Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Introducing Polyamory

How does one introduce polyamory to someone else?

Not by getting caught cheating, that's for sure. That's not polyamory.

Nor it is ideal to try to introduce polyamory to someone when there has been an established commitment to, and expectation of, monogamy in the relationship. But there are times when someone in a relationship that supposed to be monogamous realizes she or he is polyamorous, or at least better suited to polyamory than monogamy. This should only happen to a person once. A person should not be getting into monogamous relationship after monogamous relationship and ending each one by "realizing" he or she is polyamorous.

Most likely, the other person in what was established as a monogamous relationship is not going to want to continue the relationship, or will try to tell himself or herself he or she can handle their partner being polyamorous, but it turns out they won't.

The ideal time to introduce someone to polyamory is before there is an establishment of monogamy.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

In order to introduce it, one needs to be able to explain it. Polyamory means being in a romantic, dating, sexual, or marital relationship with more than one person, under agreement by all.

A person may be polyamorous even if she of he isn't seeing anyone at that time in her or his life, so a person can definitely be polyamorous even if she or he is only seeing one person.

Someone who is polyamorous will find it easier to stick to seeing people who already know of polyamory and are either poly themselves, or are willing to have a love interest who is polyamorous. There are websites and organizations where one can meet other poly people (see below.) There is more and more awareness, so the numbers are growing.

It is possible to introduce someone to the concept, it is just more difficult.

My recommendation? Nobody should assume monogamy, no matter how many dates they've had with someone or what they have done on those dates. Unless there has been a discussion with mutual agreement about how they're going to be monogamous with each other and what exactly that means (would heterosexual-he still be free to have lunch alone with other women for business? friendship?)

I do think it is best to be upfront with a date about why you're dating, whether you just want some temporary companionship, wanted to get to know the other person better, want a monogamous relationship, want a polyamorous relationship, are dating to eventually find a spouse, etc. But the poly person can date someone and not say anything that would lead that other person to believe he or she is promising monogamy. Conversely, though, one need not volunteer exactly what he or she will be doing when not available to the other person. "I have plans" should be enough, if there has been no agreement or commitment otherwise.

When the other person brings up exclusivity or monogamy, the poly person can then point out that she or he is not able or not desiring to be monogamous; that she or he has the desire or need (whichever it is for them; not everyone is the same) and ability to have steady relationships with more than one person. That is where the explanation of polyamory comes in. The poly person can then explain what her or his needs as far as partners in terms of sexual and social boundaries and information. The poly person might want exclusivity from all of her or his partners or might not, and if not, might want to be informed of what happens with others or might not.

It is up to the other person, as it always is, if she or he wants to continue seeing the poly person or not. She or he may even discover that polyamory is for them. Or, she or he may need mutual monogamy, and no longer see the poly person, and that's okay.

Monogamy has been presented as the only way, despite most people not being lifelong monogamists in practice. This lingering, one-size-fits-all imposition is being lifted somewhat, but for now, polyamorists are still likely to have a lot of 'splainin to do and much prejudice and rejection to endure.

These are just a few of the websites that can help in explaining polyamory and connecting with other polyamorists...
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