Lately I have been feeling like a poly fraud, or maybe a poly failure. I love polyamory, I love all that it has brought to who I am as a person, and I believe in the concept wholeheartedly. My partner and I talk about polyamory almost ever day, and I am open with my friends and family about that part of my life and beliefs. I have a tattoo on my wrist that proclaims to all that I am polyamorous. So then, if being poly and talking about poly is an every part of my life why do I feel like a failure? What makes me think I could be a fraud?
I am not going to follow the cliché and say that you cannot love someone until you can love yourself. I do not agree or believe in that, and I think that It runs the risk of making people who have depression or self-esteem issues feel unworthy of love. We live in a world where we are constantly told to strive for more, to buy more items, lose weight, or look a certain way. The most helpful thing I have found is to remind myself that the feeling of inadequacy is being put onto me, it is a marketing tool and it is not inherent within me. I know firsthand that is so very hard to be comfortable in who you are and put yourself out there. Yet, polyamory is essentially dating and putting yourself out there forever.
It helps to put myself out there knowing that I do not have to be perfect in every way, that what I have to offer can enhance someone’s life and I do not have to worry about someone else being better. If my partner were to meet someone who was conventionally more attractive, intelligent or wealthy they could have us both.
It is a myth we are all taught that one person will be perfect and meet all of your needs forever. People have a variety of different wants and needs that may change over a lifetime and may even conflict with one another. How do I reconcile in one person the fact that I need both stability and unpredictability? The answer is you can’t. In a monogamous model that conflict is where you have to start compromising things that you may want, or move on to a new relationship. In polyamory you can have all of the things that you want, just maybe not in the same partner. You do not have to compromise or feel guilty for things that you want or need. Even better though, is you do not have to provide absolutely everything for your partner. No one is perfect, and it takes a lot of pressure off if you know up front that you do not need to fulfill every need, you can still bring something special to the table. You can take comfort knowing that if there is a need of your partner that you can not fill, they do not have to compromise or go without just because they love you, they can still get that need filled and they can go on loving you.
Somehow we have glorified sacrifice and compromise especially in relationships. I think that this is a unsustainable way of living. Most people can only go so long with suppressing something that they want before they start building up resentment or they go out and get that need met by whatever means they can. The small group of people that can go a lifetime with a set of wants or need going un met are giving up a part of who they are, and I do not think that is anything but sad. All of my feelings are valid, and I should not have to go without, feel guilty, or make my partner feel guilty for feelings that I do not even have control over. How many of your needs did you actively choose? So why should you have conflicted feelings about inherent parts of who you are? Then, even more is it fair to make your partner feel inadequate for who they are in being unable to be one hundred percent perfect all the time. I would answer that my choice is to try to make sure everyone involved is responsible for their own needs getting met.
It is not true that only someone with low self-esteem would let a partner “sleep around” or look at other people, but it is a comment that I have heard before. In my opinion, it takes high self-esteem to be confident that your partner is experiencing all that they can and that you are still worth them coming back to. Polyamory is not an easy path, and knowing that you deserve everything you want in life, not compromising and then putting yourself out there to go after your own happiness takes quite a lot of courage and belief in yourself. So don’t let the doubters tell you otherwise.
The simplest definition of polyamory is ethical non-monogamy. Emphasis on the ethical part. Polyamory means everyone involved is aware of the relationship dynamic and has given free consent to participating. What that means to you can vary widely though, everyone can poly in the way that is the best fit for them. However there are some general structures that seem to show up repeatedly with some variation.
As a basic concept polyamory is the practice of having multiple sexual and/or romantic relationships at the same time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Literally the word means “many loves”. Although, within the polyamory community, and to each individual it may mean many different things. There is a bit of contention about what constitutes being polyamorous.
A really great Q & A from LesbianAnswers on polyamory.
A really great video about polyamory from Ted talks by Leon Feingold. One of my favorite poly videos.
One of the most common questions that I get when talking about polyamory is why I feel that it is best for me. Well, to sum it up I would say the freedom to let my life and the people that I meet develop however they will. I want to live life the fullest way possible, and for me polyamory is a big part of that. There is a lot to it, and I will explore it as I post more, but this is a start!