Leaving Societal Norms Behind

PART 1 – What Is Polyamory to You? (The “Our Story” Series)

PART 1 – What Is Polyamory to You? (The “Our Story” Series)

*Part 1 of a 10 Part Series of articles showing the diversity and authenticity within the Polyamorous Community.

We are often asked, as polyamorous people, what it means to be polyamorous. Through the exploration of this 10 part series, we will examine different aspects of polyamory as it pertains to a variety of individuals. Each piece included in this article series has a series of quotes given anonymously by the polyamorous community. We would like to thank the individuals who partook in our questionnaire, as they are greatly helping to unmask a lot of the mystery behind what makes polyamory polyamory.

Our hope for this series is that it will allow others, within and outside of the polyamorous community, to acquire a deeper understanding of the diversity within our community. We wanted to show case this diversity, along with the reality of polyamory (as there tends to be many misconceptions). Everybody is different. Everybody does polyamory/is polyamorous differently. No two relationships are the same. No two dynamics or structures are the same. Let us appreciate the vast beauty in our community. Living your life your own way, and loving your own way, is what polyamory is all about!

We asked our respondents to describe a particular experience they’ve had during their polyamorous journey that they felt best expressed their idea of polyamory. Here is what they had to say:

Love & Happiness

  • When the girlfriend of one of my husbands visits & all four of us go out to dinner. And we talk happily about her other partners, all of whom are friends of ours. We all know each other through science-fiction fandom, which has had its own home-grown polyamory at least since the 1960s.
  • When my wife’s boyfriend and I threw her a birthday party together, we got a great picture of the three of us smiling at each other. She was so surprised and happy to have her loved ones close.
  • Finding myself and my primary cheering each other on in our other relationships and sharing the journeys together.
  • My husband, my boyfriend and me all spending time together. I wish it happened more and I wish we could do more social things together but they are both hesitant about spending time together.
  • Falling in love and feeling twitterpation after 12 long years of nesting with the same woman.
  • Established trust in our relationship as two women and a man made our lives feel ABSOLUTELY complete. We were Able to express lovingly and fully without the need of approval from one another. Leaves you utterly UNITED AND FULFILLED in every way, EMOTIONALLY, SPIRITUALLY AND PHYSICALLY. Connections…
  • When I came out as poly on Facebook I did two separate posts introducing my partners. They both heart reacted to the post about the other. It felt good.
  • It’s simply more than one lover or relationship at the same time with everyone’s knowledge. There is no cheating. There is a mutual respect for everyone involved and respect for each other’s partners and potential partners. Love is a beautiful thing not a thing to limit to one. I love having a husband and a boyfriend. I’m very fulfilled. I can’t see me adding another at this time but I’m not opposed if it happens. Love like there’s no tomorrow.
  • We are a family. Most would say dysfunctional, but we are far from it. We love each other very much.
  • When my NP and I first shared about our other partners, there was so much joy in the air. We both had grown so much and were bringing this joy and knowledge back to all relationships. This is how I pictured polyamory. It is benefiting everyone involved.

Communication

  • I was able to talk to my partner about our true feelings and feelings I had about other people. He helped encourage me to see other people and we were able to come together at the end of the night and talk about our days honestly. There was no hiding or guilt about having feelings for another person.
  • When my partners and I all sat down to discuss our feelings and what we were wanting. One of my partners was dealing with lots of insecurities and jealousy, so we all talked it through and were able to keep friendly ties without causing any big issues. Communication really can be the solution to everything!
  • The right people will have the emotions making perfect sense… The communication between myself & my 2 partners (primary & lover) is just raw & honest.

