I recently exchanged a few words with a couple of polyamorous men and women. There are different reasons why us poly folk prefer this type of lifestyle or relationship dynamic, but my friends and I seem to have similar thoughts on the subject. Below I spell out a few ideas that we all resonated with. I have entitled this explanation: The Poly Mindset. The first thought is: We just want to be free.
Freedom is a very expansive, vague concept that can mean a myriad of things. I believe from our poly perspective, it means the ability to avoid confinement of any kind. There is no closed way to meet people, interact with people, repeatedly see people, have sex with people or build a relationship with them. And it is this freedom to connect that makes us feel the most autonomous. This is different from having boundaries though. With boundaries, the restriction is not whether you can date or see others, it simply may determine when and where you see them. Using the same quality time you spend with your primary partner as an opportunity to build a foundation with another prospect, for example, maybe the wrong place and time. The restriction, however, is not on whether you can build another relationship with a potential spouse in general. And this is exactly the freedom we crave.
The second thought is: We love romance. I identify as a poly romantic: someone who shares romances with multiple people at the same time. I believe many polyamorous people identify this way as well. I separate romance from the idea of “intimacy” and “sex.” For me, close relationships with friends and family all share intimacy. These relationships foster a closeness and vulnerability that allows trust and openness. Romance takes this one step further and builds on intimacy with physical closeness and nurturing. I consider the act of dating, kissing, holding hands, cuddling, massaging, groping, and the like to be romantic actions. The step after this is what I consider sex, including but not limited to, penetrative intercourse. Out of all three, I argue that romanticism takes the emotional cake. The luxury of being poly romantic is feeling like you are in a constant emotional flow of love and care on a consistent basis. There seem to be no pauses, no breaks, and no feelings of ever going without. Regardless of how much work we have to do in any said relationship, it remains blissful, vibrant, and abundant. That feeling of uninterrupted love is incredibly fulfilling. So much so, we question why we should ever giving it up.
The third thought is: We don’t think commitment is limited. Any ethically nonmonogamous person knows that commitment is not strictly for “certain types” of relationships. Many people share the popular opinion that polyamory is a lack of commitment, when in truth, it’s the promise of committing more than once, to more than one. Commitment is choosing to put time, energy, effort, and dedication into something or someone. Because of the emotional, financial, and even labor-intensive work required by relationships, many people can only commit to one person at a time. Many people spread themselves thin when they have to emotionally multitask. We, who are poly, do not believe that just because we want to commit to multiple people, that we are unauthentic, lacking passion, fake, or incapable of accomplishing this in a thoroughly loving way.
If you seem to be resonating with these ideas, perhaps you are in the right place. I encourage you to explore and implore as much as you can about the dynamic you have with others, especially romantically. There have been people who preferred a polyamorous lifestyle and relationship dynamic, simply because it sounds cool. Doing it, for this reason, is unsustainable. You must truly love, truly commit, and truly be able to do it with more than one individual to be an efficient, ethical, developed human being. And who doesn’t want more of those in the world?
There are many things that people like to talk about throughout their relationship with their partners, and this may not be one of the first ones you think of. However, if it crops up in your mind as the one you'd like to bring about in conversation, let's talk about...