I don’t know much about polyamory; like most people, I grew up in a pretty monogamous world and I found the idea of poly relationships perplexing. Natuarlly, I had a ton of questions about it. So, I went on a trek into the unknown to figure out, what’s polyamory really about?
My friend, Porthos, is in a “trio” with his partner of two years, Athos, and their new addition Aramis. In a crazy twist of fate, on his way to tea with me, Porthos ran into both his girlfriends, on a date, and brought them along. They agreed to sit down and give three very different perspectives on their relationship.
What are polyamorous relationships like?
I learned early into the conversation that this question is like asking, “what are monogamous relationships like?” There’s no one answer, and every relationship is vastly different.
Porthos: “With everyone, it’s a different dynamic. With some people, it’s more like [traditional] boyfriend/girlfriend, with some others it’s a friends with benefits kind of deal.”
Athos: “We have an open polyamorous relationship, but some other poly relationships are closed. It all depends on the people, just like in a monogamous couple they choose their own rules.”
How do you deal with jealousy in poly relationships?
Porthos: “Jealous thoughts come from what I call the ‘lizard brain.’ You have to be able to separate the lizard brain from the other parts of your brain.”
The general consensus seems that because going into a poly relationship, one is aware that other people will be involved, jealousy is almost a non-issue.
Athos: “In monogamous relationships, [jealousy] was more of a problem for me. I had issues with cheating and trust. In this one, everything is open and communicated.”
What are the benefits of polyamorous relationships?
One I kept hearing over and over again was variety. It meant that all your needs didn’t have to be met by just one person.
Aramis: “I’m a really busy person, so it’s nice to have someone else help deal with [a partner’s] emotional needs. Otherwise, the relationship would be a burden. In a poly relationship, I feel more free to say no to hanging out.”
I thought polyamorous relationships would be exhausting, since I can barely handle one significant other, but Aramis let me see it from a different perspective.
Aramis: “I don’t have to be a full time girlfriend, because Athos is there to take care of Porthos too.”
Is polyamory for everyone?
Athos: “It’s not for possessive or jealous people, or people who aren’t good communicators.”
Porthos: “People who are possessive or jealous or aren’t good communicators probably shouldn’t be in monogamous relationships either.”
Polyamory takes a lot of acceptance and communication. Considering it’s not wholly accepted societally either, people in polyamorous relationships must also consider the social stigmas attached to this alternative lifestyle as well.
Polyamory and popular culture
Polyamory in movies and books is often portrayed in a bad light.
Porthos: “What’s really tooth grinding is so many plots of movies make people choose between two romantic interests.”
Athos: “Drama in romantic movies often come from having to choose between two people, and the way that they resolve the problem is one person has to disappear completely.”
A movie I suggest highly is Jules and Jim, a classic French movie about a love triangle.
Athos: “The Ethical Slut [by Janet Hardy] is a good primer on polygamy. Pervocracy, the blog, is also good reading.”