Bonjour mes amies! Oui, it is moi! La Juif Kinky! By the time you read this, I will have returned from my beautiful trip to Paris with my husband. Ahh Paris! The city of love! The city of romance! The city of…. communication. Yes, it’s true; part of the reason we took a long weekend to France was to focus on us and our relationship, per the sage advice of some very good friends. “Spend some time together. Don’t play with anyone else. Don’t think about anyone else. Just focus on each other.” Good advice, and kind of funny when you consider that it came from the girlfriend of my friend’s husband.
Yes. Do the math with me. My friend’s husband’s girlfriend.
Treading lightly into the DC Scene has exposed me to a variety of lifestyles, and interestingly enough, the most surprising and enlightening experiences I’ve had have been with the Poly folk. My personal exposure has been with folks who are more “Poly – fidelous,” or people looking for two or more committed relationships. In a country where our divorce rate is nearly 50%, you gotta wonder what Poly folks are thinking. How do they make it work, when most of us are just happy that our relationships haven’t exploded in some sort of obscene, alcohol and drug – fueled supernova? I mean, I can see how anyone would enjoy being able to sleep with whomever they liked and still have a committed partner, but how do they make it work?
In my quest to understand WHY anyone would make a complex situation such as a relationship MORE complicated, I interviewed several poly folks. One man who was happy in his experience, one woman who is still “learning,” and one man who, well, let’s just say it hasn’t worked out the way he had planned.
Our happy – go – lucky poly man discussed the theory behind his relationship with his wife:
“We find that the notion that one person can find another who meets ALL of our needs in the complex 21-century world to be quaint and outdated, and that such a perfect connection works both ways to be even more unlikely. We therefore view it as an act to allow each other to get our unmet needs taken care of outside the marriage, and it strengthens our relationship as a result.”
That… kind of makes sense, sort of like that old poem, “if you love something, set it free…” But how does this all work? “Communication,” has been the resounding answer.
Frankly, those of us who are monogamous could probably take a note or two from some of these poly peeps.
Communication is everything. I don’t necessarily want to know the details of what my partner is doing, but I need to know where their relationship is going, because it impacts me. There are also ground rules: no diseases, no pregnancy, no drugs, no DRAMA!” said one woman. “But it’s a process. I’m still learning. The best I could tell anyone is that this is not a road to travel if you’re having a tough time with ONE relationship.”
What does she mean?
It’s always tempting to hide from your problems by indulging in fantasies. You want to find a partner who will appreciate you, and fill in some of the gaps that your other partner is leaving out, because the original relationship is old or stale. But if you can’t face your issues head on in one partnership, you’ll never have a working romantic life no matter how many partners you add. You have to be able to communicate and have your needs met in one situation, before you can add on to it.”
Another interviewee weighs in:
“The one thing that I’ve been taught is the need to have your baseline minimum emotional and physical needs met in a stable manner with your spouse. Unmet, or unspoken needs can’t get met. Those same unmet issues are the things that drag marriages apart, breed frustration and resentment, and give parties the urge to wander beyond their agreed boundaries… If you get those things met, and still have any energy left from meeting the equivalent needs of your partner, THEN you might consider Poly. Why then? Because you have a stable core around which to rotate, and enough Relationship Gravity to not spin away into the distance.”
No matter who I spoke to, their message was the same: your primary relationship has to be absolutely stable. You have to work on that partnership first, and that has to be your priority. You have to be a masterof communication before you can consider adding anyone else to the mix.
The End Of Marriage As We Know It?
What’s interesting to me is that the Poly lifestyle is becoming more common. There have been several exposés on the emergence of polyamory/ poly – fidelity in Europe, and I think we’re starting to see it more here. Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you see this as the natural progression toward a more open and loving society, or the end of marriage as we know it, you have to admit that they give out some good marriage advice: communication is key, and there’s no running away from the tough stuff in relationships. In my mind, you have to be something of a relationship guru to be able to make more than one work at a time, with all partners in total accord.
To be fair, an argument could be made that there’s no way to get that “deeper” love with more than one person, and so poly relationships are, by their nature, superficial. Frankly, I don’t know where I fall on that line. The poly people I know seem to love each other just as much as anyone else, but I want to hear your opinions:
Can you really love more than one person at the same time? Or does one relationship have to suffer for the other? Is “poly” the way of the future, or is this just a way for people to screw around? Could you picture yourself in a poly relationship? Is this something you’ve discussed with your partner? ….am I being too nosy?