To start let’s define polyamory. Polyamory is usually defined as when a person prefers to have romantic and sexual relationships with more than one person at a time (though not necessarily at the same time!). This is contrasted with monogamy when a person agrees to only have a sexual and romantic relationship with one person.
Polyamory is one of a number of forms of consensual non-monogamy. Consensual non-monogamy is when people agree that they will have relationships with more than one person. They are honest with each other and often have a set of agreements as to how their relationships will be run. Now that we have a general definition, let’s consider how you can tell if consensual non-monogamy is for you and from there, whether polyamory is for you.
- Do you enjoy sexual variety? Have a high sex drive? Are you sexually adventurous?If any or all of these describe you, you are likely to find consensual non-monogamy a better fit for you than monogamy. Polyamory will offer you the possibility of multiple relationships providing lots of variety and if you have a high sex drive making it easier to get your sexual needs met.
- Do you enjoy emotional intimacy with more than one person?Have you always wanted to share deeply with more than just your partner? Do you have a number of friends who are as close to you as your romantic partners? If so, you may do well having more than one romantic partner at time. People who find deep conversations and having many close connections often enjoy being polyamorous.
- Do you see yourself as spiritual, non-religious or do you practice a less common form of religion?The most common things practiced by people who are non-monogamous and not atheist or agnostic are Unitarianism, Universalism, Paganism and Buddhism. If so, you are more likely to feel comfortable in a non-monogamous relationship structure.
- Are you comfortable with examining your feelings and talking about them with others?If you are going to be successful in non-monogamous relationships, you will need to be emotionally literate. Success in all relationships increases when you are able to identify your own feelings, discriminate them from the feelings of others and talk about your feelings with others with little discomfort. If you have more than one relationship, the need to be an expert communicator and to know yourself well increases. Research shows that one thing that really unites people who are non-monogamous is an enthusiasm for and skill for getting into the emotion
- Do you have good emotional skills or are you willing to develop them?Polyamory requires a variety of emotional skills including the ability to self-soothe, resilience, the ability to set good boundaries and abide by good boundaries, conflict management skills and emotional management skills. If you have these skills you will do well balancing your own needs and the needs of multiple others. As long as you start with some of these skills, you can develop the others over time either by learning from your partners and friends or through working with a therapist or coach.
- Are you flexible?The more flexible you are the easier you will find polyamory. Even if you are not flexible, you can create a good structure with your partners that will allow you to work well together.
Reading this article so far it may seem that non-monogamy is all about managing emotions, managing conflict and talking all the time. While this is part of non-monogamy, there is a lot of fun to be had as well. With no one person having to meet all of another person’s needs, people become more relaxed, less anxious and better able to enjoy their time together.
Many people avoid non-monogamy because they feel it isn’t possible to be in love with more than one person at a time or to maintain love with more than one person at a time. I usually ask them if they would find it hard to love more than one child. Most people respond no to this question.
It is not love that is a limited resource. The most limited of our resources is time. It is the sharing of time that often causes conflict in relationships and this can be particularly difficult in non-monogamous relationships. I often find myself teaching people in poly relationships time management skills. The other limited resource is often related to time and that is attention. This is where jealousy can arise – around someone else getting more time or attention or gaining ‘special’ time (like Christmas, Thanksgiving or birthdays for example). Knowing this makes it easier to avoid the pitfalls.
I must mention solo polyamory here. Solo polyamory is when a person considers themselves to be their primary relationship partner and they enjoy having other relationships be ones that do not move towards living together. Many people in relationships quickly find themselves on the relationship escalator – moving towards living together, mingling finances, and/or having children together. If you prefer not to do this and prefer to have your own living space, maintain financial independence and have a more creative relationship structure you may find yourself embracing solo polyamory.
The best way to figure out if polyamory or other forms of consensual non-monogamy are right for you is to spend time exploring. Talk with people who are polyamorists, swingers, engage in open relationships. Ask for the positives and the negatives. There are lots of Facebook groups devoted to non-monogamy. Check out events near you devoted to non-monogamy. If you have a partner, talk it through with them. Explore by talking with a sex coach or therapist. Take the knowledge you acquire during exploration and then explore more!
I am a Sex & Intimacy Coach, Registered Psychologist, Speaker, Educator, and Author. I help individuals, couples and polyamorous groups to find and create their ideal lasting intimate relationships. I also help individuals heal relationship wounds from the past. I have an expertise in healing trauma and am kink-knowledgeable. My free eBook: 74Movies that are Not Pornography can spice things up. Enjoy my podcasts The A to Z of Sex and Sex Spoken Here.