8 Things I Learned from Polyamory

Necessary Disclaimers:

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​1. Sorry if you came here looking for green parenting tips and thought polyamory had something to do with plants and now you are reading about my sex life. This is now a space for me to talk about whatever I feel like because I don’t feel like managing any more Web sites. You can still find links to how to upcycle an Altoids container and protest your Senator. It will continue to be a mixed bag.

2. I do not believe polyamory is in any way better than monogamy. I do not believe polyamory is for everyone. I am not “prescribing polyamory.” I speak from my own experience only.

If you are reading this you may already be polyamorous or just curious about the lifestyle. My first question to you would be, “Do you like roller coasters or merry-go-rounds?” Personally, I loathe all amusement rides but this is an analogy so play along.

Polyamory is bound to have ups and downs. Sometimes the ups are really high and the downs are really low. It helps to be a person who is comfortable with that level of emotional upheaval.

I also suggest doing the reading of polyamory resources, investing in whatever mental health tools are available to you like therapy or meditation, joining online support groups, and having supportive friends and family to turn to when things aren’t going great.

In addition to abundant love, connection, friendship, and sexual exploration, here are some of the less expected benefits of polyamory I’ve experienced.​​​​​​​

1. Polyamory forces you to dig deep and do some serious self-work. Not everyone wants to do this work, and quite honestly, if you don’t, you probably won’t be very successful in this lifestyle. You’ll inevitably have to battle demons like jealousy, insecurity, and fear. But, hopefully, you’ll also find the tools to manage these issues, and let that self-growth translate into every aspect of your life. You just may grow into the most confident, self-assured, communicative, and badass version of yourself.

2. The skills you learn through polyamorous relationships will translate into all of your relationships. As you become a master communicator, boundary-setter, and time manager, you may find these attributes having a positive effect on all your relationships. You may find yourself becoming more patient with your children, more willing to ask for a raise at work, or more able to set boundaries with your mother-in-law.

3. A new appreciation for your primary partner who doesn’t snore/ loves all the same dumb shit you love/gets you in a way no one else ever could. Not all people who practice polyamory are hierarchical! I am a person who does operate that way because my husband will always be my “primary partner.” In my case, dating other people has led me to be extra appreciative of my spouse’s unique qualities, the special ways in which we laugh together, the stability of our love, and the way he gets me more than anyone.

4. The opportunity to build new meaningful relationships that aren’t necessarily romantic or sexual. Yes, I know you can do this through people you meet through your book club or bowling league and you don’t need to find these people through dating apps. But for me, the friendships I’ve built with people I’ve gone on dates with have been incredibly enriching to my life. I hadn’t had a close male friend since college, and since I started dating, I now have a few very close platonic male friends who I genuinely love. It’s not romantic or sexual, but it is deep and emotional and beautiful. I try not to write about my husband because he is a much more private person, but I can say that dating has brought an amazing platonic female friend into his life that has been such a positive connection.

5. Walking through the world with a new sense of self-confidence, and sensuality. Starting with my first pregnancy, I spent about eight years feeling like a shell of a woman. I didn’t feel sexy, alluring, or like anyone was making eye contact with me on purpose. I remember chatting with other mom friends about how we just wished someone would flirt with us – a Starbucks barista, the UPS guy, anyone. But it was never about how the outside world perceived me. It was about how I perceived myself. Once I started carrying myself like the sexual, confidant woman I am, I started to feel like all eyes were on me (even if they definitely weren’t.)

6. The opportunity to connect with people and activities I would never have ordinarily pursued. Over my two years of being open, I’ve gone on dates that involved experiences like riding on a motorcycle, horizontal rock climbing (bouldering), and really good seats for a Pixies concert. I’ve spent intimate time learning about people from very different backgrounds who I would have been unlikely to develop a bond with if we crossed paths in the grocery store.

7. A new sense of what relationship transitions can look like. Being friends with your exes is not a new revelation. Plenty of monogamous romances have transitioned into beautiful friendships. But the difference I’ve found is that when you are monogamous you tend to have a view of a potential partner as “all or nothing” – if they aren’t 100% compatible in every way you may feel like you are settling. When you are polyamorous, you can accept people for the unique benefits they bring you in a “custom relationship” that doesn’t always look like societal expectations. And these relationships can have a seamless fluidity. For example, I have relationships that have gone from intimate to platonic and back again with very little drama or fuss. Open communication allows both partners to express whether we are both on the same page with our needs and expectations of the relationship, and we can retain a solid connection despite changes in dynamics. Before you loathe me for seeming smug, I’ll be clear that it doesn’t always work that way – I still have exes I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. But, for the most part, transitions have been lovely.

8. A deeper appreciation for existing friendships. One thing polyamory teaches you is the importance of loving bonds in all your relationships. Your friends may or may not wish to be your sounding board for romantic advice in this phase of your life, although some will embrace the opportunity. Regardless of whether your friends are particularly interested in hearing your latest dating escapades or embracing your new partners, you may start to feel a deeper connection to whatever makes that friendship uniquely valuable to you. I don’t have the scientific explanation for why you might get all mushy and weird with your 3rd grade bestie, I’m just warning you it may happen. Some people may even find your adoration of acquaintances to be insufferable. I’m sorry to tell you that you are a living breathing Care Bear now.

What unexpected benefits of polyamory have you experienced?

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