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Miles Oliver gives us the lowdown on polyamory, and shares some tips on how we might learn from consensual non-monogamy for healthier, more honest relationships of all kinds.
There are so many lessons you can learn from monogamous relationships, situationships, and the friends with benefits dynamic. But what about polyamorous relationships?
Polyamory, otherwise known as consensual non-monogamy, is proven to be a healthy, supportive relationship dynamic for those who take it seriously and are genuine about their intentions. We can also learn a lot from polyamorous relationships even if we aren’t in one ourselves.
Before we dive into what we can learn from polyamorous relationships, let’s briefly cover what consensual non-monogamy is.
A brief overview of polyamory
Polyamory is when someone consciously chooses to have more than one romantic or sexual relationship. They can have as many intimate relationships as they’d like, so long as they are consensual and everyone involved knows the relationship parameters.
Individuals in polyamorous relationships can be of any sexual orientation or gender identity. There are various types of polyamorous relationship, including:
- A triad – a “throuple” or relationship between three people;
- A quad – a relationship between four people;
- A polycule – multiple people in a consensual polyamorous relationship with varying relationship dynamics between one another. This term was originally coined for its resemblance to a molecule when members are represented as atoms joining together.
In addition, these relationships can have primary partners and secondary partners.
Moreover, consensual non-monogamous relationships aren’t solely about being able to have sex with more than one person.
They shouldn’t be confused with polygamy (marriage to more than one person) or swinging (a couple that permits sex with outside parties without disclosure).
Polyamory is also not about cheating since everyone involved is aware of the nature of the relationship and gives consent.
Instead, polyamorous relationships are rooted in honesty and responsibility, ensuring each partner is loved and respected equally.
Many polyamorous people feel that they can have a broad range of needs met by their different partners, so there’s less pressure to be everything to one person.
The lessons we can learn from polyamorous relationships
Like any other relationship, a polyamorous relationship can have its fair share of issues. But, whether you’re exploring polyamory or not, you can learn a lot from the challenges these relationships face.
Here are four lessons we can learn from consensual non-monogamous relationships.
1. Healthy personal boundaries are essential
It’s difficult enough maintaining personal boundaries when in a relationship with one person. But sharing intimacy and romance with more than one person simultaneously can make maintaining personal boundaries even more challenging.
A person in a polyamorous relationship may get caught up in ensuring their partners’ needs are met, pushing their own further down the line. As a result, their voice in the relationship may get lost, and they may end up resentful.
On the other hand, a polyamorous relationship that encourages each partner to set personal boundaries and define expectations allows everyone involved to grow and maintain a relationship that supports who they are and what they need. This can result in deeper connections and greater satisfaction.
So, the lesson is to set healthy personal boundaries. Everything shouldn’t revolve around your partner, nor should your happiness be placed in the other person’s hands.
To navigate a successful romantic relationship, figure out who you are, how to honor your individualism, and what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
2. Be emotionally honest
When someone enters a consensual non-monogamous relationship with ill or unclear intentions, it can cause a severe rift among everyone involved, ultimately leading to the relationship’s demise.
For example, let’s say someone enters a consensual non-monogamous relationship pretending to be okay with it when they really aren’t. In that case, insecurities, jealousy, and hurt will most likely arise in that person and infect the entire dynamic because they really wanted monogamy.
Those who enter consensual non-monogamous relationships honestly, and with an open mind and heart, create a stable foundation for the relationship that allows it to develop in the best way possible for all parties involved.
The lesson here? Be emotionally honest in your relationship. Be transparent about what you want and what you’re feeling. It’s the key to building a sustainable future, fostering trust, and getting the support you need in your relationship.
3. Aim for security, not jealousy
Many people have a hard time grasping polyamory because they don’t understand how someone can share the person they love with someone else without getting jealous. They just don’t get how a person could watch their significant other have an intimate relationship with another person in front of them.
But the beauty of a healthy polyamorous relationship is that jealousy isn’t a part of it. It helps when everyone gets the care, love, and attention they need to feel secure.
Polyamorous people often talk about “compersion” as the opposite of jealousy. Compersion is like the joy you feel when a best friend meets a new love interest and you share their excitement, or the joy you feel when your partner gets a new job.
So in a consensual non-monogamous relationship, you would feel joy and compersion if your partner found another partner to spend romantic time with.
The lesson here is that when everyone’s needs are met, and we have emotional honesty in a relationship, jealousy shouldn’t be a problem. If you do find yourself feeling jealous or possessive of your partner, then approach them calmly with your concerns and any suggestions for helping you feel more secure, so that you can discuss them together.
It may be that you have needs that aren’t being met. It may be that there is something bigger which needs to be addressed. Either way, healthy communication is critical in keeping jealousy out of your relationship.
Even if we feel that a polyamorous relationship isn’t right for us right now, we can still learn a lot about ourselves and our relationships through them.
Review the lessons above and use these tips to ensure your relationship is healthy and rooted in happiness, whether polyamorous or not.
About the Author
Miles Oliver is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for politics, psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. He has lived and traveled all over the United States and continues to expand his awareness and experiences. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.