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-   -   Types of Poly's staying power? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=35797)

Moose17 12-26-2012 06:20 PM

Types of Poly's staying power?
Ok, so how many kinds of Poly are there? What are they, and how do they work? I'm aware that some people have just completely open relationships and don't discuss other partners with each other, and that some give each other veto power, and that some call themselves poly when what they're really after is a swinger relationship, and that some have stable closed triads, and that there's really an endless variety that changes with every individual and all that.

But how long do these relationships tend to last? I know monogamous marriages don't have an incredible track record, but is serial polyamory any better than serial monogamy?

I ask because my situation feels somewhat unusual in these circles. My wife and I started this discussion very recently, when she developed romantic feelings for someone who was already a close friend and happened to be openly poly.

As I said elsewhere: My spouse and I put each other first. When we started this discussion, my wife explicitly gave me veto power not just regarding the person she's interested in, but over the concept of having external relationships. She offered to return to our strict monogamy if I wanted, at any time, if I need that, and has repeated the offer during scary or insecure moments. We have kids, we built a life together for the last decade-plus, and it can grow and change, but nothing can be allowed to damage it or substantively detract from it. I'm not sure how common that dynamic is, how long external relationships can last for people in situations like ours, or even how monos going poly tend to do a few years down the line.

But it goes back to the question of "how long does any poly relationship last?". So, I'm asking. Gimme stories of endurance. I want to hear particularly from people whose situations started out like mine, but also from anyone who wants to chime in. I freely admit that I don't know enough about any of this. Fill me in.

BoringGuy 12-26-2012 07:31 PM

Non-monogamy is not a magic bullet that makes relationships perfect and ever-lasting. I have noticed posts that go, "We tried opening our relationship, and the other relationships ENDED! ZOMG what does it MEAN? What's the point in being poly if people still BREAK UP? Waaahhh!"

So there you have it. Relationships end. Or they don't. It has nothing to do with whether you're poly or mono. It's just that monogamous relationships come with expectations that are sanctioned by society.

That is all. Nothing else.

(By the way, I have been married for 13 years and been on/off again with my other partner since 1988. So I hope that satisfies your request for stories of "endurance". However, I do not "Identify" as poly. My current relationship configuration does meet the criteria for some other people's definitions of poly though, but whatever-whatever. LOts of other relationships have come and gone and come back again and gone again and some have not come back at all during that time.)

Moose17 12-26-2012 08:49 PM

Oh, I know there's no magic bullet, and I know relationships end; that's one of my fears in this whole thing. I'm not really sure what I'm asking for besides stories. There's very little research or literature on this all. I know something like 50% of marriages end in divorce, and I know some percentage of those that don't end up with other flexible arrangements, and some percentage stays monogamous. How does poly affect marriage? How does marriage affect couples who start poly?

Thank you for the story. That's the biggest part of what I was looking for. I just have no idea what might be ahead of us, and want to be able to forecast a bit. It's nice to hear that the label doesn't fit you, too. It doesn't seem to work for us, either, and that has been uncomfortable at times.

WhatHappened 12-26-2012 09:48 PM

For what it's worth...my BF says that he sees roughly the same percentage of breakups among his poly, open marriage, and swinger friends and wider community as he does anywhere else in society.

He and his wife have had an open marriage for 15 years.

GalaGirl 12-26-2012 10:18 PM

There's lots of ways to arrange open model relationships. And in the polyamorous segment -- as many ways to "do" poly as there are people.

All relationships come with a clock attached. Even "til death do us part" is an ending.

Once upon a time I was a hinge type person ever before I knew the terminology. I married then BF1 and we have clocked 19 years together. BF2? From active friendship to romance back to active friendship to fading from my life? 6 years. He's still around to ping by email if I ping him. Mostly I don't -- he's not a pen pal type. So is it 6 years or also 19 years? When does one stop/start counting? What about natural pauses in between because of school, work or whatever? Does it matter? I don't think it is worthwhile to stress out about it.

