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Jealousy, Sex, Communication, & Compersion: The Truth About Polyamorous Relationships

Hello class, and welcome to Introduction to Polyamory! We are going to answer some of the top questions about polyamorous relationships. Please hold all questions until the end. Do you have your notebook and pen handy? Great!  Here we go!

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is literally “many loves” when broken down into its root words (poly) and (amor). It is on type of relationship under the large umbrella that is Ethical Non-Monogamy. Many others include, but are not limited to: Swinging, Open Relationships, Monogam-ish.

Back to “many loves”. It is the belief that a person can have multiple loving relationships with the full consent and willingness of their partners. And without compromising any part of those relationships. Polyamorous relationships can look like any monogamous relationship.

Aren’t polyamorous relationships all sexy times and naked games?

No! Some relationships are not sexual at all. And some are purely sexual. Just as some monogamous relationships are.

This is a common misconception about polyamorous relationships. But many people in these relationships will attest to the fact that this lifestyle is about the loving connections we can make with other humans. Those looking for purely sexual encounters are often pointed toward Swinging communities.

What about all that jealousy? And what exactly is Compersion?

Jealousy is actually less of an issue in polyamorous relationships. Because everything is out in the open and talked about incessantly, jealousy has very little ground to gain any kind of foothold. That is not to say it is not a problem at all, or that it can’t pop up. It’s simply saying that jealousy is less likely to become a big problem than in monogamous relationships.

In fact, polyamorous folx like to share their experiences with what they refer to as jealousy’s opposite: Compersion.

It is that feeling of joy for your partner’s happiness. Monogamous folx could compare it to that feeling of happiness when a friend gets married. Or when a family member receives good health news.

Compersion is sharing in your partner’s happiness, specifically in regards to their relationship with their other partner. It is being able to enjoy their giddiness at text messages and dates, in sleepovers and phone calls. Being happy with them, as well as for them.

But isn’t that all just cheating?

No. Why? Because everyone involved is aware of and consents to it before anything happens. Communication is such a huge key factor for those in polyamorous relationships.

And, despite what some may think, cheating is not just for monogamous folx. Cheating can and does happen in polyamorous relationships. Any act that breaks trust and boundaries in a relationship can be considered cheating. For some, watching pornography is cheating. For others, it is only sexual relationships outside of the core one. Only the people in the relationship can define what cheating means to them.

The 3 C’s of healthy polyamorous relationships: Communication, Communication, Communication

It’s a little like the running joke for real estate: Location, Location, Location!

You might think communication is a no-brainer when it comes to relationships. You may be one of those people who are already good at expressing your wants and needs and feelings to your partner. But the majority of people aren’t. It is something we learn the hard way, usually through multiple failed relationships.

In polyamorous relationships, communication skills are a must. Everything is talked to death it seems. People in polyamorous relationships learn to be open and honest about everything going on their lives with each of their partners. They learn that keeping secrets or hidden feelings are unhealthy and lead to major problems all around. So talking about boundaries, feelings, and all of the stuff you were taught to just bottle up inside, becomes normal and freeing.

And that includes the uncomfortable topics like safe sex practices and STI status and screenings. If you are going to have grown up relationships, you need to be able to have grown up conversations about all the things those relationships could entail.  

Communication skills with others are paramount in polyamorous relationships. But you must also be able to communicate with yourself. How can you explain to your partner that you are feeling left out or insecure if you are not able to figure out those feelings for yourself. Communication starts internally. You must learn to recognize thoughts and feelings for what they are, where they stem from, and then share that with your partner(s).

Is Polyamory right for me?

Only you can answer that. Polyamory is hard. It’s not for everyone. And it is not a way to fix or help an existing troubled relationship. There is no one size fits all approach to it. If you are interested in exploring polyamory, or any form of ethical non-monogamy, start with some reading. You can check out our resources list here for my favorite books, podcasts, and websites.

