Even though it’s considered a branch of polyamory, I’m sure a lot of monogamous people would have something to gain from the principles of relationship anarchy.

I think everyone should consider the idea that relationships are constructed between individuals and so those individuals should get to set the terms of those relationships, not society.

This can mean atypical labels or no labels at all, hitting the stereotypical milestones on a different order, even better, defining your own milestones, deciding between yourselves what you are and aren’t comfortable with instead of letting your relationship decide that for you etc.

We just really need to push the idea of relationship anarchy into the open because I think that it will help a lot of people form better and healthier relationships.

Forgotten/ignored facts about polyamory
  • It is not cheating, so long as your partners are aware and consenting.
  • We don’t want to fuck everyone
  • We aren’t greedy
  • Not everyone in a relationship is dating everyone else. (ie, I can have a boyfriend, and a girlfriend, and neither of them is required to date the other)
  • Poly refers to Polynesia, not polyamory, and the people of Polynesia have been trying to reclaim it. The correct shortened term is ‘polya’ or ‘polyam’
  • It’s not the same thing as polysexual

Oi there’s nothing that says there can’t be chowder/farmer in polyfrogs. Dex/nursey/chowder can be a thing and so can chowder/farmer and I think that’s something more people should acknowledge? Because polya doesn’t have to be perfect little triangles or squares or whatever as long as everyone accepts what’s going on. So let chowder have his bros and also let him be with farmer because Chris chow deserves ALL THE THINGS.

Reflections from one year of polyamory

So here I am, just over a year into this journey of being in polyamorous relationships, and I get to reflecting. “What are some of the most important things I’ve learned?” I ask myself. “What do I know now that before I didn’t know?”

I realized quickly that the answer was something sort of unexpected:

polyamory is nothing like I thought it was going to be.

When I learned that I was polyamorous I read several books and hundreds of articles, watched videos and listened to podcasts, had hours upon hours of conversations with my partner and my friends and family, and I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I was wrong.

As I started to get into the thought, and started reflecting on experiences with partners and metamours, breakups and new relationship energy, I realized that above and beyond being nothing like I thought it was going to be,

polyamory is the exact opposite of what I expected.

Just over a year ago I was a lost and confused person in a monogamous relationship. I had feelings for people other than my partner (E), including but not limited to my ex (J), and these feelings were so heavy on my conscience that I was entirely convinced I was an evil and terrible person.

“I have such an amazing partner,” I thought, “what the fuck is so wrong with me that I can’t just be satisfied/faithful/happy?”

When I eventually explained polyamory and then suggested (read: begged) that we try a polyamorous relationship structure, there were some pretty specific things on my mind:

  1. I wanted to salvage a relationship in which I felt generally trapped and restrained and therefore empty and unfulfilled (E).
  2. I had unrequited feelings for someone I’d known for five years and had never been allowed to wholly be with ©.
  3. I had residual feelings for someone I’d previously ended a relationship with because I wanted to pursue another person (J).
  4. I had interest in someone I’d met under circumstances that would likely prevent the expression of that interest (S).

I expected that polyamory would make me feel less trapped, and would allow me some relief from feeling like a terrible person for not being monogamous.

Realizing that I was polyamorous did lead me to a more authentic self, but it made me feel like an even more terrible person because of the way it affected my partner (E) who was ultimately monogamous. It wasn’t until this relationship ended that I started to find relief from the guilt I was carrying. Despite my expectations it wasn’t polyamory that freed me of the guilt, it was leaving an unhealthy relationship.

I also expected that being able to have polyamorous relationships would mean I could finally feel comfortable about the fact that I had so many open doors with past partners.

But instead of making me more comfortable with all the open doors I had in my life, polyamory instead taught me how to close them.

  1. I expected polyamory to save my relationship, and instead it ended it (E).
  2. I expected polyamory to give me the chance to be with someone I had always wanted and never been able to have, and instead it gave me closure about them ©.
  3. I expected polyamory to be ideal for a romantic relationship with my ex, and instead it twisted our friendship beyond recognition (J).
  4. I expected polyamory to scare away a person I barely knew, and instead it sparked a beautiful, loving, and supportive relationship (S).

