Is this perception accurate? I'm new....

StudentofLife

New member
Hi,

I just wanted to ask a question, after doing a lot of reading the last few days. I am just starting to learn about this, so please be patient if this has already been addressed, I didn't know what to call the topic to search for old threads.
It seems to me that people are arriving here (poly) one of two ways. There are the people who are thrust into this unexpectedly, by a spouse either requesting it, or being caught in an affair they want to turn into an open relationship. They seem to come here in a state of crisis, and confusion. Then there are the people who are coming here after an agreement has been reached between partners, they seem to show up full of optimism and curiosity.
Those who were in a state of crisis seem to have some very painful struggles, but many more of them than I would have expected decide it was a positive for their relationship, after some time has passed. Those who decided in advance seem to have the zeal of the newly converted, and then some discover just how hard it is, and either give up or break up, some others decide it was the right choice and are happy.
The really experienced people here appear to have years of happiness, then something changes and it starts to fall apart. They make comments that perhaps they will give up the poly lifestyle entirely, or end very long relationships in order to break with the lives they have built.
I am curious if the poly lifestyle in general tends to be a phase, and if a person contemplating going into it should expect it will have a natural life span, then end. I undertand individual relationships in any context always have the risk of ending, but I am asking about the general lifestyle.
Could anyone tell me, perhaps using percentages, how many people stay with it for life, and how many give up and go back to monogamy? Is there a "typical" life span for poly before it ends?
Sorry to be long-winded. I would be happy if there is already a thread on this topic simply to be directed to the right place.:)
 

Tonberry

New member
I have no statistics for you, but I think the rate of failure will be over-represented in any forum. People tend to post when they have problems or when things aren't working out. People who have been in the same, stable multi-partnered relationship for decades have no reason to join or post. People who do join and/or post do so because they have questions or problems, and obviously when there are problems, sometimes a relationship ends.

If anyone has statistics, I would be interested in them as well, but I think it would be difficult to get them. Many people would need to be followed for many years to get any results that are relevant and helpful, and this kind of research is expensive, and not likely to be funded for a subject such as polyamory, which only concerns a subset of the population.
The statistics are more likely to come from surveys, etc, which means there is a bias from the starts, as only the people who find and take the survey are surveyed, not the general poly population.

And for any figure to make sense, it should actually follow the general population, poly or not, so that one could see how many people switch from one to the other and how many people stay with the same relationship model, and which lasts longer, etc.

It's also important to differentiate between poly people who are single or in a couple (therefore not with multiple partners), vs people who are monogamous, since your specific query is about a change of lifestyle, and not finding a partner isn't the same thing as not looking for one or actively rejecting the idea of having one.
 

StudentofLife

New member
Thank you very much Tonberry. You're right, I hadn't taken that into consideration, about people coming here because something isn't quite working. That may very well explain the impression I was getting.
Perhaps if I rephrase my question...is there any specific place on this site I should look to find something like a Poly Mapquest for relationships? I know it sounds lame, but I just want to know what the road ahead might be most likely to look like. Maybe people are all too different for that to be a reasonable request. Maybe thinking that if I just prepare well enough, I can avoid some pitfalls is Pollyanna thinking. This seems to be one of those areas where the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. But thank you for helping me out anyway!
 

AnnabelMore

Active member
I don't have an answer for you, but I wanted to point out that you've skipped over a third way people come to poly -- single folks who decide to give it a go. Not everyone is coupled as the default! I had had some mono and some poly experiences as a teen and in my early twenties, none of which lasted. Then, as a person who had a couple of casual things going but was unpartnered, I started dating my gf. Since she was married, I was now in a poly relationship. Down the line, I started dating my bf as well. So, yeah, I don't fit the paradigm above, and I know many other people don't either.

If my gf and I break up and I dont seek another partner, since my bf isn't dating anyone else either, am I now done with my poly "phase"? Or am I just entering a mono "phase" which is bound to be temporary?

