The Dark Parts of Polyamory No One Talks About

Social Media can make polyamory seem almost magical. Because it’s easy to put on the happy mask and only show the good parts, the fun parts. This is true no matter who you are. But I have a secret to share: it’s not all sunshine & rainbows.

In our effort to make the largely monogamous world understand and accept us, we can tout polyamory as a this beautiful alternative that is free of the struggles monogamous folx face. Which can be true. But in doing so, we deny, hide, or just gloss over the hard and messy parts of polyamory.

More Than Words

One of the big tenets is communication. Polyam folx are forever talking about talking. Whenever someone asks the community about a situation in their relationship, the first answer is always: Did you talk to them about it? Communication is the key to living this life. But that’s true regardless of what relationship your in. It’s true for familial relationships (parents/kids, siblings, etc.). It’s true for platonic or professional relationships (friend circles, bosses, coworkers).  And it’s true for romantic relationships, regardless of the form they take. Communication is important. And can make or break any type of relationship.

The part that we fail to talk about in the context of polyamory is the amount of work this takes. Communication goes beyond talking about your feelings, or sharing plans. It is learning to say those things without being asked. It requires you to do the hard work of analyzing your own reactions and feelings before sharing those with others. It is remembering to share plans with multiple people; and learning to take responsibility, and then apologizing, when one person inadvertently gets left out of the loop.

Open Your Ears

Let’s not forget the other side of communicating. You have to listen. A lot of us have grown up not really knowing how to listen properly. We listen to react, to argue, to reply. How many times have you had a conversation with someone and while they were talking, you were already forming your response to them? We have to re-learn how to listen in way that allows to actually hear the other person. To hear what they are saying between the words, in their tone and inflections and body language.

It is more than just the words. It is the thought and work you’ve put in to them, before you say them. And it is the act of listening, not to respond but to hear what is being said and not said.

Green With…

Another big piece we gloss over: jealousy. That green-eyed monster does pop up in polyamory. We are not immune. We are human. Polyam folx are quick to turn the topic of jealousy into compersion. Which is an amazing feeling that is not exclusive to polyamory. You’ve felt it when your significant other got that promotion, or your best friend got married/had a baby, or your kid graduated from school. That is compersion.

Jealousy is the other side. In my polyam life, it usually pops up when a need is not being met. And those needs tend to have to do with my love languages. So if someone is getting more time (which is my main love language), I can feel that jealousy pop up. And I do not always recognize it for what it is. So there are definitely times where I can be… bitchy and withdrawn. Which of course, doesn’t fix or help anything. Did I mention we are human? This is the hard part, the part the community tries not to talk about. Because in order to deal with it, you have to get to know yourself. You have to learn your reactions and triggers. You have to learn to recognize when jealousy is speaking to you, feeding you lies.

It doesn’t always lead you to compersion either. Sometimes that jealousy leads to hard conversations instead. And that’s okay. Jealousy can be used for good, if you do the work to figure out the root of it.

Polyamory Isn’t Perfect

No, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are growing pains along the way. Problems you thought you had figured out in the beginning have a way of popping up again later on down the road. Sometimes they look a little different, sometimes they look the same. So you have to learn, adapt, and keep going. Polyamory can be an amazing way to form relationships and family. But it is not perfect or easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. 


Why I’m Choosing Polyamory And Leaving Monogamy For Good

Before I get into choosing polyamory, I want to say that for many in the Polyamorous community, it is not a choice. It is simply who they are. Much like being gay or straight, tall or short, introverted or extroverted is who they are. There was no choice for them. They simply are polyamorous.

Polyamory Is A Choice For Me

I will say “I am polyamorous” but I do not think of it in the same context as “I am bisexual.” It is simply easier to say it that way when describing my preferred relationship style. It also implies more of the little behind the scenes details that go into practicing polyamory. I choose, everyday, to live my life and love my relationships in this context.

Alright, onto the meat of it: Why am I choosing polyamory?

The Short Answer?

It just makes sense. Why should I have to choose between person A and person B when they both have the potential to make my life happier?

The Long Answer is messier.

What Monogamy Has Shown Me

Monogamy was built, and is focused, on keeping ahold of your person. In my monogamous life, I remember there were all these things telling me how many temptations were out there just lying in wait to “steal” my person. And how I could change who I was and what I did in order to keep my man. Open any women’s magazine and you will see them. So many stories exist about how the man cheated because the woman didn’t do XYZ. Or because she “allowed” him to have female friends or go out on the town without her at his side.All of this breeds distrust and possessiveness. And how is that healthy in any relationship?

“One True Love”

Monogamy touts the idea of “one true love.” And that there is only one person in the whole world for you. One person to meet all of your needs 100% of the time. How exhausting! And if that one magical person turns out to be human and imperfect, and just not able to be all of the things you need them to be? Well then, monogamy says they weren’t your “one true love” to begin with. Back to the dating pool for you!

It Takes a Village…

What’s more, there is no village. Unless you build your own. This is especially true in American culture. We like to say “It takes a village to raise a child.” So where is it? And why do we look down on those that have that village in place? Why is it more acceptable to hire nannies and daycares than build a small village to help bring up our tiny humans?

I have had three children. And not once did a village show up to help me raise them. I have family and close friends. But we are spread out and not in each other’s day to day life as much. Not to mention, some of them have their own kids and partners and lives to juggle. But wouldn’t it be nice to have that small group of people in your daily life, always there, ready to help and support you when you just need to pee in peace?

So, Why Am I Choosing Polyamory?

Polyamory has shown me that, for people to love and accept me, I don’t have to be anyone I’m not. Nor do I have to do anything other than what I am already doing.

Obviously, people are not for trapping or keeping. They are individuals; fully autonomous, and capable of deciding who they wish to share their life with. For example, my partners are not mine. They choose to be with me. And I them. And that choice is freeing. Temptations are there for everyone, all of the time. And, of course, they look different for everyone. It is up to each individual how they are handled. Despite my best efforts, I cannot create a temptation free space for my partners. No matter how hard I try. So I must trust my partners and our relationships.

“My partners are not mine. They choose to be with me. And I them. And that choice is freeing.”

Soulmates. Love triangles. Cheating. Divorce rate.

In practice, monogamy doesn’t exactly work the way everyone seems to think it does. It places too much pressure to be everything, and meet every need, for your partner. So what happens if they don’t or can’t meet every one of your needs? Do you settle? Move on? What if you never find your “one”? Do you give up? Resign yourself to being single for the rest of your life? Absolutely none of those options sound appealing to me.

Lastly, let’s go back to that village. There are a lot of cultures that have multi-generational families living under one roof. Helping to raise children and supporting each other. “Mom tribes” are sought out for those same reasons nowadays. Likewise, community groups are sought out for various hobbies and lifestyles and shared experiences. We are social animals! Polyamory – kitchen table poly maybe especially – allows for all of that; with the extra bonus of loving relationships. Plus, you get metamours to help support and love you. And who understand deeply the feelings you have for your shared partner. Even when you occasionally want to wring their necks. There is nothing in the monogamous world quite like a close metamour bond.

One More Thing…

I keep saying that I am choosing polyamory, implying that it happens a lot. The reason is: it does! I choose everyday to be polyamorous in my relationships. Just like I choose everyday to love my family, be a good mom, have a good day doing whatever it is that needs doing.

I am intentional in those things. And I am owning those choices.

Your Turn!

Why are you polyamorous? Did you choose it, or is it a part of who you are?

If you are monogamous, what are your thoughts on this? Share this with your partner and let me know what they think too.