Last night, I watched a documentary on Our America with Lisa Ling titled, “I Love You, and You…and You” (link below). I was pleased to see the subject of polyamory respectfully explored on a mainstream network such as OWN. In her casual and straightforward journalistic style, Lisa Ling brought me into the loving lives of two poly families, one as near as Philadelphia. I appreciated their transparency and courage to allow viewers an intimate look at their shared lives.
To continue the demystification of polyamory, I’ve addressed 5 misconceptions below.
1) Polyamory is a way to avoid commitment. I think this may be the biggest misconception out there. Polyamory takes commitment to a whole new level. When a couple decides to open up their relationship, they take great care to communicate, communicate, communicate. These couples, or triads or quads, etc. care deeply about each other’s needs, desires and hurts. They painstakingly attend to their partner’s concerns. They help ensure that their partners feel heard, seen and safe in the arrangement. Poly couples put in a lot of time and commitment to stay connected and in tune to each other.
2) Polyamory is all about sex. Unfortunately, polyamory is often equated to swinging, a vastly different practice. Polyamory literally means many loves. Poly couples open themselves up to other intimate relationships that may or may not include sex. Swinging is exclusively about sex. Swingers do not usually want their partners to become intimately connected to another person.
3) Poly couples are unsatisfied with each other. Poly couples tend to regard each of their relationships separate from one another. Poly couples do not expect their initial partner to be able to meet all of their needs. They respect their initial partner for all that this person brings to their relationship. They do not pressure their partner to be someone else or do more than they are able. They understand that each has wants, needs and desires that may be sparked by another person.
4) Poly couples do not experience jealousy. When a couple decides to become polyamorous, that does not mean they stop being human! Becoming poly creates a new level of vulnerability and risk in the relationship. In order to survive the difficult emotions that arise, these couples must stay open, honest and communicate frequently and consistently. There is a word used in the polyamorous community called compersion. In it’s simplest form, this term means to fully accept and feel joy for the joy your partner receives from someone else. Compersion is hard and requires partners to face their fears and insecurities. Yet when a partner feels real, authentic compersion, their relationships soar.
5) Polyamory is a free for all. Far from it! When a couple decides to become poly, they typically have extensive discussions on the impact of their decision, their expectations are of each other, what’s not allowed or accepted, how often they will check in with each other, and on and on and on. Polyamory requires structure in order for it to be successful.
It’s important to do your research if you are interested in opening your relationship to others. For a helpful resource, click here. If you’d like to see the documentary by Lisa Ling, click here: Our America