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sashalessinphd 04-02-2010 02:11 PM

How do you practice polyamory?

POLYAMORY & AHIMSA: Communicate with Lovers’ Significant Others by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D. www.worldpolyamoryassociation.com

I attended the Network for a New Culture’s two week August community meeting in Oregon and found myself in the middle of an earnest debate that, bottom line, concerned alternate ways of doing polyamory.

On one side of the debate, my wife Janet and I advocate complete candor with the significant others of our would-be-lovers–before we connect sexually with these prospects. Before we even tell anyone either of us is attracted to someone, Janet and I speak privately about whether to communicate our attraction to the objects of desire one or both of us has. If both Janet and I agree to go ahead, we ask the person(s) if they’re interested in getting to know and perhaps become friends and then lovers with us.

If our prospective lovers say, “Yes, let’s explore going deeper with each other,” we ask to speak with each of their significant others before we and the prospectives engage sexually. If, when we communicate with our prospective lovers’ lovers, these significant others say. Okay,” we proceed to get to know each other with the intention of assessing whether to become more intimate.

If the significant others of our prospective lovers say, “Wait till we too get to know you and Janet,“ we honor this. If they say, “Wonderful, we fully support you connecting.” we proceed to develop the friendship that can lead to poly loving.

If, however, the significant others of our prospective lovers indicate that it would create distress for them which they wish to avoid, we keep our relating to the would-be-prospectives on the level of friendship and share no sexuality. We choose to create no pain for others; it hurts us to distress others, so we refrain from sex with their lovers.

On the other hand in the debate we had at the conference, some polys took the position that each person was autonomous and needn’t consult anyone–wife, lover or otherwise, nor need their perspectives consult anyone before engaging in sex. If their prospective lovers’ lovers get uptight over it, too bad, that’s life and maybe pain’s what the prospective’s lovers need to grow–if they even have a candor commitment.

We advocate ahimsa–harmlessness–candor, transparency. We believe in truth, disclosure and kindness.

HOW DO YOU PRACTICE POLYAMORY? How do you manage communication with the significant others of your prospective others? On this site and at the World Polyamory Harbin Hot Springs (CA) Conference June 23-27, we continue this debate in our panel discussion, How We Do Poly. Let us know your perspective.

redpepper 04-12-2010 07:31 AM

I have noticed this too and practice similarly to the two of you. I would never feel comfortable with a lover that doesn't consult my feelings before engaging in a sexual and/or intimate relationship with another. It just wouldn't work for me.

My feeling is that people such as that are unable to love deeply and respect the connections they create with others,... but I have no idea on this and it is simply my own perspective that keeps me from feeling hurt by such actions. I recognize that and live with the knowledge that it infuriates others. So be it. I think it's dangerous and uncaring and not my way of being poly. Seeing as many people as one likes without having a need to tell them what you are doing, to me, is dating.

SchrodingersCat 04-13-2010 05:21 AM

I'm with you guys.

I think the "decent" thing to do as a human being is to try not to hurt anyone, so much as you have the power to avoid it.

Going around careless of what effect your actions have on others is selfish and juvenile.

I do think that if someone is feeling negative emotions about a positive thing like love, then it is beneficial to them and their relationship as a whole to confront those negative emotions and see the positive. But that doesn't make it perfectly fine for me to go around inflicting those emotions.

At the end of the day, we can only be responsible for our own feelings and actions. Is it my fault if someone doesn't approve of me dating their SO? No. Is it a kind thing for me to do, knowing that's how they feel? Definitely not. So it comes down to, do I want to be a kind person or a careless jerk? Personally, I prefer to be a kind person...

Justbeloving 04-16-2010 03:22 AM

I think the answer is VERY clear!
Of course I am very new to polyamory but in my understanding of polyamory, isn't it about love in the agape sense? For all concerned? Whole, true love? How is this created when one partner disregaurds or is unconcerned with the others feelings? Might as well be monogomous and have affairs!! How is it possible to develope compersion? (I believe compersion is developed, not innate. At least not in these circumstances.)

Would not the new relationship have an even greater sense of wholeness with the blessing/blessings of the other partners?

