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Polyamory, how does it work?

+3 votes
To be more clear: As an @ who feels i have been conditioned to engage in monogamous relationships and all the baggage that goes along with it (jealousy, possessiveness, etc.), do any folks who engage in polyamorous relationships have any tips or stories on deconstructing this socialization? Obviously, as with everything, things are different with every different person, but i'm looking for practical tools that others have found helpful in developing radical relationships that challenge our socialization.
asked Feb 8, 2011 by anonymous
I would agree with everything up above and also add that actually including beliefs about privilege, domination and oppression into the mix is a good way to go. No use understanding poly as having anarchist potential if there is no understanding of how the political interacts with the personal. Keeping ideas about patriarchal relations, racism, lookism and a whole heap of others in mind as desire is revisioned may not make the going any easier, but it does reduce places of potential oppression between partners.
I'm really having hard time understanding why you feel as though monogamy is such a bad thing?   It's simply an agreement of two parties to have sex with no one else except each other given certain understandings, whereas polyamory is expedient sex or promiscuous sex with whoever and whenever one feels like.   Hasn't this already been tried and shown to be a failure in traditional cruel patriarchal societies?  Hasn't this already been tried when the conquering violent males slaughter their rivals and have multiple partners?
The term "polyamory" is a bit over used, and misused. Many people in the anarchist community seem to confuse polyamory and promiscuity. You'll find that the former is much rarer than the latter.

And you, sokpupit, seem to also have a difficult time differentiating "polyamory" from "polygamy" and "multiple enslaved war brides".
sokpupit,
 anyone else for that matter,  
the first link will take you to all the information you can shake a stick at about what it is that makes polyamory revolutionary, potentially transcendental, and revitalizing. the second link goes a bit further in the way of sexual gratification and transcendence.
please enjoy,

http://www.xeromag.com/fvpoly.html
http://www.mumyouan.com/i/ae-8.html

6 Answers

0 votes
I think a deconstruction begins through open dialog with partners about what the relationship consists of, intentions to seek new partners, behaviors with other partners, feelings toward other partners. The traditional relationship is shrouded in an opacity of traditional beliefs, while the libertarian one can be discussed to have socialized limits destroyed.
answered Feb 9, 2011 by A Quick Word (120 points)
+1 vote
i think continuing to be happy in any intense relationship (sexual or not, perhaps), is as much luck and timing as anything, but also frequently includes a lot of stubbornness.
answered Feb 9, 2011 by dot (51,350 points)
edited May 28, 2012 by dot
+3 votes
Unlearning something you have internalized from the culture is hard, and it's nearly impossible to do on your own.

I don't think that being polyamorous is 'more liberated' than being monogamous, but it certainly is a marginalized type of relationship.  What is liberated or oppressive about a relationships is not where boundaries wind up  being, it is about the process of negotiating those boundaries and how satisfying and fulfilling the relationship is for the people involved.

There are a lot of unhealthy ways to have monogamous relationships and there are a lot of unhealthy ways to have polyamorous relationships too, because this is a fucked up culture we live in.

Whether or not it is okay for the people in a relationship to be romantic or sexual with other people or be in relationships with other people is just one boundary among many that will need to be discussed and re-evaluated from time to time.

If you want to inject some radicalism into your relationships that challenges our socialization you should be doing things like explicit communication, reflective listening, verbal-affirmative-enthusiastic consent.  Talk about your desires, respect boundaries, affirm emotional expression, and thank people when they call you out.  When you ask or propose something, make it easy for your partner to say no (even for something as small as a hug).

And if you want tips on struggling against  jealousy I recommend asking yourself deconstruction questions such as: "why am I feeling jealous?" "what am I feeling jealous about?"  You will get the most out of this when you try to work through the feeling when it is happening.  If you find being jealous over something to be inconsistent with your beliefs as an anarchist, it might be helpful to try to look at whatever situation you feel jealous about from an anarchist perspective.
ex.  you are in a poly relationship with your partner Alex.  You see Alex across the room mutually flirting with someone.  As jealous thoughts start popping up, you could try countering them with thoughts like, "fuck yeah, they look like they are having a good time!"  or "fuck yeah, flirting! maybe later they will have great sex!  Go Alex!" or any other affirming thought.
answered Feb 10, 2011 by Taigarun (1,720 points)
edited Mar 14, 2011 by Taigarun
I wholeheartedly agree with this, but it is truly difficult. I say this as someone who has yet to successfully navigate polyamory. It gets tricky on a lot of levels - for myself, the first time I realized that I might desire a polyamorous relationship I didn't know anything about them, so I lacked any vocabulary to discuss one, resulting in me insulting the other person involved in the "what kind of relationship is this?" talk.

The only time I was involved with a "self-identified anarchist," they told me that in their experience polyamory didn't work. Since it hadn't worked for me the times I tried it, that seemed plausible...

More recently, I have found myself on the reactionary side, quite to my surprise. Having attempted to go from a monogamous relationship to an open one. The problem was that while I was, theoretically fine with an open relationship, there were conditions, some from me and some from my partner, but when the rubber hit the road, the reality of the conditions meant that I was unlikely to meet people I was attracted to that fit within the agreements of the pre-existing relationship. When my partner met a wonderful other potential partner (also, it should be said while I was trying to quit smoking and experiencing some other pretty intensely stressful shit) I reacted in about the worst way possible.

