Is one of anything ever really enough? Those interested in the poly lifestyle say no!
For us humans, the complexity for our interest in others is seemingly never-ending. It results in an acquired taste for…well, just about everything. But somehow we have an ability to deny ourselves the very thing that makes us human: open, fluid, and polyamorous sexuality.
It’s quite a consistent finding in my line of work that as humans living in a traditional “vanilla” culture, we are constantly trapping ourselves by the “I can only have one” mentality. This has been a recipe for internal wars, mental conflicts, and what I like to call those “sneaky hate spirals.” In this article, we’re talking about poly love, what it is, and why you should participate.
While monogamy takes an immense amount of effort and work, it seems many people today have no idea where to begin embracing the poly lifestyle. This is especially true, considering the fact that we are never taught how to have healthy relationships in schools. There’s also something inherently negative about “forcing” ourselves into something just because we think we are only “allowed” one.
There is this ongoing battle between choices of one or the other. Should we choose to do the work we love or settle for the higher paycheck? Should we choose the nicer car and settle for the smaller house? It just simply doesn’t need to be this way. You can have most of it, but why not all of it. You just have to come to that realization that you do deserve everything your heart desires; there is no need to settle. All it takes is to simply apply awareness and some conscious effort into your relationship(s). So yes, you can have one love… two love… three love… poly love!
Research shows that there is interest in the poly lifestyle from a surprising number of people, but many just aren’t sure how to get involved. Here are our top tips.
How to Integrate Poly into Your Lifestyle
You can sum up the answer to this question in one simple phrase: just do it.
I’m kidding. It’s not quite that simple, but it can be! The most important word for integrating poly into your life is …dun-dun-dun… communication.
It’s a common misconception that people who live alternative lifestyles in sex and love have no regard for relationship “rules.” The truth is that they actually have it closer to “right” than most people. This is why many relationship studies show that individuals in poly or open relationships have higher levels of generalized happiness.
The reason for this is that these individuals tend to naturally practice more improved levels of communication, acceptance, and understanding. However, even then, when a poly relationship malfunctions, it’s typically due to the lack of active listening and communication as things evolve and grow.
It is so important to discuss what you like, don’t like, love, and won’t live without. And this isn’t just required in the beginning. You have to know yourself well to pull off a long-lasting poly relationship. Not only that, but you have to be willing to listen, understand, and learn everything about the other person as well. Communication problems are more commonly a derivative of poor listening than the inability to speak to one another!
I usually tell my couple clients that a relationship is like a business transaction. It requires communication, respect, problem-solving, calls to action, and productive meeting discussions. If there is a problem at work, what happens? A meeting is scheduled, everyone sits down, respectfully discusses the issue at hand while providing feedback and solutions. Then, at the end of the meeting, each person leaves with a call to action in terms of what to do differently and they are held accountable for their part in the progress. If we did just half of this in our relationships, things would drastically improve.
Improving Communication in Your Relationships
One of the biggest mistakes couples make is that they implement too many “rules” in their marriage or relationship. It’s a recipe for disaster, considering that as humans our interests, feelings, and desires change by the minute. Therefore, I think “guidelines” might be a more appropriate fit when negotiating the dynamics of your relationship.
Guidelines allow for the nurturing of acceptance, by implying that you understand things might change, but you have a reasonable level of expectation that your agreement together will be respected. However, the word almost also says “Come talk to me when something changes, I’m willing to renegotiate”.
And, when talking about relationships, that renegotiation factor is important.
The other large component here comes with the “who’s”. Who are you interested in opening your relationship to and with?
It is critical that you really spend time getting to know your partner and yourself in the deepest sense possible. Taking the time to get to know each other can truly can help bring forth important elements such as patience, respect, and understanding; which allows you to practice unconditional love.
Take the time to know every individual in the relationship.
Become familiar with their deal breakers, dealmakers, safety words, favorite colors, long-term and short-term goals. Really get to know who you are sharing your daily life with.
Knowing When to Open Your Relationships
It’s common knowledge that poly relationships should be left to the “grownups”. This almost sounds degrading, but truthfully, you really need to have a well-rounded and experienced mindset to be able to productively navigate the intricacies that come with a poly dynamic. No matter how open-minded or how mature you feel you are, there are unfortunately some fundamental life lessons that come with the time you are on this earth.
The “when” for a poly relationship only needs to come after you’ve become so comfortable with yourself that you have a low capacity for taking things personally, have a lower ego (in that you rarely take offense), and have learned to become so comfortable with communication that you do so without either one of the above components ever being a problem.
Is Poly Right for Me? An Exercise
If you are considering a poly relationship, try the following activity with your partner(s). The following information is so important for helping you learn more about yourself and others!
1. Take note of Your Deal Breakers in Poly or Other Relationships
What are the things that are absolute “no-gos” for you in all aspects of intimacy? Think long and hard about your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
2. Make a List of Your Needs and Wants
What are the things in a relationship that you do not want to live without?
3. Are You Familiar with Your Values and Belief Systems?
We typically adopt our values from adults around us as we grow up, but very rarely do we sit down and ask ourselves, “What do I still believe in now?”
4. What Does Your Daily Routine Look Like?
How will your daily routine fit in with someone else’s? The only way to know is by first figuring out what your routine actually is.
5. What are Your Strengths in Poly Relationships? What do you Struggle with?
Often times we expect someone to think and remember the things we would think about and remember, but if your strength is budgeting and theirs is cleaning, stick to your roles!
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter the type of relationship you pursue. Whether it’s one love….two loves…three loves… or more. You must first know yourself intimately and openly before you can step into knowing how to listen and accept another in that sense. From there, you pay attention to how or when you change while making sure you communicate that often and effectively. Then, of course, you make sure you take the time to listen to their communications. If you do this you won’t ever push to own or possess, you will go with the flow and let the relationship guide you!