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Ask the Loveologist: Polyamory, More Love or More Confusion?

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Ask the Loveologist: Polyamory, More Love or More Confusion?

I have been with the same man for a couple of years and he just asked me whether I would want to be in an open relationship with him. He has met another couple through his work that practices polyamory and he is interested in exploring a relationship with them. I am not sure about this but I am trying to be open-minded. Can “open” relationships really work? Is polyamory just another way to have more sexual partners?  I know that I can and do get jealous and it seems like tempting fate, but I don’t want to lose him because of this. Is there a way for us both to have what we want in this arrangement?

The idea of polyamory is not new. In fact, the idea of multiple partner relationships is as old as our documented history. There are even Egyptian statues, which celebrate the act and many other religions which have over the years, sanctified the practice of polygamy.  It wasn’t until the late-1960s and 1970s when the “free love” movement opened the way to the polyamory practices of today.  Books that started the movement, like Open Marriage, have been followed recently by  Jenny Block’s Open and Opening Up by sex columnist Tristan Taormino. The most popular polyamory magazine called Loving More has 15,000 regular readers and it has been estimated that there are some 500,000 polyamorous couples/families living in the United States.

Polyamory distinguishes itself from other forms of multiple relationships by its central idea that all relationships, whether they are sexual or emotional exist within the knowledge and consent of all parties. According to the Polyamory society pages, they describe their choices as a “love style,” which is a responsible and ethical form of non-monogamy. Their belief that human beings have the ability to love more than one person intimately in a committed, sustainable, multiple relationships is how they view the future of all relationships. They say that the practice of Polyamory is about maturity and overcoming our jealousies.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

141 comments

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2:25PM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Monogamy is a challenge. Anything in life worth doing will be challenging. As for boredom and familiarity, I believe you're not with the right person if you're feeling bored and familiar with your partner or you're the boring one that needs to not live life on auto pilot and do something different. Not watching tv or limiting tv seems to be a good start.

Also I can tell from watching other friends relationships that dating or being in a relationship with multiple people makes it very very confusing for the person that's dating multiple people.

2:21PM PST on Nov 26, 2012

sounds hard. must be special people willing to share. unless it is a "can't be there all the time" or some strange 3 some involving a bisexual party

9:03AM PST on Nov 19, 2012

Complicated and potentially hurtful.

6:35PM PST on Nov 10, 2012

I guess this was posted twice, I like having one person, I like being a moral person, if you don't like marriage yourself or don't like relationships, all the power to you. Do what you want, and hoe around then

6:17PM PST on Nov 10, 2012

I think there is something valuable about having one person.

6:12AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

I make a lot of jokes about being polyamorous and being in open relationships, like "If you get into polyamory for the sex, it's like buying the airplane ticket for the peanuts". Or "polyamory is like group therapy", and that's to diffuse the mystery and sex-fixation for those not in the know yet.

The relationships are just like any others, prone to the same joys and sorrows. Sometimes bad things happen, even among people with good and intelligent intentions...and sometimes people don't have those, either.

There are many ways of "doing polyamory", and often the freedom to love and partner off in ways that society doesn't have ground rules for is daunting. But those of us who are oriented to be polyamorous, in open relationships or groups, or exploring...it's the best thing for us.

I know I wouldn't trade those moments when I got to see another side of my partners, when they were being good partners to each other, for anything.

I would like my relationships to be able to go through the natural course of things, including breakups that happen, without it being the "I Told You So" for people who think polyamory doesn't work. Do we point fingers at monogamy when those partnerships end?

5:59AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

For relevant and down-to-earth information on polyamory, this is a great podcast: Pedestrian Polyamory http://www.lifeontheswingset.com/category/podcast/pedestrian-polyamory/

11:45PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

While this article is a drastic improvement over the last I read on this site to mention polyamory, I still feel the need to object. Yes, polyamory can be more complicated and more difficult, but it can more fulfilling. When in more relationships, you get more of everything. That goes for the negative and the positive. You get more of the sickness and money troubles and work stress, but you also get more of the joyous moments in life and more support when you need it most.
As for those in the poly groups claiming it will be the future of all relationships and how they're so much more mature: It takes skill at forming relationships, communicating within those relationships and knowing yourself and your own needs to be able to manage any relationship well, so of course, the person who manages multiple relationships would need to be skilled in those areas. However, that doesn't mean that poly folk are better than mono folk or that their relationships are better. They're no more evolved and no, the future is not likely to be all poly relationships.
One last point, you say humans are hard-wired for jealousy. I'd challenge you to question this assumption and where this "hard wiring" really comes from. I don't believe this to be hard wired so much as programed. We're taught as children that love means "one and only" and that even looking at another is betrayal. We're taught that to be loved is to own someone's heart. Take that out of the picture and what would happen, I wonder?

3:05PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

I think the idea of polyamory sounds attractive, but I think the reality would be far more demanding just trying to ensure that all persons had quality equal time and attention. I just don't think I could do it. I am thankful for the wife that I have.

12:30PM PDT on Oct 20, 2010

Not for the immature or those who are incapable of seeing out of the cloak of social norms.

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