What to take from this- I think polyamory works about the way that taigarun puts it, but I also think it can get complicated, especially if a person does not limit themselves to being involved with anarchists, or in moving from a monagamous relationship to one that is other than monagamous.

The shit we have breathed in from our culture is thick, and hard to expectorate. I will say that for myself, I have at once felt jealous of, felt overjoyed for, felt abandoned by, felt enraged at, felt attracted to other than, and deeply loved the same peerson. Thus far it has not worked out how I would have it work out as an anarchist, pure of meaningless sentimentality and bullshit socialization, but I also think that those things have some value to us in understandign each other and ourselves and how we confront the world.
dear integrate.  ( I like your name ).
    I used to be a classic jealous scorpio, and I would like to share what did the most to begin changing that for me. In the beginnin/"be discreet", and to be responsible about STI's. this was in highschool. Then came a day where I was at a party with one of my partners hangin' out on my lap, things were good, and I looked across the room to see that another partner was flirting with a person I knew was respectful. I had a moment of awe then, observing myself inwardly, realizing that I personally couldn't feel jealous when there's someone sweet actively being with me. This suggests my jealousy was based on insecurity entirely, because once I could tell I would be loved regardless of how well my other partner vibed with that other person, the feeling was completely gone.
    That was at my intro level of maturity with poly, after awhile, I came to be genuinely happy for my lovers good times . (I was also getting laid as much as 4-6 times day. BTW, Taigarun's sex-positive advice is super legit, takes some practice, and lots of soul searchin'. long term benefits may take years to master, but then you'll be masterful, younger, more time for more quality love making). Switching between 3 lovers kept the sex really fresh, always new things, new combinations, and getting so much sex made lasting forever -pun intended- come naturally. -really it's a shame so many people suffer from premature orgasm, in a more poly environment sex became immeasurably better. -but to each their own I guess.
   The next level of sexual maturity involved realizing what the grandfather of Non Violent Communication has to say about right and wrong being pathological constructs of hierarchical decree, shackling language that limits our ability to mediate and de-escalate our own troubles. Instead purely focus on what your needs and wants are, including meeting the needs and wants of your loved ones. (learn compassion for your enemies well enough, and you may well start finding ways around their cosmetic, egoic position as 'enemy', through identifying what needs their ultimately trying to fulfill, and you might just become a jedi/better a getting your needs met). the best link I've found on NVC, (changed my life forever, skip around the lecture series, it's kinda hokey, but it'll make sense within 5 minutes, I promise)
_____http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8-u3ecqI-Q&playnext=1&list=PL52B2657324EE800F

this one's for anyone opposed to corporations, Rosenberg speaks of 'slave language'
_____http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvFeY5GXtQo

Bottom line, your perceptive force, you, that comes from the very most center of your being. Hence 'centering oneself' generally involves forgetting about how you are seen, 'what you are', alla dat, it's nonsense. That which makes us feel 'good' about ourselves, each one is an internalized external identifying trait, constructing our ego. Let go of the need to be anything you aren't naturally. Let go of the idea noone's gonna leave you, you change every 7 years, so will 'they', it's actually borderline pathological to believe young adults are meant to be 'forever'. People grow and go where they need to be hopefully, just busy yourself about making your needs fulfilled, making your one life worth it, and the rest happens organically.
     Easier said than done, I know very well; however this is a path, not a destination. We learn how the paths run and gradually transition from crawling to walking to running to flight, and at any point sharing honestly your experience can help both those with more and with less experience than you. So keep it honest, question everything, and trust more your observation of what's happening than what you still think is supposed to be happening. ***and by the way, I respect that you've come this far. you're actively trying to help yourself, which is the first step in you being able to help lots of others, namaste,
+2 votes
I have been polyamorous for about a year now. Polamory is one of the healthiest choices I have made yet. It has challenged me to re-define my relationships with all of the people I care about and has allowed me to explore relationships to their fullest without guilt.

I struggle with my insecurity in relationships. One way I have started to overcome that is to analyze how I truly feel about my partners. I love them, want them to be happy, want them to be fulfilled, want them to pursue happiness, etc. There are times when those pursuits do not include me, sometimes they include a different partner and that's okay. I often ask myself "why WOULDN'T I want them to go do that with this person?" That question has grounded me in a lot of tough spots.

Polyamory can be amazing. At it's best, it is a huge web of intense, intentional communication and enthusiastic consent. Some of the sexiest actions, in my opinion. One thing I have done with partners is have set check-in days. I have planned dates around boundary discussion and they have been so hot! Inviting yr partner over for wine and cuddles to talk about where y'all are at in your relationship and what your needs are is a great way to keep communication consistent and open.

Talking about needs and (usually) realizing that not one person can healthily meet them has been a helpful realization to come to. Polyamory allows people to provide what they can in a relationship without feeling pressure to meet their partner's every need. In monogamous relationships I've been in, I've felt very pressured to be sexual with my partner. There are times when I was sexual out of obligation. While poly, I feel no guilt in not being able to meet that need for I am not keeping them from having that need met by someone else. I think that it provides for amazing authenticity in relationships.

