Relationships are hard enough at the best of times. Having been poly for almost 10 years, and with one of my relationships into its 25th year (yes, we were children ...), I have seen all sorts of relationship challenges.
My newest partner is new to polyamory, which has been useful in highlighting to me all the things that I now manage without too much thought, but that people who aren't in multiple relationships just never have to deal with.
The current issue my new partner is dealing with is maintaining one relationship while grieving another.
The first time someone broke up with him, it nearly killed our relationship, too. Grief is an incredibly powerful process, and it really takes a big person to be able to stay connected with a romantic love while grieving the loss of another romantic love.
I remember once when I was in that situation, wailing to my two still-with-me partners "when will I find someone who will love me properly ...?"
They made suitable soothing noises and didn't take it personally, thank God.
When it happened to my new partner, he just didn't know how to process all the emotions. He didn't know that free-floating anger is part of the grieving process, so he turned the anger toward me. Add in some parting shots from the departing girlfriend questioning the basis of his relationship with me, and there was a cocktail of collateral emotional chaos.
Fortunately, my man has the heart of a lion and the ability to find and follow his inner compass, and we got through that difficult time, with some very timely and powerful man-to-man support from my long-term partner.
Yesterday, my dear beloved no-so-newbie-any-more partner was let go by another lover, beautifully and gracefully, but dumped nonetheless, and this time is a very different experience.
He is just as torn apart emotionally, but he is open to me, sharing the pain with me, remaining connected and allowing me to support him through the experience.
As with any relationship, poly relationships are all about opening up, being connected, then opening up some more, and being even more deeply connected.
Grief can open us more deeply than almost any other experience, which means that times of grief can be deeply bonding times, if we allow them to be.
If we tense against the strong emotions and contract with our grief, we cut ourselves off from the loving support of all the people who are still with us.
Polyamory calls to us to respond to pain by opening, by sharing ourselves, by being vulnerable in our times of need, by becoming bigger people.
I honour and acknowledge my new lover for having the courage and strength to do just that, and I honour and appreciate my lifelong lover for the love and support he provides to both of us. You are both extraordinary people, who consistently choose growth over contraction, and I am astounded that I have the privilege of sharing your lives.
Although I have only been in a polyamorous relationship for one year I have started to formulate some definite ideas on what it means to have a three way committed relationship and how to make things work so that all partners in the relationship are happy.
From what I have read so far on poly sites on the web there are a lot of people using the word to describe swinging style relationships where partners move in and out on a continual basis. In order to be taken as a serious alternative to a monogamous lifestyle I think truly polyamorous people need to clearly differentiate between a long term committed relationship and short term sexual adventures.
Until the poly relationship I am now involved in, I was completely faithful to my wife for the 30 years that we have been together. I know that if we had not met her sister and if the unique set of circumstances that we found had not been present then I would have continued to be a happy faithful monogamous husband until the day I died.
I think perhaps that being in a poly relationship with identical twins is quite different to trying the same thing with two entirely different individuals. As both twins are very alike in character I really don't have any major headaches trying to develop a new series of communication skills and because I have had 30 years with one twin, understanding the other is much easier for me than it might have been with someone with a very different personality.
Even so, we have the same time sharing and jealousy issues to deal with that any poly relationship has to cope with. Jealousy seems to be part of our nature as human beings so it can't be ignored as a major issue in relationships.
As the 'meat in the sandwich' as it were, I don't have jealousy issues to deal with but my wife has had to work through these feelings and we have talked the issue over a great deal. The relationship has not been without its hiccups, not least of all due to sibling rivalry that exists between sisters.
The whole experience has been amazing. It was not something we ever expected to happen in our lives but it has and day by day we are finding better ways to deal with any problems that arise.
Time sharing is not just an issue of who sleeps with whom and how often. We have found that at present the best option is for me to spend one night with each twin in a continual rotation. This has worked well as neither are left alone any longer than one night.
