The Power Of Polyamory

polyBonjour 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the notion that one person can find another who meets ALL of our needs in the complex 21-century world to be quaint and outdated, and that such a perfect connection works both ways to be even more unlikely.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?



  1. I was in a committed lesbian relationship for six years, before falling in love with someone else. It was not that I didn't not love my girlfriend any less or she wasn't "meeting all my needs". We were the poster children for the perfect lesbian couple, no jealously, no fights, everything was harmonious. Someone just came in to my life that filled a different part of my life, that I never knew was missing.
    Dealing with the conversation of a poly lifestyle was hard, but in the end the six year relationship is actually stronger because we are in it by choice. It is not for everyone, but you definitely have to have a stable base and each of the participants have to have rules and lack jealously.

  2. Toy With Me

    KJ – An excellent post that has provided thought provoking comments as well as in depth sharing of views. It is nice to see those who disagree can present their point of view in a tactful manner without slander. Very interesting to read from start to finish.

  3. Philosophy

    Meh. I don’t really have an opinion either way, mostly because I don’t think we ought to be discussing other people’s sexual preferences in terms of right and wrong. What works for me may not work for you, y’know.

    Truth be told, I think monogamous or polyamorous leanings are a lot like sexual orientation— you just happen to be born with the capacity for one or the other, just like some people are born heterosexual and some are born gay. I happen to be born with a preference for monogamous relationships, mostly because I don’t ever date men who are unable to hit all my sweet spots. My husband really DOES fulfill me in every way: sexually, emotionally, recreationally, you name it. I don’t ever feel the need to look outside of my marriage for anything. But of course, that’s JUST ME, and it’s a dangerous thing to try and universalize my singular personal experience.

    I will say, though, that I agree with Bill that poly folks can get just a teensy bit preachy. A lot of my college friends were poly, so I ended up reading a lot of stuff about it, and I get a little sick of hearing how I’m clearly just a stale, repressed, miserable old hag who refuses to see the light that is polyamory. I’m HAPPY in a monogamous relationship. How is that a bad thing?

    Side note: Hannah, this is an AWESOME blog. I will most definitely be back.

  4. Erotique

    Yes indeed communication is key but even before that is Intention hmmm where have I heard that recently ahh well…. There does need to be a very strong committed core relationship that allows for inclusion without emotions running amok and wreaking havoc. It is easy to spot when the reasons were wrong or the core not strong. I could do it, I know of two people who if the hubs and I were to connect with one or both of them it would create an interesting dynamic as all parties really like and respect each other for various reasons. So I guess I am one of those who can see it’s benefits.

  5. MoM (but not the real One)

    Okay…please do not bombard me…these are my own personal feelings. I do not think going outside the marriage for satisfaction is okay. Marriage is a HUGE commitment. It takes work, self sacrifice and a whole lot of give and take. It has ups an downs and they have to be worked through. So if your partner isn’t satisfying you on a sexual level then tell them for God’s sake! Give them the chance to learn WITH YOU not watch you venture off to have your needs met by some other partner and just come home later to act as if its okay.
    I have to agree if you aren’t ready for a commitment then please don’t get married. I have a hard time believing that a couple can go off and have sex with their other lover and no one’s feeling get hurt. No one’s heart gets crushed.
    The day I got married I made a promise to cherish only one man. I will die with that promise intact. In my life…having sex with another person is just an excuse to cheat…sorry that’s how I see it. I don’t give a damn if both partners agree on it…it’s cheating and its selfish. As far as kids ….I’m raising mine with a particular set of morals and values. Having sex with someone outside the partnership is not in those values. I’m showing my kids that marriage is a wonderful thing along with one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It requires me to put the needs of my husband above mine some days and I do. He does the same. I don’t want my children to think its okay for me or my hub to go out …have sex and then come home as if we’ve done nothing wrong. Marriage is for 2 people ….not extras on the side for flavor. I’ve worked long and hard on this marriage. I love him more now than ever. We’ve achieved that through lots of ups and downs. I don’t mean to offend anyone. It’s just that to truly love one person you have to be able to give them 110%. Being with other partners….that’s giving a % to someone else. Now maybe I’m just old but this is how I see things. Going outside the marriage means you’re not getting your needs met by your partner so for God’s sake… up your mouth and let them know. You could be ruining their life with this cheating….and they might just be too afraid to lose you so they take what they get.

  6. comictragedy

    KJ. You know me better than that! I wasn’t demeaning anything FF said nor was I making it *personal* in the sense you’re saying.

