Basic Principles of Poly

Becca

Member
I have had some experience in poly (3 years in limited consensual non-monogamy, then 4 years poly), so I'm not a newbie. I am, however, in a position right now where I'm really analyzing *why* I've been poly. I'm trying to figure out the basic principles that made poly resonate for me.

For example, I'm a feminist. Monogamy is a practice that is closely associated with patriarchal control of women's reproduction, and monogamous marriage has historically meant the ownership of women as chattel. Rejecting monogamy felt like rejecting that cultural attitude towards women, rejecting the idea that being in a relationship is all about owning a person.

Also, as a feminist, I have strong feelings about bodily autonomy. I haven't wanted a person in a relationship with me to presume they could control what I do with my body (so long as I am taking reasonable steps to protect their health through safer sex practices).

What else? What are the principles on which you base your decision to be poly?

(In full disclosure, poly is not something that resonates so strongly with me these days, which is why I'm trying to break it down and look at it at all the different angles.)
 

london

Banned
Simply because I want to have multiple, simultaneous romantic relationships.

I'm a firm believer in equal rights for the LGBT community. I'm straight. I can still support people from the LGBT community and issues that affect people who identify as LGBT without identifying that way myself. I can still feel their relationships are valid and promote that ideal whilst having the heterosexual relationships I desire.
 
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Becca

Member
London, thank you for replying, but I guess I'm looking for the next step beyond "because I want to." Unless you are poly simply because it best serves your particular individual desires, and that's totally valid.

Did you mean that "personal desire" is the reason you are poly, nothing more, nothing less?
 

nycindie

Active member
Hi Becca,
Have you tried doing a search? There is an existing discussion (from merged threads) where people have shared, and continue to share, their viewpoints and experiences on this. Perhaps you will find it illuminating - feel free to add to it:

Why and how did you get into poly?

As for me, I discovered an acquaintance's blog about her practice of poly and I thought, "Oh, I think polyamory would work for me." So, I embraced it - but I could also be very happy to practice monogamy with the right person. For me, it's the dynamic between myself and my lovers that is most important. I did not get into polyamory to seek out any specific configuration or make some kind of political stance - and I like being in relationships with people for what they teach me about myself because, well, relationships are about relating, not making a statement.
 
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I'm not sure if this will address your specific situation, but these are some of the conclusions I have come to:

Just as we idolize many characters in stories we watch/read about, because we love their unique contribution to a story, we also can love a variety of personalities in real life. Different people endear us for different reasons.

I think each person's romantic drives are very individualized, and don't necessarily fit into a neat category for the entire human race. What may work for a person may not even last that person's entire lifetime as needs change. Because of that, I think a more free-flowing system of love is more apropos for me. I want to enjoy the present, and if needs change and I need something less committed than poly, I will cross that bridge when it comes.

I retain some kind of romantic love for pretty much all my exes. I was finally able to reconcile these nagging feelings when I accepted about myself that it's okay to love more than one person. I don't just get over the unique contribution that someone made to my life romantically. I become so attached to people I care about, it just isn't in my blood to discard them away completely.

Due to previous experience, I have felt monogamy to be too repressive in some regards. I felt I had to "will" away non-monogamous feelings, when I wanted the freedom to explore them. I have always had a personality of deeply desiring to express myself freely in one outlet or another.

The poly community seems to attract some intellectuals that are similarly philosophical, so I do find I am drawn to that. It's not a deciding factor, but it certainly helps me feel more like I fit in somewhere.

I feel that humans should have the freedom to sculpt their lives as they see fit. As long as it is healthy and consensual, I think any manner of lifestyles are fine.

I think that's it. =) Hope it helps.
 
I know you asked about reasons that people choose to be poly and I can't answer that but I wondered if thought processes going the other way might be of interest to you? Ignore if it's not. I feel like writing right now and thought it might be of interest to somebody.

