Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Polyamory?
The Other Side forums - suitable for mature readers! > The Other Side forums > Personal concerns
Pikasyuu
I was seriously debating between this and the issues forum - but this is neither a personal concern nor an issue so I figured whichever one the flirting thread was in would work.

We have quite a few poly forumites - in fact, they may outnumber monogamous heterosexuals if my math/assumptions are right. Most of what I've learned about the goings on in poly relationships came from Dan Savage, and even he only provided the bare minimum information in that you're basically allowed to have multiple partners. So for those of us who are uneducated, what does it mean to you, the polyamorous adult? Do you form feelings and romantic attachments to all of your boy/girlfriends or is it more like multiple friends with benefits and no strings attached? Does this vary from person to person? Could you ever see yourself being monogamous with anyone? Does jealousy ever factor in even if the jealous party has before stated that they're alright with the arrangement? Do you value one boy/girlfriend over another? Do your boy/girlfriends interact with one another? Hopefully these are some pretty decent questions that will vary in answers from person to person and help educate those of us who are ignorant on the subject. smile.gif
Lurker in the Park
Ok, so I wasn't (and probably never will be) the polyamourous one, but I was on the outside edge of a PA persons ring/collective/circle/relationships (what's the collective noun for this?). The first thing I'd say was that I got on with everyone in the immediate circle very well. I think that's going to be important, because otherwise you aren't going to be able to communicate properly. It's also amazing what becomes normal. Nothing actually felt odd after the first few weeks, it was just a case of "This is what it is and how it works". Tbh, it was rather good fun in a bohemian kind of way (as well as all the usual ones).
Yannick
Well, in high school, I was in a few "few strings attached" relationships, some overlapping with one another. I have a habit of liking multiple people, and at that point, nothing was preventing from starting multiple relationships. Sex actually wasn't that big of a part of it. It was mostly an "I like you... and you!" Not really sure why I did it, other than because I liked the people, my feelings were being reciprocated, and dating two of the prettiest girls in school made me feel really f*cking cool. At one point, I was somewhat seriously dating a girl (who grew up kind of sheltered lol), but sleeping with someone else, and they were both fine with this arrangement. (It turned out later that that wasn't the case, but meh, being honest with your significant others about your comfort level is sort of relevant to these types of relationships working).

I got out of a really stupid relationship somewhat recently, where the guy was engaged to someone else. Based on my previous relationships, I completely understood liking (hell, even loving) multiple people at one time, and was comfortable with that aspect of the setup. As it turns out, loving two people takes a toll on you. Mostly on your conscious, especially if you're too much of a coward to be honest with everyone involved. I also learned that I'm kind of the jealous type. >_> Less than you'd expect, but when they went away for a week on a cute little vacation, I wanted to throw up every day.

I guess these relationships can work. I just think I want to be monogamous for a while. (Just not now. Rocking that single status for a while, because it's so damn comforting.)
Mata
So... After many years of being completely faithful in all of my monogamous relationships, I'm now seeing two rather awesome women. (No, no-one on these forums, and you don't know them.)

It's an interesting thing, because even though we have few friends in common, they both would like it to be kept a secret from nearly everyone, hence the reason that my status on Facebook isn't anything. Does Facebook even support poly relationships? I have no idea, but I'm not about to test that any time soon. There are very few people who know that I am dating these particular people.

Why I've ended up doing this would be a good question, after having been monogamous for so long with never even a stray kiss with someone outside of my past relationships. The reason is that the first of the two that I started dating wanted an open relationship, we talked about it a lot, what the boundaries were (safe sex always with everyone - potentially not with each other in the long run after STD screening and using contraceptives), no real problems with the other doing whatever they wanted with others, and the only version of cheating at the moment would be to not tell the other person what you do with others.

Jealousy has never been a problem for me, it just seems to be sensible that sometimes people will want to do stuff with others. If that urge is so strong that they don't want to be with me anymore then it's better to find that out sooner rather than spend a lifetime of unhappiness together.

