Recently, my husband and I attended a polyamory discussion. Polyamory is not in the dictionary, and my damn spell check keeps highlighting the word. It is a life reality for a surprising number of people. Polyamory is not swinging. Polyamory is not cheating. Polyamory, as we discovered, is a very complex relationship involving more than the nuclear “couple” in a relationship. There may be one, two or even three others with vested interest in the polyamorous lifestyle.
Unlike swinging, polyamory is not, primarily, a very fleeting and temporary sexual relationship between consenting adults. Polyamory is the entire ball ‘o’ wax; emotional attachment, responsibility and ethics. It is the nuclear couple multiplied and so too, are the issues.
We attended the discussion/workshop because we have friends involved in polyamorous relationships and we wanted to understand what this entailed. We had seen the term abused, in our view and we required clarification. Hoping beds behind a partner’s back is not polyamory; it isn’t even swinging – it is cheating and an unethical betrayal of another human being’s trust. This was the second such workshop we have attended – the first did nothing but reinforce the stereotype of polyamory as swinging and that was due to the workshop facilitator who seemed rather unclear regarding the differences himself.
The discussion was hosted by people with experience in this life choice. It became very clear, very early in the workshop that this is not a lifestyle for the faint of heart. It isn’t a life style choice for those with inferiority issues or deeper psychological problems. You need to be a very balanced, very psychologically healthy individual who recognizes your personal needs and do not define yourself through a partner or relationship. Not all couples meet each other’s needs. There may be bisexual components, a partner may not be able to fulfill particular psychological requirements; the reasons for a polyamorous relationship are as diverse as the personalities involved.
It is an absolutely fascinating dynamic. The people we have met, with experience in this choice, are balanced, committed and responsible human beings. The workshop afforded my husband and me a deeper understanding of the relationship sphere and the wonderful people who make it such a complex, interesting world. We learned that the key of any relationship, whether monogamous or polyamorous, is communication. It is so vital to remember that regardless of how long people have been together, no one has the ability to read the mind of another. Communication is the cornerstone, the foundation of any relationship. Monogamous, polyamorous, parental or just friendships; without it, there will always be something vital missing in the equation.