In each case, I thought polyamory would help me achieve one thing, and it turned out to be the cause of the exact opposite thing. Importantly, I thought I knew what I had wanted and needed when I began this journey with polyamory, and I was wrong. Everything that has happened has been healing and growing and net positive, and I have found what I needed in the things I thought were worst case scenarios.

In the past year I have closed the door on three relationships with people whom I truly believed would always be a part of my life. Each was a special kind of pain, and each time it was entirely necessary that the door be closed, and that I feel it and learn and grow.

Without these experiences, without this clearing out of this space, I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am now; I wouldn’t have had room in my life and in my heart for all the love and the beauty and the art I have come to need it for.

polyamory has taught me not how to hoard love or relationships,

but how to do what you can, and let the rest go.

Polyamory and breakups

Being in polyamorous relationships, for me, has meant that I intentionally and critically question and talk through every aspect of a relationship with any person I am entering said relationship with.

It has meant a tremendous amount of effort put toward open and honest communication, with the goal of eliminating silent expectations.

In the beginning of a relationship, I invest a lot of time into the conversation of “who are we to each other?”

Whether we choose commonly used terms like “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” or create our own language to describe the relationship, it is always followed by:

“what does that mean to you?”

Putting this effort in on the front end helps lay a foundation for successful communication about issues that come up within the relationship.

So what about when the relationship ends?

In monogamy, when a relationship ends, there are a series of actions that are expected to occur, immediately:

  • Cease all forms of physical contact, intimacy, or tenderness
  • Change communication to platonic, or cease communication
  • Sever all ties to close friends and family of the other person
  • Inform others promptly of the split
  • Separate shared assets, divide belongings
  • Cease cohabitation if it is taking place
  • etc.

In polyamory, with relationships that are as complicated and nuanced as the individuals within them, the process of breaking up is far less clear.

Is this a shift in the nature of our relationship, or a termination of it?
Are we ending our relationship romantically? Physically? Both?
Does this come from incompatibility, disinterest, or a lack of love? Something else altogether?
What will change, and what will not change?

Every single individual aspect of the relationship that was originally negotiated becomes re-negotiated during the process of breaking up, ending, changing, shifting, or re-evaluating an existing relationship.

It’s a parallel conversation through and through.

What will you call me in the new relationship we are entering?
Who will I be to you after this transition?

Will our relationship include sexual or physical components?
Are we terminating the sexual and physical components of this relationship?

How will you expect me to support you when things are difficult?
Is my emotional support still warranted, or should I redirect that energy?

In my opinion, a breakup that comes from incompatibility, versus a breakup that comes from abuse or lack of love, can usually be approached with tenderness and care by the individuals involved.

All the time and energy that went into constructing a relationship that was meant to fit the people involved can be brought to the process of breaking that relationship up.

This compassionate approach to ending a relationship can result in a lot of wonderful things:

  • Closure about why the relationship needs to change or end
  • Explanation for the ways that things did and didn’t work
  • Termination of parts of the relationship that are damaging
  • Potential to salvage parts of the relationship that are still positive
  • Potential to maintain a compassionate and loving approach to the people involved
  • Knowledge of self and others
  • Ability to express needs, wants, etc. that might not have been expressed in the relationship

Breaking up can be sad and frustrating and overwhelming and exhausting, but if the people involved care deeply about each other it is possible for breaking up to be a new beginning in the same moment as it is an end.

“Polyam people are just greedy!”

HOW?! Polyamory is the opposite of greed. Greed is taking an entire cake and hissing at everyone even slightly interested in a bite. Polyamory is taking a slice of cake and not even trying to keep anyone else from it. It is generosity at its finest. It only looks greedy to you because you’re too scared of me just hanging out with some cake to take a slice for yourself.

I wish I had some kind of super early screening process for people I consider for a relationship. Some way to find out for sure if the reason they’re interested in me is respectful of my boyfriend and I both - that they’d be willing to work in a polycule and would understand the different things that go along with that… Or whether they’re just interested in the thrill of deceit.

It would be SO much easier if polyamory was widely acknowledged as a legitimate choice. But I guess I’m the first step in that education process, eh?