Another bonus I'm noticing is that one person doesn't have to be everything - not every relationship has to be perfect or on the same level. My main girlfriend is similar-ish to a 'normal' girlfriend relationship, my other is very much more like friends who have discovered that they can have a lot of fun together. They both know about each other and have talked a little and there are no problems. There's a very infrequent third person who is much more a friend-with-benefits, but I'll see how that one turns out.

A curious side-effect is that I feel more comfortable thinking about having a relationship with a man now. Because I've got a stable base and a gay relationship doesn't have to be everything in my dating scene while it's happening, it's given me a lot more confidence to take that seriously again. Of course, I'm still ridiculously picky about men, but it's a far stronger option for me than it has been for a long time.

The tricky part is that, before doing anything with anyone new, it's only fair to explain my own situation first. It's not particularly romantic, but it's only fair. I'm definitely not looking for casual sex - sex is a communication, and I don't want to converse that way with people I don't know. On the other side of things, I'm also feeling more comfortable as seeing sex as something that two people can enjoy together and that doesn't have to be tied into a normal monogamously bonded relationship. I think I've always felt that way, but this time in my life has made me return to that view.

Would I go back to being monogamous? It's possible, but at the moment I don't have a reason to do that. I suspect I won't, but it could happen.

[Naturally, to any students reading this, while I'm putting this in a public forum, I'd request that you respect that this is a personal-ish subject. I don't mind it being known (otherwise I wouldn't put it on here) but equally I'd prefer it not to become a major topic of discussion among the student body, so don't encourage that, thanks.]
gothictheysay
I'm seeing two different people right now - I almost hesitate to use "poly" as a descriptor, because I know so many people who describe themselves that way and give poly relationships a bad name... Anyway. I've had a couple of open-ish situations before, neither which went very well. My first two relationships were monogamous and exclusive. Recently I started dating not necessarily looking for a boyfriend and found myself seeing two people - the first person wasn't interested in a full-blown relationship, which was fine with me, and said he was okay with me seeing other people. The second person is more of my "boyfriend" - we spend more time together and do more going out on dates and that sort of thing. I'm free to see whomever else I want, but other than satisfying my bi-curiosity, I'm not really interested in anything else that's serious.

I care a lot about both people. It is an awkward discussion to have - most people are like "wow you're seeing two people omg!" My biggest reason is that while I see myself possibly being in a monogamous or mostly-monogamous situation in the future, I'm very young and still have my whole life ahead of me. I could end up moving far away or doing a dozen different things that might make a relationship with someone not feasible. So, I like to keep my options open, and having two people helps meet most of my needs and can take the pressure off of one or the other in terms of those needs. The two men also aren't interested in exclusivity, but neither was I, so it worked out really well.

I can and do get jealous, however it won't be a big problem (I don't think) unless one of them starts seeing another person regularly, which is totally possible. Good communication is vital - learning where boundaries are and such - and even these are still a little awkward sometimes (my boyfriend hesitates mentioning other dates, I hesitate mentioning the other person I'm seeing, the other person I'm seeing doesn't want to hear about my boyfriend for the time being) and it can be complicated. But overall it works really well and it also helps me with another problem, which is getting too invested in one person. I could end up getting too invested in two people, of course, but I've found that my brain is quicker to up my dependence when I know someone is my "designated" and exclusive partner I guess? It's something I'm still trying to fix in my brain, but this approach is helping.

I don't value one over the other; while right now one relationship is a bit more serious, it's just where I happen to be with each person. They currently don't interact; I'm hoping if I'm still seeing them for a while they will eventually feel comfortable doing so, but it's up to them. I'm sure there will be lots of hard places in the future, but there are in all relationships! Poly can be especially hard though due to just having more people - it's more likely to be a clusterf***. Honesty and communication, like in other relationships, is very necessary, but perhaps even more so in my opinion to make things work smoothly and keep people happy.