Alright, that concludes your Introduction to Polyamory! I hope you learned something. Please leave any questions you may have in the comments below. Or shoot us a message here.

And if you haven’t yet, please follow and subscribe!

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Merry Christmas Eve

Well, it’s finally the end of the year. Only one more week to go before we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in a new year. But first, we celebrate with food and friends and family and gifts.

I pray that you all get to enjoy this day and the next with whoever you choose to spend it with. I pray all of the worries and stress from this year and this season melt away for just these days at least. I pray we all wake up refreshed Saturday morning, ready to kick this year to the curb.

Whether or not you are celebrating Christmas with us, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons. And I will see you all next week!

If you haven’t yet had your fill of Christmas movies this year, or you want to rewatch some while putting the finishing touches on the festivities today, you can check out last month’s post with a list of new LGBTQ+ friendly holiday movies.

Merry Christmas!

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Finding Things to be Thankful for This Year

November is all about being thankful. And in the age of social media, that thankfulness has to be shown and proven like never before. Every year, you will see various 30 Days of Thanksgiving challenges across your newsfeeds. If you’re struggling, it can be hard to see everyone you know share those thanksgiving blessings every day.

It is also hard when the holiday that inspires it all is a painful reminder of a very hard past. That fun holiday we learned about in elementary school doesn’t exist anymore. It is no wonder some of us have a hard time finding things to be thankful for this season. I certainly am. So let’s see if we can help each other.

Thankful for Gen Z

This next generation amazes me with their strength and ingenuity. Gen Z has stepped up in ways that gives me hope for our futures. We have activists like Ziad Ahmed, Amariyanna Copeny, and Muhammad Najem bringing awareness to the rest of us through the power of social media.

We also have the K-Pop stans. They have been taking over hashtags to troll QAnon and the President, rendering their hate-gathering social media tags useless. And when called upon by one of their own, they rallied to add even more money to one of their favorites band’s donations to Black Lives Matter.

Making Progress

These last four years, our nation was shown the ugly side of ourselves. But it was also shown the good. Our eyes were opened to the horrors of systemic racism. And it rallied us to spend our quarantine summer marching, protesting, and stepping up to help carry the burden of our BIPOC brethren. We saw a our U.S. Supreme Court bring down a huge win for our LGBTQ+ community, giving them employment protections under the Civil Rights Act.  And this month, Nevada voted to add Marriage Equality to its own State Constitution, protecting it for future generations in their state.

Thankful for Togetherness

Covid has certainly made this a year none of us will soon forget. But not just because of the never ending lockdowns and restrictions. We are more creative in finding ways to interact with each other, mastering the art of the video call for work, education, and everything else. We understand the importance of supporting small businesses, maybe better than we did before. We have seen science working in real time, as our top scientists and researchers studied this new coronavirus, and worked hard to create a vaccine as quickly as possible.

If we look, there are things to be thankful for in this weird, new world. We are more united than before, because we are all in this together. Every person on this earth is fighting the same battle for once.

I am thankful this year, for all of those things and for some smaller ones. For this platform I didn’t have the courage to stand on last year. For my family and our health. For the relationships I am building with my metamour, my boyfriend, my nesting partner. For the friends in my life who have challenged me to open my mind and examine the hard parts. And for all the people that have shown me the good in humanity.

I am thankful this year. What about you?

For some more snippets of the good this year, check out this mini roundup from vice of feel good stories this year. Or this article from Reader’s Digest Canada of good news stories from around the world.

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Books, Podcasts, & Websites… Oh my!

The lists on this page are not all inclusive. I have not personally read, listened to, or visited all of the below items. Those I have, are marked with an *. All others come recommended. With that in mind, they are all created by their own humans, and as such reflect their own opinions and worldviews. These lists are simply for your information and entertainment.

If you know of any others that should be added, please let me know!