I was intrigued for a long time when my partner told me about poly. He spent years being non-monogamous and feels that it fits with his personal beliefs. I started researching it and considering it and talking to friends who have been poly and friends who never have been about it. I was keen to understand more and the thought of being open to having multiple relationships resonated with me. I wanted to experience more sex, more love, to have more new experiences. I developed a crush on a female friend of mine and felt attracted more and more often to women. So long as safer sex practises are followed, I believed that could just be a fun activity between friends – it was that way for years when I was younger. The theory attracted me and I felt quite excited by it.

The practice, however, made me pause. The more I read about it and the more I spoke to people about it and the more I watched what happens when people do enter into multiple relationships in a world that is set up for monogamy, the more doubt I felt. I see it as very difficult to behave ethically toward other significant others while in a relationship. Or toward a partner. Choices have to be made.

People do manage it but I think it's hard to do. I understand why poly people want a relationship and I think it's a very good idea to treat all close relationships as special. I believe that it is very hard to balance that with having more partners and all people involved being treated ethically – in the world we live in. In different worlds, with different expectations, I don't think there would be any reason for worries over ethics.

I have come to the conclusion now that for me non-monogamy is something I might consider if ever I'm at a point in my life where there is nobody in it that I would call a partner. I think that solo poly is something that makes the ethics less problematic for me. If I'm friends with somebody and work to maintain the relationship at that level (a friend of mine and a friend of her's do this beautifully), then I think there is less risk of causing harm to others. This goes for my partner too. I'm not willing to be mono with a poly partner. The work that any partner of mine would have to do to make that work would wind up making it much more likely that they would have to behave unethically toward somebody they were closely involved with. I have no interest in being part of something that carries that level of risk.

So I remain monogamous and also focus lots of time and energy on being present and available with my friends. Thankfully I am part of lots of groups of friends and everybody I am friends with has lots of other friends or a close, romantic partner so nobody depends entirely on me for emotional support.

My partner and I do talk about this fairly regularly and I work to make it clear to him that if he feels strongly that he wants to be poly again, he can tell me and we can work to shift our relationship to one of friendship. So far he doesn't want to do that but he is free to any time that he wants.

For me, monogamy within relationships is not about being owned or controlled – it's about taking responsibility and living my life in a way that attempts to do the least harm to myself and those that are close to me.

I remain open to changing my mind in the future but for the moment, this is where I'm at.

IP
 

london

Banned
London, thank you for replying, but I guess I'm looking for the next step beyond "because I want to." Unless you are poly simply because it best serves your particular individual desires, and that's totally valid.

Did you mean that "personal desire" is the reason you are poly, nothing more, nothing less?
Yes, of course it serves my individual desires to have more than one romantic relationship. It wasn't a political move, something I did to be part of some crowd or any other reason than because I want to. Having multiple romantic relationships is my personal desire.

In my opinion, things get murky and confusing when people do it for any other reason than because they want to, because it's the relationship style they want to have. You can't organise your love life just to fulfill some political agenda you support and that's what some people do. That would be like me starting a relationship with a woman to show my support for the LGBT community.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, of course it serves my individual desires to have more than one romantic relationship. It wasn't a political move, something I did to be part of some crowd or any other reason than because I want to. Having multiple romantic relationships is my personal desire.

Same here. I just tend to crush and fall in love easily. Also, I have a high sex drive and one person can not meet my needs.

I am a feminist, I certainly do not want to be legally owned as chattel, but in a way, I do like feeling possessed. Now, one of my partners is female, and one is male but married to someone else, so I am not legally owned, and have no desire to marry my female partner.


In my opinion, things get murky and confusing when people do it for any other reason than because they want to, because it's the relationship style they want to have. You can't organise your love life just to fulfill some political agenda you support and that's what some people do. That would be like me starting a relationship with a woman to show my support for the LGBT community.

