I first started reading about Polyamory as a relationship style about 10 years ago, and I was deeply challenged by the concept in every way. What occurred to me was how confident within yourself, and in your connection with your partner, you would have to be, to successfully pull off such a thing. A profound self-awareness would need to be matched by the skills required to communicate it, while armed with a bulletproof self-esteem and a sick fascination with emotional pain. What kind of wild roller-coaster ride would this look like? It sounded like extreme sports for the heart! I was intrigued.
While these are some of the qualities I do aspire to, what fascinates me the most about the idea of Polyamory is the potential for interesting relationship dynamics, followed closely by the opportunity for personal growth. Nothing will bring your deep-seated sense of inadequacy and fear of abandonment to the surface faster and with more purity of force, than the mere suggestion of the introduction a new person into your relationship. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. But for the brave, (or stupid) this is a fast-track to the very root of your emotional pain. This process has the ability to pin-point with stunning accuracy the areas of much needed healing. If you are willing to face up to and work through your fears and insecurities, the rewards can be immense.
You see, for centuries monogamy has been the societal norm. And myself being a person who relentlessly questions societal norms, I had to ask why? It hasn’t always been this way. And it certainly doesn’t seem to be in our nature to mate-for-life. So who made the rules? And who decreed that monogamy is the only right way to do relationships?
Well, in actual fact, it is we who make the rules. We as a society collectively decide what we find acceptable and unacceptable to us. And history has shown that what we find acceptable and unacceptable changes and shifts over time. I’m sensing the tide is changing around how we do relationships. Monogamy is not working for many of us.
It’s true that jealousy is one of the very worse feelings one can experience. But avoiding taking ownership of that feeling, drilling down into it, and finding out what it is really about, and instead deciding to ban the behaviour that causes it to surface, has allowed us to remain sick in a sense. Now we are more insecure, clinging and controlling than ever before.
It seems to me that our fear of facing these uncomfortable feelings, like jealousy and fear of abandonment, has led us to cling to monogamy, as if monogamy could offer us some immunity from this pain. When the truth is that monogamy offers no such protection. Only the promise of such security, with or without a solemn oath. Then the betrayal is all the more bitter when we find we have been lied to and cheated on by a trusted partner. There is never any guarantee that your lover will not leave you for another. This is the vulnerability of love.
Picture now, if you will, a relationship where it is ok to talk about feelings of attraction to other persons. You can discuss it, and even fantasise together. The power of the allure is somewhat lessoned, because the law of wanting-what-you-cannot-have is broken. Now you can make an objective decision; do I really want this? Maybe … maybe not. Trust is increased between you, because you can be more confident that feelings of attraction will be shared, not kept secret. There are still no guarantees, but at least the lines of communication are more open.
So you see, even if you never end up introducing a new person into your relationship, the principles of Polyamory can be of great benefit. Even by just being open to them, Polyamory principles are for everyone!