Polyamory is about love, and love cannot be owned. You can feel love. You can share love. You can express love. But you cannot own it. This is very important. Many couples go into polyamory thinking that they can create rules within their new relationships in order to protect the relationship they are already in. They don’t want to ruin what they have. They don’t want to lose it. They don’t want it to change, in any way. Which, okay, makes sense. Change is scary. But then again…what did you expect was going to happen when you opened up your relationship? Hear me out, if you truly love someone you want them to be happy. You can’t fully allow someone to be happy, though, if you’re the one making decisions about whether or not that person gets to do things. And when it comes to feelings of love for other people…there is no way in hell you can even have a slight say. If you’re viewing the person that’s coming into the relationship (whether you’re dating jointly or separately) as someone who can just be thrown out on a whim, then you are objectifying that person.
Can you stop yourself from loving someone? No. You can decide you don’t want to be with that person, but it doesn’t suddenly make the feeling go away. And what about how they feel about you? You have no control over that. So when your partner says “I don’t like your new partner. I want you to stop seeing him.” There is no good way to give in to your partner’s demands without forcefully and unnecessarily hurting the other person you care deeply about. Saying no to a potential partner, or a partner that is already established within your relationship, is called giving a veto, or having veto power. It is an extremely unhealthy use of your couple’s privilege when entering the dating scene in the polyamorous community. It is never okay to see a potential partner as something to simply add to your collection, something that can be thrown out within a moments notice. These are real people we’re talking about. Real people with real emotions. Don’t fuck with people like that – don’t reel them in and then just toss them right back out again. Catch and release is a terrible practice when it comes to fishing (in my opinion, because you’re injuring the fish and then throwing it back in the water to most likely die, or at best live a really awful life), and it is never an acceptable practice when it comes to polyamory (or dating of any kind). Vetos are childish, disrespectful, and just plain mean.
I’d like to discuss why a couple may enact veto power, or why they might even think to add it into their rule book in the first place. Picture yourself in a couple that is opening up to polyamory for the first time. You’re eager and excited and you think things are going to go great. But you’ve got this idea in your head of how it’s going to go down. Your current partner is going to continue being your most important partner (of course, they were with you first), and whoever else comes along will simply fit nicely into whatever idea you’ve concocted about how your love lives will be. They’ll agree to all your rules (even if it puts them in a weird position). I mean, they’ll have to, you’re already with someone, they can’t expect you to go out of your way to change for them. You’re already set in your ways (you’ve been married how many years now?). And if they break one of your rules, well, they’re out (can’t say you didn’t warn them).
Look, I get it. Change is scary, and you don’t want anything to damage what you’ve already created. But here’s the thing – polyamory is going to change everything. It’s going to change the way you think, the way you act, the way you see yourself and the world. It’ll change literally everything, and in a good way, if you let it. If you resist it…well…what in the world are you opening up your relationship for then anyway? Did you just want something casual? More like a fling? Just a one-time hookup? Then look somewhere else sister, this ain’t the place you should be. Polyamory is about loving many people – it’s not just about sex (sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with sex). If you’re looking for some fun, that’s great. I totally commend you for it. You deserve it. But polyamorous people are not the people to fuck with. They are in it for the connection. They are in it for the love. They are in it for the real deal. And if you’re not, then I suggest you pack your bags and get the hell out of here. Sorry, but you’re just not the right fit. Try that group of swingers down the street.
Now…sometimes people come into polyamory with the right idea…it just isn’t the right time. They like the idea of getting/giving more love, but they’re just confused on the actual concept of polyamory. A lot of people (for some odd reason) think that polyamory will solve their current relationship issues. But we aren’t some advertisement for a better life. Not getting enough attention from your spouse? Try Polyamory. Need some more alone time with someone who is willing to listen? Try Polyamory. Haven’t gotten laid in a while? Try Polyamory. I’m sorry, but no, just no. So much no. What you’re looking for is a sex-line phone service, or a hooker, or maybe you just need some friends. Polyamory is not here to fix your relationship, and it’s not something to go into in order to escape your reality. If you’re thinking about opening up your relationship, you better make damn sure you’re on solid ground with the partner you’ve already got.
Right here I’d like to stop and make an important announcement. Although I’ve talked mainly about objectification and veto power being issues when couples come into polyamory…I want to be clear that couples are not the only ones who do these things. Single people can be just as abusive. There are people who hold solo polyamorous lives (meaning they most likely live by themselves and they have no interest in riding the “relationship escalator” with anyone, but they still want to have lots of loving and deep relationships) who are also abusive to their partners. Though veto power is less likely to happen in a situation where no one is the “primary” partner, objectification can happen in any relationship. When you start seeing your partners as something you own (whether you mentally think/feel this way or not), you are objectifying them. If you think you should be able to decide who they see, what they do, how they feel, or anything else you can possibly think of to control in their lives or minds, then you are objectifying them. If you think you can just pick up and throw away people like they mean nothing to you, then you are objectifying them. Don’t be a dick – don’t objectify people.
To conclude, I’d like you to remember the purpose of getting into polyamory in the first place. It allows for greater and deeper connections with many more people. It allows you to have a sort of freedom that gives your life and your own identity precedent over what others think and feel about you. You can love openly. You can live openly. You can exist openly. Polyamory is an avenue of rebellion, and of strength. It’s a “fuck you” to the norm of society that lets everyone know you don’t care what you should do, you’re going to do whatever is best for you. It’s a way of building upon the revolutionaries in your heritage, the powerful individuals of your ancestry. It’s a way to say you dare to be different. In the face of adversity, you choose diversity. If you choose polyamory, you are choosing love over hate. If you choose polyamory…you’re enacting change. Not just for you, but for everyone. I’m not saying you have to be polyamorous for any other reason than it suits you well. But just keep the rest of that in mind when you’re deciding how to treat the people you bring into your life. Your partners create for you a relationship drafting board on which you envision the future of the world. Choose love. Choose compassion. Choose kindness. Don’t objectify. Don’t be a dick.