Polyamorous Relationships: The Rules

 What You Need to Know Before You Try it

Polyamory as a relationship style has long been known in underground cultures and its comparatively recent appearance in our modern mainstream consciousness has been met with scorn by some and curiosity by others. For those who seek diversity in partnerships and sexuality, its ideals of liberal interaction have become the key to releasing themselves from a life of numb, monogamy-based servitude.

In its purest form, polyamory is a romantic relationship that consists of more than the standard two people. In contrast to traditional polygamy, polyamory implies intimate involvement among all the people within a relationship, on all levels—sexually and otherwise. The typical portrayal of polyamorous relationships as being comprised of three people of various gender combinations is cliche. Such clusters can include any number of members, forming mini tribes of love and passion.

Still, on the more prosaic level the elastic definition of polyamory can be expanded to include a lot of avant garde lifestyles such as swinging couples, cuckold practitioners and many others. The most important thing to understand is that these relationships are all about the experience of other people. Thus those with big egos and unchecked insecurities need not apply. Hang ups don’t help in complex human interactions and issues like self-importance, neediness and repression will have to be looked at and understood for what they really are.

We live in an egocentric culture that fosters a desperate need for external validation and gives us precious, little incentive to get over ourselves. This is pure poison to polyamorous relations. So before ever seriously considering entering into such a relationship, one has to be realistic about one’s true level of selfishness and need. A lot of people nowadays just don’t work… or play… well with others. For them this sort of relationship will be downright terrifying as issues of possessiveness and repression take them deep into their most vulnerable areas, challenging them to enter into realms of higher understanding they are not equipped or prepared to handle.

Communication is key to any successful relationship but even more so for the polyamorous one. Our culture saddles us with a myriad of unspoken rules and codes that must be followed in our dealings with other people—things we’re not supposed to feel at all, let alone express. Thus desires remain unknown and sensuality is destroyed, while hidden hurts and resentments are fostered in silence over time. All this is destructive enough in vanilla relationships. In avant garde expressions, it can be downright devastating. Open, honest and constant communication is really the only hard rule the participants in a polyamorous configuration have to follow.

Most people on the outside assume jealousy is the biggest problem in an arrangement where attention and affection must be shared, but the fact is jealousy is not germane to human nature. Base greed, desire and envy are normal but the twisted socio-sexual version of these we call “jealousy” has more to do with low self-worth and value placement problems than it does with greed or desire. Feelings of jealousy speak solely to neediness and lack of self-fulfillment. And that’s not something anybody else can fix. Nor should they be expected to.

The best counter to jealousy is self-contentment, so most successful polyamorous groups are composed of people with rich inner worlds, consuming occupations and individual passions. People who are least likely to be jealous are those least likely to need to be jealous. So while it may not be a rule, a strong sense of individual self-fulfillment is highly recommended as an important part of a luscious whole for those considering this lifestyle. It’s tall order, but for those who actually manage it this experience of diversity and deliverance is more than worth the work.

5 thoughts on “Polyamorous Relationships: The Rules

  1. Aida Bon

    This is me again Liam. How strange that there are only 2 comments on your amazing column. I just read the article of Krishna Bill: Is 50 Shades of Grey improving sex for everybody? 60 million copies sold worldwide. Can you remember your column of april 8, 2012? Is the sex worth the trouble? You advised Jill to seek out a real BDSM experience!!!!! No one had heard of 50 Sades at that time. You are so avant garde in your columns. For the ….time I am asking when are your columns going to be published. After we have long forgotten Grey, you wil be on our minds.
    Poly love you and I hope many columns in 2013, Aida Bon

  2. Aida Bon

    Liam, once again your column is an eye opener. I always felt polyamorous but never knew there existed a word for those feelings. 22 pages on WIKIPEDIA certainly made the sun shine. What a pity that it will most probably take a century before it is accepted. Luckily I believe in reincarnation so I still can experience that way of life.
    Thanks for your knowledge, as usual. Poly!!!!! love you, Aida (Your fan from The Netherlands)


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