The first thing I’ll say – again – about this is that being poly doesn’t sound like an easy thing to get into and it’s a lot of more difficult than one might believe and that, at least in my opinion, being poly makes being married to one person look like a very easy thing to do. We are taught to only love one person at a time; not only does it enforce the rules of monogamy but, historically, it’s not very hard to find instances where loving more than one person has had disastrous results and all because this is something that’s not really taught to us past a certain point in our development.
Being poly isn’t just a thing to do; it’s also a way to be and it’s been my experience that doing it but not being able to think in this way can be problematic. I’ve talked a bit about management and communication skills, things that are extremely important when you’re actively involved with more than one person but they are also things that apply to one’s self as well, i.e., dealing with the multitude of feelings being shared among however many people you’re involved with… and that’s not as easy as it seems either because we will, without thinking about it, allow our past experiences with relationships get in the way of doing something that is, for all intents and purposes, so far out of the box it isn’t funny. It’s easy enough to be poly for the sex alone but there are times when we do something that, in a lot of ways, doesn’t make a lot of sense: Act as if we couldn’t or shouldn’t fall in love with a poly partner and because, say, we’re already in love with someone.
In my mind, this is inevitable and despite whatever rules a couple may enact before stepping onto the poly playing field, rules they must put in place in order to preserve what I’ll call the “core relationship.” You could think of this as having something to fall back on if the poly venture doesn’t go well or, if you’re more of a “the glass is half full” kind of people, see this as where you poly adventure begins. In any way you look at it, it is important to realize and understand that going from being monogamous to not being monogamous isn’t really as simple as finding someone – or a bunch of someones – to be non-monogamous with. You’re now engaged in a balancing act, doing things to preserve and maintain the core relationship while making it possible for one or both of you to get out there and develop poly relationships. It’s my opinion that some folks who try to do this bring along their monogamous thinking and behaviors and, um, you might want to leave those behind since they’re more likely to get you into trouble more than help you because, simply, you just don’t “belong” to one person anymore; this poly thing isn’t just about you or you and your partner like it’s some one-on-one venture that’s more like having an open relationship.
No – everything you do in this will not only impact the core relationship but everyone else involved with you. The problem isn’t the sex that can be had; the problem is those deeper emotions that can come to the front as you are more exposed to your poly paramours (or metamours, if the shoe fits). That you could fall in love with them – or them with you – should be seen as a high probability and not so much of a given or, to be simpler, love can happen and if you think it won’t or otherwise behave as if it’s not supposed to happen, um, guess again and, personally, I think denying the prospect of love invading the scene truly defeats the purpose of being poly – but that’s me. You may not go looking for love but it will eventually find you and now you have to deal with all the issues that come along with being in love and more so if love has ever shredded you in the past or has otherwise made you afraid to love and, in this case, accept love from someone other than the person you’re having the core relationship with.
When you can have your cake and eat it, it calls for a change in behavior, in the way you think and in what you believed in. I’ve run this next thing into the ground over the three years I’ve been blogging but when it comes to be poly, you have to unlearn everything you’ve ever learned about love, sex, and relationships so that you can learn a new way to do it. You cannot bring your fears and other baggage along with you; you have to understand that while you might already belong to someone, in order to do this, you will belong to others, too, and while gaining those necessary management and communications skills is so very important, you have to learn how to manage yourself and not impose so many limitations that will make sharing yourself with others a hard thing to do. I’ve said many times that I know people who have tried to do this and they’ve not only failed but they’ve crashed and burned because monogamy just doesn’t work in this situation so approaching being poly and doing so with monogamy’s rules on your mind just might bring you more pain than happiness. Yes, if you have a core relationship, you want to preserve that because it does provide the stability and structure we seem to need in our lives but other than that, leave monogamy behind and if you can, never look back at it.
Being poly is such a complex dynamic but a lot of what will affect the complexity depends on why you’ve decided to be poly but if you’re not going to give yourself to the relationship just as you would a “normal” relationship, then what’s the point? If you’re afraid to love, then why get into something that’s fertile ground for love to be seeded, take root, and grow? If you don’t want to lose what you already have – and this is already rife with opportunities for loss all by itself – why open yourself up for more of the same? Some folks tickle the shit out of me (no, not really) when they try to pick and choose the parts of being poly that they want to accept while trying to diss some of the more, ah, uncomfortable things about this type of relationship and I’ve learned that this is a mistake that will, at some point, come back to take a huge bite out of your ass. You still have to deal with things like love, rejection, jealousy, envy and a whole shitload of negative emotions just like you would if you were still monogamous… only this gets multiplied by the number of people involved; if you are not prepared to deal with these things or willing to accept that these things will want to come pay you and yours a visit, then I’ve suggested that you don’t even bother trying to do this and more so if you don’t have what it takes to deal with these demons that are the bane of any relationship.
It’s a pain in the ass; it’s stressful having to deal with so many different people, their personalities, likes, dislikes and, yes, their fears and resistance to a few things. But it’s an occupational hazard and, really, not all that different from the good and bad things you’d have to face in a monogamous relationship and, oh, yeah, you still have to deal with yourself on top of it all. I know that in my own experience in this, dealing with the other people was a motherfucker but the hardest thing was having to deal with myself because, of course, if I couldn’t get my head around all of this wild and crazy shit, how was I going to be able to interact with the others joined together with me in this? I still say today that doing the poly thing is the most incredibly stressful thing I’ve ever done in my life… but because of the “rewards” I’d do it all over again because, the sex aside, there’s no such thing as loving too much or being loved too much and if you think this isn’t true, well, maybe poly isn’t for you; maybe just a plain, ordinary open relationship would best suit your needs or maybe joining the ranks of the swinging community and, yeah, just remaining monogamous in your dealings with others.
Not desired. Not “wanted” in whatever way you want that word to mean; not lusting or being lusted for. Loved and loving and in what I’ve called the ultimate relationship and the greatest test anyone who dares to love and be loved will ever face. In this the question isn’t so much about one’s ability to manage multiple relationships – it’s whether or not they can manage themselves in this. Are you ready, willing, and able to do whatever’s necessary and for the sake of love alone?