I began practicing polyamory quite by accident. I had decided to love people with the freedom of each individual to express their hopes, needs, and desires openly. To take down the walls of the monogamous box society had built around my intimate connections. To create a space where, for the first time in my life, the people came before the relationship. Then I found out what I was doing had a name…
What does polyamorous mean?
The beautiful thing about polyamory is that it is unique. Possibilities are endless between individuals, but the defining factor is the ethical consent of everyone involved. The word “Polyamory” comes from the Greek word “Poly” meaning several, and the Latin “Amor” meaning love. To be poly is to practice the art of loving more than one person at a time.
You get to decide how much detail you share with each partner about your interactions outside of that particular relationship, but you do so together, with open and honest communication concerning each person’s needs and boundaries.
For example, I am currently in relationships with more than one person but each relationship has different terms. One of my partners wants me to tell him everytime I am sexually active with someone else and is currently only dating me. My other partner has a wife and child (who I am also friends with) and doesn’t ask me to tell him anything about the other connections I have, although I can if I would like. He even openly shows support of me seeing other people, just as I am happy he has his family. Heck, I even babysit sometimes so that he and his wife can have an evening out alone.
Polyamorous Dating For Beginners
Some people begin their journey into polyamory as I did, single and retaining my autonomy. This means that I continue to have the option to date who I please, when I please, without having to check in with anyone. I also prefer not to have to share with my partners if I am having sex with someone else but because one of my partners has expressed that he would like to know, I have made that compromise. It doesn’t hurt me and it makes him feel more secure and that is what I want. I want anyone I am involved with, even by association, to feel that I am doing my best to respect their needs and boundaries.
To a point we all have to take responsibility for our own feelings and I will touch more on jealousy in particular momentarily, but for my own peace of mind, if I am dating someone who is in an established relationship and their partner has expressed that they are uncomfortable, I will most likely take a step back. If I know that my involvement in an already established relationship is causing that relationship harm, I will most likely walk away. A lot of people will say it is not my responsibility to do so and that I should let them sort it out on their own but I would rather not be a part of anything that is making anyone miserable. If they really want to date me they can do so when their other relationships are stable. I am not interested in walking on eggshells.
Other people might begin polyamory from an already established monogamous relationship. This is probably the most difficult way to begin practicing poly but if both partners are extremely honest and receptive to each other it can work. I know most of you who are interested in opening up your relationships are afraid of talking to your partners about it, you do not want to hurt them or to have them feel that they are not enough. There are lots of gentle ways to approach this subject with your partner, just remember to be kind as well as honest.
Once you’ve established where you are coming from and where you would like to go, you can start looking for other likeminded people. Not everyone wants to be out of the closet as a poly individual but once you begin to look, it becomes easier and easier to find them. Almost all of the dating sites or apps you may already be using have polyamorous people on them. My tinder profile, for example, says within the description “Poly” alongside other terms that would only pop out to people who understand them. If you are just starting out and do not feel comfortable enough to fully identify as poly, you could also say that you are merely “interested in polyamory”. Regardless of if you decide to openly advertise your interest or not, I suggest bringing it up to whoever you are talking to within the first couple of messages back and forth. That way if they are not interested in non-monogamy neither of you is wasting your time.
Navigating Polyamorous Relationships
When most people begin thinking about polyamory the thing at the forefront of their minds is how they will handle the jealousy. While anyone with experience will tell you that yes, jealousy happens, usually the hardest thing to deal with is actually the scheduling. Who do you bring to Thanksgiving dinner when you have more than one serious romantic partner? How do you divide up your time? Once again this comes down to the individuals involved but there are some systematic ways people have found to sort out these problems. For example, some people prefer to have primary partners and secondaries after that. Some people, as myself, prefer autonomy, and some are involved in what is called “relationship anarchy” which in a nutshell can be described as having relationships with no labels at all.
I know what you’re thinking “that’s all well and good but seriously, what do you do about the jealousy?” Of course it’s not always easy, but to be honest, it does get easier. I have interviewed many polyamorous individuals, the majority of which will tell you that self-reflection, honesty, and communication are key. They will also tell you that they had a harder time at first than they do now. Jealousy is like any other emotion, and it doesn’t have to control us if we can learn to recognize it. Jealousy also happens in all sorts of situations in our lives. Towards celebrities, family and friends, and coworkers, but when this happens we tend to deal with it very differently than within a romantic relationship. I believe we do this because the relationship itself is such an ingrained reflection of our self-worth. If we can learn to let go of needing to be “the one” and expand our understanding of love, we can overcome jealousy and even move towards a feeling of appreciation for the other people in our partner’s lives.
In my experience being poly has been a life-changing experience for me. The people I have had the chance to meet and love and grow with would not have happened otherwise and I am very grateful to have had them in my life. It has allowed me, as well as pushed me, to grow in directions I previously wouldn’t have dreamed of and I am forever thankful to have had the love and support of my poly community.
If you are interested in how I came to choose polyamory for myself, I tell all about my personal experiences and why I have decided that this was the right path for me in my article “Why I am Polyamorous”. I share why I prefer dating more than one person at a time, why I have chosen autonomy over a hierarchy or relationship anarchy, and my experience dating couples and couples who have children.
If you have experience in polyamory or are just starting out and have any questions or comments, please be sure to contact us! We would love to hear from you!