When initially contemplating this piece, I was unsure of where to begin. What message was I trying to convey and what line was I presuming to cross? Did I want to educate, relate, or flat out retaliate to the ideas presented to me about a foreign, but equally intriguing topic. The conversation at hand is the definition of polyamory and how this lifestyle choice has changed the way we love and are loved. Never in my wildest thoughts did I imagine I could digest the ideals of a polyamorous life, but then, as always, I met someone who kindly changed my perspective.
As a precursor, I want the following to be pristine and unapologetically clear: I am not attempting to change a mindset or bring about the battle of monogamy vs not. I am however, attempting to share my lens on something eye opening and exciting to me, hoping that you too will find a spark of care in an “alternative” way of life. After all, educating ourselves on many communities and human perspectives is what gets us closer to universal love.
Now, all disclaimers aside, I would like to expose my thought process as follows: Firstly, the traditional definition of polyamory refers to the state of being romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. Contrary to my initial belief, romance is the key aspect of poly life. It’s the ability to give and have “many loves”, not just one central affiliation that defines you. When this was presented to me by a polyamorous man it truly made my wheels turn as to how society and church have viewed poly life and in turn had skewed my views on the subject. As a non-informed bystander on the subject, I originally thought poly meant having various sexual interactions while emanating a natural “disregard” for human need and emotion. Yet, what I discovered was so much more.
At the heart of polyamory is a sex positive culture and an immeasurable amount of consent for all involved. Whether stated verbally or in written form, if you agree to poly terms you are agreeing to ethical non monogamy. ENM is built upon the bricks of respect, consideration, and a yes means yes – no means no accord. A true polyamorous community is forged upon filling emotional voids with colossal amounts of love, the exception being that the main source of love no longer comes from one, it comes from many. On initial impact, I couldn’t truly resonate with this idea. I kept asking myself, could I love more than one person at the same moment in time? Or could I get certain things out of each partner and be completely at ease with him doing the same? Wouldn’t the emotions that conjure jealousy and envy come perch on my mind’s bench? Genuinely I still have no answer, but what I learnt next made me even more aware of what I was willing to take on.
Free of false pretenses and judgements, polyamory is all encompassing and forever accepting. There is no such thing as oppression for women mentally or emotionally, or slut shaming and a sex negative outlook on your preferences. All beings are allowed to follow their funk and be their truest self. Every form of you is allowed, whether in bed or out. This sense of I’m “not gonna yuck your yum” embraces whatever you classify as yours. Whether it’s a bisexual journey, a dive into kink, or the want to connect emotionally and talk through past traumas. The honesty of communication and fluid connection is paramount.
A common mistake made is the defining of poly orient as a “swingers” mentality. Where “swinging” is centered around the art of sex and the refusal to fall in love, poly life is defined by its ethical practices and consent, as previously mentioned. So what then, does it look like to engage in a polyamorous commonality? It looks like a teetering harmony between what you know and what you can know more of. It looks like that one time you loved your ex while you loved on your current significant other, all the while knowing it was okay to do so. It looks like compersion.
Though not a doctrine I had heard of before, compersion is the feeling of joy one has when experiencing another’s joy. Or rather simply put by my mysterious polyamorous man: I’m loving your love. Not only did I venerate in this term, I thought holistically about how this one word could impact all beings. Is compersion not something we can all embrace, whether poly or not? Does one have to be romantically involved in multiple humans to love their love?
Of course not, but I am rapidly developing an understanding of the beauty within polyamorous principles. It’s not about how kinky your kink can get, or how many lovers you can keep in your circle. It’s about trust, guidance, and appreciation for all energies. Sure, it is unthinkable for some, but so was women’s rights at one point, and here we are now, fighting for what is ours. So I ask, what makes this love any less authentic?
It’s a sort of cognitive dissonance that makes this all so human and sensible. Your ability to hold two alternative beliefs but sit comfortably in them is another epic part of polyamorous life. It is the idea that “I am accepting of seeing my partner with someone else, but I’m feeling a certain way that is making me uneasy”. This sense of jealousy or insecurity is then talked about instead of being swept under the proverbial rug. I begin to wonder, if all relationships were carried with this candor, wouldn’t it be a healthy upheaval? As a woman who was raised by monogamist parents I was conditioned to believe that one partner was the rule and not the exception. Twenty some odd years later, I’m seeking to think differently.
Written by Brittni Alahmar