It's a bit.more complicated than the way you've presented it, is what I'm saying.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
but I just want to know what the road ahead might be most likely to look like.


I find it a little paradoxical that someone who would choose "student of Life" as their user name wants other people to tell what is in store for them ahead of time.
 

SNeacail

New member
Try a tag search and just start browsing. There are a lot of subjects listed that have been cataloged by the moderators already.
 

Marcus

Well-known member
I undertand individual relationships in any context always have the risk of ending, but I am asking about the general lifestyle.

In my life I avoid putting an expected longevity on my relationships. I hope that as long as my relationship is still healthy and functional it will continue on. I also hope that if it has turned ugly and is showing no signs of correcting that I have the courage to make the reasonable adjustment.

Having said that, in my monogamous history "reasonable adjustment" means "breaking up". In my current poly ideology the way in which I change my activities or outlook can be much more varied. If my sex life with a lover begins to die out, I don't have to break up with them in order to find another partner. I can just spend more sexy time with someone else, which is much more healthy than insisting that my partner jump through hoops to please me. Alternatively, should I decide that I do not enjoy living with my partner but otherwise our relationship is intact I can just make plans to move out - no break up required.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
There is really no way to identify quantifiable statistics on the topic-because there isn't enough relevant research AND by the nature of the beast, poly isn't "accepted" by the mainstream, meaning MANY poly's go "under the radar" by being "in the closet" about their lifestyle-on purpose.

Additionally, it's damn near impossible to identify the "road ahead" for anyone-because one would need to know them well enough to know what issues they would bring to their own future and what positives-as well as any and every person they dated AND how each of those interacted with one another (if at all) AND altogether-AND how any given interaction may or may not cause an additional reaction of it's own (like mixing bleach and ammonia causes a reaction that bleach or ammonia alone do not). Not to mention any potential family members of any partners and yourself who would also impact how things work out....

If you have studied statistics at all-I suggest consider an ANOVA test-figuring that each person would be a variable-and the various personality and personal preference differences would be the other variable. The possibilities are so overwhelming... it wouldn't even be feasible to put it into SPSS and get a sensible output...
 

JaneQSmythe

Well-known member
I agree with the others...

The practice of "poly" is so varied that finding a "typical" anything is difficult.

People tend to search for resources (and post on forums) when things are rough - thus the over-representation of troubled relationships.

Poly research is "difficult" from a researchers standpoint - both in terms of framing the study and getting funding. (see recent postings from a someone conducting "couples research" here in the last few days)

I am curious if the poly lifestyle in general tends to be a phase, and if a person contemplating going into it should expect it will have a natural life span, then end. I undertand individual relationships in any context always have the risk of ending, but I am asking about the general lifestyle.

I can only answer this from my personal perspective. For me, "poly-type" (or at least "ethically non-monogamous") relationships were the only type that EVER made sense to me. So, it's not like I was in a relationship and then "discovered" poly - I was there already, and any relationships that I would form would be informed by that. I don't know whether that means that I am somehow "innately" poly or that I was exposed to the concept early enough to "decide" (before ever being in a relationship) that that was the only type of relationship that I was attracted to.

It's kind of like (but not identical to) the oft-stated opinion that "bisexuality" is just a "phase" as someone transitions from gay-to-straight or vice versa. Or that someone "can't be bi" unless they are involved with (or had relationships with) both genders.

In my opinion, for me: I am poly regardless of the number of my current/past/future relationships, I am bi regardless of the gender of my current/past/future partners.

Perhaps if I rephrase my question...is there any specific place on this site I should look to find something like a Poly Mapquest for relationships?

