What I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory   Leave a comment

In honor of Polyamory Weekly’s 10th anniversary podcast episode, Cunning Minx’s subsequent blog entry on the same topic, and the fact that I didn’t manage to call in before the deadline to share my own thoughts, I thought it would be interesting to share the things I wish I’d known about polyamory before I started practicing it.  Although, when I did start practicing it, the term polyamory hadn’t yet been coined.* I can think of about a dozen things I know now that I wish I knew then, but perhaps I’ll try and stick to a smaller number like…five?  Sure – here are five things I know now that I wish I’d known back in my earlier days:

  1. Trying to “convert” the monogamous often leads to drama…and most of the time the drama isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.
  2. Not only does everybody have different ideas about what polyamory means, but it is very possible to end up in a relationship with someone whose model of poly is different than your own.  It can be just as difficult to navigate a relationship between partners who have different poly models as it is to navigate a relationship where one partner is poly and the other is not.
  3. Double standards must be dragged out into the light and beaten with a heavy object.
  4. It is easier to be honest up front than to hedge to “spare someone’s feelings”.  Eventually, the dishonesty will come out and everyone will be even more hurt and upset.
  5. Going against personal ethics/morality to please a partner is a slippery slope.

Some of the items in this list are self-explanatory (I think, anyway), but others might benefit from an example.  I’m going to speak to item 2 specifically, but if anyone wants an explanation of any of the others, let me know. My husband and I have different models of polyamory: he typically looks for partners with whom he can develop a deep emotional relationship, usually romantic in nature, and sex may or may not be part of the equation.  I, on the other hand, look for partners with whom I can develop a “Friends with Benefits” (FWB) relationship and in these cases sex is part of the equation.  I suspect, based on anecdotal evidence, that his model is more usual than mine, and I will admit here that my model is largely related to the fact that I seem to be mostly mono-romantic.  That is, I know I am capable of loving multiple people at once, but I only have one romantic love in my life and I don’t see the need to seek out more.

Anyway, our models have clashed a couple of times, and although it is way better than it used to be I sometimes have issues wrapping my head around his model.  Hell, I still remember being confused about how he can do multiple romantic relationships when it is so alien to me – that one difference took me years to work through, and thank goodness he’s as committed to understanding me as I am to understanding him.  I’m relatively certain that he has similar issues with getting into my head, but since we’re committed to open and honest communication, it works.  If we weren’t, it wouldn’t.   I am now (brainweasels aside) significantly less baffled about how he does poly, and don’t mind that it doesn’t match my own model.  If it works for him, it works.  Period.

I’m very interested to know what others think on this topic.  So, what do you wish you knew about polyamory before you started practicing it?  What would you change about your journey if you could?

*According to the lore, anyway – I started in 1987, and Morning-Glory Zell’s article “A Bouquet of Lovers” wasn’t published until May of 1990 so…yeah.  Take it for what it’s worth.


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