6-12 of the 12 pillars of poly
VII. OPEN COMMUNICATION
Although this overlaps other Pillars it is so important it is worth repeating.
There should be NO secrets in Polyamory. None.
Over and over I hear stories about multiple partner relationships failing because someone felt left out. Everyone should know about everyone in your life that is of romantic/sexual interest to you. Not knowing is deadly. Keep all of your partners in the loop, especially when you are starting new relationships.
By way of illustration I have a partner whose husband became depressed because of health issues. He did some inappropriate things which I didn’t understand until I found out about the depression. And I will warn you; depression dissolves lots of the defenses and melts your self-esteem.
Depression and Polyamory are not a good mix.
As an example of communication there is an apocryphal story about a man in therapy who finally confessed that he always wanted to tie up his wife and have sex with her. He was afraid to tell her for fear she would divorce him and he didn’t want that to happen. The wife finally entered therapy and after many sessions confessed that she always wanted her husband to tie her up and have sex with her but was afraid to tell him fearing that he would want a divorce. Think about the joy these two might have shared if only they were about to be honest in their communication.
When I begin a new relationship I always make it a point to tell my other partners the details of my romantic life.
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
It has been said that successful Polyamorists are so busy communicating that they cannot find time to have sex.
No one owns anyone.
This supposedly ancient Chinese proverb sums up possessiveness:
“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was. We do not possess anything in this world, least of all other people. We only imagine that we do. Our friends, our lovers, our spouses, even our children are not ours; they belong only to themselves. Possessive and controlling friendships and relationships can be as harmful as neglect.”
In Polyamory you must quickly learn to love with an open hand. Allow yourself to understand and accept your partner’s autonomy.
My partners have complete autonomy to establish relationships that work for them. Of course, I am free to voice my opinions but they are welcome to make their own mistakes.
Practicing Polyamory requires heaps of self-esteem!
Everyone knows what is going on in all the partners’ lives and everyone AGREES to what is going on.
If there is no agreement it is cheating. And if it is cheating then it is NOT Polyamory. It is cheating.
X. ACCEPTING OF SELF DETERMINATION
Understanding that each of us is different is essential. Encourging your partners to follow their own life’s path is mandatory.
Suppose, as for an example, your partner wants to explore BDSM and you have little interest and maybe even an aversion to this pastime. If they find a play partner for an occasional session of impact play or bondage you just have encourage them to do it safely and welcome them home.
I have members of my extended Poly family where she wanted to explore her interest in BDSM and he encouraged her to find safe ways to do this. For a year or two she had one or two sessions a month with a Dom, learned her limits, and eventually lost interest. They remain happily married and Polyamorous.
You must keep an open mind about your partner’s behavior since you have no control. Yes, you can voice your opinions and make your concerns and wishes known but expect disagreements from time to time. And disagreements can lead to disruption of relationships.
No one ever said that Polyamory is about perfection in relationships. Rather Polyamory is about honesty in relationships. Polyamorous relationships can and will fail, just like monogamous relationships.
I will be the first to tell you THIS IS NOT ALWAYS EASY, especially in the early stages of exploring Polyamory.
X. SEX POSITIVE
Sexuality is, of course, a major part of Polyamorous relationships and all partners being in agreement on sexual matters is essential. Are all of your partners sex positive?
I have seen few descriptions of what sex positive means and here is my definition.
1. A sex positive person is comfortable with their emotional, spiritual, physical and sexual selves.
2. A sex positive person understands, accepts and tolerates their partners sexual needs, beliefs, practices, and yes, even kinks.
3. A sex positive person is open to exploration of a variety of sensual, intimate, and sexual experiences and freely shares their thinking with their partners.
4. A sex positive person can easily communicate their sexual needs to their partners -- they can ask for what they want comfortably.
Communicating your needs to NOT have sex or participate in activities you do not desire is also sex positive.
Ask for what you want – sometimes you might even get it.
Understanding and embracing compersion is the essence of successful Polyamorous relationships.
I plagiarized this description from a web site now disappeared into cyberspace and I quote (in part): “Compersion is the opposite of jealousy. In simple language Compersion is the love we feel when others feel love. It is the pleasure we feel when others feel pleasure. It is that vast landscape of pleasure and intimacy beyond jealousy. It is the emotional expression that what we want for our loved ones more than anything is their happiness and fulfillment. Compersion recognizes people for who they really are rather than for whom we might want them to be. Compersion recognizes that autonomy, not control, is the way of the lover.
Here is an example plagiarized from an entry by “birgittefires” on My Space April, 2008:
”Compersion is taking your fiancé out to buy flowers for the girl he’s wooing, and offering to help pay for the bouquet without being paid back when he finds one a little out of his price range... And feeling excited and happy for him when you’re sitting on the couch eating pizza and watching romance movies while he spends his first night over there... waiting up for him to get home from a late date so you can hear all the sordid details.”
It takes some time and some practice to fully understand and embrace the concept of Compersion.
Having considered these 12 pillars, you might conclude that Polyamory is just not for you! Polyamory is not for everyone. It works for some and is a disaster for others.
As you travel down the road to Polyamory, especially during the first few miles, do not exceed the speed limit – ever. Go slow! Speed kills.
The road to Polyamory is difficult since there are no roadmaps that are suitable for all. But the traveler, by studying and understanding and embracing the 12 Pillars of Polyamory will have a much easier journey.
Kenneth R. Haslam MD
14 June 2008
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