Off topic rant:

As for the above statement, just a pet peeve, but, as a queer, I hate when transpeople (which is an identity) are lumped in with gay or bi people (which indicates their sexual/romantic interest). I normally just let it go, but since you mentioned it twice, it bugged me. If you met a MtoF person, she might be straight and have no interest in you romantically. If you met a FtoM person, he might be gay and have no interest in you romantically. I hate how transpeople are tacked onto the end of the LGBs like an unwieldy caboose. "Gay marriage," the rallying cry of the so-called Queer Community, does absolutely nothing for transpeople. The ability to use the correct bathroom/locker-room, to dress as one pleases, to have sexual reassignment surgery covered by insurance, are issues barely touched by law at this point. </rant>
 

london

Banned
I get what you're saying

My point was simply that you don't have to same sex relationships or change your sex/gender in order to show support or acceptance of transpeople or homosexual people and opposition to the inequalities they face
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Ha, changing your gender when you are comfortable with your birth identity would be radical and even sick, indeed.

So, being poly when you really aren't capable of loving more than one at a time, just to be anti-patriarchy, pro-female independence, would be likewise needlessly radical.

Now, being in a committed couple, but keeping one's independence in various ways, including eschewing marriage, makes more sense, if one isn't wired poly and doesn't naturally love more than one at a time.
 

Becca

Member
I very much appreciate everything that y'all have said so far-- thank you!

In my situation, I'm not altogether sure exactly how I'm wired. It took me some years to determine that I'm pansexual, though mostly lesbian (I came out as gay as a teenager), so I'm used to letting go of identity politics to recognize that my sexuality is multi-layered. That is, when I started dating men in my mid-thirties, I had to shift the way I saw myself, focus on just being me, rather than fitting some label.

I know that I can feel love for multiple people, and that I am pretty good at managing my own jealousy, talking about things, all the skills that make for good poly. I'm just... not really sure I want to do all that work, and not sure that I feel a compelling drive to live that way.

But I do have some very strong ideas about wanting to live my life on my own terms, and not the terms dictated to me by social conditioning. I'm paraphrasing, but Chuck Palahniuk said something about-- everything you want, you have been trained to want. So, I've been wanting monogamy, marriage, a house with a white picket fence. Is that because it's really what I want, or am I just giving in to social pressure to conform?

Since I'm questioning the personal desire (and I'm not going into all the details here, but there are a lot of different things that are going into that conversation in my heard), I'm trying to look at the wider picture, the political arguments for poly, etc. For example, some of the principles of anarchy (as a social justice movement) really support a poly approach to relationships.

And really, I'm looking at this at all the angles I can find. So thank you, everyone! :)
 

PolyinPractice

New member
I know that I can feel love for multiple people, and that I am pretty good at managing my own jealousy, talking about things, all the skills that make for good poly. I'm just... not really sure I want to do all that work, and not sure that I feel a compelling drive to live that way.

Indeed, poly, properly managed, is far more work than monogamy (if you think about how you have to care for MULTIPLE relationships just as much as most people have to care for ONE). I don't blame anyone from shying away from it....I would, myself, except for it's truly worth it for me.

I just wanted to make a quick comment...you've been getting a lot of (natural) blowback for implying that one would choose poly for political reasons. But, truthfully, many people choose monogamy to fit social norms, rather than because they desire it. Sooooooo, yeah, I'm sure some poly people do it for political agendas, or some other bizarre reason, like rebellion against parents. :p
 

bookbug

New member
Two of the three serious relationships I have had thus far have been poly, and both were poly-fi. My current relationship is monogamous, despite our poly pasts (a reconnect from the last poly-fi that didn't succeed) but he and I don't know if it will always be so. Right now, we are both terribly time constrained, so poly is a moot point.

I tend to enjoy the unity of a close family configuration offered by poly-fi with live-in arrangements. I like the security of it. I like not being forced to divide my time, which isn't required because we all live together. When it works, the group energy (and I am not speaking of sexual energy here) is amplified and the daily work is diminished. Fantastic! It has never made sense to me why that family unit cannot consist of as many adults who are willing, able, and compatible. Granted, I am not a jealous person, and it is rare to find like-minded individuals. However, my first poly-fi vee lasted until the death of our hinge. My co-wife and I are still very close, but wanted different things afterward, so we no longer live together.

