Could you handle it?
Our sexual and romantic horizons are always changing, and nowadays we’re opening our minds to relationships of all shapes and size, finding a way of being with our partner (or partners) that really suits us. Polyamory essentially means dating multiple people at one time, but the term often causes confusion, so before you bat the idea away or enter into it, here are a few things to consider…
1. It’s not all about sex
A common misconception about being polyamorous is that it’s just about sleeping with lots of people. According to polyamorous Abbey, this couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘One of the hardest things about being polyamorous is being misunderstood. Too many guys refer to my legs as being open, when in actuality it’s my heart and mind. The most surprising thing is how much I’ve learned. Spending time with lovers has not only taught me a lot about good sex and healthy relationships, but I became a more worldly person.’
2. Understand why you’re doing it
Polyamory involves other people and their emotions, so it’s always crucial that you consider why you’re doing it and whether it’s for the right reasons. Abbey says that some people embark on a polyamorous relationship believing that they can use it to fix other problems; ‘Some people try and use it to fix things that have gone wrong in broken relationships. It’s important to understand polyamory will not fix anything if you don’t want to fix yourself. If you don’t want to take the time to get to know yourself and love yourself, you will never establish healthy relationships and will end up in twice the amount of trouble you were before.’
3. Be open to changing the way you think
It’s easy to become stuck in the idea of what a relationship should look like, and as such, to start making up your mind about how being polyamorous would be, when in reality every relationship is totally unique, whether monogamous or polyamorous. For Abbey, these preconceptions are damaging; ‘When a man says he and his partner are “open,” it’s assumed he isn’t pleased with his current lover. When a woman admits her and her partner are “open” it’s assumed she “gets down,” all of this means that polyamory is a very misunderstood concept.’
4. Get organised
Thinking practically for a minute, being in a relationship with three or more people is going to be pretty taxing to orchestrate. Like trying to organise to meet up for a drink with your friends on your 15-strong Whatsapp group, it is wise to be organised about this stuff, so that you are all able to spend time together and don’t end up arguing because messages got lost a long the way.
5. Learn to communicate
Relationships involve being open and trusting people, so it’s wise to think beforehand about whether you’re happy to be so open and so vulnerable to several people. Abbey says that discussion is crucial in making a polyamorous relationship work, ‘In an open relationship, the individuals discuss openly, and must create a safe place for all the lovers involved.’
6. Polyamory isn’t a criticism of monogamy
Because polyamory embraces the idea of safe and consensual relationships taking whatever form they want, people who are polyamorous want others to know that they are not trying to detract from monogamy, or from others’ happy monogamous relationships. Abbey says this is because polyamory embraces the idea relationships being malleable; ‘Relationships are ever changing, but love is not. This means that the monogamy is just as a part of my life as polyamory.’
7. There is no traditional family
All-in-all polyamory is about breaking the idea that the only way to be happy and be a family, is with the standard, man and wife, 2.5 kids and a golden retriever set-up. For people who are polyamorous, this could be one of the ways, by all means, but it isn’t the only way. As Abbey says, ‘All and all polyamory is not that different to monogamy. The only difference is that when two people enter a traditional monogamous relationship, they are choosing to be part of set societal norms. It’s important to understand this and it begs to answer the question, is there any wrong way to love someone? The answer is no.’