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Introduction to Polyamory

[caption id="attachment_30" align="alignright" width="250" caption="By Konrad Mostert @ stock.XCHNG"]By Konrad Mostert @ stock.XCHNG[/caption] (I originally posted this at shadowkin {dot} com) My husband and I are polyamorous. Some of you may know what that term means. Others of you may not. This article will hopefully give you a brief overview into the meaning behind the word, as well as some of the benefits and drawbacks of such a lifestyle.  
What does "polyamory" mean?:
The word "polyamory" is derived from the Greek word poly (several) and the Latin word amor (love).  The word can be used to describe a couple of things:
  • The nature of a relationship (I am in a polyamorous relationship)
  • A person's lifestyle/lovestyle (I am polyamorous)
The practice of polyamory involves openness towards individuals being able to have multiple, simultaneous loving relationships with everyone aware of the existence of the other relationships.   While a certain level of intimacy is implied in these relationships, sex with multiple partners is not a requirement for a relationship to be polyamorous.  It is possible to build loving, intimate relationships without having sex (or, at least traditionally defined sex, but I digress...).  
What are the drawbacks of polyamory:
A lot of times we hear about the Pro's before the Con's. I'm starting with the Con's first.  The biggest drawback is that it doesn't work for everyone, and it may or may not work for you.  Here's a couple of things that you need to be aware of if you are starting to consider a polyamorous lifestyle:
  • It requires a lot of self-awareness.You need to be in tune with your motivations and emotions. You also need to have an understanding of your own personal flaws, or be willing to discover them through trial and error.  
  • Along those lines, you will have to face your own insecurities.  Jealousy is something that most polyamorous people have to deal with at one point or another.  The root of jealousy is typically a fear that we are losing out because someone's attention is focused elsewhere - either on another person or activity. You need to be able to recognize jealousy for what it is and be able to deal with it internally or voice your concerns effectively  
  • It requires communication skills. Some people have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings. Others have issues with expressing their feelings in a manner that isn't accusing or threatening.  
  • There is a greater demand on your time.  Different relationships require different amounts of time to meet your partner(s) needs. Sadly, there's only so many hours in a day for sleep, work, chores, fun, and romance. You may need to find creative ways to balance your busy schedule.  
  • Potential partners may be scarce.While polyamory is becoming more and more mainstream, it may still be difficult for you to find partners that are willing to accept that they may not be the only one you love.   
  • Mom may not approve.  Depending on how conservative your parents are, coming out of the closet as poly may be a harrowing experience.
What are the advantages of polyamory?
Hopefully I haven't scared you away yet.
  • You learn more about yourself. Self-discovery can be scary at times, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. Through personal exploration you become more aware of your own needs, and what is required to fulfill them.  
  • You (hopefully) develop effective communicaton skills.  
  • In cases of cohabitation - the potential for financial stability.  In this day and age, it can be difficult for a household with two incomes to be able to handle the bills and a house payment. If  there are additional working adults in the household, the financial expenses can potentially be made more managable. In addition, the multi-income household could allow one or more of the partners to shift to part-time work or go back to school without causing an excessive financial burden.  
  • Child care needs can be divided among multiple adults. Children need love, affection, and a stable environment in order to thrive. It doesn't matter if that environment is built by 2 adults or 20.
  In future articles about polyamory, I plan to write about the following:
  • My personal story - how my husband and I became polyamorous, as well as the various stages we went thorugh to define our relationship
  • A deeper look at terms and definitions used in polyamory
  • How to determine if polyamory is right for you
  • The different styles of polyamory
  • Establishing relationship boundaries
  • Communication skills
  • How to find other polyamorous people