Mostly, my own jealousy and insecurity will be likely issues for me, but so it is in all relationships. I also feel less guilty about having feelings for other people or knowing I can indulge them, and as long as I'm being safe sexually I have freedom there. It's a nice balance between having some freedom and some attachment for me. I am not sure what the future holds but I'm sure I'll find out! In the meantime I'm happy being a little spoiled by the attentions of two lovely people. smile.gif
Mata
It definitey does require much more talking than a normal relationship, but I also think that's really, really healthy. In retrospect I think that a lot of problems have come, in some regards, from having different ideas of how a monogamous relationship is going to work, but it's so much the default setting in society that we assume that our partner thinks about things the same way that we do. That often isn't the case, but poly stuff requires a lot of talk and openness to even stand a chance of working.
Pikasyuu
relationships are so complicated - at this point, i personally would have to have a strong barrier between the part of myself that actually opens up to a person and becomes vulnerable/romantically attached and the part of myself that takes nothing seriously and just has fun with it (in the sense of poly-relationships). it seems like the older a person gets, the more adept they are at fusing those two people and are able to carry on a functional sexual relationship with two or more people while simultaneously being emotionally attached to both/all of them without the burden of jealousy, overanalysis, or worrying too much about what the other is doing when they're not focused on you. monogamy has a lot of the same problems, though, and i've observed that most poly people i know seem much happier than the monogamous - whether that just happens by coincidence or it's because the poly folks are more secure with themselves and their wants in general, i'm not sure. it does seem a lot like the latter, though.

polyamorous relationships seem to force communication, whereas like Mata said, monogamous people often just use the formula 'i like this person! they like me!' and assume that they're both on the same page until a problem arises and they're forced to discuss it. i also feel like monogamous relationships suffer a lot from one or the other being insecure somehow - maybe they're monogamous because mainstream society conditions them to be, and teaches them that more than one partner is bad? i myself am on the fence as to whether or not i could maintain an open relationship and my sanity, but like i said, i'm very young and inexperienced and people certainly change quite a bit over time. male and female sexuality is a solid example of that, considering the number of people who find themselves attracted to a gender other than the one(s) they were originally attracted to later in life. i can't count the number of formerly straight lesbians i know. were they lesbians all along? many insist they weren't, so i'm more comfortable with the theory that what you like once you've hit puberty isn't set in stone, and so many people are so uncomfortable with one aspect or another of sexuality that they can't or wont allow themselves to consider something different when they're unhappy.

^speaking of clusterf*cks
Yannick
QUOTE (Pikasyuu @ Sep 29 2012, 03:12 PM) *
maybe they're monogamous because mainstream society conditions them to be, and teaches them that more than one partner is bad?

Maybe a lot of people, but probably not most, and definitely not all. I know a lot of people that just feel complete with the person that they're with and simply can't comprehend needing or even wanting someone else. Like with my previous relationship, while we both agreed it wasn't an exclusive thing (I still think mostly because he was engaged, and being all "Wait, but you're only allowed to see me!" would make him a massive hypocrite), it felt really monogamous on my part. Despite being free to go off and be with whoever, none of me actually wanted to. Heh, it's funny because it got put to the test a little bit when I went away for a weekend without him, and would be around some people that I formerly liked. I wasn't super talkative when I came back home, mostly because I was tired, but also because I was confused about some things. He didn't seem jealous, just sad at the possibility of me spending a weekend with "that Wallace guy" and kept wanting to know if I realized that there were better people than him yet. I guess it kind of reinforces how key communication is, but also demonstrates that not all poly people are secure within their relationships. I think if you really feel strongly for someone, aside from simply having f*ck buddies, you're going to care about who else they're with. The tragic part is that you might just find yourself attached to multiple people that experience the same jealousy you do, and, well, the aforementioned clusterf*ck comes to mind.

