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General Info Polyamory

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.

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Categories
Family Polyamory

Practicing Polyamory Our Way: A Conversation with Lovey

In an effort to better introduce you all to my world, I thought it would be fun to interview my people about polyamory. Because we all came into this a little differently. And we certainly all approach it differently. I also thought it would be great for you guys to hear their voices in this. So here is the first in this mini series! I hope you enjoy it!

What drew you to polyamory?

The idea of being able to embrace all the different aspects of who I wanted to be.

What was the biggest deterrent?

I didn’t know how I was going to handle jealousy and the sharing and lack of ownership… all of that.

What did you struggle with?

I’d say my biggest struggle was with compersion. When you and Boyfriend first started dating I had to figure out how to just be happy and not worry about if I was going to lose something or whatever.

How often does jealousy come up?

After the first couple months, it really hasn’t been an issue for me.

Is he not the cutest? At this point you may be thinking, yeah right. Jealousy isn’t an issue? But I can honestly attest to the fact that it really isn’t. Even prior to our foray into polyamory. He is unique to other guys in that way. Part of why I love him so!

How do you handle or work through those jealous feelings?

I tried my best not to overthink things, and the more you went out and came back the more that everything was okay, it just helped reassure and quiet all of those voices. Meeting Boyfriend and having that meeting go good super helped.

What makes each of your partners special?

My main partner, my person, we have history, we understand each other, we’re comfortable together. I don’t know, there’s just so much to that answer. Bats is new. It’s exciting. They are very attentive. It’s a very different relationship. And we, our friendship has really grown and like the things we talk about. And I really enjoy both the conversation with both of my partners. The conversations are like similar but they”re still different. And it’s nice.

What is the most rewarding thing about polyamory?

The most rewarding thing has been being able to go out on dates and not have like any sexual pressure. I don’t feel like I have to go out and I’m not chasing women or chasing sex or like attention or acceptance. Being able to date without a lot of that pressure, it’s been nice. Being able to explore different things, go out, do tennis or hiking or playing pool or whatever. It is having that time when my person isn’t up to it, you know that’s nice. We don’t have to worry about jealousy. The conversation has been beautiful because… Its definitely been a strange experience learning how to live openly and honestly. But its been pretty rewarding.

What is the most common question/reaction you get about practicing polyamory?

A lot of it has to do with the dynamics. Like how the sex works, and jealousy, and how we figure that stuff out, do that stuff without everybody fighting or getting possessive. It’s hard for them to wrap their head around or something.

Yes! Everyone always assumes there are crazy orgies happening all the time! Which is actually very far being true, in most polyamorous relationships. Another popular assumption is that we are all greedy and yet also possessed with this ridiculous amount of jealousy. So much so that it has become a running joke for those practicing polyamory.

How did you and Bats meet?

I met them on one of the poly groups and she did an intro post and I said hi. I did an intro post, they said hi. I asked her if I could private message, she said yes, so we talked back and forth. I asked her if we could get together and she kind of brushed me off, said she wasn’t ready to meet yet and wanted to get to know me, and then just nothing ever happened with it. And then a month or two months after that we actually matched on a dating site and I asked so when do I get to take you out? And she said oh, I didn’t know you were interested. Oh really? Cause I asked you out like 2 months ago.

And that’s how we started talking.

What is one thing that has surprised you about polyamory?

How okay this feels. It was weird at first talking about dating somebody else or talking about hey that chick looks cute. Or I talk to somebody and they seem interested. It’s weird. Yeah, it’s just very against the norm. We were very mono. We were brainwashed into thinking monogamy was the only way.

How do you wish TV/the media/movies would better represent polyamorous people and polyamorous relationships?

I kind of wish there was more… less toxic monogamy traits. And it’d be nice to see more poly in the media, different groups, differing… different combinations. You know, it doesn’t always have to be a guy and two girls. Or whatever. There’s definitely a lot of different ways to poly. So I’d like to see more of that. But really I’ll settle for less toxic monogamy.

Are you open about practicing polyamory? And how did that go?

To everybody except my parents.

When we went poly I was actually in the middle of a job change. So when I started my new job I just started as poly. They asked and I was like yeah we’re open. And that’s kind of been my story ever since to everybody. To new friends. To old friends.

What has polyamory taught you about love?

Poly has taught me that love doesn’t have to have, doesn’t have to live in a cage. I mean, boundaries… personal boundaries are healthy for love, for your love, for all of that stuff. But love doesn’t have to die, or completely dissolve, or change just because the relationship with someone changes. And it doesn’t disappear after you’ve loved one person. It’s taught me that I don’t have to be possessive. That if the love is really there I don’t have to fight for it, I don’t have to beg for it, I… it’s there you know. So it’s given me a deeper understanding of what true love really is.

What do you think is important in keeping a polyamorous relationship healthy?

Lots and lots of over communication. And enthusiastic consent on things. You gotta pay attention and learn your partner. Pay attention to your partner. You gotta do more. You gotta step up your game. Like this is not easy, it’s not all about the sex, it just doesn’t come natural. You really gotta work at it. You know, you gotta step up your game and be more of an active player in the relationship.

What do you think about our dynamic?

I kinda like our dynamic. It’s a little more go with the flow. You don’t like change which is really weird because we’re kind of letting our relationship evolve as we go, and I know we both want kitchen table and we’d like to add someone to the group but I don’t know. we’re kind of letting that evolve as we go. I like our dynamic. It works for me. And anytime we come across hiccups we talk about it and figure out ways around. The compromise has been really good. I like it.

How do you keep from over venting/sharing about 1 partner to another?

I don’t really vent about you to really anybody except for S. S is my vent to person. So like whenever we’re… I don’t know… mad at each other or I’m frustrated I go to my vent to person. I don’t complain about you to Bats. If we’re having issues or we’re upset I might tell them but I try to keep the specifics out of it. Me and Bats don’t really talk about my and your relationship. Our conversations tend to be about our relationship and stuff. When there’s things that are going on then they might hear the cliff’s notes version but that’s about as far as I really go.

Were the kids a part of the decision to start dating? How did they affect that?

They were totally a factor in the decision and stuff. First thoughts were you know well how does this affect them. How can it negatively affect them. What kind of message does this send to them about relationships and stuff. Part of the reason we decided to go poly was because we wanted a healthy relationship. Certainly one that was much healthier than we had when we were monogamous and married and all of that. So you know we wanted to… I wanted the chance to show them what a healthy relationship could be, a happy relationship could be. And poly it gave us that chance.

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