I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the following 4 things: communication, time management, jealousy, and appreciation. In my mind, these are the 4 things you need to grasp as someone who’s in poly relationships. I will describe those 4 things below.
First, communication. Of course, you need communication in every type of relationship, be it with friends, in monogamy, or in polyamory. Some argue, especially in polyamory. I have written before that polyamory is more than anything a communication style. We have to be open about what and who we want, what kind of sex we want, etc. We also need to master, what I call, the art of the heads up. Say for example, you’re at a party with a partner. If you anticipate flirting with other people, let your partner know. You can let them know either before or during. If you get separated from each other and you flirt with someone else, you can let them know afterward. In polyamory, we often talk about “processing.” After something significant happens, we talk about it with our partner(s). So, you can see that communication is so important. For myself, I am a very verbal person. I like it when people tell me things and I like telling people things. Some of my friends know that it can be hard for me to keep my mouth shut. That’s one of the reasons why poly works for me. If I meet someone I like, I will tell my partner(s) and probably my friends as well.
Next, time management. If you have more than 1 relationship, scheduling can be an issue. For someone like me, it is especially a challenge because I like having hobbies; I play ultimate frisbee, I dance, and I write poetry. Plus, most of us need to work. There are only so many hours in a day! Last year, I saw a talk by Tristan Taormino, author of one of the poly bibles Opening Up. She said that a poly person must have invented Google calendar- it has lots of colours and different means of scheduling things. I have been in relationships with people who use it and I have to say, it’s so gratifying when you see their calendar and your name is on it. I try to schedule my time as fairly as I can. It can be difficult when people want to see me and I have to say no. Also, the amount of time you spend with people is often indicative of how important they are to you. Be sure to sit down with your partner(s) and see what they feel is fair.
Thirdly, jealousy. I have had both positive and negative experiences with it. By positive, I mean that it can show you how much you care about the person. However, if it takes over your life, it will feel very negative at times. In my experience, communication defeats jealousy. The more you talk about things, the better you will feel. A friend of mine said that defeating jealousy requires good communication and a healthy sense of self. If you can realize how important you are to your partner, jealousy should not be an issue. Your partner(s) should also be reminding you how important you are to them. We also have to realize how much love there is to go around. After all, one of the reasons we became poly was because we wanted to love, or at least have the opportunity to love, more than 1 person. Our culture sometimes reminds us that things are scarce, but love isn’t one of those things.
Finally, appreciation. Awhile back, I was with 2 people who complemented each other almost perfectly. I felt very fulfilled and as a bonus, the 2 of them got along very well. I reminded them as often as I could what I appreciated about them. In poly, everyone brings something to the table. I really wish we didn’t feel the need for hierarchy though this seems to naturally happen. Ideally, everyone should be recognized as bringing something unique into our lives. Secondaries should not be made to feel secondary. They ought to be recognized for who they are.
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