Polyamory – How to (not) have a real relationship?

Picture of Cosima Siegling
Cosima Siegling

Imagine you swing on a trapeze. Your circus partner is supposed to catch you – would you let go?

“I couldn’t do it without any security,” – I hear it often when I talk about my poly relationship…

Inside me, there are many voices that scream in response: No! it’s not like that! You just don’t understand! And then I remind myself that it is not something to understand, more than having an open mind to imagine. Yet, then I am aware that maybe the person I am talking to hasn’t been in a polycircus yet…

Just like swinging on a trapeze, poly relationships are about trust and practice.

My boyfriend and I can date other people. We can sleep with them or simply go for a cup of tea with them. It is an agreement we made before we called our relationship poly. We share with each other about our interactions with others every time we meet each other.

When I talk about my relationship, they get to be misinterpreted quite a bit. Often I hear people say that it’s not “real” or “serious”, “you cannot feel safe in such relationship”.

Sometimes I wish instead of interpreting they would ask me: do you feel safe in your relationship? Is it serious for you?

Question to you, reader: How does a serious relationship look like to you?

Polyamory and safety are two terms that go parallel to each other but never in combination. I am only allowed to pick one – choose either polyamory or safety. And I believe it is not true, nor it is necessary to choose.

Security in relationship is strongly connected to faithfulness. In this context being faithful means being monogamous – with one partner ‘till death do us part’, like in movies. Furthermore, faithfulness as it is required for traditional secure relationship often implies having sex with one partner. Besides that many people can’t imagine that a romantic, relationship can also be only on an emotional level and doesn’t have to include sex.

To me being faithful means sticking to my integrity and keeping up with the agreements that we make together. Relationships in reality are a bundle of agreements that can be either implicit (we marry, therefore these are the things we are allowed to do and these are not allowed), or explicit (we marry and we tell each other out loud what we expect from each other, what we want other to do and do not).

Why do I feel more secure in my poly relationship than in my traditional relationship in the past?

Because now we set the rules together. We define our relationship according to what feels good for both of us. There is no unwritten implied code we have to read between the lines in order to be together. If I don’t feel good with what is happening right now I feel safe to talk about it. I am allowed to show myself with all my emotions, insecurities and fears. I don’t need to feel ashamed of myself, not even for my jealousy. My partner doesn’t blame me for who I am and my wishes. We are both committed to meet our needs in this relationship.

Security in relationship to me means that I trust my partner to be honest with me and that he will express himself if something is going on.

Likewise applies for me too – honesty creates security. I don’t need to play games and guess what my partner is feeling or thinking. I can rely on him that he will communicate himself.

Of course, this is a part of any relationship, not just polyamorous – creating a safe harbour for each other to meet as we are and trust each other.

In my opinion, monogamous relationships often lack conscious decision making on individual and couple level.

This is how it usually goes:

Two people meet and come to get to know each other. From a certain point on in relationship it is expected that you don’t cuddle, kiss or sleep with other people outside the relationship (sometimes even meeting or talking to another person of gender you are interested in is wrong)

All those “rules” are assumed, intrinsic and implied instead of discussed and mutually agreed upon. There are no clear agreements. Out of that unclarity arises stress handling unclear situations, feelings of guilt, shame and insecurities.

What being polyamorous means to me

Again and again I realise that it is about consciously and actively creating the relationship I want, in a way that everyone involved feels good in it.

My boyfriend and I have four main agreements together:

1 – We take responsibly for our actions and feelings.

We do not expect that the other person knows how we feel or can guess our desires and boundaries. It is our responsibility to express ourselves and to ask for what we need and want.

2 – We are honest with each other.

We tell each other every time we see someone else and what forms of physical or emotional contact were involved. We can freely share if we think someone is cute or attractive.

3 – We agreed that we can do whatever feels good with other people, if we are not in the same space. 

4 – If we are in the same place together, we check with each other before how we feel when we follow our desires, e.g. kiss someone else.

If we are at a party, for example, we check with each other before if we want to adjust our agreements and change anything for that night and specific party. Depending on how we feel or what desires we have.

 

For us this works very well right now. I love the stability and support we give each other, while at the same time I enjoy the honest freedom we have.

For me it is one of the nicest feelings to be allowed to make out with someone else at a party and know that at the end of the night my boyfriend will take my hand and we will go home together.

And if not, we can talk about it 😉

I imagine you already noticed, many people think polyamory is about having sex but it is mostly about communication.

What I wish for everyone

No matter at what point you are in your relationship DO NOT feel ashamed of your feelings, desires, and fears. Take them in and express yourself about everything that bothers you.

If someone confronts you with not taking your relationship seriously, maybe you can ask yourself why is it important for you that others take your relationship seriously?

And even if your definitions don’t match, in the end, it is all about celebrating every form of relationship. A celebration of connection of any kind.

 

Clarification added on 07/29/2017:

For clarifying definitions polyamory is meant for long term connections involving more than one person.
Relationship anarchy describes a relationship where outside of the relationship shorter connections with people are possible.
They don’t have to be separated. It can be a mixture in what ever form feels good to you 🙂 Labels can support us as well at limiting us. Feel into your heart for what you truly desire.

 

I blog about self-love, sexuality and conscious, positive mindset.

If you have any questions or thoughts to share, feel free to send me a message.

If you like, you can subscribe to my happiness-letter. As a gift you can watch the video about the „Five S of Sexuality“: www.cusilife.de/gluecksletter*

*It is in german

Thank you to Jura Glo for supporting me with translating this article.

Editor´s Note

This is an article by a Guest Author. Articles by a guest author do not necessarily represent the opinion of the editor or the operator of the site Polyamory Magazine. The profile of the author of this article can be found below this article.

Within the context of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press Polyamory Magazine provides guest authors the opportunity to publish articles to show a broad spectrum of representations and opinions about polyamory and open relations.

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Experiences with Polyamory

In the article series Experiences with Polyamory on Polyamory Magazine you will find articles where people report on their Experiences with Polyamory.

Other articles about polyamory

This article series is part of the article series about Polyamory, where you will find all articles on this topic. They are subdivided into various sub-areas, for example:

Coming-out as a polyamorous
Polyamory - one woman and several men
Interviews about Polyamory

You can find articles here that I have found all over the world, some in German and even more often in English.

More information about Polyamory

In the section "What is Polyamory" you will find information about what Polyamory is, how Polyamory works, where you can meet other polyamorous people, as well as other topics, for example (all coming soon, translation is in progress):

  • Prejudices about Polyamory describes common prejudices about Polyamory and presents you with the scientifically documented reality
  • Polyamory Events and Meetings
  • Polyamory dating websites
  • Polyamory Science with results from research about Polyamory

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About Cosima Siegling 2 Articles
Cosima runs the blog cusilife.de and writes about self-love, sexuality and conscious, positive mindset.

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