The thing that is more complicated for us than for other poly people has been the fact that the girls (I use that term advisedly as we are all 50ish) is that there are three separate and clearly defined relationships here.
We each love and respect each other and it is the emotional love between us that is paramount. Yes we are all adults and we have adult physical relationships but that is not the dominant factor in this relationship.
I think in mainstream society there is a view that any kind of multiple partner relationship is all about sex and to some extent this is exacerbated by people who are into the swinging lifestyle trying to claim that they are polyamorous.
I am unfortunate in one respect and that is that I live in a society that does not tolerate multiple marriages. I have no idea why our society has deemed it fit to make marrying more than one person illegal but I suspect it was all originally driven by religion. If I had the option I would most certainly be legally married to both girls as they are both, in every respect except on paper, my wives.
As with every relationship, we have found that open and honest communication is the key to making everything work. There have been times when I have paid more attention to my new partner than to my original partner and this has led to feelings of jealousy and neglect. Thankfully this has been quickly rectified because we can talk openly about our feelings and we are each willing to make the required changes to ensure our relationship stays on track.
I do think that most poly relationships tend to be initiated by men rather than women and as men do tend to attract 'bad press' (deserved or not) when it comes to fidelity, that becomes yet another target for mainstream monogamous people to focus on.
Whatever the reason people enter into multi partner relationships, if the relationship is intended to be long term and faithful or at least committed, then even more effort than normal is required to keep the relationship going. I saw an interview done by Andrew Denton taking with Jack Thompson who once had probably one of the most well publicised poly relationships and Jack basically said that a three way deal involves double the pleasure but also double the pain.
Being the age we are now, the one thing we do tend to think about rather a lot is our own mortality and the effect the death of any one of us will have on the others. This is rather a large burden as we are so emotionally close that the loss of any one of us will be a huge blow to the two who remain.
There are many issues involved in these relationships and my advice to anyone thinking seriously about entering into the poly lifestyle is think long and VERY hard about what is best for you and your partner.
These are some practical examples from our own experience to think about.
The new partner in a poly relationship is likely to be more of the focus of attention due to the newness of the relationship. This is normal but it has to be recognised and managed as the original partner will feel left out.
If the existing relationship is a marriage (as mine is) then the incoming partner will wonder what exactly their place in the relationship is as they have no legal standing.
Your sex life is liable to alter dramatically and at least initially physical demands will be much higher.
For as long as you remain together, the 'hinge' in the relationship (in my case me) will have to sometimes moderate some disputes without favour.
You will lose some friends if you are honest about your lifestyle and you may well be discriminated against in society.
The authorities will try to ignore your relationship as much as possible except when they can cause you problems.
If you are not a good communicator, if all you want is more sex, if you are unhappy with your existing relationship, if you are inclined to be selfish and if your partner is not happy with the idea of a poly relationship then my advice is to stay clear of it
In our case we really had no choice, the circumstances in all our lives were such that in order to move on we had to be together. As I was already very much in love with my wife and as I fell in love with her sister and as the sisters had bonded so strongly after being apart for so long, our choice to live like this made sense.
To begin with I questioned both my feelings and my motives but I never doubted that what I did was right for all of us. I was the driving force behind starting the relationship and I take full responsibility for maintaining it and ensuring both girls feel loved and appreciated.
Both have their own issues to contend with and time is proving that not only is the relationship working, it is deepenig and strenghtening over time. The one promise I made to both girls before we got too involved was that no matter what, if we did go into this lifestyle I would be loyal to both of them for the rest of my days and I would never leave one for the other.
The problem I see with polyamory is that for some of us having to label yourself the same as a broad group of very different others is somewhat negative to your own cause. From the 4 years I have been involved in the "polyamory online scene" or POS as I like to call it I have found some common groups.
The 3 biggest groups in polyamory online
First up you have the married couple, been together god knows how many
years yet one or both of them always had this feeling in their back of
their head like it wasn't "right". They have had kids and now is the
time for experimenting, wooo! "Jealousy is just one of those silly
things you have to get rid of" they like to say.
