can't remember if this is posted here. Excuse me for the repeat if it is
THE 12 PILLARS OF POLYAMORY
Kenneth R. Haslam MD
May 15, 2008
Note: The following is adapted from a lecture given to Polyamorous NYC on 19 March 2008
Feel free to copy and distribute this material, but please copy it in its entirety and include my name. I am responsible for my own ideas and mistakes and will always welcome comment and criticism. I reserve the right to publish these comments elsewhere. KH
Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty. It is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy nor fear. It is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited when its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve.
Percy Byshe Shelley
The road to Polyamory Utopia is long and twisting. There are many learning curves and it is dotted with potholes and littered with road kill. The rewards are great on arrival but there is a price to pay. You have to learn how to negotiate this road and unfortunately our parents, peers, teachers, and clerics have not been too helpful in guiding us along the way
But we are learning Brad Blanton, the author of Radical Honesty, in a keynote address at a Loving More conference several years ago said, “You guys are the research and development arm of society”. And as researchers we will make mistakes .
But we also learn as we make mistakes. In observing the Poly community over the past 10 years it has become apparent to me that there are some basic principles, I call them Pillars, that everyone must understand and internalize to be able to successfully negotiate the road to Polyamory.
THE 12 PILLARS OF POLYAMORY
You must know yourself and be comfortable being you. You need to know without question the differences between your love needs and wants. Do you know your languages of love and which of them apply to you? (words of affirmation, touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service) Do you know and accept your sexuality – kinks and all? Are you genuine with yourself and are you comfortable sharing yourself as you really are with others? Can you be the person you really are? And if you are unsure, can you admit this to others? A good grasp of your sense of self is mandatory.
Polyamory is about VARIETY. I firmly believe that included in our authenticity is an honest acceptance of our need for variety – variety in our sexual and relationship needs and wants.
A grounded and balanced Poly understands they are free to make decisions about how they will live their life. They are free to choose. For example every day you choose to stay with your partners.
Of course this may cause conflict with partners who think they know what is good for you. Ask your partners for their opinions, think them over, and then make your own choices. You will make and be responsible for your own mistakes.
Watch out for those in your life who want to control you and limit your choices.
Although some will disagree, I firmly believe that there should be no secrets in Polyamory. Full disclosure is paramount. And even if you try to keep things to yourself remember the Poly community is very small and pillow talk is
second only to the Internet in keeping everyone informed about who is in relationship with whom. Many Polyamorists love to gossip and your secrets may well be common knowledge – but you just don’t know that everyone else knows.
Nothing is more damaging to a Poly relationship than to find out the details about your partner from others.
A close friend of mine is married, and his wife does not know he is closet bisexual and a
closet cross dresser. You cannot believe the amount of stress this causes which manifests as poor heath and depression.
Wherever possible, get to know your partner’s partners. I say this easily yet I have partners who are reluctant to be fully open about their partners.
Keep all of your partners in the loop. Poly relationships often fail because the primary partner feels left out.
A lesson the Poly community can teach the mono community is how to deal with unadulterated truth in relationships.
A quick definition of trust is: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. An example might be condom use. You agree with all your partners to use condoms with everyone not your primary. You believe that they will do what they say they will do.
You want to know that your partners will behave responsibly. In fact, an older term for Polyamory is “responsible non-monogamy”.
Trust is always an “iffy” thing, as we all know how easy it is to break that trust in the heat of passion.
Keeping your partners trust and honoring agreements may well be one of the most difficult aspects of Polyamory. I fail from time to time but I communicate, confess and just deal with the aftermath. Sometimes this not a lot of fun.
V. GENDER EQUALITY
What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Different rules for different genders are not allowed.
A lady friend of mine has a bit of trouble
with this concept. She is Poly and very much in love with her primary. She continues to date others, but he, being consumed with New Relationship Energy (NRE), preferred to be monogamous. As his NRE cooled and he became more comfortable with Poly thinking (and multipartnering) he began to develop an interest in other women. She was distraught, entered psychotherapy and now, months later she is still in therapy and still not comfortable with him dating.
It is easy to embrace the concept of Polyamory but the practice is sometimes hard. It may take years to feel at ease with the Poly lifestyle.
Let me add a word or two here about women and Polyamory. There is a saying that men often have to beg women to come to the first Polyamory party. But by the third party he has to beg her to come home. Women seem to love Polyamory and as you look over Poly history you find many women who are the movers and shakers in the Poly community.
It is my impression that men are more often prone to have difficulty sharing their women with other men.
Now I ask you, who would want their partner to be dishonest?
When I was first learning about Polyamory I cheated on my primary partner. I had met someone new and was consumed by New Relationship Energy. When I eventually confessed, my partner was destroyed and there was a bloodbath with me getting the worst of the battle.
I was told in no uncertain terms that she could handle anything but deceit. She had no problems with my having sex with others, or falling in love with others, but lying and withholding information was not acceptable.
So now I just tell my partners when I am attracted to others and keep them informed. No editing, no withholding.
Your partners may not like hearing what you are telling them but in the long run just getting everything out for discussion beats lying, withholding information and editing.
Poly life is so complicated that I cannot imagine not being honest with all of my partners. And I will tell you this is not always easy.
In my opinion the essence of Polyamory is about HONESTY IN RELATIONSHIPS