To me this makes no sense. With that being said, something I have noticed or a better term may be "sense" in the poly community is there IS a divide! I've explored hundreds of "groups", read articles etc and have come to the conclusion that there are those that are swingers under the cover of a polyamorous lifestyle/rationale. They are not all about love but sex is the primary goal. This is my opinion... my sense of things. I'm sticking with it, my perspicaciousness has never failed me. I could go on to explore further but I refrain due to lack of refined poly literary skill.

One more thing... the Bible, while I'm aware not all here are christians, has what I consider the PERFECT definition of love. I've meditated on this many many times... and frankly it is part of the reason, along with my relationship with Jesus, that I've been able come to terms with myself, reconcile my faith and desired "lifestyle" and the great love I have inside me and the need/desire to express it.

1 Corinthians 13

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

So taking in this verse and considering the debate... which is better way to practice polyamory? I think the answer is VERY clear!

Athena 08-01-2010 11:57 PM

My husband and I are both really new to poly, and for that matter avoiding anything but friendship because we are having some career related difficulties in our marriage that we are being counseled for right now. However, once those resolve, and we reach the stage at which it is a good time to add other loves, neither of us see how any relationship that is truly loving can proceed based on lies or even evasions. How is it loving to jeopardize your new love's previous relationship by not being totally inclusive and honest with the other love or loves of your new love? I am Jewish though lean a bit to being pagan friendly (no one who is interested in the dark side however). My husband is a convert to Judaism of his own wish himself. I really fail to understand how sneaking around on at least one of someone in the poly group's partners is either loving or true to poly as I've been understanding it, and I really think that approach is doomed to produce the kind of unhealthy dramas that some folks are posting. I really enjoy seeing the posts of Redpepper and her partner as it gives me hope that stable healthy poly relationships are not a myth.

marksbabygirl 08-02-2010 01:14 AM

How do I practice polyamory?

In my head :p I haven't had the opportunity to explore a "poly" relationship yet - its all a theory at this point.

But I thoroughly enjoyed watching my husband enjoy himself in intimate moments with another woman the other night :)

Thunderlizard 08-02-2010 02:20 AM

Our theory is the same as yours... if the spouse, partner, or S.O. of a particular interest either isn't comfortable, or isn't happy with them dating one or both of us, it's a dead issue. We don't do DADT, cheating, or infidelity. Period.

idealist 08-02-2010 10:49 PM

I practice polyamorous the same way I practice my business, friendships and family life....... With complete honesty and frankness. It is my opinion that once an individual feels the exhilaration and satisfaction which is experienced as a result of a life of complete openness, honesty and sharing.....they will never want to lie or withhold the truth from the people they care about any more.....since this is the heart of an intimate connection.

jkelly 08-04-2010 10:57 PM

Well, to answer the question posed, "Not like that." It may be exaggerated for emphasis to inspire a conversation, but I found the description of how you practice polyamory both very couple-centric and very formal, and pretty far from my experience.


Originally Posted by sashalessinphd (Post 25387)
We advocate ahimsa–harmlessness–candor, transparency. We believe in truth, disclosure and kindness.

Well, sure. I don't advocate harming people, either. But I think that there are some assumptions here that I don't agree with. For one thing, I don't think that asking for permission from a potential date's (every other?) partner is a very effective way of making sure that no one will ever get upset or be made uncomfortable. For another, I don't know that making someone uncomfortable or upsetting thm is "harming" them. For yet another, I'm pretty sure that I could, if I looked hard enough, find someone somewhere who objected to my dating anyone I could possibly be involved with, and I'm not sure why their opinion doesn't count in terms of absolute harmlessness.

I'd be unhappy in a situation where I didn't have a friendly relationship with a partner's other partner(s). It'd make things kind of awkward and uncomfortable, and it would impact my thinking about the relationship. But I generally expect that my partners are going to be better at managing their other relationships than I would be, and don't think taking responsibility to try to do it for them makes much sense.

Athena 08-04-2010 11:46 PM

You reply that it is the responsibility of the person you are dating to manage their other relationships. Assuming that person and all their other relationships are already openly poly, one could call that a reasonable policy. Let's say though that you are interested in dating a member of a previously only mono couple that have not even yet had a poly discussion between them. Given the stigma many members of mono-minded couples feel about asking a partner permission to enter a poly situation, wouldn't you be worried that you may be initiating a relationship based on sneaking around the other mono partner?

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