I'm extremely pleased to post this personal account of real-life poly experience from a member of our group and his partners. Names are witheld to protect privacy.
Monogamous in a Polyamorous Relationship
First off let me state that I do not assume to have any great insight or words of wisdom based on years of experience in polyamory. I only want to relay my experience from my perspective as a monogamous person in a polyamorous relationship.
I was in a monogamous relationship and married for 16 years but as a result of my own poor decisions was separated with no option for reconciliation. That is not the issue here but sets the stage. I had reached a point in my life where I felt I could never offer myself to anyone in more than a physical sense. I thought I would be ok with that as a lot of traditionally married men feel they could screw anyone, anywhere, anytime without any thought because it is just sex and that they are being restrained.
Using a popular dating sight I engaged in two casual and very different sexual experiences. One was purely curiosity with a couple that were looking to play and the other was with a woman who was in an open relationship looking for casual sex. Both were good experiences as I was fortunate in finding nice people. Both were also not what I expected in the area of sexual fulfilment. It was not that the people were not adventurous by any means. The energy simply was not there...it was empty, under-whelming and more like a moderately entertaining hobby. I was a huge disappointment to myself because I felt I was not the bed hopping man whore everyone thought I would and should be. I use “man whore” in the most respectful of ways, I am in fact jealous of anyone that can play casually and get enough excitement to be fulfilled. I was, however, still determined to search for a casual sex partner because that’s what I thought single guys should want. I mean we’re talking casual sex here!
I was repeatedly drawn to one woman who talked of much more than an open relationship or casual encounter although obviously a potentially very sexual relationship. I stumbled my way into a meeting with her and bang!..there it was…immediate connection. I opened up and spoke to her about things I never told my closest of friends. She felt it too. She was very clear on her love style, her happy and devoted family life and her approach to relationships. I had never heard of polyamorous relationships before. I understood swinging and open relationships, but not one involving multiple loves. I am not going to drag out the blur of emotions and times spent together that lead to me falling in love with her, getting to know and also love her husband, becoming a friend to her son and parents or how my new circle of friends had full awareness of our relationship. I want to relay the internal struggle that was waged inside me and could only be overcome through honesty and communication.
She has a husband and two other prominent intimate friends. She also had what I thought to be other potential sexual partners she was communicating with. I need to be absolutely clear that I am fundamentally a monogamous person in a polyamorous relationship. I only want to share intimacy with her because it is full of overwhelming energy generated by deep connection. I need that to become truly excited…sigh…such a disappointment. Now I also need to be clear that I fully understand compersion and feel it 100% towards her husband. Her family and marriage is paramount to me. I would reshape my love for her in an instant if I threatened either. I would still love her and she would continue to be my best and most trusted friend, but I would not permit myself to be an intimate sexual partner and reduce the time I spend with her to alleviate the problem if I was indeed the source. I could spend a great deal of time explaining the respect and awe I have in both the depth of her husband’s love for her and in the strength I felt in their connection. Without either I would not have been able to follow this incredible path.
I, at first, had to overcome my fear of her other intimate friends. Although our relationship is much deeper in the sense of being life long partners, they are still intimate parts of her life and very important. Of course there are the usual sexual concerns of inadequacy, penis size and sexual vigour that I got hung up on. I still ask for her to censor the details about those aspects of her other relationships although it differs in intensity depending on the partner. She finds it hard to relate to this because it is no big deal to her. Again we differ here a lot! With a few possible exceptions, I am not the kind of person who gets excited at the prospect or image of someone having sex with my partner. My level of compersion is not anywhere near that developed LOL! In order for me to be more comfortable and certainly less threatened I had to meet them to know that there was a true friendship and caring towards her. I cannot stand the idea of her being used and by meeting both of them I was able to confirm that these were indeed good friendships. I always feel sheepish after these first meetings because I know she brings good people into her life. Some people may say her other relationships are not my business but as a life long committed partner, it is my business and also a requirement for my own healthy involvement in this relationship. I am a protective person..not possessive. I would do what I could to protect her entire family and certainly would not appreciate someone just wanting to get laid.