Make a list of your personal boundaries in relationships! One boundary could be -- I don't want my partner having serious relationships with close friends of mine. Another could be -- I want my partner and I to get tested together every six months. In my experience, polyamory has been (for a couple partners of mine) a way to evade accountability in relationships. Poly relationships are constantly being negotiated and worked out. Poly is not an excuse to do whatever you want without checking in with partner(s). It creates safe spaces to communicate your desires and have them enthusiastically affirmed by all parties... or not (that's where boundaries come in!)

Polyamory has also helped me embrace the natural ending points of relationships. I don't expect to be with one person for the rest of my life and feel really good about it. An ended relationship is no longer a failure -- it's a change and as long as the relationship was healthy and I grew from it, it was a success.

This isn't easy -- it's fucking hard. It's deconstructing everything we've been socialized to do in relationships.
answered Feb 16, 2011 by decidedlyso (170 points)
+3 votes
We need to begin to think outside the socialized boundaries of our binary way of thinking about relationships. There is no reason to have separate camps of “friends” and “lovers/partners”. Personally, I want my friendships to be more like my partnerships and my partnerships to be more like my friendships. Why is it that a romantic relationships is such given the power of our emotions and our lives? When we begin a Relationship (yes, with a capital R) with a person, there is often an automatic sense of obligation, of expectation. A Relationship is not longer an interaction between individuals, it becomes a thing-in-and-of-itself. You “enter into a Relationship”, you do not have a relationship.
When I begin a friendship with someone new, there is rarely a concrete starting point. It is fluid. If I have to ask someone if they want to be my friend, I think that I should begin to address the ways in which I interact with people. True relationships are inter/actions/, they should be organic.  

But we create a Relationship as a thing. And it is nurtured and carefully cared for. We spend much time talking (amongst those involved and our friends) about the Relationship, devising ever-new strategies to keep it alive and well. We nurture the Relationship more than we nurture the person(s) we are in the Relationship with. But it is no longer about us, it is about caring for this thing together.  And, much like a death march, or the raising of a ever-loved, yet often-resented offspring, it is understood that it's duration is indefinite yet definite. You know that there is almost certainly an end, but you spend much of your time and energy fearing the topic. Relationships don't usually dissolve or move on, a Relationship is ended, killed. But it never goes out quietly. Afterall, if something you loved and nurtured so dearly died, wouldn't you look for blame? Someone always has to be responsible....

This is the reality of many monogamous and polyamorous relationships. Polyamory alone will not solve our problems. We need to redefine how we view our relationships entirely, not simply change the number of people involved. Fuck “boyfriends”, “girlfriends”, “partners”. I want friends. I want a plethera of different relationships, friendships. I want to be intimate with those I fuck and those I don't. I don't want to have my interactions defined by whether or not I have kissed with someone.

I have many friends. Many of whom I have been quite close, even  intimate with. And my friends come and go throughout my life, as our path's cross, and as we are relevant to each other's lives. We are close at some times, and not at others. This free flowing nature of social relationships is a strength, and simply a given in our (especially transient) subculture. Why would I expect, or want, anything different, anything more static, more concrete, more obligated from my sexual relationships?

If I have a best friend, or even a close friend, and they begin to hang out with a new person what difference does that make to me? If it doesn't actively hinder my relationship with that friend why should I, through my own insecurities and emotional wonderings, allow it to affect my relationship with that person. Most people can go days, even weeks, without seeing a close friend, and not lose any sleep over it. Yet often if one doesn't talk to their partner for a day, or a week (or with the arrival of facebook and text messages, god forbid they go a few hours), they become stressed, insecure, and worried. But why? Why rely so heavily on one friendship? Is life not much richer with several close friends, rather than just one? Why is it that we only allow ourselves to “open up”, to be intimate with our sexual partners? Have we not all seen the mess that erupts when we put all of our (emotional) eggs in one person's basket?  And is it not equally stressful to carry the full burden of being one person's main emotional support, all the time, and be in a physical relationship with them on top of it?

I am sorry. This is more of a rant than an answer to your questions. But the only practical tool I can offer is to really analyze your  interactions and relationships with those close to you and better understand why sex and romance changes everything... try to understand why the heart ache, possessiveness, jealousy, etc seems to be the domain of the Relationships more so than the friendships, and start from there and see what changes you can make in your own life from there.
answered Feb 24, 2011 by Katherine diFiore (5,200 points)
0 votes
The qualifying statement assumes that "mono-amorous" relationships are the cause of create a condition of baggage and the likely source of jealousy and possessiveness.  Many people find happiness in a mono-amorous relationship.  Both are matters of preference and choice apart from the views and prejudices within a society or group.  

Anarchy can allow both without prejudice or judgment.  Isn't that the point of anarchy, the problem when any have contempt of another  lifestyle rather than to see it does not matter what others value and makes them happy, what matters is what adds personal fulfillment and happiness.
answered May 30, 2012 by afunctionalworld (2,030 points)
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