I first started reading about Polyamory as a relationship style around 10 years ago, and I was deeply challenged by the concept in every way. What struck me the most about it, was how confident within yourself and in your connection with your partner you would have to be, to successfully navigate a polyamorous arrangement. A profound sense of self-awareness PLUS the skills required to communicate it, all the while armed with a bulletproof self-esteem and a sick fascination with emotional pain. What kind of wild roller-coaster ride would this be? It sounded like extreme sports for the heart! I was intrigued.
While these are certainly some of the qualities I aspire to, what fascinates me the most about the idea of Polyamory, aside from the potential for interesting relationship dynamics, is the opportunity for personal growth. Nothing will bring your deep-seated sense of inadequacy and fear of abandonment to the surface, faster and with more purity of force, than the mere suggestion of the introduction a new person into your relationship. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. But for the brave, (or stupid) this is a fast-track to the very root of your emotional pain. This process has the ability to pin-point with stunning accuracy the precise areas of much needed healing. If you are willing to face up to and work through those fears and insecurities, the rewards can be immense.
You see, for centuries monogamy has been the societal norm. And myself being a person who relentlessly questions societal norms, I had to ask why? It hasn’t always been this way. And it certainly doesn’t seem to be in our nature to mate-for-life. So who made the rules? And who decreed that monogamy is the only right way to do relationships?
Well, in actual fact, it is WE ourselves who make the rules. We as a society collectively decide what we find acceptable and unacceptable to us. And history has shown that what we have found acceptable and unacceptable has changed and shifted quite profoundly over time. I’m sensing the tide is changing around how we do relationships. Monogamy is not working for so many of us.
It’s true that jealousy is one of the very worst feelings one can experience. But avoiding taking ownership of our uncomfortable feelings by deciding to ban the behaviour that causes them to surface, has simply allowed us to remain sick, in a sense. Now we are even more insecure, clinging and controlling than ever before, because we have avoided facing up to ourselves and growing as a result.
Further more, our fear of facing the uncomfortable feelings like jealousy and fear of abandonment, has led us to cling to monogamy, as if monogamy could offer us some immunity from this pain. When the truth is that monogamy offers no such protection. Only a false sense of such security. There is never any guarantee that your lover will not leave you for another. This is the vulnerability of love.
Picture now a relationship where it is ok to talk about all feelings, even feelings of attraction towards other people. It is fully permissible to discuss and even fantasise together. The power of the allure of the forbidden is somewhat lessoned, because the law of wanting-what-you-cannot-have is broken. Now you can make an objective decision; do I really want this? Maybe … maybe not. Trust is increased between you, because you can be more confident that feelings of attraction will be shared, not kept secret. There are still no guarantees, but at least the lines of communication are open.
It’s easy to see that even if you never end up opening up your relationship, or you’re polyamorous but not practising, the principles of Polyamory can be of great benefit for personal growth and learning.