Current conclusion: Love is st00pid, poly or not.
Pikasyuu
Love is also awesome. I hate feeling indifferent to most people these days because I miss caring about another person so much. I don't miss my personal insecurities or my constant self-analysis or sliding into body/physical intimacy neurosis, but I miss being excited to see or talk to somebody. When I liked Dayan, I distinctly remember running home from the bus stop every day, ecstatic that I was finally going to be able to spend some time with him - most nights, many hours. I miss that rush and that sense of celebrating the simple company of another person. It's incredibly rare for me to feel the slightest anything towards anyone these days, and I guess it's managed to hurt me very deeply that most of those rarities have ended in disappointment, pain, confusion and longing. I've had two relationships I ended of my own volition. The rest, something awful happened.

The way I am now is best suited to monogamy. I need someone I can trust who actually cares about every part of me, and more importantly, someone who actually catches and keeps my interest. I actually prefer people I consider smarter or cleverer than me in order to stay entertained. But I can also be competitive and jealous which doesn't bode well for a poly relationship unless, like I said, I was firmly on the more indifferent, casual side of my personality and managed to stay there. The idea of sleeping with someone in an open relationship doesn't bother me; the idea of becoming attached enough to want their undivided attention does - and that's where communication is very, very necessary. It sounds like most people in poly relationships aren't experiencing these hang ups and, like I said, know how to balance the casual and romantic sides of themselves.
Mata
I know a few poly people who aren't very happy in their relationships... But I suspect they wouldn't be happy being monogamous either. They just have trouble with people in general. Perhaps being poly is a defensive mechanism for them, so that they can run away from a relationship more easily if they feel the need? I'm not sure, but my impression is that poly people aren't generally much different from everyone else except in one regard: there is a degree of intellectual introspection that they have about themselves. This isn't surprising, because being poly requires faith that you can go against usual social systems and still survive. I'm not sure if this means that poly people are smarter (which I've heard argued), more that they seem to have questioned themselves a bit more on average than others.

I'm also not suggesting here that monogamous people don't have this quality - they can have gone through the same process and decided that one-on-one relationships suit them - only that it would be unusual to find a poly person without it.
Pikasyuu
If you've ever listened to Dan Savage, (who can be really enjoyable and educational on sex in general..considering that's his podcast topic) he believes people are inherently polyamorous and that it's ridiculous to expect one person to be monogamous their entire lives. I'm not experienced enough to have a legitimate opinion outside of being intrigued and considering it based on what I know of people, but I suspect it's a little of both. I'd assume about 75% of the population would have an extra-marital/relationshipital relationship if their significant other wouldn't leave them.

by the way, i love that i ruined a totally serious paragraph with the phrase 'i moss'. f*cking phone.
Mata
Well, I suspect that about 75% of people probably do have some sort of affair outside of their primary relationship, it's just that only half of those are found out. One in three marriages break up these days, after all. Poly people just admit that they want to do this.
Yannick
Subtracting maybe 10% from your figure for open people, do you reckon 65% of people cheat? Or are you including emotional affairs and other 'lesser' affairs in that estimate?

65% is a lot. :/
Pikasyuu
I consider emotional affairs a form of infidelity, yes. If you're carrying on the illusion that you're 100% faithful to your SO and telling another person that you have feelings for them/plan on possibly having something in the future, then that would certainly be grounds for a serious discussion at the least and ending the relationship at the most. This doesn't apply to thinking someone else is hot/interesting as that would be ridiculous. I'm talking full blown emotional any-romantic-attention/affection-has-switched-from-your-SO-to-another-person affairs - even moreso when it impacts the 'primary' relationship without the 'primary' partner knowing why. Polyamory seems to at the very least have the base respect of keeping all parties on the same page whereas my ballpark stat was summing up the amount of deceit that goes on in monogamous relationships. I have no scientific anything for that percentage and I might just be cynical about relationships in general, but I suspect it's pretty common that one or the other in monogamous relationships have carried on an affair/emotional affair/whathaveyou at one time or another..and this is all monogamous relationships, not just marriages.

