Polyamory, Swinging & Cheating

Polyamory_meme_posterRecently, 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.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Polyamory, Swinging & Cheating

  1. I am firmly of the belief that whatever works for those involved works. I don’t claim to understand it, it’s not a choice I would make (one man is as much as I can handle) but I pass no judgement on those who do. However, when I was a child I had two friends whose parents were involved in a rather bad example of this. It had been established many years, but it was far from well arranged, and it affected the children negatively and DEEPLY. My first concern, therefore would be for the kids, and not the adults involved. This seemed to get overlooked.

    • Absolutely Melanie. During the workshop, this topic was touched on but in a very cursory fashion due to time constraints, more in depth discussion is planned and in the works apparently. This would be my main concern as well; without a doubt, the more love, understanding and encouragement a child receives, the better but are the adults capable of seeing beyond their own needs, do they have the strength to end a relationship that is not meeting the needs of the children involved? Of course, this applies to monogamous relationships as well – lest we all forget Susan Smith and how her needs, in the search for a monogamous relationship ended in the death of her kids because they were in the way.

      • Kids are always the losers, no matter what, when parents put their relationship first, in any way. Of course, you have to take care of that relationship, and kids can be a strain on it, but that’s your job, as adults, to get a grip and combine parenting and partnering so that everyone is OK. It’s hard. Can’t do it? Then don’t breed.

  2. Too true, Melanie – too, very sadly, true.

  3. Between consenting adults, whatever turns your crank is just fine by me. I attach no judgement what so ever as to how others live.
    However, I have seen this choice in the negative. More then once actually.

    I have had three women friends in my life who agreed to this lifestyle and came to very much regret it.
    Of course their choice was not made in balance and harmony to richen the relationship but rather in sheer desperation to hang on to their husbands who were about to leave the marriage.
    These women agreed to take on this lifestyle in order to hang on to him, with of course terrible terrible consequences.
    The choice damaged children, it damaged the women themselves.

    I attach no moral judgement and I never seek out motives. It is not for me to decide anyone else’s motives. However, in my own private mind I consider this is a very high risk relationship and anyone going in to this should go in with eyes wide open.

    • I wonder how many people are like the ones you have described; how many go into the relationship with true honesty, with their eyes open – definitely not something for me to consider. I find it very complicated but to be fair, it isn’t within my realm of potentials and therefore, it would appear more complicated than a monogamous relationship. The people with whom we are acquainted seem to make it work and I really do stand in awe of them. Not something that I think I could do with any success. I’m hard enough for one person to live with…I couldn’t imagine doing this to some unsuspecting third…

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