Poly means many, amor means love

Everyone knows what love is. That warm feeling you get simply because another person exists. The joy you get from having that person around. Pretty much everyone knows what romantic love feels like too. That person you feel unbelievably happy to be around and also extremely sad to be parted from. A person whose happiness matters to you as much as your own. What a lot of people don’t realise though, is that some of the rules they think apply to romantic love are in fact part of the social construct of monogamy and not actually an aspect of love itself. Take, for example, the idea that we can only feel for one person at a time with this particular type of love. Some people assume that this is what makes romantic love different to every other type of love. You can love all of your family, all of your children and all of your friends, but only one lover at a time. Those are the rules, right? But… why should one type of love be different to the others in this respect?

First of all, let’s take sex out of the equation completely. Forget about that part. Put those thoughts in a big suitcase in your mind and then pack it away on an out-of-reach shelf. We’re going to think about some different types of love now and I don’t want any naughtiness clouding your judgement. Now, think of the love that you feel for your friends. It’s quite possible that you have lots of different friends that you care for in various ways who you enjoy spending time with for a whole host of reasons. What if someone said you could only have one of those friends? Only the friend who loves the same movies as you, or the one you love arguing politics with. Choose the person you have exciting days out with, or the person you enjoy quiet evenings in with. Not both. What if someone said you had to choose between the adults who brought you up and pick a favourite? What if someone suggested that you couldn’t love a second or third child at all, because you already have one? Now, doesn’t that all sound utterly ridiculous?

Someone once asked me to choose between cheese and chocolate, which I eventually decided was an impossible task. I love the texture, taste and variety of cheese and of chocolate, but they are not interchangeable. You can’t replace cheese with chocolate on a pizza and you can’t add cheese to coffee. I love these two foodstuffs equally but in completely different ways and could never choose between the two, because they are not the same. Just like people. Why did you love the first person you ever fell for? Chances are it was for completely different reasons to the second person. I love my primary partner in ways that I will never love anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that I have no love left to give to other people. Love is not finite. If you stop viewing people as a way to complete you and start seeing them as individuals, it frees your mind to consider a whole host of possibilities. Each person can be your “one and only”, but only because they are unique.

When I realised that it was possible to love more than one person, it was like a revelation. I’m not saying that everyone in the world is capable of loving more than one person in a romantic way – or that they would all want to – just that the concept of love not being a finite resource shouldn’t be that tricky to grasp. It might not be the right choice for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. We love so many people in our lives in so many different ways – how can the idea of more than one lover be difficult to understand? I grasped the theory before I ever had any practical experience and that turned out to be very useful indeed. Once I knew in my mind that this was possible, as soon as I met someone else I could fall in love with, I did. I loved her for completely different reasons to my long-term partner as, well, they were and are two entirely different people. Why would I love them the same way?

As with every other aspect of my romantic relationships, polyamory has helped me to better understand how and why I feel things. I have fallen very much in love with three different people in recent years, and the fact that I am unquestionably devoted to the man I’ve been living with since the start of the century has not meant that I have loved these three people any less than I could have. In each case, I loved the person as much as I would if they were my only partner. Love is not the same as the amount of time you spend together, the number of gifts, or the amount you depend on one another. It’s different for every person, but there’s definitely not just a fixed amount of it. After all, have you ever said, “just when I didn’t think it was possible to love you more…”?

There are as many ways of loving as there are people to love. Look past all the clichd love songs and you will find that love can be even more fulfilling than you ever though possible.

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.

7 thoughts on “Poly means many, amor means love

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  1. I love your cheese and chocolate analogy 😀

    Also, I love how we sort of came at the same thought from different angles! “There are as many ways of loving as there are people to love.” Couldn't agree more. Fantastic post, honest and powerful xx

  2. Great post! I found that recognising the concept of polyamory made my first experience a lot easier. Especially my first experience of my primary partner falling for someone else!

    I've wondered whether I thought I should be Ok with it more than I actually felt I was. But in the end, I just cut myself some slack and let myself feel what I felt, whilst trying to learn how to feel the way I wanted to. Kind of loving two feelings at once, if that makes any sense.

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