Adam and I are pretty open about being polyamorous. It’s a bit hypothetical right now, as neither of us are dating anyone else, but that has more to do with having busy lives and (in my case) low bandwidth for other relationships than anything else. It is still on the table should a shiny person come along. 😉
I spend a lot of time lurking in Polyam Discussion groups, and oh lordy, I see a lot of terrible behaviour going on and being justified by being polyam.
SO. This is a PSA.
My darlings! Polyamory is not:
* A license to do whatever the hell you damn well please with total disregard for anyone else’s feelings. You’re still being an asscactus, and you’re minimising the work the rest of us do to do it thoughtfully and with integrity. If you’re gaslighting people, or insisting that they dismiss their own feelings and needs in the name of your ‘freedom’ you’re a douche. Stop it. You’re making us all look bad.
* A solution to your crumbling relationship. Take it from someone who knows – if you resort to polyam to save a relationship that is already in tatters, you will only drive it there faster. Introducing more people to your drama, insecurities and incompatibilities is a fools errand AND it’s really not fair on the people you introduce. Polyam has a habit of highlighting all the cracks in your relationship, and if you’re not willing and able to do the work to actually address them, all it will do is make them bigger.
* A solution to cheating. If someone is cheating, there is a good chance it is not ONLY about the ‘sex with other people’. There is probably a lot more going on there. To be quite frank, the excitement and thrill of the ‘forbidden’ is often a big part of why people cheat, and if that’s the case, they will likely still hide things and lie. Unless you first dismantle the root of the cheating, polyam will just give it a coat of paint without resolving the cracks.
* Bloody hard emotional work. It’s totally worth it, but you can’t just get to “meaningful and sexually satisfying relationships with multiple people” without also getting the scheduling issues, the long talks about people’s boundaries, the work you have to do with YOURSELF about your own preconceptions and ideologies. There is a lot more discussion and a lot less orgies than people seem to think.
* An ongoing conversation with everyone involved. It’s not static, folks, because people are not static. It is constantly in flux depending on where people are in their lives and what’s going on for them. If you’re not prepared to constantly re-address everyone’s needs including your own, it’s not going to work.
I would not go back to monogamy, even though right now I only have one partner and not really any time or bandwidth for others. The power of being able to talk about my crushes with my love and the possibility that if I meet someone who makes my soul sing I won’t have to choose is too great to give up. I also genuinely LOVE the constant reassessing, the fact that we don’t have to label every person we meet into boxes and can just let things be what they are.
I think a lot of people in a monogamous mindset spend a lot of time putting everyone they meet into “would date” and “would not date” boxes, whereas we get to just let relationships develop organically and address the feels if and when they happen. As a person who has always had a bit of blur between love and friendship, this is much more healthy for me, personally, and it works a lot better for Adam too.
But it’s not for everyone. That’s fine and good. Some people are built monogamous, and that is perfectly normal.
I would say though, that it’s also not for the manipulative asscactii who use it as an excuse to treat everyone like shit and then crow about how you’re not allowed to limit their “freedom” with your dumb feelings. Those people are jerks and do not deserve the rewards of polyam. Don’t date them.