The saying may be that two’s company, three’s a crowd but that doesn’t always apply – particularly for polyamorous people. Literally translating as ‘many loves’, polyamory refers to those who have more than one romantic relationship at a time.
Sounds like cheating, right? Well, it’s not. A polyamorous relationship requires the consent and knowledge of all those involved. Nor is a polyamorous relationship about having ‘a bit on the side’ or swinging. Each relationship is intimate, trusting and emotional.
There’s far more to polyamory than meets the eye – and studies have even suggested it could be healthier for us than monogamy! So, let’s talk about polyamory…
Better Than Sex
The first thing many monogamous people wonder is how a polyamorous relationship works in the bedroom. Well, you can put those erotic thoughts to bed: it’s not an orgy night after night. There is a responsibility to emotionally satisfy and love each partner. This requires time, effort and personal touches – just like a monogamous relationship.
When Bondara met lifestyle dominatrix Madame Caramel earlier this year, we discussed her polyamorous relationship. While she lives with her fiancee and her daughter, she has two or three other men that she calls her ‘husbands’.
“Not every man can offer all that you need. My fiancee is the one that gives me the emotional attachment and connection. I like to play with him but there is a limitation. The other ones are my toy-boys.”
Madame Caramel practices a female led relationship with each of her partners. However, they are strictly forbidden from having any other partners themselves. Although they’re submissive, she emphasised that these men are not clients. As Madame Caramel proves, all polyamorous relationships are different and there is no ‘correct way’ to be poly.
The Ups and Downs
Polyamorous relationships still face the same problems as any monogamous relationship, although multiple partners can give additional pressure to such issues.
When a monogamous couple argue, it’s just the two of them but in a polyamorous relationship, it’s easy for an argument to snowball into something that affects everyone. Therefore, it’s important for each partner to remain neutral and know their boundaries.
Speaking of boundaries, there needs to be respect between all partners. While jealousy can make or break any relationship, it is particularly important here. As mentioned above, each partner offers a different, emotional connection and time alone together is vital. Of course, it needs to remain fair, but a polyamorous relationship is not tit for tat and equal attention cannot always be expected.
However, it seems that this is already understood. In a 2014 study, Terri Conley found that those in polyamorous relationships are generally less jealous than those in monogamous relationships. She also found that they tend to have a wider social network, are better communicators and have higher overall relationship satisfaction.
For those who choose to live in ‘family style polyamory’ (when all partners live in a singular group), it’s likely that, should any of them be parents, the children also live with them. While this is unconventional, Deakin University’s Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli has praised this set-up. Research suggests that children who grow up in this environment have a larger support system and grow up to be more accepting of cultural diversity.
Entering a Polyamorous Relationship
If you’re a monogamous person dating a polyamorous person, take a look at the relationship they have with their other partner(s). Is it something you can see yourself becoming a part of?
All partners involved in a polyamorous relationship must be aware of their position. Discuss where you would stand in this relationship; you don’t want to enter it with a misconception of how you fit in.
Polyamory may not be the norm and it certainly isn’t for everyone but, for many, it works. What do you think? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.