Neither of these are what you are looking for but they are the two images that come to my mind when you asked for a Poly MapQuest, so I thought I would share:

Map of Non-Monogamy
Tracking the Unicorn

Relationships are tricky - even defining what constitutes a "relationship" is tricky for me. Some people would argue that MOST relationships "fail" (friend relationships that "fail" to get off the ground and peter out, dating relationships that "fail" to lead to romantic relationships, romantic relationships that "fail" to lead to long-term-committed relationships, etc) , that most relationships have a "natural lifespan" (death of one partner being one natural endpoint). Personally, I have never had a "romantic relationship" that ended...but I think I am in the minority. (I did have a "friend relationship" end once - so I can't say that I NEVER had a relationship fail...)

JaneQ
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I think people are wired polyamorous or not. To me that is the ability or desire to love more than one romantic partner at a time. Monoamorous is the ability or desire to love one at a time. What shape their current relationship status is? That's another thing. Single, dating, partnered with 1, 2, 3... all that stuff is relationship configuration to me. A person doesn't stop being polyamorous just because they are single.

I don't know that there is any statistics for length of polyships of various configurations. (V's, triads, quads, etc.) It's all so DIY and up to the cast of characters inside the polyship.

I believe all relationship come with a clock attached -- even "til death do us part" is an ending -- be in in a 2 person thing, a 3 person, a 4, etc. That's just reality. Sometimes people break up because of school, work, changes in how they feel like falling out of love, etc. Polyships are no different than monoships in that sense. The relationship will last as long as the people wish to stay in relationship -- and that includes the relationship changing shape from friendship to romance to friendship again to... whatever it is the people want.

Maybe thinking that if I just prepare well enough, I can avoid some pitfalls is Pollyanna thinking.

Maybe this could help?

Avoid the Pitfalls and Reap the Rewards of Polyamorous Relationships

Or just websites in general?

http://www.practicalpolyamory.com/downloadabledocuments.html
http://www.morethantwo.com/
http://www.serolynne.com/polyamory.htm
http://openingup.net/resources/free-downloads-from-opening-up/

Galagirl
 
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StudentofLife

New member
Wow--thank you all very much for your replies. That was wonderful.

AnnabelMore--You are totally right. I did completely skip the single people. I think I've been so curious about how couples handle this, I failed to do any reading about the perspective of the singles on here. Thank you for pointing that out!

BoringGuy--I don't see the paradox? If I am studying something, then in a way I am a student. If the subject is various ways of life, then am I not studying life? In asking what might be ahead from people who have been where I haven‘t, I see it as being similar to someone asking about travel to a foreign country from people who are natives or frequent travelers. I had hoped that in some ways asking the members here to teach me a bit of what they know would be reasonable. Perhaps your point was that life itself should be the teacher, and that’s valid. To me, however, it seems akin to taking off for that foreign country without a guide book, currency, a translation dictionary, or suitable wardrobe. No doubt I'd learn a lot--if I didn't die within the first 24 hours! I was hoping to have a slightly more....gentle learning experience. :)

LovingRadiance--I have never studied statistics, but it sounds like you know a lot about it. Before I posted, I was thinking about that statistic you always hear, that 50% of marriages end in divorce. I thought there might be something comparable available, but you all made good points as to why that's not so.

Jane--Thank you very much for your response. It was thought-provoking, and I will go read the links.

GalaGirl--Thank you so much for the additional links. Two of those are ones I had never seen before. I will do some more reading.

I appreciate all your responses.
 

LovingRadiance

Active member
Someday, some statistics will be more readily available-as college students and scientists have already begun studying alternative lifestyles.
But it will take years to collect a reasonable amount of information to even start basing educated guesses on it. ;)

At this point, the best information available is probably what works/doesn't work in general for any relationship. Take that and multiply it exponentially (check out galagirls links on polymath tiers for explanation) to identify the risk places in your own relationships.
(for example, if you know one or more of you is weak in interpersonal communication-that's a risk factor).
 

AutumnalTone

New member
Hi,


The really experienced people here appear to have years of happiness, then something changes and it starts to fall apart. They make comments that perhaps they will give up the poly lifestyle entirely, or end very long relationships in order to break with the lives they have built.
I am curious if the poly lifestyle in general tends to be a phase, and if a

And the folks who have years of happiness where it doesn't fall apart--you think they're going to be posting about all of their non-dramatic continuation in their relationships? Would anybody want to read a post that says, essentially "Still together, yup"?