These meetings were very casual and involved differing levels of comfort. One partner I am completely at ease with and have gone dancing and just hung out with casually. The other I am somewhat less comfortable with only because I am jealous of his casual nature towards sexual play and experiencing that aspect of new people. I don’t want that and find it threatening in the sense that it may leave my partner wanting or feel like she is missing out because of my issue with casual play. I fully understand the possibility of new relationships in her life but expect them to be meaningful and bring something of value to her life. Of course her idea of value and mine don’t have to align! Casual sex with other men would honestly hurt me a lot because I illogically cannot accept that it could be just a fun activity. I know this is based on my own casual experiences, which were disappointing, but regardless that’s how I feel. If I could change it, believe me, I would!!
Open communication between me and her and her husband has made this relationship work. We fully expect it to continue working and develop into a lifelong partnership that is amazing and full of growth, love and excitement. Will there be challenges? You had better believe it! My own nature of monogamy interacting in a polyamorous relationship generates a lingering fear of being replaced, becoming less than I am now, unexciting and will lead to her searching for another…me. For the longest time I asked myself a question constantly; “Am I strong enough to be in this relationship?’ The answer was always yes. I still make a point of asking myself this every day just to keep grounded, but I find myself forgetting lately which is a very good sign.
If someone who is monogamous asked me for advice about becoming involved in a polyamorous relationship my advice would be simple. If you feel you could love the person a little – Don’t even consider it. Explain it to them and walk away before they fall in love with you. A polyamorous lover will have a hard time understanding why you feel threatened or inadequate or that you feel you are losing them whenever they mention even the most innocent of friends and certainly a potential lover or playmate. You will most likely be in a constant state of fear or unintentionally try to suppress the person you love. You will definitely feel a level of jealousy that will twist your stomach and make you feel physically ill and trapped. You will get hurt and inevitably hurt them as well. And trust me, a truly polyamorous person loves in a way that is extremely deep. They will get hurt bad. Above all, never feel like the polyamorous person has any less to lose than you. You have to be prepared to feel a little on the outside or even a lot on the outside. You also can feel very special and a little misunderstood or hard to figure out, which I actually like.
If you want me to say “go for it” you had better love that person with all your heart, genuinely care about the other people in their life and understand that you will constantly be challenged, constantly need to be completely open, constantly need to live in your emotions and theirs. You will still feel fear and jealousy. But if you love them enough to accept the differences between monogamous and polyamorous approaches to loving than you will be rewarded with possibly the most open and deep relationship you can imagine. I certainly have. I am happy and full of wonder at what the future holds. I am growing all the time, being challenged and sharing in something that is immense.
I always expect to be in this polyamorous relationship but never expect to be polyamorous. I always expect my partner will love her oddball monogamous boyfriend and never expect her to expect me to be anything other than monogamous. I am truly blessed.
Fears of loss in a Mono/Poly Relationship
I recently posted a long article on my experience so far in engaging in a polyamorous relationship although I am monogamous. I promise this one will not be so long!!
I included the following statement which I spoke to my partner/girlfriend about after;
"Above all, never feel like the polyamorous person has any less to lose than you."
Yes, I will definitely feel a certain loss when she adds a new lover or sex partner..oddly enough, primarily if they are male, and I do apply different "labels" to different types of relations because it helps me mentally organize. (but that is another post!) I always tell myself she will find someone so I am better prepared whether it happens or not. Again this is a tool I use regardless if it is viewed as healthy or not.
I understand the ability to love and desire another person similarly without a reduction for others. I wouldn't be able to look at her husband without guilt if I did not. I entered this relationship with a complete knowledge of who was involved and in what way. I am the "new guy" in my mind. It is the unknown of another "new guy" that will be my challenge..one that I will face head on and with understanding but certainly not without difficulty. I know my weaknesses which will enable me to draw on her, her husband and my own internal strength to overcome them and grow. At least that is what I foresee happening.
