Once upon a time, in a far away land, I thought I was evolved enough to participate in a poly relationship. The focus of my attention wanted the attention of two others in addition to myself. The short story is that it does not work for me. I did realized that my self-worth is wrapped into how valuable I am perceived by my partner and I often fight to be indispensable.
This experience did give me a better perspective as to how come couples make poly relationships work as well as much of the arguments for and against it.
With the popularity of the HBO series Big Love and the TLC show Sister Wives, I continue to loosely observe how poly relationships work in fiction and in real practicality. While I understand that these shows are just the highlight reel or a religious practice, I am still faced with the thought that this cannot work in a long-term sense.
Doing research on the topic, you’re never far from arguments on both sides of the pro and con coin. In addition, many web forums as well as scientific research reveal that this concept of poly life is well steeped in human history and our ever-present sexuality. Ultimately, it seems as though the decision to live a poly life is as personal as one’s sexuality. Deborah Anaphol Ph.D., author of Love without Limits made a life studying this topic and concluded that there is no evidence that a poly life is better than a monogamous one in terms of health, happiness, sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy and relationship longevity. Her recommendation is to do what feels best for the relationship.
She further mentions in a 2013 Psychology Today article that gay men more often practice non-monogamy. However, women, heterosexual or not, generally don’t have a monogamy preference but rather do not want to be lied to or disrespected. Men and women both, in all of these situations, are still susceptible to jealousy. The fear of loss of love or loss of significance is the continual struggle within these poly relationships. She does find that the energy a new partner brings to the table can often benefit the primary relationship. Jealousy being managed, discussed openly, and boundaries respected contribute to the success of a polyamorous relationship. Having the opportunity to do self work on old childhood issues and behavior patterns can enrich the personal work of each individual. The feelings that these relationship bring up exposing old wounds and forcing all to work on them to maintain the higher goal of the relationship.
Personally, the idea of bringing another person into my relationship makes me wildly uncomfortable. Being forced to deal with my own old behavior cycles could be rewarding, but I already know (at this moment) I do not feel the desire to bring a new person into my circle and reasons give me something deep and significant to chew on.