Fluidity

  • My two boyfriends are best friends and knew each other for years before polyamory came up in discussion. The relationships happened naturally and fluidly.
  • Honestly, I think my current situation is pretty darn perfect. I live with someone I love very deeply, they recently met someone else and we both care about them a whole lot and want them to be happy and are developing independent relationships with said person. Theirs is going really fast, but ours is slowly budding, supported by the connection we feel through the person I live with, like a V becoming a triad. I have a few long distance platonic friends that visit and call, that I would sell my soul for. I’ve met a few restless souls that I have a spark with, and I treasure our beautiful short relationships. We keep in touch sometimes and know that if life leads our paths to cross again it will be nice to pick up where we left off.
  • While I was with my longest term partner, I met someone by chance, and fell in love as we got to know each other. It’s that simple. I never tried to find a second boyfriend. But when I met someone and we clicked, nobody made me choose.
  • This is no one particular experience. In my network we engage in a highly autonomous expression of polyamory, where rules and other limiting constructs are not part of the mix.
  • This one is hard. My relationships are all so different. Which is the thing I love the most, each relationship can be what it is without trying to fit a mold.
  • I have 2 partners I care about deeply. One is not higher than the other. They aren’t equal either because both relationships are different as with any relationship. Each of them chooses how involved they want to be with me. There is no hierarchy. Ever.
  • Sitting down for a dinner with a partner and her husband, their two kids, and my wife. I dated her, she dated my wife, and my wife dated her husband. It was a wonderful quad polycule for the time it lasted.
  • For me poly isn’t a set state of being, it has its own ebb and flow to it.
  • I started dating a new guy about a week after my husband had his first threesome with me and my long distance girlfriend.
  • I met someone that I was really into. She was really into me too. After spending a lot of time together, there was certainly a temptation of trying to “get more serious” about dating. Every attempt to do so, however, just didn’t feel authentic and eventually she confessed to me that she really liked where things were and didn’t want to move forward just yet. I was never in this for any end goal. I’m in love with this woman, and to me that means I am happy just to sit in a room with her and talk for hours. That brings me so much joy by itself. Without polyamory, we’d have to take the idea of physical intimacy off the table at this point as I see other people and so does she. But because of polyamory, we can both do that still, and talk about it with one another. We can also continue to allow that relationship to develop at a comfortable pace or leave it where it is forever. The idea that each relationship can take the pace that feels right to the people involved seems so obvious now, but never did before.

Understanding & Acceptance

  • Dating people that I didn’t have to hide my true self from. Being able to be completely authentic. I can’t describe just one experience, because everyday my partners create an environment that is safe for me to be me!
  • For me it would be that my partners are both very different people and they fulfill very different needs in me. I don’t need one person to be my everything. That is such a ridiculously high expectation that no one should have to live up to.
  • Likely just how easy it felt when my husband had a long term gf. I wasn’t expecting it to be so easy to accept.
  • When my husband said, “I can’t be what you need.” I looked at him and said, “I’m only asking you to be you. I will never ask you to fulfill all my needs.” Nobody needs that kind of pressure.
  • Being able to love as many people as you want and they want and everyone is okay with it and shares that amazing energy.
  • My husband sat down and realized that I have a husband, bf, potential bf, gf, in-person bdsm slave, and an online bdsm slave. And my husband has me. LOL
  • I subscribe to the Relationship Anarchy approach. My husband cheated on me, lied about it, then tried to blame it on me. I opted for RA as my preference from then on. I will never again trust a social norm as a restraint/protection from sadness.
  • My wife being happier after realizing and coming out about being poly.
  • Understanding one another. Feeling safe with the decision you are making as a group. Being comfortable in your own skin. Not letting other people’s ideals run your lives.
  • My girlfriend attended my wife’s birthday party, and there was no tension or awkwardness at all.
  • Twice I have been asked out by lovely men with no agenda “whenever you can find the time, it would be lovely to go out with you” … I am a career professional with 2 children and a home that I do not share with a nesting partner, my time is precious and they knew that.
  • I had a lunch date with someone new right before my partner drove me to the airport to go see my long distance partner… Enough said.
  • The best moment has been seeing my boyfriend smiling because of others. Our love languages are totally different so the first time I saw him smiling because of another partner I got so excited. He’s also been learning a ton about himself over our journey and that makes me happy to know I’m not holding him back from trying things he wants to, or loving people who also deserve his love. It just reminds me that polyamory really is about being able to love anybody at any time and I’ve really been able to witness how amazing that is.

