January 13, 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Polyamory

I haven’t been monogamous in decades. I tried it and realized that monogamy doesn’t work for me. I find that sex with multiple people opens my horizons and provides me with more diverse sexual experiences and more opportunities for sexual exploration that I would get by restricting my encounters to only one person.

I’m very experienced at non-monogamy. What I’m learning is that I’m not so experienced with polyamory. Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamory, is “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”

I’m really paying attention to the word relationship in the phrase intimate relationship. An open relationship is relatively easy. It’s just about sex – there’s no emotional involvement. You get together, have a great time, and then you’re off on your way. As they say “no strings attached.”

I’ve found that I need the strings to be attached. NSA is great and fulfills a physiological desire, but NSA does nothing for the emotional desire.

Polyamory, on the other hand, is a relationship. In fact, it’s several relationships. I”m finding this challenging because I have much to learn about managing relationships with two people: scheduling, balance, communication – it is a lot of work. It’s also very rewarding.

I’ve been learning much – many times by my own mistakes. I read The Ethical Slut – probably the best book on relationships and polyamory around. I’ve been spending time on recently where I found this most wise piece of wisdom:

In my experience, trying to please everyone does not get better results. It gets an exhausted me, and a whole bunch of people who are unsatisfied that I didn’t try hard enough. So rather, in each situation, I pick who I’m going to satisfy. Then I satisfy them to the best of my ability. I satiate the others by telling them that there will be another situation where it will be them who I satisfy. Sure, if possible, I’ll satisfy as many people as possible. But sometimes that’s just impossible. You can’t be in three places at once. So pick one place, and be fully present there.

I can’t take responsibility for pleasing everyone in my relationships at all times. I’ve tried – and failed miserably. I have to come back to practices that are integral to my life: grounding and presence. Most of all – presence; if I’m grounded I can be present. I can’t control many aspects of these relationships nor can I control what the others in my life will feel. I can, however, absolutely be present.

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