Like most people discovering Polyamory or ethical non monogamy, my journey began with reading the polyamory “bible” The Ethical Slut by Dossie Eaton and Janet Hardy. It opened my eyes to a world that explained why I was so unhappy, unable, and unwilling to remain in a monogamous relationship.
I bounced into the lifestyle full steam ahead, but there are some things that five years or so down the track I wish I’d known much earlier…
It’s not always easy being a good communicator (And you have to be a good communicator)
Good communication skills are the corner stone of any successful relationship in my opinion. And when it comes to multiple relationships, you have to communicate, communicate, communicate – infact that particular turn of phrase seems to be the calling card of the “polyam” community.
It isn’t always easy being a good communicator, and sometimes it’s easier to slip into negative habits, and poor communication skills. My particular favourite toxic skill is apologise first to end an argument, or tell my partner “Fine, just do what you want” knowing damned well that I’m not going to get my needs met using that strategy.
Communication isn’t a series of strategies that make you right and the other person wrong, it’s a skill set that ensures both partners get heard. And like any skill, good communication needs practise and work. It needs self awareness and compassion, and it needs patience. Oh lordy does it need patience.
There’s more than one way to “do” polyamory
When I first began investigating non monogamy, the only type of on monogamy I’d heard of was swinging, and well, cheating.
Most communities and books are filled with diagrams and descriptions of non-monogamous formats that folks can pursue, triads, quads, v’s, poly-fidelity, non-monogamish… the list goes on.
What I’ve found over the years is that most partnerships (no matter how many people are in the partnership) will naturally find a rhythm that works for them, and the labels matter less.
Negative feelings are going to arise, and you have to work on them
I’ve experienced everything from jealousy, insecurity, body dysphoria, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and everything in between as part of my poly journey.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how often a partner tells me I’m beautiful or sexy, I still look in the mirror and don’t see what they’re seeing. Other times, I am absolutely green with envy, and on occasions, I’m lonely when I’m the only one who doesn’t have someone to cuddle for an evening. Shitty emotions happen.
I found the only way out of the rut was to sit with the feelings and really work on them. Being self aware and having those uncomfortable conversations with myself helped as well.
And again, communication, communication, communication.
Sometimes you’re just lonely, and that sucks
There are times when all of my partners are out on dates with their other partners and I’m the lonesome ownsome one. Loneliness when you’re surrounded by lovers is a tricky pill to swallow.
I’m working on really valuing my alone time, and using it to do productive things like crafting and baking, and writing self reflective articles like this one.
New Relationship Energy is a heady cocktail Old Relationship Energy is beautiful
“Oh look at Chloe, changing herself for a boy” were the teasing words a friend uttered when I was gushing about a newfound geeky interest I’d discovered. That new relationship energy where I find myself inspired to paint and write poems, start projects and generally be in love with the world is trippy and fun and delicious.
Settling into a comfortable love with a partner is delightful. Knowing that they’re just there for you, and that you don’t have to be “on” all the time to impress them, maybe they’ve seen your ugly bits and accepted them and told you your beautiful because of them. While it’s not the trippy cocktail of new relationship energy, there is something equally beautiful about old relationship energy. I love it.
Not all of your metamours are going to like you…
I didn’t realise how confronting it would be to not be liked by a metamour. I generally get along with most people, and consider myself to be reasonably likeable, and more to the point, I genuinely liked them. But just as the old advice goes, you can’t be liked by everyone. I’ve had to settle for awkward toleration of my presence in my metamour’s life and that is just what it is.
It’s okay to swing between monogamy and polyamory, noone gets to make the rules but you
I actually used to feel guilty when I needed some monogamous time. Now I realise that it’s how I refill my energy and focus and it’s how I love. The guilt has been ditched and I embrace that relationships come in all shapes and sizes.