Second you have the typical male/female player, they always just slept and loved everything that walked so finding out about polyamory just clicked for them. They are usually very charming and good looking and use the scene to try and find others they don't have to lie to about their lifestyle. The ever increasing body count of people longing for for "more" in their relationships "just don't get what they are about" though .
The third group is probably the most sensitive to talk about. They are the often wronged of society, the way they looked, their sexual preference, their gender. These people make up a disproportionately large chunk of the polyamory scene, why? Maybe to be "polyamorous" (whatever that means) attracts the more open, intelligent people of the world, so they find more acceptance here than anywhere else.
Stereotyping is offensive
I'm not saying that there is anything wrong about the people that fall into any of those groups, I don't go out of my way to judge. My point is when you try and educate others about your lifestyle and you point them to the keyword "polyamory" they are going to be hit by it all, not just whatever group you fit into. When educating others about new lifestyles, the more different they are to the "norm" the less receptive people generally are to it. This has nothing to do with being open minded, it is a problem with the human brain needing a lot of evidence to change things it was taught since birth. For culture it generally takes a LOT of "reeducating" to overcome previous teachings, ask people who were "educated" on christianity or other cults how hard it is to break from it.
I don't tell anyone that I'm polyamarous in "real life" anymore simply because that word is more harmful than not. Most humans have a very logical part of their brain which helps them survive, so I talk to that part of people. I tell them the more people that are close together the stronger they are. I tell them you have more money and less work, more fun and less chores.
People that sound sure of themselves are arrogant
There are few people like me in the Polyamory Online Scene, not that I am proud about this. I am a male (<30) with a long term female partner and we are looking for someone to join us that we can have a family with. You don't really see too much about starting a family based around polyamory - maybe for good reason?
I can understand people that get into polyamory after having a family on a biological level. For the male they already have taken the birth years of their female so the worry about another man getting her pregnant is non existent, hence jealously evaporates for them. For a female they realize they now have their man connected to them through children so even if he leaves he isn't going far, their jealousy evaporates. For a young/female male to overcome the jealousy of another man sleeping with your partner is much harder than the same thing happening 20 years later. For the males that can do it when young then maybe there is something unique about you on a genetic level, possibly worth keeping with for human evolution.
Jealousy is all in the mind and it's exactly the same whether male or female
I often wondered about jealousy and what it actually is. Now I won't say it's the same for everyone but I have reached what I believe to be the logical reason why I would be jealous if my girlfriend had sex with another man. It's biology. The thought of her having sex with another man while we are creating a family puts into jeopardy the family's origins. You always know who the mother of a child is but not always the father, so of course men are going to be more jealous about some things.
That doesn't mean women have nothing to be jealous about, they want to know their man can provide for and protect them and if he has 20 children with other women then her child with him will suffer. My point is there are valid, biological reasons for jealousy. Now some people don't want children so they don't understand this, others will say "you can use protection stop being so stupid". Protection isn't 100% effective and mistakes happen when things are passionate, if you don't realize this then maybe you are too inexperienced in life.
So what is the solution to these valid biological reasons for jealousy? For a female they need to trust they have a big say in the future of the family, so you just need to be a stable, supportive guy that listens to them. For a male they need to know you will only be having sex with them during your reproductive years. As I've said before, once people cross that magical upper 30's barrier jealousy seems to evaporate fairly quickly.
Has anyone ever been to a 10 year polyamorous anniversary?
I don't often come across people that are in stable polyamorous relationships. By stable I mean ones that stay the same for a long period of time. From what I have found most tend to have one or two "steady" people and many "side dishes". Where are the people that want only stable "marriage" type polyamarous relationships? I find it strange we are the minority, and this is the trap people can fall into when coming into polyamory due to it's broadness.
Whilst all humans are polyamorous (loving more than one) I feel I need a new term to describe what I am. Whilst polyfidelity probably is the first thing you think of I don't like the sound of it, it sounds like a new form of analogue record. Any ideas?
