exist in relationships, not to invalidate folks who want that.
8. There are a lot of different definitions of polyamory and stigma around it
Awhile back I was doing some reading and having conversation on what folks thought the umbrella term was, non-monogamy or polyamory. In the end, I think polyamory is a form of non-monogamy, alongside things like open relationships and swinging. When I was reading, some folks would define open and polyamory very differently, around where one night stands came into play or boundaries and communication was had. I’ve also found stigma, thinking that emotional connection will be lost, when really, I think folks are all just trying to get their needs met. While there’s also stigma, since we live in a monogamous-centered society of finding your “one and only” I’ve also experienced a reaction of “I wish I could do that.” I’m not really sure where that comes from.
9. It’s may be more common than you think
Recently I was talking to a friend about how I’d want to seek out other polyamorous folks and realized that they’re probably more folks out there open to being in some kind of open relationship than I realized. I think it’s also just common where I live, but I think a lot of young folks are not looking for serious monogamous relationships. I do think it’s something folks should be open about, especially if they have a partner.
10. There are dating apps, media and books out there to help ya
I’ve found OkCupid to be best for seeking out folks who are polyamorous or open to nonmongamy. Here’s an article about online dating:
Tierney, A. The Struggles of Online Dating When You’re Poly. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/yw54pj/the-struggles-of-online-dating-when-youre-poly
Lola Phoenix has an awesome Medium blog: https://medium.com/@thelolaphoenix
Morethantoo.com has many topics and resources.
Scarleteen has a guide to polyamory you can find here.
Books I can speak for (there are more!):
Hardy, J.W. The Ethical Slut. 2017 (and previous version. https://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Slut-Third-Practical-Relationships/dp/0399579664/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=8EDBWE25QS4742SZ2YB6
Patterson, K. A. Love’s Not Colorblind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities. 2018 https://www.amazon.com/Loves-Not-Color-Blind-Representation/dp/1944934464