sorry if any of this is phrased badly, i'm verrrrrrrrry sleepy.
Mata
A study back in 1997 suggested that 'roughly' 30-60% of men have an extra-marital affair at some point, and this was considered to probably be a conservative estimate. (Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). Susceptibility to infidelity in the first year of marriage. Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 193-221.) I think their use of the word 'roughly' is really pushing the boundaries of reliable statistics there, but nearly half of marriages end in divorce and infidelity is the main reason for a break-up. Assuming that not all infidelity is discovered, it doesn't take too much of a jump in logic to assume a number around 60% or more people have done something outside the rules of their relationship at some time.

Like I say, I was monogamous and faithful for my previous relationships, even when I knew the partner wasn't doing the same. I think it's healthy for many people to accept that they might want to be with more than one person, or that they get different things from different people. I definitely don't think that monogamy cannot work, or that we should all be poly (like I say, it worked fine for me for a long time), but I also think that polyamory might be a more honest expression of love and sexuality for many people.
Pikasyuu
people who were/are in monogamous relationships who HAVE cheated at one time?: why, etc? was it difficult? does it make you happier or sadder that my 65/75% was just about dead on?
Yannick
Mata, why did you stay with someone that you knew was cheating on you?

Syuu, I've never cheated on anyone. I've been the other person though, and based on how much we talked about how wrong everything was, I'll have a jab at those questions.

Why? Well, because you honestly can't control who you like. At some point, we approached an emotional 'affair', but the way it happened was just so natural that we didn't question it at first. We were just two friends that spent increasingly more time talking to one another, with conversations that became increasingly more enjoyable. From January until late March, all we did was talk all day. Sometime in April, we realized that we both liked each other. We did well to keep it hidden from each other until then, but just all the baby steps until that point made everything happening seem so comfortable. Generally, when you're extremely comfortable doing something (which sounds awful, I know), you don't question how wrong it is until much later. We tried to keep it strictly emotional. We failed. We tried to cut contact entirely. Far too painful (currently doing that since late August-ish. Still far too painful.) Eventually, the question of whether it's worse to lie to yourself or someone else came up. For some reason, we conveniently decided it was worse to lie to yourself, and everything was okay for a while. I still don't have an answer to that question. But, also, because it's financially convenient. Because you're too afraid of hurting the other person. Because you're comfortable at how far you've made it in your life, and don't want to do something radical and jeopardize that. Also, because the person you're cheating with is more afraid of ruining your life than you are, and making you do something that you'll regret. But mainly, because it makes you happy. You can't really explain it, but it makes you happy, and you don't want to lose that.

Difficult? Oh gods yeah, especially with certain trigger locations and trigger words that will always make you remember your affair. Mostly the guilt thing. The fear. The hoping that your spouse will cheat on you too so you can just reveal everything. I just can't imagine how hard it is to love with someone you love that you think should probably hate you. It also kinda killed their sex life for a bit. ...Based on the bruises on his neck, I'd say everything's back to normal. dry.gif

The 65/75% just makes me feel worse. Yeah, okay, maybe it was inevitable, but that figure is not helping the trust issues.

I sincerely hope this post helps. I kinda want to go throw up now that that's all out there.
Hobbes
Polyamory... I couldn't do it.

Or at least, not in any way beyond something frivolous. And considering I get attached to people fairly quickly, I wouldn't be able to just keep things frivolous.

Whether it is a trust-thing, or a possessive thing, or a jealousy thing, or what, I dunno (or, if I'm honest, probably all of those things). But whilst I can see the attraction, I could not be in a "serious" relationship with more than one person. I would not enjoy any aspect of knowing that my girlfriend was also having similar relations with another person. I just don't feel it is right for me because I need the devotion that is only within a monogamous relationship. Or, to say it in a way that sounds less offensive to people that DO have polyamorous (?) relationships: "I need the devotion that I PERSONALLY CAN ONLY FIND in a monogamous relationship."

