If you’ve been keeping up with all the Poly Means Many posts so far, by now you’ll have a pretty good idea of how non-monogamous relationships work in theory. But we all know that putting a theory into practise can be tricky, especially where relationships are concerned! After all, people rarely do what we expect them to 100% of the time. Just as every monogamous couple has issues with things their partner does and doesn’t do – however small – polyamorous folk have the same issues. Having more than one partner doesn’t automatically mean there will be more drama in your life though, as that depends on the personalities of the people involved, so the daily life of a poly person is often not that different to that of a monogamous person who has lots of friends. OK, so there is the added aspect of sex between some of those people, but not all the time. Believe it or not, you can’t assume that someone who’s polyamorous is having way more sex than you. Most relationships are so much more than physical, so why should we be any different?
As far as I’m concerned, making it work involves three main aspects: time management, keeping your word, plus a bit of give and take. Good use of diaries is essential for effective time management, and sharing your Google Calendar with your partners, lovers and metamours is an easy way of doing that. At a glance you can see when a date night could be scheduled in, when a lover is out of town with their domestic partner, or when a group of you are free to have dinner or see a show. However, it’s all too easy to rely solely on the calendar and forget that you’re dealing with human beings who have emotions. Sometimes it’s best to mention dates with other people (especially someone new) to a partner directly rather than letting them see it in the diary first. Everyone likes to know where they stand so, if there is any doubt on this, it can be best to clarify. After all, just because you’re spending time with someone new, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have less time for them, right?
Making plans and sticking to them is absolutely vital. Everyone has to postpone/cancel once in a while, but it can become impossible to manage three or more online diaries if someone keeps changing their plans. Also, cancelling a date with one partner to spend time with another, or saying “you don’t mind if X tags along too, do you?” is only really acceptable in emergency situations. Just as anyone would probably be fine having plans cancelled by a friend who needed to provide emotional support in a crisis or look after a sick loved one, but would resent being dumped at the last minute by a best friend who decides their new lover is more interesting, poly folk need to know where to draw the line. A bit of give and take is always necessary in relationships, but even more so when you add in more people. It may be your regular date night but, if your girlfriend’s lover has just lost her job, it’s easy to see why she’d want to cancel.
So, essentially, polyamorous relationships work just like any other relationships between larger groups of people. They can be like family units or close knit friendship groups. There are sometimes misunderstandings, hurt feelings and arguments, but most of the time it’s just adults going about their lives. Monogamy is a concept so ingrained in our society that it can be tricky to see that anything different to that isn’t necessarily exciting, depraved or emotionally damaging. Most of the time, it’s just a different version of “normal”.
Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month six bloggers – ALBJ, An Open Book, More Than Nuclear, One Sub’s Mission, Post Modern Sleaze, and Rarely Wears Lipstick – will write about their views on one of them.