If you’re a twitterer you are probably aware of formspring.me. This web app provides a venue for interviewing/interrogating people you know through twitter or other social network sites. Some people love it, some people are irritated, some people outright hate. Like any new shiny application, adopters have flooded the tweetstream with answers to questions and pleas for more. This spamesque behavior gets on some people’s nerves, however, I’m having fun because I’ve gotten a lot of very well thought out questions added to my queue.
Lots of people have questions about polyamory. Here’s one question and answer pair:
You seem to have a poly relationship that WORKS, without all of the drama and jealousies, whereas the majority of other people I see in poly relationships seem miserable about their relationship a great deal of the time. What advice would you give to those people or to people who may be interested in entering into a poly relationship?
To start with, there is no single way to do poly that fits everyone. In fact, the more people I meet who’re in poly relationships, the more I believe all of them are unique, even if they superficially resemble others.
I appreciate that you might not see the drama and jealousies, but they do exist in my relationship, sometimes. I’m not immune to a flare up of jealousy over the involvements that my wife and Roxy have. I do have insecurities and fears. I’m more and more of the opinion that jealousy is not something we should see as bad, or a failure or an error. I think jealousy for most of us is a pretty normal reaction to being fearful and insecure about our situation. My jealousy isn’t triggered as often with regard to my wife and Roxy and I think that’s because I feel very secure and grounded in both of those relationships. But even with that grounding and security, every relationship needs care and attention on a daily basis and when you’re managing more than one deep relationship, the time and energy needed are obviously multipled. I find that I am best served by not taking any of my relationships for granted.
There’s a lot more I’d like to say about jealousy and insecurity but I’ll save that for a post on my blog. The key thing is that it’s going to happen and it’s based on fear and insecurity. The key to surviving that is communication and reassuring your partner, shining the light on those fears and dealing with them head on. Yeah, it may be embarassing to admit to being jealous of your partner when you’re also having other relationships, but it happens. Get over your pride and admit it, talk about it. And, on the other side, when your partner comes to you admitting to jealousy, don’t put them down. It’s hard for a lot of us to admit to what we see as a failure, so don’t make it harder by being critical of the emotion. Emotions happen, they are by definition not rational.
I’ve gotten a little of track here, so let’s go back to the beginning. Before converting your mono into poly, you’re gonna need to do a lot of communicating. And thinking. And then more communicating. And by communicating, I don’t mean talk *at* your partner and only hear what you want to when they’re talking. I mean, listen deeply. Look into your own heart, your own past, your own relationship history. Consider the myriad ways a poly relationship can go wrong and discuss it. Consider and agree to bounderies, limits, safety with regard to emotional and physical health.
And, before you think that I’m promoting polyamory, I want to be clear about a few things. Even in discussing poly with your partner, your primary relationship will change forever. If you enter into a poly arrangement with your partner, your primary relationship will change for ever, and not necessarily for the better. Poly will put pressure and stress on your lives in ways that may tear you apart. If you already feel overcommitted and stressed for time and energy, DON’T DO POLY. Adding relationships means more draws on your energy and more demands on your time. If you don’t enjoy communicating and expressing your feelings, DON’T DO POLY. If you think your primary relationship is shaky and you think poly will help bring you together, DON’T DO POLY. A lot of primary relationships go down permanently under the added stress and strain of polyamory. If you don’t like change, feel insecure about yourself or your partner, if there’s a lot of stressfull things going on already in your life, DON’T DO POLY. And even if you think you’ve cleared all those hurdles, opening up your primary relationship to others may lead to the end of that relationship.
If you decide that even with all those warnings, you want to go forward, expect to negotiate and renegotiate agreements and boundaries and limits as you bring your theoretical polyamory into practice. It is just impossible to understand how much it’s going to impact you until you’re in the thick of it.
In the big picture, if you’re miserable, you need to figure out how to change your life so that you aren’t miserable anymore. I contend that almost all of us have the power to change our lives for the better, but we fear change so deeply that most of us feel powerless. I’m sure there are lots of people try polyamory and find it doesn’t work for them. Some people try polyamory for less than noble reasons: not really wanting to be in the current relationship, but unable or unwilling to leave, for example. Be honest about your motives. If you start with honesty, you’ll end up in a much better place regardless which kind of relationship style you adopt.
In conclusion, regardless of all the things I’ve said here, the success of your relationship(s) rests squarely on you and your partner(s). Good luck and good love.
If you’re interested in more answers to interesting questions, you can check out my formspring page, here’s a partial list of the questions I’ve answered so far:
Why do you share so much of yourself online? by Mollena
Are you concerned that your relationship with Roxy will eventually harm your relationship with Mrs. Kyle? We hear a lot about Roxy but very little about Mrs. Kyle.
You identify as male – and seem primarily interested in “biogirls” – are there twitter male friends that you’d be willing to play with?
Have you ever struggled with your gender identity?
How did you introduce the idea of Poly to Mrs. Kyle? Was it well received? by Saynine
What made you choose the name Kyle for yourself? I think it fits you well, I am curious if it has an origin. by SusanFox
When they can understand, do you plan on telling your kids about being kinky/poly?
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