Let's Talk Polyamory

Understanding the realities of a polyamorous lifestyle.

Let's Talk Polyamory

In today's world, monogamous relationships are the norm. In fact, most people don't think that there is an option besides monogamy. After all, if you aren't Mormon, then you aren't going to be in a place to date multiple people, right? Not necessarily. As a young woman in a polyamorous relationship, I am here to tell you that there is much more to polyamory that the traditional media representation.

Polyamory is, in simplest terms, the state of being with more than one person, whether sexually or romantically, at the same time. This can take a variety of forms. There are poly relationships made up of three people and poly relationships made up of ten people. There are primary and secondary partners, those who come first and those who come second in the hierarchy. There are relationships where all partners date each other, and some where only certain partners date certain people outside the relationship.

With such a wide variety of forms, it can be difficult to make sense of what polyamory is and what being polyamorous actually means. With that in mind, I will now explain both myths and realities about polyamory in an attempt to clear up on of this confusion.

One topic that seems to endlessly confused monogamous individuals is how polyamory is not cheating. The main tenet of polyamory is consent. To engage in a polyamorous relationships, everyone has to consent to the relationship for it to be valid. If this consent is not given, then the relationship would be considered cheating. Consent is of the utmost importance in the polyamorous community, as it makes or breaks the very concept of polyamory.

Another question that I often receive has to do with jealousy. People are always wondering if I get jealous and how I deal with that jealousy and don't I just wish I could have one person all to myself rather than sharing. In my relationship, I have two partners, and we all date each other equally, in what is called a poly-fidelity relationship. Essentially, we all date each other in a very egalitarian manner and we all only date each other. Personally, I do not tend to experience a lot of jealousy. I am mostly jealous if my partners are able to hang out with each other and I cannot be there for whatever reason. However, seeing them kiss doesn't make me jealous; it makes me happy. I love that my partners love each other like I love them both.

However, just because I do not experience jealousy does not mean it is not part of the polyamorous community. Jealousy is a feeling everyone experiences, and if you ask any number of poly people most will have experienced it at one point or another. The way to combat this is through communication. For any relationship to work, there needs to be openness and honesty, but this is especially true for polyamorous relationships. If you are going to be dating multiple individuals, no matter the structure, there has to be a constant flow of communication. That way, people know why you are upset and what they can do to fix it and if you have begun to feel uncomfortable in such a relationship. So yes, jealousy can be part of a poly relationship, but like in any relationship, communication is key to combat this.

Next topic to discuss is sex. I cannot tell you the amount of times people have reacted to hearing I am polyamorous by saying, "You mean you get to have sex with both of them?" Technically, yes. But polyamory is about so much more than just sex. It isn't all about threesomes and group sex; polyamory is not a kink. In fact, my one partner is asexual. While my other partner is not, we didn't go all the way in our relationship for over a year.

The basis of polyamory is the relationships you are forming with your partners. While sex is a large part of this for many people, the individual and group relationships you are fostering come first. A polyamorous relationship is bound to fail if you are having sex all the time and not talking about the issues and concerns you are having. So yes, as with any relationship, sex can be a part of it. However, it is so much more than that as well.

The last thing I want to talk about is related to reactions I get when people I find out. If a lot of people ask me about sex, even more tell me, "I could never do that." Well, good for you. I wasn't telling you to. You have your relationships and I have mine, and they are different and wonderful in their own ways. However, I will say this. We live a society that endlessly promotes monogamy. Anything other than this is portrayed in a light of immorality or and judged.

So yes, you don't think you can do it, and you may be right. But I also thought that. In fact, I literally said that to one of my partners about a week before we officially started dating. So while you may be right, and polyamory is not for you, but I also think it is important for people to think critically about it. Do you really think this, or are you just being subconsciously pushed in that direction because of how these relationships are portrayed? Just something to think about.

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Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
J.C. Marie

J.C. is a graduate student who enjoys music, love, and cats.

See all posts by J.C. Marie