Monday, April 23, 2012

Articulating a Polyamorous Marriage

Wendy interviewed a polyamorous friend with some great questions I wish would be presented and answered this well to a wide audience more often. David is marred to a woman.

Do you tend to enter into a new romantic relationship together with your wife, or do you each have separate partners outside of the relationship? If separate, how much interaction do you have with each other’s partners, if any?

It has certainly been both. We’ve dated the same person, we’ve dated other poly couples, and we’ve both dated individuals completely independent of each other. When dating separate partners outside of the relationship, there has usually been a fair bit of interaction with the other partner. My wife has dated some men who were actually far closer friends with me before they started dating then they were with her. That hasn’t always been the case and there have also been outside partners who, usually because of time and/or distance, don’t have that much interaction. Basically my wife and I are best friends, so even in situations where, for example, I’m dating someone where there isn’t mutual attraction between them and my wife, they still interact with her as much as they would if I was room-mates with my best friend. The same has gone the other way as well.
This is the way it is for them. With other poly couples, things could be different.
Are there ever circumstances where either of you struggle with jealousy? If so, how do you overcome it?

I often chuckle when I explain what poly is and get the response, “I could never do that because I feel too much jealousy”. It’s kind of like saying, “I could never eat a healthy diet because I’m too hungry a person”. Jealousy has been a fading issue for both my wife and I over the years. It’s a completely natural emotion but like the desire to eat a dozen doughnuts in one sitting, it’s one that giving into reduces happiness in the long term. I think the greatest defence against jealousy is something called compersion. Compersion is a term the joy one gets when seeing one’s partner experience happiness caused by an outside source. My wife sees me excited about reading a really great book, she may get a little miffed about the time I’m spending on it but her being happy for me outweighs that. In the same light, when I see her come home from a date grinning ear to ear, I may feel a twinge of jealousy but that’s nothing compared to how great it feels seeing someone I love that happy. The last thing I will say on the jealousy question is that in many ways being poly creates fewer reasons for being jealous. I actually was reminded of this when I first met up with you to discuss this interview. When I told my wife I was going out at 1 in the morning to visit with a woman and “talk about an interview”, her response was, “don’t forget you’re bringing the kids into daycare tomorrow”. She had no reason to be jealous because she knew I had no reason to lie to her about my activities. I imagine a lot of monogamous couples, although certainly not all, would have more difficulty in that situation.
I would republish the whole thing, but that wouldn't be fair to Wendy. Go read it all. She wraps it up with this, which is so right...

What might seem strange or scary to one person can be completely normal and perfectly healthy to another person. There is no single right way to live. Whether you are straight, gay, monogamous, polyamorous, transgendered, bisexual, or something else: if you’re happy, then you’re doing it right.
If it is what works for you, then that's what matters.
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