Additional Support

  • I lived in the same home with my two partners with our growing family. We now have 4 kids that we work hard to raise together
  • When my girlfriend and wife became good friends. It allowed my wife to have someone to talk to about polyamory related issues, go out and have fun, and feel safe that the woman I was seeing didn’t have ulterior motives

  • Having my partners care about my kids and my pets as much as me and my husband. To me Polyamory is about being a family not just sex.
  • Always someone there.
  •  After the loss of my daughter I was a total mental case. Three of my partners banded together to support and care for me. They were able to lift me out of the darkness I’d been consumed by. It also helped show my nesting partner that my other relationships weren’t a threat to him but yet a means of extra support for him as well.
  • I identify as solo, yet I accepted a partner’s need for a safe living space to deal with trauma. I now have a nested partnership, and after 2 years I’m getting my own room. They have healed enough that we can both have our own spaces again.
  • One time I was very nervous to go on a first date. My husband and his boyfriend changed their plans and made it a double date so that we could start out together at dinner. After we paid the bill, they went their separate way and I felt much more relaxed. That’s poly to me. So much love for everyone involved.
  • Every now and then there are nights where me, my partner, my meta, my partner’s platonic nesting partner and their romantic partner, all are home for dinner. Frequently several of us bring ingredients/wine home and some of us will cook while others take care of the pets and some help the kids with their homework, and then we all sit down together and are able to relax and enjoy being a family together.

Stay tuned for PART 2 of the “Our Story” Series!

TERMS DEFINED:

Nesting Partner (NP) A partner that you live/cohabitate with.

Solo Polyamory (SoPo) – A form of polyamory where you choose not to ride to relationship escalator with partners (such as getting married, moving in together, or having kids, becoming financially intertwined, etc.); often lives either alone, with only their children, or with friends or family, but preferably not partners (though this can differ from person to person and relationship to relationship). Typically someone who wants to continue being their own independent person, whose main focus and primary relationship is with themself.

Relationship Anarchy (RA) – A style of forming relationships that allows for complete transparency. You move forward with your connections only to the extent of what everyone involved wants. Each relationship can be completely different and structured any way the people involved so choose.

Polycule – The molecule-like shape formed by all the connections between partners (and sometimes metamours, also).

Metamour (Meta) – Your partner’s partner (does not necessarily imply that their is a friendship or connection between you and this person).

Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, Sadism & Masochism (BDSM) – Covers a huge range of tastes and activities, with endless variations. Often times associated with kink, though not all kinks have to do with BDSM. These practices can be erotic, include role-playing, and often include using safewords. Can be conducted in-person, online, over the phone, or in any other number of ways. Some people see these practices as a hobby, some see them as a lifestyle, and others use them as identifying factors of who they are as people.

V – A relationship dynamic in which one person is the “hinge” of the V (they are dating two separate people, but those two people are not dating each other).

Triad – A relationship dynamic in which 3 people are all dating each other.

Quad – A relationship dynamic in which 4 people are all dating each other (or sometimes used to refer to 2 couples dating each other, even if not all the people involved are dating each other).

Compersion – Feeling happiness for your partner’s happiness (if a partner finds joy in another partner, you feel happiness and joy for them, too).

Healthy Relationship Hierarchy – The practice of describing the the level at which a relationship sits (determined by how important it is, and what is involved, etc.). If a relationship naturally takes on a primary role in your life, or naturally takes on a secondary role, and all in the relationship are happy with where the relationship is at, then it is acceptable to claim that it is a primary (or secondary) relationship. Though, some people may find these terms upsetting or unacceptable, often becoming offended by them because of the assumption that the hierarchy is formed unethically/non-consensually.

Unhealthy Relationship Hierarchy – The practice of prescribing a level to a relationship before it has begun. Telling someone you are starting a relationship with that they HAVE to fill a specific role, or that you only have a secondary slot open for them, without allowing the relationship to form naturally. This practice gives the concept of hierarchy a bad image.