Back to my point
I will first deal with loss in the relationship if/when she finds someone else.I will feel loss, most definitely at least for a while until I am again secure in her genuine love and continued desire for me. Will an aspect of our dynamic change? I could lie to myself and say I know it won't but that is not the path to a sustainment of this amazing relationship. Initially - for sure. Permanently..perhaps. She will feel it, see it. I am an open book and she knows when I withdrawal my energy while I process. Does that mean the intimacy of out relationship will end? Absolutely not, not unless I can't handle it. She will love and desire me the same, just like she does for her husband. She will probably love us both more...a concept I struggle with as well. We will grow and she will be happy which is paramount to me.
What if I find someone else? I am intimately monogamous. Not by choice, moral or social requirement. I am monogamous because it is my nature. I require a very specific connection to truly desire someone. My physical passion is directly proportionate to my level of connection and intimate love. I only feel that intimate love for one person at a time, which has been proven throughout my life. I don't want to intimately love more than one person although I would welcome a change in my nature if it meant my life would be easier in a polyamorous relationship. Yes, I would love to be polyamorous or even just have a much more casual approach to sex so I could be more at ease, better blend with the amazing people around, me and just have fun. Who knows..maybe in the future but that is not my reality for now...sadness.
If I form another intimate connection tomorrow it will be at the expense of the one I have right now. In giving intimacy I am all or nothing. Simple and plain. I would no longer be this amazing persons lover or even playmate. I would not be able to share that energy with another unless I take it away from her. She would continue to be my most trusted friend but I would deny her my passion and intimate love. Would this be a malicious act towards her? Absolutely not! Just as her taking on a new partner would not be a malicious act towards me. It would simply be accepting and acting on our fundamental natures. Denial of one's nature is a terrible road to travel as I have been there. Pain is always the result.
So who would lose more is a question of definites. I might experience a decrease of her intimate attention and perceive she loves me less..she would lose all of my intimate attention and although my love would still be immense it would be re-shaped..that is definite.
I said I would keep this short...I tried.
Sharing Success and Happiness
There is often a lot of struggle discussed in poly related forums. Struggle is natural and often necessary in achieving things that are worthwhile. Through sharing on a forum I got caught up in some of the non-positive aspects of polyamory and allowed a lot of painful energy to enter my life. As a result I began feeling increased fear, doubt, and frustration in not understanding how my girlfriend Redpepper shares love and intimacy. (I am monogamous/ she is polyamorous). I wanted to share with the brave and interesting people on this forum but not at the detriment of the amazing love I have with Redpepper.
To re-assure, and hopefully reinforce, that this is in fact natural (although not my nature LOL!), wonderful and worth working towards for those who want it, I have decided to share a quick but wonderful achievement in our lives.
Last night, Redpepper, her husband, her Lover and me along with several other friends got together. We chatted and laughed at a pub before heading to the bar for some well needed but poorly musically funded dancing. At the pub I chuckled in watching Redpepper move around the table chatting with everyone, lovers and friends alike. This didn’t appear to be work or a balancing act. It looked like her doing what comes naturally to her, socializing and sharing with her friends.
At the bar we all danced together at times, in different small groups at times, and as couples at times. There was no jealousy or “greediness” for her attention. There was fun interacting amongst friends who care for each other.
We are very proud in what we have. That doesn’t make it easy, but makes it unbelievably fulfilling and completely worth every moment of anxiety, fear and insecurity. There is a shared love amongst us for one person and each other.
The key to our success, I believe, is that each person cares so much for the other person and thier well-being. Redpepper seemed more relaxed than I have ever seen her in this dynamic last night. There is no pulling to monopolize or even balance her attention amongst her Lovers. There is just enjoyment in her presence and appreciation for the happiness she gives all of us. Seeing her Lovers together as friends and enjoying time together gives her a radiance I can't describe!
We all have to work to make this possible…Redpepper more than any of us...but with genuine caring you stop noticing the “work” aspect and it just becomes our nature to look after each other.
Thank you Redpepper…you amaze and bless me with your love..despite the fact you scare me….I had to say it!