It will last as long as it does. And even when one thing ends (romance), something else may continue (friendship). I'm fortunate to be on good terms with my exes even if we're not especially tight when everyone's spread so far across the country.

In friends -- I don't see that the monoships or polyships last longer than the other. Largely it depends on the people in them. A church friend just lost her spouse -- they were married (and monogamous) for more than 50 something years. Meanwhile, the oldest polyship I know? Friends with my mom. By my estimate it's like 44 years.

What is it you need reassuring on?


LovingRadiance 12-26-2012 10:54 PM

It's hard to define.

My exboyfriend is a close friend. We were in an open sexual relationship and roommates for 4 years. But, our career paths diverged, so we "broke up" in terms of sexual relationship and roommates.
However, we remain close friends. He visits, stays the night at our place, joins in holidays periodically. We've been close for... 19 years.

My husband and I have been married for 14 years, together 15.
My boyfriend and I have been best friends for 19 years, sexually involved off and on over the years. He moved in with us 10 years ago and we committed to an "official" dating relationship 3 years ago..

DH, bf and I are raising the last two of four kids. They are 5 and 12 yrs. They both helped raise my oldest who is now 21.
I don't see us ever "breaking up". There may be a change in household structuring-but as far as being a family-we'll always be family...

UpsideDown 12-26-2012 11:02 PM


Originally Posted by LovingRadiance (Post 174075)
It's hard to define.

I don't see us ever "breaking up". There may be a change in household structuring-but as far as being a family-we'll always be family...

This gives me, in my situation, hope. I really believe, in my bones, that DH and I will be together until "death does us part." With my friend, CG, I hope to be friends that long, but know that whatever other-than-friendship we have won't be a continuous thing in that. On again, off again, close friends, sometimes with benefits, sounds like my real best-case scenario.

LovingRadiance 12-26-2012 11:11 PM

My boyfriend and I became best friends in April 1993.
We became sexually involved in 1996, for one month.
We were platonic friends for several years.
1998 we became sexually involved again. That ended after a couple months.
1999 I got married to my husband.
bf and I started a sexual affair in 2001.
That ended a few months later.
re-ignited and ended several times over the next few years.
2005 the three of us started discussing having a baby.
2006 via a turkey baster bf impregnated me with our youngest child.
2007 our beautiful daughter was born and Dh fell madly in love with her. ;)
Sept 2009 we became sexually involved and made a commitment as boyfriend/girlfriend. That's remained steady.

But-through it all-we've ALWAYS been best friends and none of the times we stopped being sexually involved were induced by a fight or anything like that. We just "go with the flow" and it works.

Moose17 12-26-2012 11:13 PM


Originally Posted by GalaGirl (Post 174071)

What is it you need reassuring on?


I dunno, mostly that this has all been done before and it isn't the end of anybody's world. That long-term, loving friendships can grow and change in unexpected ways and still be maintained without damage having to take place elsewhere. Sounds rational and possible, but this is all incredibly new to me.

While my parents are mono and still together, same as my wife's, I've known some seriously unstable people in my lifetime, and have had very little exposure to the poly community. I'm not assuming non-mono folks are unstable, I've just never seen much of poly-land, and never heard enough about it to catch that stable (in my measure-in-decades timescale) happens there.

All of these stories have been deeply reassuring in different ways. Please, keep 'em coming.

GalaGirl 12-26-2012 11:32 PM


I dunno, mostly that this has all been done before and it isn't the end of anybody's world. That long-term, loving friendships can grow and change in unexpected ways and still be maintained without damage having to take place elsewhere. Sounds rational and possible, but this is all incredibly new to me.
Well, it is true. There is nothing new under the sun. Honest. What are you afraid of losing to "damage?"

Keep in mind that stable relationships, whether monoship or polyships or something else are usually just being their regular ol' normal selves doing the business of living -- groceries, making dinner, going to work, raising kids, walking the dog, going to church, whatever it is they do. They aren't shouting from the corner "8 o'clock! And all's well!" :)


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