Ep. 22: Polyamory: Is It Right For You?
Sex, Lust & Love...What Matters?
While most of us have heard the term Polygamy, think Mormons, far fewer have heard of Polyamory.
Polygamy is defined as many marriages, while Polyamory… many loves.
What’s the difference between having a girlfriend and having a sexual escapade on the side, and Polyamory? One is usually considered cheating due to the lying that takes place, and the other is being open, honest, accepting and communicating.
According to Google, only 5% of the American population is part of a Polyamorous relationship. It’s defined as consensual non-monogamy. Everyone involved is aware of his or her non-exclusive arrangement and often there is commitment on all fronts.
One of the tricks of this working is having complete trust, openness and truthful communication between all parties.
There is generally one person who is the main significant other and someone else who, in a traditional setting, would be considered on the side. The difference with a polyamorous relationship is that there is communication between all three parties and everyone is aware of everyone else. The boundaries are usually set ahead of time but regardless there is honest and open communication. If any rules are ever broken, everyone involved discusses the events.
I had the opportunity to interview several people who are part of a polyamorous relationship.
One couple I spoke to said they have a rule that when one of them is out of town and they have the opportunity to hook up with someone else, they always text or call the other person to tell them what’s about to happen. It seemed to me that the people they choose to be intimate with are people with whom they have no emotional attachment.
One gentleman in his late 20’s from Colorado shared with me his perspective on the arrangement. He told me this was his first relationship of this kind and it’s working great for him but he wouldn’t recommend it.
He added that he would most likely never do this again because he wouldn’t be able to handle the possibility of the woman he’s with becoming emotionally attached to another man.
I watched a movie the other night called “5 to 7” about a French woman named Ariel, who was married with two children living in NYC. She and her husband had an open relationship and each of them had affairs (other significant others) and often socialized with their other partners. In the movie, it was portrayed as something very normal and acceptable in France but clearly Americans have not embraced the concept quite yet. The man Ariel had the affair with fell deeply in love with her and reached a point where he could no longer “share” her with her husband. He asked Ariel to marry him and to leave her husband promising to raise her two children as well. Ariel admits that she was never truly in love with her husband and she had indeed fallen in love with the man she had the affair with.
I wonder if someone can actually have a relationship with more than one person if they are truly in love with one of the people involved?
The true definition of unconditional love is to love someone without needing any conditions to be a certain way. For example, needing the other person to only be with you forever.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I do know that asking someone to be a certain way or needing them to do certain things and to fulfill your every need is a recipe for disaster for both parties. It’s also completely unfair to the other person.
In the hierarchy of enlightenment, one would be able to be happy regardless of whether the person they loved remained with them or chose to leave.
Another man in his early 40’s from Pennsylvania shared his perspective. This gentleman is the main man in the relationship and lives with his girlfriend. He shared with me that he believes they are committed to each other and that they live day to day as a regular couple.
This gentleman told me that he’s permitted to have another girlfriend if he chooses and he is ok with his girlfriend having other men in her life. He did admit that if he felt she was becoming emotionally attached to another man, it might be difficult for him to stay in the relationship.
Some advice from people in Polyamorous relationships:
- Be completely honest with everyone, you cannot have any gray areas.
- You must communicate with everyone involved as much as possible; there can be no assumptions.
- Set up your guidelines and rules ahead of time and always follow them. If for some reason you deviate from them, you need to tell everyone involved immediately.
- There is no clear defined path for this, you need to make your own rules and do what works best for you, but you must adhere to them once they’re established.
If you think you’re up for having multiple lovers then Polyamory might be right for you. My guess is this is not for everyone and might prove difficult to maneuver, however, this may be the ultimate arrangement for some men and women.
One woman in her 40’s from California has been in Polyamorous relationships for over 20 years and she suggested researching different networks before pursuing a Polyamorous relationship. She also suggested going to a Meetup.com group in your city and talking with people who have experience in these types of relationships.
Perhaps Americans are not ready for this kind of openness but I think the true definition of unconditional love should give us all something to think about.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave me a comment below.