Life Lessons from an Experienced Polyamorist

By Martin Boulanger @ stock.XCHNG
By Martin Boulanger @ stock.XCHNG

As I noted in my previous entry, my first big leap into polyamory occurred in February, 2003. A lot has happened to me over the past 6 years. Some of  those experiences were good, while others have taught me harsh life lessons. I feel that some of these lessons are worth sharing with you.   

Lesson 1: Communicate needs and expectations early on

People cannot read minds. If you need certain things in a relationship (words, actions, amount of time, contact, etc.) in order to be satisfied - tell your partner(s).  They may be more than willing to provide it to you, or explain how constraints upon them may prevent them from doing so.  It is far better to get those discussions taken care of in the beginning than to be quietly dissatisfied.  

Lesson 2: Establish boundaries with regards to your own personal time and space

 There's 168 hours in a week. A good chunk of that is most likely lost to sleeping, working, commuting, chores, eating, and grooming. The remaining time then needs to be divided up between yourself and everyone else that wants your attention.  Just because you are not actively engaged with Partner A does not mean you have to spend that time with Partner B.  Don't feel guilty about telling your partner(s) that you want time for yourself.   

Lesson 3: New Relationship Energy is both your friend and foe

For those of you that are not familiar with poly jargon: New Relationship Energy is a term used for the period of infatuation that occurs early in the relationship. For those of you that have seen the Disney movie, Bambi - it's the "twitterpated" stage.  You tend to see the positives about your lover and ignore the negatives. While this can help gloss over some of the social awkwardness that comes with starting a new relationship, the happy vibes may cause you to ignore some potential warning signsthat your new partner is not completely compatible with you.  It also may cause you to to do irrational things for the sake of your new relationship - like move cross country without securing a new job first.  For the first six months of your relationship, avoid making any life-altering decisions. Also, introduce your new sweetie to your friends during this time and see how everyone gets along. If your new lover doesn't mesh well with your existing friends, or insists that you limit your social time with them, think twice about the long term potential of this relationship.  

Lesson #4: Break-ups still suck

Even if you are in multiple relationships, the loss of one of those relationships can still be an emotionally painful experience. It may also be stressful for your partners to see you hurting and feel like they are unable to fix things. Depending on your social group's dynamic, the even may be the threat of /drama. Encourage your friends and sweeties to provide emotional support during these times, and let them know that they don't need to try and fix things.  If social dynamics allow (depending on the /drama issues), also encourage your friends to try and maintain what ever friendships or relationships they have with your now-former partner.  

Lesson #5: Don't expect everything to be easily definable

As you start to get to know more people, you will find that there are multiple views on the meanings behind the words relationship, dating, intimacy, and even... sex.   Knowing how other people define these words will be important if you need to communicate boundary issues. In addition, don't be overly concerned if you have a relationship with someone that doesn't neatly fit into a particular category (friend, friend with benefits, dating, etc.)  Enjoy those relationships for what they are, and don't feel compelled to try and label them.

Young Metro Poly » Blog Archive » My story, Chapter ? - Dati (not verified) wrote:

Mon, 02/09/2009 - 05:45 Comment #: 1

[...] not that said time frame is unimportant; I learned a lot of valuable life lessons during that period.  I am, however, trying to find ways to explain my experiences while being [...]


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