    And I said. All things have exceptions. *You* are an exception. *I* am not. I suffer from all the slings and arrows of my upbringing. And I don’t believe my mother woke up one day and said, “hm.. what can I do to really fuck this kid up?” I think she just didn’t realize that having me meant making changes in her life. That having me meant she needed to do things differently. And she didn’t know better *before* she had me that she didn’t have the capacity to raise a child.

    So. Kiss my fat, white, furry ass. Plus. You *have* to be nice to me. I’m an honorary Joo.

  7. comictragedy

    @Firefly. Okay. You’ve done it. You just *had* to break the bubble. May your computer crash and the Geek Squad not be available until after February.

    That being said. Here’s my thought. I’m probably older than you. And here’s what I’ve learned getting this old. There are ALWAYS exceptions to any rule. You’re going to have healthy, well adjusted children come from the homes of drug addicted jail birds and you’re going to have drug addicted jailbirds come from the homes of stable, well balanced, loving parents. That’s the law. I’m pretty sure of it.

    But. The averages are against this happening. And let me say this straight out. This is one of my *biggest* pet peeves.

    Children. YOUR children are not high school eggs to carry around for a week to see if you break it. They are NOT some experiment where you see what’ll happen if you do *this* or *that*. They are tiny human beings who have been entrusted to your care. They are absofuckinglutely dependent on you to make good decisions, make sacrifices, and raise them with love and discipline and guidance. And assuming that *the kids will be okay if we make this really stupid decision* (by the way.. I am NOT referring to the subject of this post right here) is taking a huge chance on that life that they will *survive* it.

    The divorce debacle is the perfect background for this example. Back when my mother divorced, I was the only one in my SCHOOL who had divorced parents. The overall thought at that time was *the kids will be okay as long as everyone acts like adults*. Well. Guess what? *They* were wrong. The psychobabble that gave married couples the *okay* to stop working at their marriage was in place because everyone was told *kids adapt*. Now. All these years later. A new crop of psychotherapists are saying *mistakes were made*. Look at the degeneration of our children through the years. Do you believe this is just evolution? That each generation of children become more and more empty of emotional attachment because we stopped growing hair on the back of our hands?

    I have no problem with multiple partners. I have a problem with continuing a life style once you’ve made a committment. And once you brought a child into the world, you have to sacrifice. What that word entails is being able to put aside your own *personal* desires in order to be the best parent you can be to your children. Period. And a willingness to experiment with your child’s psyche seems a bit.. well.. selfish.

    You didn’t mention whether or not your daughter is okay with your decisions. If she is, she is an exception. But. What if. What if, as she grew up in your lifestyle, her emotional well being was being compromised? And what if your lifestyle caused her to be unsure of herself, her sexuality, her very being? And what if those feelings in here caused her to make decisions that put her life at risk? Would you *still* think it was okay?

  8. KinkyJew

    Yeah, I DO know you, and I know how you intend things, but as I’ve learned, what can sound good in our heads doesn’t always make it with the same tone across the interwebs. I just wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page.

    Also, yes, you are still an honorary Jooooo. Keep that in mind when Yom Kippur rolls around, and you have to fast with the rest of us! 🙂

  9. KinkyJew

    @Mel – I am FULL of fascinating tidbits about sex and the Torah. My husband was excited to learn that he could now have multiple wives. I was excited to learn that you can hold a man down and slap him while he’s sleeping until he cries “uncle.”

    @Comic & Firefly – I think it’s important that we not make this a personal thing. FF has made his choice in how to raise his daughter. Maybe it’s wrong, but maybe it isn’t. Not being in his life, I can’t say. But I will say this: for thousands of years, this is how life was. You had one husband, and many wives. Or, you had one husband, one wife, and the entire family, plus in-laws, lived in the same house. Kids can learn to adapt if things are taught to them in a loving way. When I was little, I was the only kid I knew of who was Artificial Insemination. Some people learn about that, and freak out, and have real issues with it. I’ve never been freaked out about it, and I’ve never had anything but pride that my mother would do whatever it took to get me here.

    I think the point here is that this is a different decision, and the way we teach our kids counts for everything. Sure, what IF his daughter isn’t ok with it? But what if, like me, she learns that there are a variety of ways to live your life, and there’s always someone home for her, always someone to talk to? I think the “children” issue is a huge one for the Poly community, and I look forward to seeing how they handle it.

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