Hi, this is the first time I have thought about writing publically about the relationship that has developed in my life over the past 14 months. Prior to this I had been happily married for over 27 years and had never even considered a second relationship of any kind.
My wife and I have, for very many years, been looking for her missing identical twin who we finally located in late 2008. It was apparent after only a few days that my wife's sis was in a very bad relationship - even though it had lasted well over 20 years. Initially we did all we could to see if we could help salvage that marriage but sadly it proved to be beyond repair.
As my wife's twin was living in another country we decided that it would be better if she could immigrate to Australia (something we are still in the process of working on) but it was only a matter of a few weeks before I realised I was having (what I regarded at the time) as inappropriate feelings for what was effectively my sister in law. I talked this over with my wife, trying to understand why, after so many years of a very happy marriage I was having these feelings.
Much to my surprise my wife did not object at all, in fact she encouraged me to share my feelings with her sister. At the time I was very confused about all this. There were all sorts of concerns, not least of which was the fact that I would be breaking up someone else's marriage if my feelings were reciprocated.
We spent 2 months overseas and during that time I did eventually broach the subject and let my feelings out. When it came time to leave it was heartbreaking for all three of us. Even though by that time there had been no physical contact at all, we had all bonded emotionally and parting was one of the most traumatic events in all our lives.
We stayed in touch as much as possible over the next two months and the relationship deepened as we shared more information about ourselves.
Bear in mind this relationship I was developing was being paralleled by the new relationship my wife was developing with her sister after almost 50 years apart.
After 2 months my wife's sis joined us for what we expected was going to just be a 3 week holiday in Aus. When the time apporached for her to go home she could not go. It simply would have been too devastating for all of us to be separated once again.
She resigned from her job and we started the process of applying to have her stay permanently with us over here.
I guess, looking back, I did wonder how I would react to my wife's twin once we met for the first time. I never expected anything like what happened adn the chances of such a thing occuring must be very slim indeed.
We have all been through tough times in our lives and we still have a lot to work out before we can get back to anything like a normal existance but we have decided that we will stay together for the rest of our lives and the bond between us strengthens with each passing day.
I still have some concerns about the morality of what I did as my actions effected the lives of other people but when I found out just how similar the two girls are and then found that my wife's sis was in such a terrible state, I simply could not leave her to her fate.
One year on from the start of our poly relationship we could not be happier. The love that exists between all of us continues to deepen and grow and we feel that the missing piece in all our lives is finally in place.
This is such an unusual story and some of the details sound like something out of a fiction novel but we have come to believe that events were influenced by powers that we do not really comprehend. Events that happened many years ago all came together just at the right time enabling us to end up where we are today.
I hesitate to say that it was planned out by God but it does feel like something beyond our personal actions was behind all this.
Happy New Year to everyone! A big hello to ArchAngel, sorry I didn't notice your replies earlier (hope you're still checking in from time to time). A few things to get off my chest this time.
And now the news (I've always wanted to say that). My wife still hasn't made any headway with her man. I think she's coming to grips with the fact he won't take her as a partner. Which is a pity -I know how much she really loves him. And I have been rejected by the person I was really interested in... OK, I was (am?) in love with her.
And speaking of that, What is the difference between love and being in love? I think it comes down to one thing: to love someone, you love them in spite of their faults. To be in love with someone, you need to love them BECAUSE of their faults. Right now I am trying to come to grips with being rejected and trying to sort out my mess of emotions. Am I in love with this person? Was it just wanting what I cannot have? Who knows, I know I sure as hell don't.
Something I have learnt is that it really is important in this lifestyle that you both be fully into it. If one of you isn't really into the poly lifestyle, it can make it soo much harder. I know the amount of crap my wife has had to put up with after I was rejected (and she is still putting up with it). And I have had to put up with quite a bit of her emotional baggage. It just makes it easier to deal with the pain and emotions when you a re turned down. If either one of us wasn't so supportive, it could lead to friction and feelings of resentment. This in turn could lead to a breakdown of the primary relationship (if that's the style of poly you are going for, as we have). If either one of you isn't quite sure, I'd take things very, very slowly until you are both sure this is what you want.