Books

Non-Fiction

Love’s Not Color Blind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and other Alternative Communities by Kevin A. Patterson

Many Love: A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love by Sophie Lucido Johnson

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know About Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love by Dedeker Winston

The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families by Elisabeth Sheff

*This Heart Holds Many: My Life as the Nonbinary Millenial Child of a Polyamorous Family by Koe Creation

*More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory by Franklin Veaux ad Eve Rickert

*The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy

Dealing with Difficult Metamours by Page Turner

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching by Page Turner

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory by Page Turner

Fiction

*For Hire: Operator by Kevin A. Patterson and Alana Phelan

For Hire: Audition by Alana Phelan and Kevin A. Patterson

*A Life Less Monogamous by Cooper S. Beckett

*Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S. Beckett

Osgood As Gone by Cooper S. Beckett

Osgood Riddance by Cooper S. Beckett

Psychic City by Page Turner

Podcasts

Relationships & Sex

Sex Out Loud with Tristan Taormino

Monogam-ish Podcast

*Multiamory Podcast

*Polyamory Weekly

Good Girls Talk About Sex

*The Sassy Sweet Podcast

Normalizing Non-Monogamy

Throuple Trouble

*Life on the Swingset

*Pod Pod Cvlt Cast

Queer Sex Ed Podcast

Faith

*The Forbidden Apple Podcast

*For the Love with Jen Hatmaker

Queer Theology

The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast

*Latter-Day Lesbian Podcast

Websites

Polyamory

Solopoly.net

Polynirvana.wordpress.com

Polysingleish.com

*Polyinthemedia.blogspot.com

*Poly.Land

*Lifeontheswingset.com

*Unicorns-r-us.com

Faith

*Queertheology.com

Proverbs31.org

Jenhatmaker.com

forgeonline.org

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General Info Polyamory

Glossary

Welcome to our Polyamorous Dictionary! Here you will find some words unique to the world of Ethical Non-Monogamy, the umbrella Polyamory falls under. This glossary is by no means exhaustive. And it will be updated as often as needed. These definitions are how I understand and use the terms, based on my many years in the Polyamorous Community. If you come across a word that isn’t here, and you feel it should be included, please send me a message here.

Ethical Non-Monogamy

A large umbrella of relationship styles that includes (but is not limited to) swinging, open relationships, monogam-ish, and polyamory.

Polyamory

Many loves. A relationship style that falls under the umbrella of Ethical Non-Monogamy, where one has many romantic, loving, & consensual relationships.

Metamour

My partner’s partner.

Nesting Partner

The partner I am living with.

Pet-amour

Your metamour’s pets. While it is not a widely used phrase in the poly world, I find it absolutely adorable and worth mentioning. Because who doesn’t love more animals to cuddle?

Polycule

A way to describe a group of polyamorous relationship that includes partners and metamours. This can manifest in many shapes from a simple V or T, all the way to a complex full page map with many lines and circles and intersections!

Compersion

Polyamorous folx sometimes refer to it as the opposite of jealousy. It is a feeling of happiness and joy in your partner’s relationship with another. For example, instead of being jealous that my partner is having a night out with their other partner, I am happy that they get to have some alone time together to focus on their relationship.

Kitchen Table Poly

A style of polyamory where all partners & metamours hang out together often and build close friendships with each other.

Folx

Alternate spelling of folks, meant to be more inclusive and non-gendered.

Domestic Partnerships

Legally (but not always) relationships between two people who live together but are not married. It typically allows the couple to share the same or similar benefits as married couples. Polyamorous Domestic Partnerships would open the definition to include more than 2 people in the relationship.

Cishet

Cis refers to cisgender, identifying with the gender they were assigned at birth. Het refers to heteroromantic, being romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex/gender.

Cis-heteronormativity

the belief that heterosexuality, predicated on the gender binary, is the default, preferred, or normal mode of sexual orientation. (for more, check this link.)

Have a Suggestion?

Think we should add a word to our polyamorous dictionary? Fill out our suggestions form to let us know!