Mata
Why did I stay with people who were cheating on me? Well, 'cheating' is a strong word. One person I was seeing did kinky stuff naked with another guy but they never had sex. She was still happy coming back to me and I was still getting what I wanted from the relationship, so why end that? Other people have usually only kissed other people, and I think they were more upset about what they had done than I was.

My simple rule has always been: if they want to be with me then they'll be with me, if they don't then I'd rather know that sooner than later. This kind of 'cheating' tested that. I've never broken up with a person due to cheating or the temptation of someone else, only because the relationship wasn't working for both of us. I don't really get jealous in that kind of possessive way and have seen thatkind of behaviour as a test or a sign that there were issues that needed to be addressed.

The poly side of things is odd: you get new rules that you both/all agree on. I'm not allowed to see anyone or do anything with anyone secretly. If something fun happens with someone then I need to tell the others I'm involved with. If I expect it to happen in advance then it would be best to say that, but afterwards is fine too. Other poly relationships have more rules, such as kissing and hands, but no full-penetrative sex. As long as you stick to the rules then there is no 'cheating' but, in my example, starting a new relationship without telling the other people would be breaking the rules and that would be cheating. Also, it means that I can have fun times with multiple people without guilt, as long as I stick within the rules.

Guilt, suspicion, jealousy, and cheating... Sheesh. Those are horrible things.
Daria
What? Lurking, necroposting and not even being relevant? >_> I wouldn't do a thing like that.

Much.

I came back to see how everyone was getting along, and came across this thread. I have lots of things I want to say - not least that I've been in poly relationships since January 2011 and have learnt a lot in the meantime (in good and bad ways). BUT I am super tired and not feeling particularly coherent. I shall return, my cape flapping in the wind, and share my tuppence.

*waves*
Mata
I think sharing your tuppence is a key principle of polyamory. biggrin.gif

I've had my first poly break up, in very frustrating circumstances... It's very weird. Definitely not like a normal break up, where there were obvious reasons, this was more one side not feeling it any more and so it finished abruptly. The honesty was good, so it's hard to be hurt, but it's just as sad. It's extremely strange.
gothictheysay
My boyfriend and I are moving in together and are going to be exclusive (for the time being at least). I'm pretty comfortable doing this, and sometimes I think I'm less polyamorous and more interested in adjusting relationships in ways to make them work. I loved having an open relationship, but both he and I feel at this time we want to be monogamous, so that's what we're going to do. If we continue to see each other for a long time, who knows, maybe we will open it back up again. I really like that I am now able to be comfortable in both exclusive and monogamous relationships, and after a year of dating my boyfriend openly, am now ready for monogamy. (Our other relationships have also ended, making it good timing - still not sure how I feel about closing off a relationship because I feel like I want to be monogamous with someone else. I know people do this all the time, but for some reason, I don't usually like to.)
Mata
Mm, I do wonder about how I would feel about going back to a monogamous relationship... With the right person, in the right circumstances, I think it could happen, but I suspect it will be a little while before those things come around.

It's cool you're in that place smile.gif
gothictheysay
Yeah, I'm still a little nervous, as it's been four years since I have done it! But I think it will go well. smile.gif And yeah, it's not something you can predict in advance - but life gives you all sorts of surprises!
Mata
Well, I'm being unintentionally monogamous at the moment. I've been too busy to be otherwise! I wonder if it will stay that way or whether things will become more active over the summer?
Yannick
Completely intentionally monogamous right now. It's actually really nice. I wouldn't mind things staying this way, like, forever.
Mata
WoooOOOoooo smile.gif I'm happy to hear you're happy!
Pikasyuu
monogamous right now too - and happily so
that said, he seems like he could be relatively poly at heart, and stunningly, not a douchebag about it. i've explained my feelings on it (no, but difficult) and am staying put for now, at least grateful to have met someone honest and decent at communication.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.