Platonic Relationship(s) – Often just as meaningful and fulfilling as romantic relationships, for polyamorous people. Being polyamorous frequently allows people to branch out in their connecting abilities and expand what it means to have platonic relationships. May occasionally have a sexual component, but is not considered a romantic partnership. (Different than asexual romantic relationships in which the people involved do not have sex.)

*For more Polyamorous terminology, we recommend reading through this list created by More Than Two: Polyamory 101

Community Projects

Our Story #2

If you’d like to be an anonymous participant for our next series of community representing articles (titled “Our Story #2”), please complete the following questionnaire:

“Our Story #2” Series Questionnaire

Your responses will help showcase our community’s diversity, promote a positive polyamorous representation, and help give advice/guidance/support and information to those newly coming into polyamory, as well as those currently living polyamorously. Our main focus for the “Our Story #2” series will be how to create and maintain healthy relationships within the constructs of polyamory, whereas our focus for the 1st “Our Story” was a more general overview of polyamory.

The new series “Our Story #2” will be published after the last piece of our 10 part “Our Story” series is complete. Stay tuned for all 10 parts of the “Our Story” series, as well as the upcoming “Our Story #2” series.

**THIS QUESTIONNAIRE IS COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS! DO NOT PROVIDE ANYONE’S NAMES OR ANY OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION!

Our Story – was a series that covered general topics in order to both introduce the world to polyamory, as well as normalize it and showcase its diversity. (The article series will be available on our website starting January 1st…each part of the 10 part series will be published 2 weeks apart.)

Our Story #2 – is a series that is focused on how to create and maintain healthy relationships within the constructs of polyamory.

ALL submissions are anonymous, and will be combined to create a comprehensive guide to help polyamorous people maneuver the ups and downs of relationships. Everyone is different, and therefore everyone deals with their emotions in different ways. Emotions affect the way in which we communicate, act, and love. Sharing your own suggestions, for things that have benefited or helped you in some way, will greatly impact our Polyamorous community as a whole in a positive way. The best advice FOR the Polyamorous community, comes FROM the Polyamorous community!

If you’d like to participate in this questionnaire, please click HERE.

“The Art of a Polycule” Project

We are starting a new project to artistically represent the relationship dynamic diversity within our community. This project will be art based, and will showcase the way in which a variety of community members construct their relationship dynamics. In order to be an anonymous contributor to this project, you must send in an image representation (something self-drawn; by hand, or other media means) that details your polycule structure.

Rules for art submissions are displayed below:

  1. You may include as many people as you feel best represents your polycule (including partners, metamours, metamour’s partners, platonic relationships, etc.); but NO friends, family, children, pets, or the like.
  2. The polycule must start with YOU, this is a representation of YOUR structural relationship dynamics.
  3. This is anonymous! As such, no names shall be given for any of the people in your polycule.
  4. Your drawing must be designed in the following way (Each person drawn must be a shape, and each connection between them must be presented as lines.):

-You will be a black dot.

-Your partners will be red hearts.

-Your metamours will be blue triangles.

-Additional partners (of your metamours, or of their partners, depending on how far you feel your polycule extends) can be drawn as green squares.

-The lines between romantic partners will be solid pink.

-The lines between platonic partners will be dotted yellow.

-Do NOT draw lines between you and your metamours, unless you consider them to be a romantic or platonic partner.

ALL SUBMISSIONS will be re-constructed and formatted into a new design that will be extended to all pieces so that the arrangement and visual product is smooth and congruent. So don’t worry if your artistic abilities aren’t the best, it’s the information about the polycule formation that matters most, not how well you can draw it. Your original product will not be on display, only our finished product with the polycule dynamics we have collected from the community. This isn’t a contest, we are looking for contributions from everyone (no matter your level of artistic ability).

**Send submissions to our CEO:

Jauni@PolyamorousLiving.com

**Thank you to all who have chosen to contribute to our polyamorous projects!

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J

I am a gender fluid pansexual vegan Wiccan mama who is polyamorous (and forms connections through the freedom of relationship anarchy). I love writing, photography, dancing, travel, hiking, cooking, kissing, and motherhood.


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