As with most anything that is part of the human experience, there will be some folks who will never try polyamory, some who will occasionally do so, some who do so for a good while then stop, and others who will do so regularly throughout their lives. There's nothing about polyamory that makes it different than much of anything else in that regard.
 

StudentofLife

New member
And the folks who have years of happiness where it doesn't fall apart--you think they're going to be posting about all of their non-dramatic continuation in their relationships? Would anybody want to read a post that says, essentially "Still together, yup"?


Yes, I think a few people might want to read stories just like that. Admittedly, it is lacking in drama, but it would make up for that in comfort. The happily-ever-after ending is popular for a reason. My reading in the blogs section seems to indicate that some people like reading about their friends being happy, and coasting along smoothly.
But I do grasp that on this forum, it is generally about problem solving, not problem solved.
 

StudentofLife

New member
Just an addedcomment, if I may--

My initial post was made one week ago, when I had just joined this forum. It was titled "Is this perception accurate?" If I had a time machine and could go back one week to respond to myself I would say, "No, it is not accurate. You're not getting it...read some more, learn some more. And please, wait to post anything until you have done so."
Sadly, my Tardis is in the shop and so I am left with my error hanging out there, flapping in the breeze. :-(
 

Mont1950

New member
Hmmm...

I like this thread started by SOL. I joined this forum to get a better broader understanding of life itself, after I ran across that series, on Showcase or Bravo I think, about the poly life style. What I find interesting in my own case is; I am on my second marriage. I absolutely love my wife, I have a reasonably healthy relationship with my first wife (the mother of my grown daughter) who remains unattached at the moment. I have a very strong relationship with all my step children, even a good strong relationship with an ex brother in law. I recently told my wife that I always want to be in her life and if for whatever reason she did not think she wanted to remain married to me or wanted someone else I would reluctantly share her but my preference would be to not have to do so. I was shocked to hear her say that her first husband said the same thing to her but she simply would never consider something like that. I am surprised by how strongly I feel about my own convictions on this. I am not a young lad anymore but I am constantly amazed at what life can teach me. This thread has made me think even harder about my own understanding of what a great relationship can be.

Mont :cool:
 

AnnabelMore

Active member
Don't feel too bad SoL, it was a perfectly understandable question. People here, perhaps even moreso than on other forums, speak forthrightly, so our answers may have come off as judgmental, but I don't think most/any were intended that way. And, y'know, if percentages WERE available, I wouldn't be surprised if a fair number of people DID engage in mono relationships early on, then engage in poly relationships for a period of time, and then decide that mono worked better for them.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
It was an honest question / feeling from you at that point in time. Now you are at THIS point in time, feeling something else.

It's all good.

Life is journey. ;)

GG
 

redpepper

New member
The blog section is a good place to get an overview of peoples lives. Some of us have been writing here for years and just live it. I think, like anything, there is a life span to it. I identified as a Lesbian for years. I thought that was it. It wasn't. Now I don't. I don't expect to be poly for the rest of my life either. I don't expect and assume anything if I can possibly help it. Maybe everything is a lifestyle for the moment your at in your life.

I agree with whomever said that those of us who live it everyday and don't have drama have nothing to write about really.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
People here, perhaps even moreso than on other forums, speak forthrightly, so our answers may have come off as judgmental, but I don't think most/any were intended that way.

Speaking for myself (as if I could speak for anyone else), I am CONSTANTLY judging everyone and everything around me, and wouldn't pretend otherwise. However, I continually integrate new data and information into my judgments, so it is definitely possible for me to think even less of someone as things come to pass. I also enjoy watching other people back-pedal when they say something ridiculous and get called on it.

The cool thing about it is that others are free to judge me as they will, and I watch with interest in case they say something useful.
 
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