All of that said, I am really about what works. I have no major preconceived ideas about how relationships "should" be. If it turns out my current relationship remains mono and we are both happy with that, that will be okay too. I don't really self identify as either poly or mono. I don't really give a rats about labels or feel the need to adhere to one or the other. It's never an either / or situation for me. I am adaptable to either.

So in answer to your question as to why I have chosen poly, I really didn't. It is just what worked at the time. Likewise I never chose monogamy either. :)
 
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LovingRadiance

Active member
I'm in a poly dynamic because I happen to be in love with two men.
I was in an open relationship for years (before marrying) because I liked the freedom to go with the flow.
But honestly-I am not inclined to "date" or try to find new partners. Even if one of these relationships or even both of them ended-I wouldn't do that.
IF I meet someone and it works out-great. But looking for them? No way.
More days than not, I find poly annoying.
I live it because I am keeping promises.

But more and more I find that there is so much more time and attention I would prefer to devote TO MYSELF instead of to partners.
 

nycindie

Active member
In my situation, I'm not altogether sure exactly how I'm wired.
Lots of folks don't buy the theory that people are wired one way or another.

I am pretty good at managing my own jealousy, talking about things, all the skills that make for good poly. I'm just... not really sure I want to do all that work . . .
Relationship skills are relationship skills are relationship skills - poly or mono, the same skills apply. Monogamous relationships are not, in and of themselves, always easier nor automatically less work than polyamorous ones. All relationships need mutual respect, caring, good communication, managing difficult emotions, and a willingness to be honest in order to thrive.

But I do have some very strong ideas about wanting to live my life on my own terms, and not the terms dictated to me by social conditioning. I'm paraphrasing, but Chuck Palahniuk said something about-- everything you want, you have been trained to want. So, I've been wanting monogamy, marriage, a house with a white picket fence. Is that because it's really what I want, or am I just giving in to social pressure to conform?
If one is happy with monogamy, marriage, and a house with white picket fence, does all that really matter? It would make me sad to think that my happiness depended upon any particular relationship structure - happiness is an inside job.
 
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Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
Indeed, poly, properly managed, is far more work than monogamy (if you think about how you have to care for MULTIPLE relationships just as much as most people have to care for ONE). I don't blame anyone from shying away from it....I would, myself, except for it's truly worth it for me.

I couldn't disagree more. For me, poly (with compatible people, as I currently have) is far LESS work than trying to force myself to be mono with a very jealous husband. Some poly people are just less jealous, more supportive and compersive, more skilled at communication, have better self esteem, than the typical mono person who isn't motivated to do the work, or like my ex, just unbelievably "stuck" in certain patterns that make them really hard to live with, even monogamously.


I'm in a poly dynamic because I happen to be in love with two men...

More days than not, I find poly annoying.

I live it because I am keeping promises.

But more and more I find that there is so much more time and attention I would prefer to devote TO MYSELF instead of to partners.

Wow, that's pretty sad, LR. But you have more than 2 loving men to deal with; you've got about 100 kids and grandkids running around the place. And Maca, according to what I've read, isnt all that skilled at communication, and not 100% on board, never has been, with sharing you with GG. And he didn't handle a recent other relationship of his own very well.

So, I guess my point is, poly isn't necessarily more work than monogamy. It all depends on how you do it, on what kinds of partners you find and keep. We do see lots of people here with horrible problems practicing polyamory (jealousy and horrible issues with communication, lying, and lack of self integrity being most common problems), but there are other poly people, I am sure, who do not seek help for their problems, because they are really doing OK.
 

london

Banned
I couldn't disagree more. For me, poly (with compatible people, as I currently have) is far LESS work than trying to force myself to be mono with a very jealous husband. Some poly people are just less jealous, more supportive and compersive, more skilled at communication, have better self esteem, than the typical mono person who isn't motivated to do the work, or like my ex, just unbelievably "stuck" in certain patterns that make them really hard to live with, even monogamously.