Being a rather nerdy-type (read: can't pickup in normal life!), my wife has suggested signing up for a dating website. But then, how do you mark yourself? Single? Separated (you need to explain the shiny ring of skin on your finger somehow!)? Do you join an adult "dating" site? In our case, this wouldn't be a problem anyway as one-nighters are fine. I might join an adult site and see where that leads me. I was a member back when I was single. Will update you more later!
Something that concerns me is the rule that many people seem to have that they don't date friends of friends. I WANT my other partner(s) to be a friend of my wife and I want to be friends with my wifes partners. Hell, we want a 5 bedroom house so our other primaaries can move in with us, and you NEED to be friends for that sort of commintment. It would be nice if they would share intimate moments together with us but that isn't necessary. If the only reaason they are turning you down is beacuse of that rule, then they are missing out on somethin wonderful. I really hope that is not the reason behind either of us being turned down.
We suppose we're like all others when it comes to the question of what are we looking for with polyamory.
Do we throw open our marriage for the chance to see how many new dates we can both aquire, or open our hearts and love all the people that come into our circle
After having gone to school together then marrying 2 years after we left, we know that we do truly love and adore each other. When our first child arrived I didn't know if my wife would love me as much now we had our son and would she still have time for us as a couple, these concerns where soon disspelled
We suddenly knew that love has no bounds and that you can and should love all that you feel deserve it, everybody is so much happier when loved
Another thing we have discovered about ourselves, is that sex is great and like love it is here to share, how cool it is receiving and giving hugs, kisses, strokes and tickles and that all over rush with a shared orgasm. In other words we share in each others'.
So we hope poly is a real combining of these two things and our hope is that we won't be dissappointed
we are looking fwd to finding out with your help more on moving into polamory
this is our first step
love to all xx
Where to start? My name is Johoanna and I'm 37 and single. I've had a big "spiritual" awakening this year. I grew up in the Christian church and left just a couple of years ago. For me, leaving was the best thing I ever did. Now I feel free to be me, to be who I was created to be. I still believe in God, but Goddess as well. I've been studying pagan religions this year and feel more connected to Mother Earth than I ever have.
So what's all this got to do with being poly? Well, it means I'm now free to express myself fully and freely. I do believe I am poly. I've only ever been in monogomous relationships. This is a big step for me, even admitting my "polyness". Now, how to meet like-minded people in this town? Orange (NSW) tends live in the 50's when it comes to sexuallity. Is it any wonder I want to leave? I know too many people in this town, most of them are Christian. Being openingly pagan in this town is bad enough (which I'm not, I'm still firmly in the broom closet, only a couple of close friends know). Even now at home I have to be careful. I'm currently sharing with an ex-boyfriend (long story, if you want to know the details please ask otherwise I'll leave them out).
I'm currently planning to move away from Orange. I certainly don't want to go back to Sydney or any other major centre. I'm a country girl and need to be in the country. I feel grounded and at peace with the world out here. I'll be going up to Nimin early next year for a few weeks camping. If I like it I'll stay. If I get any other offers I'll investigate those as well.
What am I looking for in a relationship? I'm actually not sure. Like I said, I'm very new to all this. I know I want to be in a relationship where I'm loved and respected, whether that's with one or more people...who knows? Am I bi or straight? I think you could class me as bi-curious. There. I said it. Now I have to remember that my sexuallity is not a dirty thing like is taught in the church. I am who I am and I need to accept and be proud of that.
Anyway, enough rambling for today.
Well, it's been a while since my last post so it's about time for
an update. We had my potential new partner round for dinner the
other week. However I didn't get around to asking her out - she
was in the middle of a rather nasty incident with her ex. The
topic of relationships did come up however and we told her about our
choice of relationship types.
Luckily, so far, everybody we have come out to have been
supportive of our decision. Some were rather sceptical at first
until we went into how we had setup rules and boundaries and how we
had taken our time coming to this decision. We know that some people
don't have it aas easy as we have. Although having said that,
most of our friends are in their early twenties and so are more
receptive to alternative relationships. I suspect when (if) we
come out to our families, things will be very different. My
wife's side is primarily Catholic Italian so that's going to be
rather difficult. Some of my family are rather religious too so
that should be interesting. Anyway, I think we're staying "In
the Closet" to our families until we have both had a chance to
date a few people to see if it's what we really want. Unless of
course we get caught out on a date or something. That
would be rather awkward.
Till Next Time
Well, after dicsussing our boundaries and rules for the opening up
of our 2 year old marriage we are about to take the plunge.
There is a lovely young woman who has had my eye for some time and I
can now do something about it. If I can get the chance to talk
to her, I am going to ask her out tonight.
This is going to be difficult. She is actually a friend of
both myself and my wife - she doesn't know about our open
relationship. Yet. My wife does know how I feel about her
and is OK with me asking her out. So I have a double whammy. I
have to tell her about our open relationship, which always has the
opportunity to turn out badly. If I don't do this, she'll most
likely assume that I am attempting to cheat on my wife. This is
definitely NOT a good thing when you're putting it all out there.
Talking about 'putting it all out there', I also have the age
old dilemma of putting my heart on the line and at her mercy.
If she says "No", I'll be devastated. But now I have
someone who can console me - my lovely caring wife. Something I
never had when I was single all those years ago.
If she says "Yes", then we will have to start dealing
with all the things we have talked about. So far all of our
rules, boundaries and "I am positive I have no issues with you
sleeping with, falling in love with anybody" have been mostly
theoretical. Will we be able to handle it? Have we
set down a framework that is suitable? What about the New
Relationship Energy? Scheduling?
Anyway, the above paragraph might just be purely academic -
there's a chance she will say "No". I always thought
I would be less anxious asking out someone now that we have this open
relationship as I have my wife to come home to. But having the
whole coming out AND asking out in one in go... damn. I'm like
a high school kid asking the hottest girl in the grade if she'd want
to go to the formal with me.
I am hoping she says "Yes", for more than the fact I get
to share some of my life with her. It will give us a chance to
test our open relationship in a relatively safe way. As she is
a friend of both of us, we both know her. We both know where
she is coming from and what she's like. To a certain extent.
Anyway, lets see how we go.
Ciao for now
I am not sure if there have been exactly ten prior unexpected twists in our poly life - if fact, if I listed them, there have probably been more than that. But this one was a doozy.
We have apparently raised a unicorn!
A unicorn, in poly terms, is the mythical beast sought by the clueless and hopeful who post intros on the email lists and forums along these lines:
We are a fun-loving couple, she is bi, he is straight, looking for a bi woman to make our family complete. Must love kids and have good sense of humour. (Shopping list of hobbies and interests.) Drivers license preferred.
Yes, our oldest daughter, who is still a teen but all legal and age-of-consenting, is happily bisexual. Not only that, she has just started dating a lovely young 21-year-old couple. They seem much healthier for her than the string of emotionally-stunted teenage boys she has had in her life lately.
In fact, there is only one previous boyfriend that we felt had her best interests at heart, even when it was difficult for him - but unfortunately, even though she converted him from mono to poly, it didn't last. Bad timing more than anything else ... but I digress.
Anyway, just to make this particular twist a double-bunger, this young couple have a two-month-old baby, and our daughter proudly informed me this week that makes me a grandmother.
Well, I will give it some time and see if it lasts, of course, before knitting bootees, but I had expected another ten or fifteen years as a MILF before having to deal with grandmotherhood.
Mind you, it's easier for me to deal with it than it is for my 27-year-old partner, who was recently accosted in the kitchen in a pre-coffee state and asked to choose his grandparent name ...