What about compatible mono person vs compatible poly person?

My answer is that a compatible mono person wouldn't need a rule in place saying that neither of us can have other relationships. Even if life went in a way where we were situationally monogamous, it would be due to a lack of resources rather than enforced monogamy on me. That's the only way I could be fulfilled in a monogamous relationship.
 

Nadya

Member
So, I guess my point is, poly isn't necessarily more work than monogamy. It all depends on how you do it, on what kinds of partners you find and keep.

Agree. 100%. My life is easier, better and more in balance now as I have two relationships than it was when CJ was my only partner. CJ has noticed this, too, and hence is very supporting to my and Mark's relationship. And the other way round: Mark acknowledges the happiness CJ brings to me and supports my and CJ's relationship. Of course I have to consider the wants and needs of two people instead of just one, but it is not hard because I am happier and have more resources now than before.

As for the original question:
What are the principles on which you base your decision to be poly?

My basic values behind poly philosophy are freedom and honesty. I want to be free to make decisions over my life, my body and my relationships and want to give the same freedom to everyone, including my partners. I have never really understood monogamy, so for me personally the only way to be honest is to be open for several loving and / or sexual relationships. Also, I firmly believe that if my partners have this same freedom to feel whatever they feel and have sex with those people they want to, it promotes honesty in our relationship. We do not need to hide parts of ourselves.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
So, I guess my point is, poly isn't necessarily more work than monogamy. It all depends on how you do it, on what kinds of partners you find and keep. We do see lots of people here with horrible problems practicing polyamory (jealousy and horrible issues with communication, lying, and lack of self integrity being most common problems), but there are other poly people, I am sure, who do not seek help for their problems, because they are really doing OK.

Oh-I agree. I also think it matters how you personally manage relationships (not just hte other people). I don't do relationships that aren't full time. I wouldn't be willing to have a poly dynamic where my partner lived elsewhere for example. If we can't live together, I'm not screwing with it. But that puts a LOT more onus on me.
Not to mention school (mine and the kids since I home school).
On a side note; Maca got a clue with the last go around (it's been over a year now). He figured out that he has a skill set he needs to learn before he tries to go having another relationship. He has opted to not date. In the last year, having made that choice, he's done a lot of growing up and learning about himself, which in turn has resulted in great benefit to everyone else in the household. I think having so much time away on his own (for work) helped too.
He's been unbelievably supportive and positive about poly in the last year.
But-as you said; it makes a difference if you go in with people who are already capable of the necessary skillset (which he was definitely not) and want to be poly (which he definitely did not).

I don't think POLY is bad.
I just find that it's not always any better.

I think some people do mono REALLY well. Some people do poly REALLY well. Some people just do really well.
But the majority of people are learning in some area or another in their life that negatively affects their relationships currently. Doesn't mean that they aren't a good partner, but it may mean that they aren't RIGHT NOW.

I think I am one of those people who is currently in a learning place about myself that makes me not a good partner.
 
The main thing I like about poly is that I'm responsible for making myself happy. Sure, maybe my partners will go out of their way from time to time and surprise me in fun ways... But when they are all busy and I'm by myself, I'm not completely lonely and helpless inside. I used to completely rely on my SO when I was mono. I realized over time that I was disrespecting her greatly by placing her in the soul responsibility of 100% of my happiness. I found it better to ask her to take care of herself for me and I'll take care of myself for her. She no longer relies on me for happiness either. We rely on ourselves for that. The outcome is that our time together is more enjoyed. We have strong relationships, endless amounts of confidence and love everywhere we go. Some of that stuff might work out fine between 2 mono partners, but I've yet to meet such a couple.
 
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